Repetition (Part 4) – Memorization

Part 1 – Game Loops

Part 2 – Paul the Tentmaker

Part 3 – Power Tools and The Messianic Secret

Part 4 – Memorization


At the same time, I always found myself with a love of memorization. They teach you to do this in school, of course, before you retain the ability to form cogent long-form thoughts. Still, I memorized most things to an extraordinary degree. I wouldn’t bother study for most finals and midterms in advance; I would simply memorize most of the material the night before and do fine.

In the current moment, I use my memorization skills to retain the most worthless factoids and information possible, especially about video games. It literally perturbs me when people get information wrong, and I just MUST correct them or my inner sense of memorization justice spirals out of control. I don’t know why I act this way, but my brain likes facts both correct and in my head, regardless of their usefulness (to anyone).

Of course, I don’t think I was born with a natural inclination to do it. I naturally picked up the skill due to my own inclinations and requirements. Heck, I can’t imagine being who I am today without memorizing so many facts, some instantly forgotten upon receiving a grade for a test (phew, those were the days). Such talents take work!

And, if you think about it, the Internet actively discourages such memorization. We can know pretty much anything we want directly at our fingertips, either via tablet, smartphone, computer, or whatever device of the future happens to insert itself into the modern zeitgeist. Frankly, I find this makes most people less interesting conversation partners, all said (I mean, if you don’t know much of anything it’s hard to really say much of anything, right?), and that’s a travesty in itself.

That core of repetitious activity gives us a respite from the rigors of constant intellectual processes and self-reflection. Honestly, I find memorizing, though often a rote action, helps to ease my mind from whatever I’m currently obsessed with, an easing of the mind. You could say it is exactly what most philosophers, theologians, and who knows who else would like to do: take a break. Take a Sabbath off, and just do something repetitious; I guarantee it does something wonderful for your mental state.



I believe God enjoys repetition; why else would he deal with us so? We often stumble in the same ways with the same problems that plagued us since our fall. And yet, God chooses to have such things happen. Creation’s full of repetition in myriad ways, from weather to nature’s functions. I think we, too, see something of the creator in repetition – it is, in a sense, a way of seeing the imago dei. I think this Chesterton quote sums it up best.

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.