Skip to main content

The Gift of Forgetting

There are many attributes of human behaviour that are considered "deformed". One of them is poor memory retention. But as this story cited in by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger (in Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age) illustrates the ability to forget things is a gift from God. 
Researchers have recently published the case of AJ, a 41-year-old woman in California, who does not have the biological gift of forgetting. Since she was 11, she remembers practically every day—not in the sense of a day that passed, but in astonishing, agonizing detail. She remembers what exactly she had for breakfast three decades ago; she recalls who called her and when, and what happened in each episode of the television shows she watched—in the 1980s. She does not have to think hard. Remembering is easy for her—her memory is “uncontrollable, and automatic” like a movie “that never stops.” Instead of bestowing AJ with a superb facility, her memory repeatedly restricts her ability to decide, and to move on. It seems that those that have the capacity to store and recall unusual amounts of what they experience, feel and think, would like to be able to turn off their capacity to remember—at least temporarily. They feel shackled by their constantly present past, so much so that it constrains their daily lives, limits their decision-making ability, as well as their capacity to forge close ties with those who remember less..
In a world where there's no forgetting, human relations would be fractured. Life would be boring. Many experiences would not be exciting. The list of disadvantages is endless. Of course this does raise the question - is forgetting a product of the fall of man or was it there from the beginning? If, as I suspect that forgetfulness is part of the original pre-fallen state of man, there's no reason to assume there's anything deformed about forgetting. It is not a form of imperfection of man per se. But all of this is mere logical conjecture. But I mention it because of other related questions natural creep in mind - can and does God will himself to forget? And, if so, how is that consistent with his divine omniscience? Crucially, what is really divine omniscience and how does that relate to the nature of reality? Questions all worth pondering and some we shall return to in due course, if I don't forget! 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I am what I am by Gloria Gaynor

Beverly Knight closed the opening ceremony of the Paralympics with what has been dubbed the signature tune of the Paralympics. I had no idea Ms Knight is still in the singing business. And clearly going by the raving reviews she will continue to be around. One media source says her performance was so electric that "there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen as she sang the lyrics to the song and people even watching at home felt the passion in her words" . The song was Gloria Gaynor's I am what I am . Clearly not written by Gloria Gaynor but certainly musically owned and popularized by her. It opens triumphantly: I am what I am / I am my own special creation / So come take a look / Give me the hook or the ovation / It's my world that I want to have a little pride in / My world and it's not a place I have to hide in / Life's not worth a damn till you can say I am what I am The words “I am what I am” echo over ten times in the song. A bold declaration that she

The Price of Obedience

If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it—“You call this Christianity?” We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be. - OSWALD CHAMBERS This is by far the hardest thing we are likely to struggle with as we seek to live lives that are totally surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. What if obeying God meant that your family members lost a well-known or well-loved circle of acquaintances? Had to move to a smaller house? Drove uglier cars? Wore older clothes? Lived by a weekly rather monthly budget?Accepting this part of obeying God is especially difficult for men or women who are the breadwinners for their families. The c

Welcome to the Christian Life

What if someone promised you the perfect place to live, in a more beautiful location than you had ever seen or imagined, with every single one of your needs met and where you would be surrounded by relationships of love forever? What if that person told you that you would need to surrender what you now have, that the journey would be long, and that there would be sacrifices and suffering along the way, but at the end the glories that have been pictured for you would be yours? What if someone promised that when you become weak and disheartened, someone would be there to encourage and strengthen you, so you could continue the journey? What if this person said that there is a place in this gloryland prepared just for you? What would you say and do as you compared the small bag of things you have now to the unprecedented beauty of the gift laid before you? Wouldn’t you say, “I’ll take that journey”? Wouldn’t you be willing to make those sacrifices? Wouldn’t you, in moments of discouragemen