Sunday, April 20, 2008

Brain training: a new approach?

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.


  1. YES! I often find that as someone is speaking, my poor mind is off wandering in another direction, as they have spoken a "key" word, or phrase that sets me off. Terrible, isn't it?

    Perhaps you need to attend one of the US churches. Hmmm....particularly the charasmatic ones. Many churches actually provide paper for sermon notes! Come to think of it, perhaps you might set a new standard and gain favor! After all, who would not stand greatly complimented by his words being recorded for posterity??? And your fellow parishers (?) might feel greatly compelled to follow suit!

    I would love to see your sermon notes! (my own would probably contain a great deal of "doodles" on them!!!!!)

  2. Ah, but I don't take notes! I fly by the seat of my pants, as usual...and write the piece for the paper before it all flies out of my head.

  3. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Chris, there is always the alternative of using one of those tiny and inexpensive solid-state recorders and letting it take verbatim notes. The mind is freed to hear what it needs without guilt, and the software can allow you to use your home computer like a stenographer's recorder. Not so good if the sermon is terribly dull, but a real boon, otherwise

  4. Ah, but then, Walter, it'd not have the same stimulating effect on the aging brain!