March 18, 2013

Shortcut to the Ten Commandments

Can you name the ten commandments in order? While my six-year-old's been learning them, I realized how unlikely it would be for me to be able to rattle them off in the correct order. If she's going to learn them -- and she has -- then I better make sure I know them too. So I reached back to my schooling days and will share with you the Adam Introvert style of learning.

I survived (academically) from elementary school all the way through college by finding totally unrelated trigger words that would help me memorize whatever fact I needed to know. I know this is not the best way to learn things since it's kind of similar to how a parrot learns to talk. But it works for me.

For this exercise, I'll use the text of the commandments straight from the USCCB website (which happens to be a handy companion to the Priest in My Pocket). Based on the Adam Introvert Memorization Method (AIMM), the easiest way to learn them is to associate each number with something in the commandment, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the actual meaning.

Here goes, but please keep in mind that not all of my memory cues are suitable for kids:

 1) I am the Lord, your God; you shall not have strange Gods before me. This is #1, and there's only one God. That's an easy one to remember.

2) You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For #2, I think of two words people often say in violation of this commandment: "My God." Remember, if you say those words, you'd better be praying. My daughter heard this and said, "But people say 'Oh my God' which is three words." Too bad this isn't the third commandment.

3) Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day. For #3, My church has three (English) Masses on Sunday, and Sunday is the Lord's day.
4)  Honor your father and your mother. For #4, there are four people in my household; two of them are our kids, and they need to honor the adults.

5) You shall not kill. For #5, some witnesses in the O.J. Simpson murder case asserted their 5th amendment privilege on the stand. This is how I remember it, but it's not kid friendly. As an alternative (and to avoid having to explain the Simpson case to children), you can remember that five rhymes with alive. If you aren't alive, you're dead and perhaps were killed.

6)  You shall not commit adultery. For #6, the number six is very similar to another word that is something people do when they commit adultery. This is another one that's not suitable for kids. I haven't thought of an alternative. But luckily my daughter already memorized this commandment without needing the Adam method.

7) You shall not steal. For #7, if you go to a 7-11 store, you shouldn't steal anything.

8)  You shall not commit false witness against another. For #8, I never watched the show Eight is Enough (remember, I don't watch much TV), but with eight people in the family, I bet they used to gossip about each other.

9) You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. For #9, if your neighbor is German and you ask her out on a date, she would say nein which is German for no.

10) You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. For #10, if your neighbor has ten cars in his driveway, you shouldn't covet any of them. (If it's the same German neighbor, maybe each car is a Mercedes).

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  1. Thanks, I really appreciate this. I will try it out and see if it I retain the order as you have prompted.

  2. You fiddled around with the ten commandments! Where is the "Thou shalt not make for yourselves any graven image"?

    1. Thanks for the question. As noted, the source of this text of the commandments was the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I understand there are some differences in the commandments used by the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches. Besides any differences in spiritual interpretations, this can also cause some humorous confusion too. Someone told me there's a pest control company that has the slogan, "Breaking the sixth commandment every day." The joke makes sense based on the Protestant list. But as a Catholic, I would wonder why a pest control company is proud to commit adultery!