According to a University of Missouri Study, we spend 45% of our time listening in an average day (30% speaking, 16% reading, 9% writing) and the study confirms we are inefficient listeners. This UM study also verified that we can speak at about 145-160 words-per-minute (wpm) and can process at about 400 wpm. We therefore get bored and distracted easily. People are using only 25% of listening capacity on any given occasion.
I wonder have our listening and speaking skills improved or declined since the days of Jesus?
The apostle Mark uses a literary technique called “intercalation” that helps our wandering minds–and captivating speakers also use this to hold listener’s attention.
Intercalation is enclosing or “sandwiching” one story in the middle of a different story (forming A1,B,A2 pattern), so that each affects the interpretation of the other.
A1) Mark 5:21-24 Jairus asks Jesus to heal his dying daughter
B)5:25-34 A bleeding woman touches Jesus’ clothes
A2)Mark 5:35-43 Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus to life
While your mind is still unwinding the first story, the second one is interjected..and then your brain starts to contrast without being told to and putting together these episodes, like pearls on a string. There are many of these in Mark. (see 2:1-12 healing/forgiveness)
Another literary technique called “parataxis” is being employed–where a writer summarizes action so your mind forms a picture. Parataxis favors using simple sentences— See five controversy stories (2:1-3:6) four miracles (4:1-5:43) three passion predictions (8:31-10:45)
Listening and being able to repeat what was said AND understand the message was imperative in ancient Israel.
To improve listening habits consider these tips: 1.Do not pre-judge subject matter to be presented (do you look at the sermon title and check out before it has started?) 2.Do not criticize the appearance of the speaker–is that necessary? 3) Listen only for facts-no!-there is MUCH more to hear (Jesus spoke in parables 4) Don’t fake attention (take notes to help) 5) Remove distractions (use your time wisely) 6) Make a mental summary as you listen (one word helps!) Do not be a lazy listener
How do we read and listen today? Are we distracted? Do we need to be amused rather than bristled to make changes? When have you had a discussion about what Jesus said with someone? Do you admit when you are puzzled? Who do you ask…when you are perplexed?
Use the sandwich technique of intercalation and see how it works. We like to consume our food in many courses, why not the gospel?