The Pulpit and the Memory Palace: How a Classical Practice Can Help Contemporary Pastors to Preach by Heart
The following thesis considers the benefits of classical rhetoric for contemporary preaching, with special reference to the classical memorization technique known as the method of loci (or Memory Palace). The goal for this research is to discern how the method of loci can help pastors to “preach by heart,” that is, to internalize the sermon such that they can preach it without notes as though it were an extemporaneous Spirit-prompted utterance. To this end, the thesis is structured around two parts. Following an Introduction that sets out the practical challenges to preaching by heart that attend many pastors, Part 1 provides a survey of classical rhetoric, especially the so-called “modes of persuasion” and “canons of rhetoric,” before then turning specifically to the canon of Memoria (“memory”) and its concomitant practice of the Memory Palace. Part 2 applies the insights of the first part to the process of sermon preparation more broadly, and then walks through the practice of the Memory Palace for preaching in particular. A Conclusion recapitulates the argument and demonstrates the method of loci in practice.
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