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From Medieval Mnemonics to a Social Construction of Memory - page 13 / 23





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bringing them nearer to Christ, and making them more lively and active in his service” (p. 233).

Memory itself became a vexed issue in these casebooks of conscience. For example, Christian subjects often wanted to remember their conversion experi- ences to verify that they were indeed children of God. Case XXVIII of Pike and Hayward’s (1808) book opens with the query,

A person has had a religious education and can not remember at any time or place, when or where, God first wrought upon his soul; what judgment must he form of his state, and what methods must he take to be satisfied that he is a child of God? (p. 233)

Memory was critical to distinguish a time of grace from a time of sinning and provided a sort of legal or contractual verification of one’s closeness to Christ:

It is true I have been sober from my youth, and I am not chargeable with any gross immoralities; my conversion could not therefore be so visible as that of the open and profane sinner, yet there is a great difference between mere morality and grace; and if good work is begun in me, whenever it was, the charge was great; and must I not remember some of the happy circumstances? (Pike & Hayward, 1808, p. 233)

Pike and Hayward wrote that concerns such as these

are often a stumbling to the humble Christian, who cannot remember the time and circumstances of his conversion, and he is ready to fear that he is no more than an outward professor, and shall one day absolutely fall, and make it appear that he never received that grace of God in truth. (p. 234)

MODERNITY: MARX (1818-1883) AND LUKÁCS (1885-1971)

Martin Luther was the “liberator of conscience” until confronted with the end result of his liberation enterprise, which was neo-Platonic mysticism (as used in medieval meditation) integrated with Protestant illuminism. Then Luther reverted, wrote Nelson (1965), to the “medieval truism that conscientia (con- science) was meaningless without scientia (knowledge) . . . this endorsement of medieval intellectualism was a blow against the unrestricted emancipation of the conscience from super personal norms” (p. 70). Marx’s (1978) analysis of alienation stemming from commodity fetishism raises the issue of the commod- ity character of social life in the modern world. For Marx, the commodity simply provides one more historical example of human subjects’ displacing their self- consciousness onto external figures or objects. Having developed his analysis of alienation from his critique of Hegel’s conception of history and spiritual self- knowledge, Marx saw in both religion and commodity fetishism a common

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