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Memories that Matter Most

by Jerry Wiles

Morris Cultural Arts Center at Houston Baptist University, Home of the Dunham Bible Museum

HOUSTON, TX (ANS) — In August of 1950 my parents, my younger brother and I moved from the farm in Izard County to College City (near Walnut Ridge), Arkansas.  The campus was a former World War II Air Base and the home of Southern Baptist College back then (now Williams Baptist University).  We made the move so my Dad could enter college and begin his academic preparation for ministry.  He also began preaching at that time and pastored churches in North Central Arkansas and Southern Missouri for more than 60 years.

Remembering What’s Useful

I was four years old at the time of that move, but I have many vivid memories of that season of my life.  One of my memories was having my very first cheese sandwich the day we moved.  The memory of eating my first cheese sandwich is not really a memory that matters much.  However, there are numerous memories that matter a lot.  For example, remembering our family member’s birthdays and anniversaries would matter.  Remembering how to get from your home to your school or workplace would be important.  Remembering how to tie your shoes, brush your teeth or drive your car would all be memories that matter.  The fact is we can be very knowledgeable and well educated, but we can only apply and live out what we remember.

Modern Day Example of the power of Art and Architecture, Why the Cross, God’s Heart for the World

God’s Reminders

In the realm of our spiritual lives and relationship with the Lord, there are certain important things we need to remember.  Ultimately, the memories that matter most are those that God has instructed us to remember from His Word.  Throughout Scripture, there are many references like “Remember the former things of old….” and “Beware, least you forget…”  God knows that in our humanity, we are prone to forget and need to be reminded often of certain things.  The Bible has a lot of repetition and many memory devices, such as the feast and festivals, landmarks, and ordinances.  The use of poetry, proverbs and parables are also methods of enhancing memory.

The Power of Signs and Symbols

Throughout history there have been many signs and symbols that are used to help us remember important truths.  Baptism, for example, is a picture or symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of His shed blood and the broken body.  The sign or symbol of the Cross is also a reminder of the finished work of Christ, setting us free from sin and death.  Of course, there are many other physical symbols of spiritual truths, such as the dove, fire, water and oil.

The Beauty in Creation is a Reminder of the Creator

Methods of Memory Enhancement

The memory industry has grown tremendously in recent years.  Many people are experiencing loss of memory.  It is a major concern and significant efforts are going into research for discovering solutions.  There is no shortage of products and services on the market to improve our memories.  We can learn a lot from the memory cultures of the past and from our earliest history of the human race.  Every culture on the plant has methods and devices to enhance memory.  For example, arts and architecture, music, various memorials and statues and museums are all ways of communicating and preserving knowledge and memories.

The Value of Memorials and Museums

In 1997, a Bible Museum was established on the campus of Houston Baptist University. https://hbu.edu/museums/dunham-bible-museum/  It was one of the first of its kind in the United States.  Now, there are more than three dozen biblically related museums or galleries around the country.  These are valuable assets to preserve and help remember the importance of the Bible and its impact on the world.  It is inspiring to know the content of the Bible, but also the origin and history of how it came to be.

The Power of Narrative and Oral Art Forms

Within the Orality movement, we are discovering the many aspects of memory, learning and communication theories and brain function.  When we learn through storytelling and orality-based methods, we use a different part of our brains than learning by print-based methods.  When it’s done appropriately, Bible storying and Orality training and practices are more effective and more memorable than text-based methods.  This is especially important in places where there is limited access to Scripture.   Studies have also shown that storytelling is one of the best ways of activating the brain. This article is one example –https://lifehacker.com/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-5965703

The Power of Storytelling, that’s Memorable and Reproducible

Effective Communication

Every effective public speaker knows the power of narrative and storytelling to make their message memorable.  Missionaries serving in cross-cultural context can benefit greatly by using stories and relevant oral art forms.  We often emphasize that it is not enough to proclaim the gospel and biblical truth.  The important thing is that people hear and understand it, be able to respond and remember it, and reproduce its message and methods.

For more information, visit – www.water.cc/orality-training  or www.orality.net.

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