Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I blame the amnesia.

Written by: on October 12, 2018

I have been accused of suffering from frequent amnesia. Unfortunately, I must plead guilty to the accusation. For instance, I recently watched one of the many super hero movies that are so popular in my house full of boys. When it was over, I said, “That one was pretty good. I liked it better than the one we watched last time.” My son promptly replied with a hardy laugh, “Mom, it’s the same movie we watched last time.” Movie amnesia is a real thing.

It seems the same is true in my relationship with books. I have been known to read the same chapter multiple times as the beginning fades from my memory when I near the end. It can be frustrating and liberating at the same time. Each experience with a book is new for me, for good or bad.

As if reading my mind, Bayard said, “Reading is not just acquainting ourselves with a text or acquiring knowledge; it is also, from its first moments, an inevitable process of forgetting.”[1] These were liberating words! There have been many conversations where I have sat quietly, thinking I should not speak to subjects that had fallen prey to my amnesia. Bayard has encouraged me to speak up and be confident in my knowledge and where it fits within the “inner library.”

Not reading is opening a new door for me. Truthfully, as I peruse what my classmates and others have said of Bayard, and add their words to my thoughts as I skimmed through the pages, I find myself more open to new perspectives. Now, not only is Bayard my teacher, but so are all those who have drawn from his writing. I open my mind and welcome more voices on the subject at hand.  Against my better judgement, I am challenged to consider the faded memories of what I have read as the filter and starting point to application in my context.

I hear my family calling me for movie night…perhaps we’ll watch something new…new to me.



[1] Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), Kindle Loc. 47.


About the Author

Rhonda Davis

Rhonda is passionate about loving her Creator, her wonderful husband, and her three amazing sons. She serves as VP of Enrollment Management & Student Development at The King's University in Southlake, TX.

11 responses to “I blame the amnesia.”

  1. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    So good to meet you in Hong Kong! Your amnesia sounds somewhat like me falling asleep in the midst of one of our readings. I remember starting and the next thing I know I am dreaming and awaken in a discombobulated state. Then I have to go back to where I last marked my reading, this is why I always buy used books and read with pen in hand. I pray you and yours are well and look forward to seeing you next Monday. H

  2. Jenn Burnett says:

    Superhero movies are definitely the bridging genre in our house! But I have definitely watched some and had to be reminded that I’d already seen them as well. In the midst of that, isn’t it interesting to consider these movies are becoming the inner libraries of our children? And also has me thinking about how much more intentional I want to be about shaping these early libraries and choosing the books they will forget. Perhaps this applies to the people we minister to as well? I often find so many similarities between pastoring and parenting.

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Your amnesia and my brain fog go hand in hand. Your statement of the inner library is the central theme it seems Bayard is pressing us to. Trust the volumes within us. Reality tells us that we all read through our filters so even though we may read the same words, our blog posts reveal how different our filters are. Learning from one another can certainly add volumes to that inner library.

    • Rev Jacob Bolton says:

      Tammy, you write how “reality tells us that we all read through our filters so even though we may read the same words, our blog posts reveal how different our filters are” and I find that fascinating. This is so poignant. Rhonda filters the superhero movies differently than her boys, and it appears like each viewing may filter them differently too.

      Here’s to many different filters, each unique and blessed by God!

      • Rhonda Davis says:

        Amen! to both of you. One of my favorite things about our time in Hong Kong was observing the various perspectives each of us brought to our experiences. We see and understand everything through the filter of our inner library. I am so thankful each of you are composing new volumes in mine.

  4. Rhonda, I too can add a voice in agreeing about forgetting the things we read and having to go back and reread a chapter or paragraph, I catch myself often loosing memory of what I read and having to redo it, because I want to be “thorough” in my reading but still forgetting. I like your reference to the inner library and the how liberating it is know that we don’t have to remember everything and that we indeed have to forget certain things we read in a book to get the idea the book is all about.

  5. Karen Rouggly says:

    Reading amnesia is a real thing! For the longest time, it’s why I felt like I couldn’t skim. I knew I would lose everything! But I also felt Bayard (and Adler) refreshing in that way. Cheers to pursuing new reading styles!

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Yes, Karen! Both Adler and Bayard seem to be giving us the permission we need to take away the meaningful parts of what we read without analyzing every word. It may take me some time, but I am determined to start reading smarter, not harder.

  6. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Your post was great, Rhonda. I’ve done the exact thing – of watching the same movie over again and not realizing until I’ve reached the end. I’ve told my family it’s because my brain is so full of knowledge that the trivia isn’t important! lol. I loved where you noted that you plan to ‘speak up and be more confident in your knowledge.’ It’s great to know that new insight can bring with it a whole new perspective.

  7. Sean Dean says:

    Reading amnesia is certainly a real thing, but I find with myself the issue is more that my brain and eyes are able to perform two separate activities at the same time. I will continue to read while thinking about something else. The point at which my brain realizes my eyes have moved on without it is a point of eternal frustration for me. As I turn the pages back trying to figure out where it was that my brain and eyes last were on the same page (literally and metaphorically), I wonder at why I continued to turn pages as I thought about something else. This has resulted in me reading paragraphs and chapters more times than I can count on a single hand. Somehow what had been read gets mixed in with what I was thinking in my memory, so that the book on Orthodox communion somehow reminds me of my kid’s teacher conference. These two things will be forever linked. This brings a perspective no-one else has, and I think it’s a pleasure to confuse people as I discuss theosis and Dr. Seuss on the same level. Their library will never be the same.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Sean, I am so thankful I am not the only person who suffers with this ailment. Your example of communion and conference being inextricably linked is amusing…this could explain why I always associate turkey with Romans. In my graduate program, I read all my Romans textbooks as I planned Thanksgiving dinner. The idea of these associated memories affecting our “library lens” is very intriguing.

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