Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church
December 5, 2008
Over the years my Mother-in-law has always kindly asked me about my sermon topics for the coming week. I usually write my sermons on Thursday morning. I am not sure why, I just always have. That gives me time to edit them or complete them on Friday morning if need be. Occasionally it is Saturday morning. But on a Saturday morning my Mother-in-law will ask me what my Sunday sermon is about…and most of the time I draw a blank. This bothered me somewhat. Why could I not recall my own written sermon? The sermon, which I would present the following morning on Sunday, was simply not in my brain. Indeed, it was in the computer. All I had to do was go into Word and locate it by date and print it out and carry it to the pulpit.
But, once I had it “in the bag” I must have wiped it clean off my brain-memory “hard drive” thus freeing up room for other things. At least, that is how I would see it. Turns out, I was right on the money.
I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal (gotta pay attention to another of our religion…wealth) about the benefits of forgetting. No, I am not going to talk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Those are not jokes and this essay is not about aging and forgetting. It is about having SO much to remember or to process that we must let some of our memories go. Or as Melinda Beck wrote in the article, “But if you didn’t forget, you’d recall all kinds of extraneous information from your life that would drown you in a sea of inefficiency.”
Ah, so it is very efficient of me to forget my sermon once it is written down so that I have room in my brain for more…stuff!
I read an article recently about people who can recall everything about their lives. I am not talking about “everything”…I am talking about “EVERYTHING”! (Which leads one to ask…”How come I can remember someone else’s article about ‘recalling’…and not remember my own just-written sermon?” THAT would be a great psychological study about the brain functions of Bob Tussing…but I digress.)
It seems there are people whose lives are a continuous looping tape of every detail of their lives. They can recall the weather on the day of June 13th in 1968 when they were 7 years old. They can recall what they ate for lunch in the school cafeteria their Junior year of high school. And frankly, the details of their life overwhelm them with boring extraneous detail, yet they are helpless to let go of all those details.
Here is what I think. I think we have too much to remember. There are too many details of everything to remember. Too many things that we must do each day with too many details of those things and then we become overwhelmed and that which is needed to be noticed or remembered gets lost in the abundance of memories. In other words…information overload. Clearly, this is not an original idea of mine. I am certain that you have read about this notion many times before….though you may have forgotten it and thus you are likely to give me credit for an original concept. I will gladly accept the credit.
A couple examples that we have been pondering here in the office.
We put an insert in the bulletin for the past couple weeks concerning ordering Poinsettias for the sanctuary. Recently we noticed what the insert said…
If you read it enough, it just might make sense and mean that you, the person ordering, have no choice in the matter of color but a higher authority will make the choice. Or you can read it and decide it makes no sense at all. But the point is…no one has ever commented on this apparent inconsistency on the order form. And it has been worded thusly on an insert like this since 2004! Are we too busy to notice or do we not retain the memory of the strangely worded line because it is unimportant to us?
For the past 3 months we have been talking about Stewardship and the importance of turning in one’s pledge card. We have written people. Announcements have been made before the worship service. I have preached on pledging. There has been more written about the Stewardship Campaign than the recent Presidential Election. A week ago a church member brought in his pledge card and asked, “Is this the time to turn these in? I am not sure if it is.”
What he was really telling us was…there is too much going on out there. Too much to process. Too much to remember. Like Sergeant Joe Friday in the old Dragnet TV show, we want… “The facts, Ma’am, just the facts.”
So, to make things simple. To keep your memory uncluttered in the most cluttered time of year…here are the facts.
Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing