Saturday, November 14, 2009


Another sensory dimension to explore in Biblical stories.

Simon the tanner - what does a piece of tanned leather smell like? Do you know what other smells you would smell in a tanner's home or place of work? How 'bout the smells at Simon the Tanner's for an overnight guest? :_) What does Peter's willingness to stay there say about him? Maybe that's why he was on the roof, lol!! Maybe why he was having visions . . . just kidding.

What about a carpenter? The smells of fresh cut wood?

What about the lady who worked with purple dye? What did she look like? What did she smell like?

What does it smell like to be around a farmer or a fisherman? None of this seemed to phase Jesus...

I'm not trying to get weird with this but the way I understand it, smell is important to sensory memory. Smell may be important to remembering a story, making associations, or triggering learning that might not happen without it, even for children. I'm talking off the top of my head now but doesn't sensory memory help create cognitive memory?

God didn't have to tell us what so and so did for a living but He did. Maybe it was an identification tool like "son of" (an other term that brings multi-dimensions to a character because of his/her family and geographical history.)

Apart from job economics and social standing, think about the tools someone used to do his work, what kind of muscles would this person have? Shoulders? Strong fingers? Strong legs?

What kinds of "chemicals" or smells would fill his clothes, workplace, home? Was it sweaty work? Dirty work? Was he always apt to come in with dirt under his fingernails or maybe his/her hands were permanently dyed.

What would you see around the house of a tanner? a potter? a carpenter? a merchant? Maybe opportunities for more speakers or field trips tying past to present. Again, it might take some research to find out what those jobs were like 2000 years ago. And you don't want to overwealm your young audience so they tune out. Do you think it's out of line to use our God-given imaginations this way in order to interact with God's stories?

You can read this and say, it's not relevant to the story. It would take too much time or out-of- class prep or ...."it's a waste of time" but you won't really know what it adds to the story and the things God can show you or the things He might do until you try.

In it's simplist form? A piece of tanned leather when you talk about Simon. A bag of fresh cut wood chips when you talk about a carpenter. A piece of wet clay to smell when you talk about a potter. A farmer's T-shirt when you talk about a farmer. A myrex shell and freshly dyed cloth, when you talk about purple dye. 150 years ago in Upstate NY children could walk down the street and experience the sights, sounds, and smells from lots of jobs they might find in the scriptures and not even give it a thought. That kind of sensory understanding and association was part of life for most people. Not so today.

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