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James Mangum
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I am a teacher of ninth-grade students in a religion class. As part of our curriculum, we encourage the students to memorize passages of scripture. This is a goal that carries very little intrinsic motivation, so I have been looking at gamification.

However, I do not want to fall into the badges and levels. Instead, I would like to follow ideas like that of Scott Nicholson. However, I do not think I have found the right keywords to find more research like his. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find some great articles on meaningful gamification in the classroom?
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J. H. Horatio
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bromangum wrote:
I am a teacher of ninth-grade students in a religion class. As part of our curriculum, we encourage the students to memorize passages of scripture. This is a goal that carries very little intrinsic motivation, so I have been looking at gamification.

However, I do not want to fall into the badges and levels. Instead, I would like to follow ideas like that of Scott Nicholson. However, I do not think I have found the right keywords to find more research like his. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find some great articles on meaningful gamification in the classroom?


"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon."
- Napoleon Bonaparte
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Bret Clifton
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At the first SaltCon (before it was called 'A Gathering of Strangers') I met a gentleman who was working on a deck building game where each card had a scripture on it and they all had a special ability that came from each particular passage. I don't remember his name or know anything else about him, unfortunately, but I thought the idea was really fascinating!

It seems like there has to be some way to use that in a game. Scripture Mastery scriptures could each be a card with a tied-in power used either in a deck builder or, in a board game, give your pawn(s)/workers/you abilities and/or activate abilities towards a larger goal (exaltation? Scripture Master? Bodyguard to the Prophet? I dunno. I'm spit balling here)

Anyway, FWIW I thought it was a fascinating possibility, but it certainly would have to be done very cleverly to work right. I think it could though.
 
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Robert Sell
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What is the purpose of the memorization? How will the information serve the student? TBH there are very few things in life that need to be memorized, and most students at that age are aware of it. Sadly gamifying something doesn't always make it practical or fun.

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James Mangum
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oddtime wrote:
What is the purpose of the memorization? How will the information serve the student? TBH there are very few things in life that need to be memorized, and most students at that age are aware of it. Sadly gamifying something doesn't always make it practical or fun.



It is funny that you should ask about the purpose. I have just been sitting here trying to puzzle it out. I believe it is mostly help them to answer questions--either their own or those of others.

As for your comment about the students awareness, I agree with you. They are incredible students and they work hard on memorization, so they forget it soon after. The program is called Scripture Mastery and I would like there to be a little more mastery.
 
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James Mangum
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bretcliftawn wrote:
At the first SaltCon (before it was called 'A Gathering of Strangers') I met a gentleman who was working on a deck building game where each card had a scripture on it and they all had a special ability that came from each particular passage. I don't remember his name or know anything else about him, unfortunately, but I thought the idea was really fascinating!



The idea of a deck building game sounds great. I wonder if this gentleman ever finished it.

I have thought about using "locating," "applying," and "memorizing." As three levels that would increase the power of a particular card. I even have a fun theme: Scripture Mastery Kung Fu (you advance in belts over the course of the semester until you become the Scripture Grand Master and other students have to call you sensei).

However the theme does not match the lesson to be learned. So I am looking for resources that address how closely a games theme needs to match the purpose in order to be most effective. If anyone knows any good sources, I would love to take a look at it.
 
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The fastest and easiest way to gameify a memorization exercise is to link successful memorization to movement along a track, both to advance your token or retard the movement of an opponent's token. Since most students are familiar with roll and move mechanics, little time need be spent teaching the rules to the game.

For example: Divide a class of 30 students into ten teams of three. Draw ten vertical tracks on the board (or overhead, or on the computer with projected image, etc.) Put magnetic tokens on the bottom spaces and inform students that the first team to ascend to the gates of heaven (the top space on the track) gets extra credit or whatever.

You provide a prompt (chapter and verse? a hypothetical situation addressed by a particular verse?) and students raise hands if they think they can answer. Correct answers allow their team to advance two spaces towards heaven, or move an opposing team one space back down.

