I can’t remember the details of Fahrenheit 451 (which is, ahem, ironic, given that I’m writing about memorization), but I recall that the protagonist committed some Scripture to memory in a world where books were being destroyed.At the end, when the rest of the world is apparently bombed, a remnant, if you will, of people remains–those who have memorized at least portions of great works of literature. They are preserving the words for a time when literature will be used and useful once again.I peeked at SparkNotes online, since I can’t at the moment find my copy of Fahrenheit 451 (hmmm….a little odd and disconcerting, given which book it is, don’t you think?). Apparently, Montag committed the book of Ecclesiastes to memory. It explains that at the end of the book, Montag, the protagonist, and another man walk upriver to find survivors. Montag tries to “remember passages from the Bible appropriate to the occasion. He brings to mind Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘To everything there is a season,’ and also Revelations 22:2, ‘And on either side of the river was there a tree of life . . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.'”It was there when he needed it.But that’s just fiction.Is it there when we need it?Because this is reality.In the comments of “What’s In Your Memory Bank?”, some of you wrote that committing Scripture to memory brought rich benefits. You said that it’s an avenue for meditation and allows instant recall of just the words of truth that we need, just when we need them. More than one of you who have memorized bigger sections of Scripture can recall the special things God taught you through them.I have a lone memory from the movie version of Fahrenheit 451: the camera is panning across the camp and pauses at an old man who is lying down on a cot reciting something (a psalm, I think). A little kid sat next to him, listening, eyes focused and alert. The old man was passing on what he memorized by heart, and the boy’s job was to take those words into his own head and heart to preserve for the next generation.It makes me think about people who live in countries where they aren’t allowed to own a Bible and must rely on what they’ve memorized. Were I in that situation, what would I be able to pull up from my own memory bank?Thankfully, I have some stuffed in there. Over the years of my kids’ AWANA participation, I’ve tapped into a variety of memory aids to help the kids pack it in to earn prizes. As I’ve helped them, some of it has stuck in my own mind, as well. Here are a few memorization techniques:
- Song. Set it to song or at least a rhythm, and it sticks pretty well. We have to get creative with Scripture, because some translations don’t have all that much rhythm to them. We’ve also applied this to skip counting for math. And can’t most of us remember our conjunctions thanks to Schoolhouse Rock (“Conjunction junction, what’s your function…”)? Anyway, I try to find some beat to the verse and say it that way. It helps.
- Hand motions. Get all the senses involved and take in those words every way possible. We come up with hand symbols for God, Jesus, salvation, and other basic words like “all” and “world.” If you actually know American Sign Language, all the better. We don’t, so we just invent motions. They can recall the signs and bam! The words follow.
- Pictures. For complicated verses, I’ve drawn little pictures to accompany the phrases. This helped the daughter who scoffed at my overblown hand motions and dance steps. She preferred the more civilized method of memorizing pictures to remember the flow of words.
- Key words. If they remember the first word of a phrase that represents a shift in the verse, then often the rest of the words will tumble out automatically. So as we repeat it out loud, we emphasize the key words with exaggerated volume. I probably raise my eyebrows and open my mouth like a clown when I say them, too. I can’t help it. I’ve got Elasti-Face. Might as well use it for good.
- Write it out. Okay, now these are the simple, low-tech, basic ideas coming out. Write it out lots of times, and it’ll enter the brain through another avenue.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is such an obvious one, but it bears repeating (sorry). But, well, that’s what we do. We go over and over the verse (out loud) until it’s drummed in there. Write it on a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket, or tape it to your cell phone and make yourself say it as you reach in your pocket for something or before making a call.
Do you have other memory techniques?And come to think of it, what would you like to memorize? Give it some serious thought–what would you love to be able to pull up at will to ponder, chew on, and contemplate?Think about that, and then check in sometime tomorrow.I have a special announcement.