Last Saturday night, I found myself in downtown Orlando for a free street concert by the Gin Blossoms just outside of City Hall. The concert was great. The band sounded just like we were back in their heyday of the mid ’90s. (The Gin Blossoms broke up in the late ’90s, reunited in 2004 and released their first new album in a decade last year.) I didn’t know any of their new songs but I found myself singing along enthusiastically with the old hits that they played. Boy, did they have a lot of hits. Allison Road, Until I Fall Away, Follow You Down, ‘Til I Hear it From You, Found Out About You and, of course, Hey Jealousy, among others.
Tomorrow we can drive around this town
and let the cops chase us around.
The past is gone and something might be found to take its place.
Picking up their first album, New Miserable Experience, from a used CD bin in 1998 was one of the best purchases I ever made. I’ve listened to and enjoyed that album for almost a decade now. It’s no wonder that I could sing the songs word for word at the concert, though I probably haven’t listened to the album for at least 12 months.
What does this have to do with the Westminster Shorter Catechism? I’ll acknowledge that it’s a tenuous bridge at best from a ’90s rock/pop band to a statement of theology from the 17th century.
I spent Saturday afternoon importing musical settings of the catechism into my computer. At my seminary, we are required to pass a catechism test before we graduate. There are 35 questions that we are required to know verbatim. I’m using a set of CDs to help me memorize my 35 questions. After the concert, I was hit again with what a powerful medium music is for memorization. I removed all of my “normal” music from my iPod and only take the catechism songs to the gym with me. I plan on listening to nothing but the Shorter Catechism as I work out. While I’ll readily admit that the melodies are nowhere near as catchy as the Gin Blossoms and the instrumentation is simple, I’m hoping that the sheer amount of time I spend listening to these settings of the catechism will help implant the words into my mind.
As I listened to the songs today, for the first time, I was struck again by the beauty and completeness of the answers of the catechism. We have a tremendous blessing in the catechism to see the fundamentals of our faith boiled down to questions and answers. I hope that my catechism listening will do more than help me pass my test but will help to shape me in the truth of the Scriptures.