Or reverse this and make the objective avoiding the pits of hell! Correct answers move two opposing teams down the track towards eternal damnation, or their own team back up one space.

If you want to add some scriptural geography to the game, replace the movement tracks with a projected map overlaid with a grid (Battleship style.) Teams represent apostles trying to convert pagan populations in the eastern mediterranean. Correct answers let a team call out a square. If that square contains Corinth, then they have successfully converted the Corinthians, etc.

You can make this as thematic as you wish, but the base engine is simply "successful memorization = a move in the game."

P.S. I'm not trying to be flip about this exercise. I'm not a religion teacher and don't know what themes would be appropriate or not for your class. The idea is to make successful memorization competitive without resorting to a "bee."
 
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Dave Anderson
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I am in charge of a scripture memorization program at my school and have had some successful ideas, but I am still trying to improve it. These aren't gammification ideas, but I thought I would share them.

First of all, I think meditation is more beneficial than rote memorization. There is a great website called www.figure8scripturememory.com that approaches memorization through meditation. I consistently tell the students I want the Scriptures in their hearts AND minds, but like most of us, procrastination often gets the best of many of them. What I've done to help with this is ask the teachers to begin each class by reciting the verse with the students. This way the students are hearing the passage consistently throughout the day.

Another tactic I have used, especially for larger passages, is to bring in for chapel a buddy of mine who is a great artist and have him illustrate the passage for the students, explaining it as he goes. We then let the students take pictures of it with their phones, study using it, and even use the picture during the test. They have really liked this!

One of our Bible teachers always puts motions to the verses and has her students do them, often videoing them and throwing them on Facebook.

I also do an oral review every 4-5 passages in which the students have 3 days to orally recite the previously learned passages to teachers or parent volunteers. This has helped with retention.

I still feel like my program is not optimal, but it is getting better!
 
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A part of gamification Scott talks about is reflection. I think the best way to get kids to memorize anything is to give it relevant meaning to tasks at hand. This could be as simple as coming up with daily hypothetical dilemmas for them to answer with scripture. Perhaps they won't have the rote memorization as immediately as you would like, but if scripture becomes a natural part of their daily dealings, they will memorize scripture out of course.

I'm not a Christian, but the rote memorization I hated in schools was that of world maps/countries in a particular continent. It wasn't until I went to a college that was known for its geography program that I realized that the "where?" was useless without the "why?" When you learn the why, the where follows.

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David Larson
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Have you used Quizlet? It's a web-based quiz generator that works well for matching games. You or your students can enter the reference and the text, which can be randomized, used online as flash cards or in matching games.

It's useful on its own, and it might be a helpful mechanism for something more engaging, progressive.

I like the idea of memorization, which empowers students to know the information without having to look it up. It's more convincing to oneself or others to say, "In 2nd Opinions, it says..." as opposed to, "I read somewhere blah, blah, blah...something like that."

I also appreciate your hierarchy of identification, application, and memorization. It makes sense that students can understand in the context of their own lives before they memorize. Nice.

Let us know what you come up with. Especially if it's today, because I may use it for Sunday school tomorrow.

(edit: wonky hyperlink)
 
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David Larson
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goatsarecool wrote:
A part of gamification Scott talks about is reflection. I think the best way to get kids to memorize anything is to give it relevant meaning to tasks at hand. This could be as simple as coming up with daily hypothetical dilemmas for them to answer with scripture.
(emphasis added)

This makes me think of two game scenarios, both of them subjective, which invite further reflection, interpretation, and engagement.

What about some a Game of Life-type track, where opportunities or challenges are presented, for which scriptures are particularly relevant?

The other game style that comes to mind is Dixit, where a visual prompt is hinted at with scripture and students match Dixit (or Dixit-like cards) to the image. Or the reverse, where someone mentions a verse and others match an image.

 
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Charles Waterman
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I think, Mr. Magnum, that "meaningful" gamification may lie in the task/game itself having meaning to the students. Professor Nicholson seems, I think, to be promoting using games to **reveal** the intrinsic worthiness of learning itself. You'll need to find an "intrinsic worthiness" of scripture memorization for your students and create a game-like activity or series of activities to help them realize that. Best of British Luck as they say!

