I’m not normally given to certain Americanism’s, but this one seems much better than “The last four letters in ‘American’ are I CAN!” It’s especially true when the point here dovetails nicely with something I’ve always thought as well: Bible memorization seems like a fairly sneaky, Biblicist way to distance ourselves from creedal and catechetical memorization. Of course, it’s not that there is anything wrong with committing Scripture to memory, but we only have so many megabytes in our brains. It seems the catechetical scribes not only understood the importance of systematic theology, but also that it can be both pastoral and accessible.
Plus, it has always seemed to me that Scripture is a text whose familiarity is best nurtured by simply being read and heard, over and over again. There is almost something religiously defeating about breaking Scripture up into parts and making it a text to be memorized like flash cards. It may be a function of our rather rationalistic age where pew-sitters furiously take notes instead of exercising the most important muscle of faith, the ear. I’m also not particularly given to pointing out how the world is going to hell in a hand basket as evidenced by one lost practice or another, but it could be that the relative discomfort with simply sitting down and listening is a lost discipline. (I know my own children find my reminders to use their ears during private and public worship fairly annoying.) But the gospel is all about sitting and listening. If we want work, catechetical memorization seems to fill the bill. But could it be that Bible memorization, as opposed to Bible familiarity, actually works against a better balanced piety?