How often do we listen to a talk, a lesson - a sermon, even - and let it wash over us? Perhaps we begin attentively enough, but drift down a personal byway and never get back - I used to do that during maths lesson, with dire results: it's impossible to latch on to the principles of calculus when you've had a ten-minute mental lapse. Perhaps the speaker is not particularly riveting and we doze off ... doom. Anyway, I'm now wandering. Back we come.
There is nothing more calculated to make me listen to a sermon than the sudden realisation that it's my turn to write it up for the local paper. And it's not always easy, by the time the sermon is over, to recall what was said as distinct from what you personally took from it - for that's the way with a sermon, oftener than not, and I think it's fine. But you can't go writing it up from a personal slant - because then you run the risk of the speaker buttonholing you to tell you you were way off beam and how dare you misrepresent them .... You get my drift.
In any other circs, of course, you'd take notes. It just seems somehow contrary to the spirit of the occasion to take notes from the front pew in a small church and a smaller congregation. And so it remains: an interesting exercise, worthy, almost of Dr Kawashima.