Chuck Waterman
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Yehuda Berlinger
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You are incorrect that this goal provides no intrinsic motivation. You have to find the intrinsic motivation.

First of all, as others have said, you may want to reconsider the concept of memorization as the only goal. I learned in a religious school, so I understand the value of memorization in reaching the actual goals: forming patterns. teaching habits, and instilling in a language and culture. You will not harm your students if you discuss the reasoning behind using memorization, asking them what they think about it, and providing alternative methods to reach these goals. When the students are engaged in what they doing and have a say as to why, they will be more engaged. This is the first step toward autonomy.

Another step toward autonomy is offering choices. The students should be able to pick a subset of what hey want to do from a larger list (allowing them to skip certain areas), or at least the choice of what order to do it in.

Next comes purpose. You claim that there is no intrinsic motivation to memorizing these verses, which can only be because you have not explained to them the benefit for doing so. It is not simply the above goals. If you believe that what you are teaching them benefits them personally and society in general, then you have to give them big inspirational talks and achieve buy in. Ask the kids to explain what the point of learning the verses is; in fact, have them find good reasons. Give them good cases studies. Show them examples of people who have done this and the good result that came out of it. Go through the verses and find the meanings in some of them that inspire them.

You have to stress the purpose: gamification exists to provide feedback about progress, not to reward progress. They must internalize that this as something they want to do, and - since the usual process is long and provides no feedback until the very end - gamification shortens the feedback cycles.

Next comes mastery; One thing you DON'T want is a leader board. Your goal is not for only one person to succeed (while demotivating everyone else), you want everyone to succeed. You not only want everyone to win, you want them to help each other. Maybe you can create teams, but be very careful not to create winners and losers.

Memorization naturally fits in with levels, simple goals, and badges. Levels are for numbers of verses studied. Give rewards to the entire class when everyone hits a level. Rewards can be something like a day of gaming, nice notebooks, or a trip to something special.

Badges are for specific topics; remember how I said that you should provide a Big List of topics and allow them to pick the ones they want to memorize? Divide these into categories (topics, sources, etc) and provide badges when they have completed a category. Some kids will end up with different badges then other kids, and they will want to show these off.

Create a system of offering assistance. For instance, people with badges can help people going for the badges. Assistance has its own badge. Anyone who hits top level gets a mastery badge and gets tough questions about this can be used in real life situations.

Watch out for trouble: in every class there are people who pick on other people. They will denigrate those without certain badges or of lower level, and even make them feel bad for "holding back" the class. There is no easy solution to this. You have to teach people about bullying and its effects. You might be able to create special "angel" badges for the most helpful people, as voted on by those who are currently on the lowest level.

Don't skimp on pretty / cool graphics. It makes a difference.

Don't skip on providing traditional tools to assist memorization, like mnemonics, repetition, and teaching.

Good luck,
Yehuda
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bromangum wrote:
oddtime wrote:
What is the purpose of the memorization? How will the information serve the student? TBH there are very few things in life that need to be memorized, and most students at that age are aware of it. Sadly gamifying something doesn't always make it practical or fun.



It is funny that you should ask about the purpose. I have just been sitting here trying to puzzle it out. I believe it is mostly help them to answer questions--either their own or those of others.

As for your comment about the students awareness, I agree with you. They are incredible students and they work hard on memorization, so they forget it soon after. The program is called Scripture Mastery and I would like there to be a little more mastery.


Well, how do you define mastery? Does me being able to regurgitate John 3:16 aloud mean I understand the nuances and significance of sin and salvation?

You say that the purpose of memorization is to help answer questions. In my experience, a rote memorized passage is not an answer to a truly difficult question, and depending on the age of the kids, they may indeed be already asking those kinds of questions. If the best we as educators can offer them are such rote answers, than we aren't really teaching them, are we? And from a high school teacher's standpoint, regurgitating a bible verse when challenged by a thoughtful counterargument is not only poor rhetoric and argumentation, but at the university level, will get you laughed at.

