Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

War Machine

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle -- Psalms 144:1

Thought, memory, knowledge, and wisdom are not limited to the brain.  The brain is certainly a processing center for learning, but it is not the only or even in many cases the primary data storage center.  A wide receiver running a route and a quarterback throwing to him are not relying all that much on brain power to complete a pass on third and long.  Harvard and MIT are usually not playing for the NCAA championship.  The same is true on the side of the defenders, the pass rusher and the cornerback.  A lot is happening that has nothing to do with what we usually mean when we talk about thought.  Yet all of the actions are learned and the result of hours of practice and training as well as game experience.

Muscle memory is a term that has become popular in a lot of areas over the last couple of decades.  It has replaced, to some extent, the older term of hand-eye coordination.  Rhythm, timing, grace, all these are functions of knowledge that reside in the body.  No one can think fast enough to hit a 95-mph fastball.  No one can think fast enough to tap dance, or dance in general.  You can watch someone like me try to dance and realize that it is a long way from the brain to the foot. 

I remember well my first quail hunts as I tried to think through all the pointers I had been given after the covey flushed.  Most of the time I never even got off a shot, and, when I did, it just gave the bird a little tail wind.  It wasn’t until I could stop thinking that I started hitting.  The same thing is true of skeet shooting or shooting a basketball, driving nails or driving a car.  Your brain knows quite well right from the start what needs to be done to ride a bicycle.  It’s your body that is not going along with the program.

Sometimes we can be disparaging of religious rituals, spiritual disciplines, kneeling in prayer, raising hands in worship, and other external forms.  Christianity, though, is more than mental assent.  Faith is more than thinking something is probably right.  Ritual, ceremony, and forms put knowledge into the body as well as the soul and spirit.  The body is passing away, to be sure, but it will be resurrected, saved and glorified.  We were talking about Elisha yesterday.  It might be well to remember that a dead man thrown into Elisha’s grave touched the prophet’s bones and was brought back to life (2 Kings 13:20-21). 

A body that is disciplined in righteousness helps us to live righteously in all areas and enables us to war more effectively against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

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John Lien said...

Ritual, ceremony, and forms put knowledge into the body as well as the soul and spirit.

Yes, I've come to understand the value of this only recently.

Also, to act out these rituals, in public, is a good ego destroyer for those of us crippled with pride.

mushroom said...

Yes, that's a good point. I think Justin is having a positive influence on us.