Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Earworm #2

Yesterday we thought together about the dreaded earworm, that song that gets stuck on replay in your head. You don't choose the tune, or even understand why it popped in there.
What's more explainable, and problematical, are the verbal messages that replay in your head - for they come from your parents, or a coach or teacher, or society's conventional wisdom, little tidbits of counsel, or dim prophecies: "You'll never amount to anything." "Look out for #1." "You're no good." "Why aren't you more like your big brother?" "I need a drink." "You deserve a break." You know your repeat messages.

What if the offstage directions, the cues whispered that define you, were actually God's words? In worship we read the Bible; without its words how could I be worshipful through the week?

Once upon a time, Christians placed high value on the memorization of Bible verses. Everybody seems to know John 3:16 - but what if, over the rest of 2013, you learned just one a week? You have way more brain capacity than that. By Christmas, you'd have more than 40 messages from God in your head, encouraging you throughout the day, handy to retrieve in a crisis, maybe even drowning out those other parental, societal, guilt-ridden messages you've let ramble around in there all these years.

The Bible isn't a repository of interesting religious information. It can be the script of your life, the definition of your soul. Allan Bloom could have been describing my own grandparents, whose piety I envy, when he wrote, "My grandparents were ignorant people by our standards; my grandfather held only lowly jobs. But their home was spiritually rich because all the things done in it...found their origin in the Bible's commandments, and their explanations in the Bible's stories. I do not believe that my generation, my cousins who have been educated in the American way, with M.D.s or Ph.D.s, have any comparable learning. When they talk about relationships or the human condition, I hear nothing but clichés, superficialities, the material of satire."

This sort of praxis delights God, and will make you better: memorize a Bible verse this week, and another next week, and don't stop. Some words will play in your head; maybe they'll be God's.

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