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Friday 20 May 2011

Making it memorable: preaching the Bible in forgetful times.

This weekend I'm leading a couple of workshops on collective memory and preaching.  This is the handout for those sessions.  I intend to amplify some of the points in future blogs:
Maurice Halbwachs (11 March 1877 - 16 March 1945), the French philosopher and sociologist who was the originator of the concept of
collective memory.
Remembering is not just recall.  We remember by communicating with one another.
Remembering is a process of organising and structure.
Memories are ordered in relationship to the epochs of our lives.
Social belonging determines what is memorable. 
Memories are ‘situated/located’ in specific groups and specific places and times.  
Some of what we remember we haven’t experienced but we remember it because it is important to the group to which we belong.

Remembering always serves the present.

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
John 12.16
Memories are therefore held together by participation.
Western culture is ‘a culture of amnesia’ (Andreas Huyssen).
For the Christian faith ours are forgetful times.  If participation is an essential component of remembering, how is the faith memory to be maintained without participation?  It is as if the links in our chains of memory are corroding and getting ever thinner.  Perhaps some of the links are already broken (Danièle Hervieu-Léger)
Every Christian gathering is a mnemonic event.  We remember we are remembered by God.

Preaching in an amnesic society [three ‘Is’ and three ‘Ps’]:
  • ·         Intentional memory work (soul work not information)
  • ·         Immersed in the tradition (Scripture never just ‘wallpaper’)
  • ·         Imagination that goes beyond the obvious (create links)
  • ·         Presentist (what it means not what it meant)
  • ·         Performative (a creative event in which all play a part)
  • ·         Productive (creates memory)

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