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Kiki and Booba in the pulpit

When psychologist Wolfgang Kohler presented people with the two shapes below and asked them which was called ‘kiki’ and which ‘booba’, the results were surprisingly clear. Which would you name as which?



In fact , between 95% and 98% named the angular shape on the left as ‘Kiki’ and the rounded one on the right as ‘Booba’.  It gave some indication as to the function of naming in language, and also indicated the way in which the brain makes connections. Occasionally we can ‘cross’ over from one sense to the other – as people have done here with assigning a sound [hearing] to a shape [sight]. People with synaesthesia, or synesthetes, take this involuntarily one stage further.  For some synesthetes, particular letters are always perceived as a particular colour (‘O’ as white and ‘T’ as blue, for instance) and for others particular words may have their own flavour.For some individuals, and in some cultures this is seen as a gift (like a kind of second sight), whilst for others it is simply a condition which must be endured.

As preachers we do our best to apply the word of God to those who will listen to it. In order to do so, we need to encourage them to make connections in order to retain what is heard. The more often we forge connections between different parts of the brain, the greater the synapses , or neural pathways, become down which information can travel.  Like  the sheep track below, travelling many times down the same pathway makes it permanent and permits easy travel. This is why good preaching, like good teaching, connects the senses together.  Connecting together the audio and the visual in preaching, or even the theoretical and the practical, helps to hone the Christian mind as an instrument for God.

Image: Copyright Sarah McGuire

In our church we have set ourselves the target of learning 50 Bible verses by heart as part of Biblefresh year. Whilst ‘memory verses’ is something often associated with children’s work – it is a rather different prospect when it involves all ages. In order to help us we are using images, sounds, and (wherever possible) physical objects. With only 5 verses learnt so far, it is too early to tell whether the approach is working. However, this multi-sensory approach can be used for preaching as well as for learning verses by heart, surely?

To what extent does our preaching encourage those who listen to it to connect their senses together, do you think?

Richard Littledale

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