[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ast month, I answered a question about Bible Study in one of my Seven Quick Takes posts. I said that I had wanted to start off the New Year with something a little different — that I had discovered the Journal and Doodle Bible studies from Kari Denker and that I had gotten the free Ephesians study to try it out. I should be done with that study by now, but my two weeks of being down from the flu tripped me up on a lot of things, studying anything being one of them. So I’m still in the middle of finishing it up.
But I will tell you this: I’m now a total fan girl for these!
Allow me to explain…
Our world moves at lightning speed. (I know I don’t have to tell you this; you already know.) Last year, I discovered this amazing thing: the ESV Bible app for my iPod. I was impressed. It was so easy to navigate. Now I could have my Bible with me in my pocket. That’s something! I thought to myself.
I still think it’s something, but I also found it problematic.
I don’t own an ESV. I decided I wanted to read some of the Epistles in this version, so I spent a few months reading from the app (instead of my paper Bible, which is a KJV) almost exclusively. (Except in church — I don’t bring technology to church.)
You know what I learned?
I learned that when I’m reading on my iPod, I feel distracted. I have more trouble concentrating — especially if notifications start popping up at the top of the screen. I read faster, but retain less. There is almost zero meditation unless I’m super deliberate.
I’m not saying this is what happens to you; I’m just saying it’s what happens to me.
I’m still glad to have a Bible in my pocket. That is convenient. But I’ve returned to reading and studying on paper.
Enter the Journal and Doodle approach.
I keep learning again and again the importance of moving at the speed of write — handwriting, I mean — that drawing and writing are more valuable to the learning process than photographing and typing (even though I love to type). I’ve said before that I think my best blog posts were originally written out by hand. For all of my book clubs, I write everything out by hand as my prep. This always works for me.
I’m sure one component is the additional sensory input involved in the act of writing. But I don’t think it’s just that. Writing is such a slow process, and yet we really have to pay attention to what we are doing. We can’t write one thing and think about another. As we’re writing or drawing, we’re forced to slow waaaayyyy down, and the result is that meditation becomes almost a given. We have to think over it again and again, a word at a time, for an extended period of time, because we’re copying it, or symbolizing it in a drawing.
This is a powerful thing.
Whereas with reading on my iPod, I had to be really deliberate about paying attention and being thoughtful about what I was reading, with journaling and doodling, the opposite is true: attention and thoughtfulness are the default posture. I don’t have to work so hard to get there.
In the book The Living Page (which I highly recommend), Laurie Bestvater says:
[N]otebooks can be forms of vitality, … the liturgy of the attentive life.
Attentiveness is the key to learning. We can’t learn if we’re not paying attention. And so, when I’m schooling my children, I am constantly using methods that train and require attention — that hone attention naturally. Notebooks are a part of that. And while I have always kept a sort of Scripture notebook (except, ironically, when I needed it most: during my iPod reading stint)}, the structure Kari Denker has provided in her studies has been just what I needed: a method for me that honed attention naturally. She incorporates so many simple steps: pray, read, highlight (unless you’re me, in which case you underline), journal, doodle, mapwork, copywork, etc.
In the doodling portion (which I at first feared would feel silly to me) I learned that it can be a complex process to try to take a verse or a passage and then symbolize it in some way. While the studies come with videos on some basic doodles for those of us who (like me) feel a little awkward at first, I quickly found myself at home, using them as yet another way to slow down and be thoughtful about what I was reading in Scripture.
I now highly, highly recommend hand writing at least part of what you are reading during your Bible times. If you feel like you need some structure to help you along, try out one of Kari Denker’s studies!
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