Ditch the 'Reverential Monotone'

Why does everyone always read the Bible with less expression than a zombie suffering caffeine withdrawal? You’ll never remember verses unless you let these words live.

A major secret to learning the Bible by heart is to unlock the rhythms of the text. But at first, speaking the Bible with rhythm may seem unnatural. Even disrespectful.

Why? Because we in the English-speaking world have this bizarre tradition of the reverential monotone.

Ditch the “Reverential Monotone”

Think about church. Unless you’re very lucky, your lector “proclaims” the readings with less expression than your GPS. You’d get more drama from R2D2.

Somehow, we’ve gotten the idea that the Bible needs a special voice: a dead monotone.

But what’s so reverent about a monotone? These words are alive, and so are you. A Bible is just a sacred suitcase to carry those words from Christ to you.

Sadly, the words had to have all the expression and intonation hacked off so they’d fit in the suitcase. Your job is to unpack them, and try to get them back to normal.

The monotone is not normal. The monotone is dead. When our cultural air is thick with the conviction that the Bible is a dead old distant book with nothing to offer, a monotone is the worst possible choice.

The monotone is also the worst possible choice for remembering.

Let the Words Live

Freeing the rhythms helps the words live. But you want to go even farther. You want to tell the story.

Think about telling a story to a friend. Or reading a story to a child. The expression comes naturally. It flows from what’s happening in the story.

So tell the story. Expression will come naturally. Ditch the “reverential monotone”. Let these words live.