I don't mean to challenge what you're doing at all, but I do think it's worth considering that the process and aims might be... a little too old school? I had to memorize bible verses myself as a kid (in Awana, and Vacation Bible School) and mostly it made me resent the whole process when I got older (around middle school) because it felt like I was being programmed like a robot instead of taught to think about the meaning of each verse. Not to get the post RSP'd here, but what does God's love mean? What does belief really entail? When it says shall not perish, what does perish mean? What does everlasting life look like, and why would someone even want it? Maybe these questions are too big for the age group you're working with? But they should have answers to this stuff, because eventually they will ask these questions. Or we as educators will have done such a good job programming them not to, that they will cease asking meaningful questions altogether. And I can't think of a worse tragedy.
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Charles Waterman
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"You have to stress the purpose: gamification exists to provide feedback about progress, not to reward progress. They must internalize that this as something they want to do, and - since the usual process is long and provides no feedback until the very end - gamification shortens the feedback cycles."

What if this is something they **don't want to do**? This is where i believe the original poster may be having difficulty making gamification in his classroom meaningful. A lot of the rest of your advice was meaningful, but it all hinges on that.

Here's what my suggestion would be. Make scripture memorization meaningful by creating an RPG game-like situation in which you (or even better, members of other groups of students) create real life situations in which remembering a piece of scripture would be immensely helpful! (for example, Romans 8:28, 1 Cor. 10:13, Lamentations 3:22, etc.) Then give the group a set of scriptures to memorize. First they have to find the scripture that will be helpful to someone in various situations. Then they'll have to be able to say that scripture quickly to the person who's having that problem to get their team of "angels" points? Or something like that.

What could make this outstandingly self-motivationg and meaningful learning for the Ss is if THEY choose the real world situations for another team - one for each scripture verse. This will indicate that they've really understood the heart of that passage, as well as giving the whole class a deeper sense of how helpful to the life of a believer the words of the Bible can be!

If you don't get what I mean, email me and we could set up a Skype time or something so I could flesh out more of my idea here.

Chuck Waterman
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As the poster above suggests, applying scripture to current, real world events / social situations would help motivate rote learning. I think your class would enjoy this. It would take some work on your part to find some parallels.

I'm still struggling to see how a fancy word like 'gamification' means anything other than 'make a game of'. As a teacher one might expect you to use to solve simple problems fast.

I can't help but feel a description like: 'A fun game to make learning scripture more enjoyable' would attract more sensible input than fogging the issue with words like gamification and memorization. Are you addicted to lengthening words or something?!

Good luck.
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Can you possibly divide the specific scriptures that you are having them memorize into just a few themes (maybe 4-5)? And if so, what would they be? I think there's a lot of potential here. My first thought (springboarding off the deck building idea) is a cooperative deck building game where students draw hands of 5 cards, of which some will be discarded to draft more powerful cards and some will be used to activate powers (each scripture card might have 2 different powers - "locate" and "memorize"). If a student can locate a scripture, but not recite it, they can read it aloud to activate a weaker power while if they can memorize it and recite it, they can activate a stronger power. The powers will relate to different scenarios that the students are trying to beat together (think of the different schemes in Legendary). Any thoughts? If you're interested, I'd love to collaborate on this. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun!
 
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bromangum wrote:
I am a teacher of ninth-grade students in a religion class. As part of our curriculum, we encourage the students to memorize passages of scripture. This is a goal that carries very little intrinsic motivation, so I have been looking at gamification.

However, I do not want to fall into the badges and levels. Instead, I would like to follow ideas like that of Scott Nicholson. However, I do not think I have found the right keywords to find more research like his. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find some great articles on meaningful gamification in the classroom?


Have you watched the "Ivory Dice Tower" segments on the Board Game Breakfast show? Those go a bit deeper into Nicholson's "Recipe." If you want other meaningful gamification research (that is, gamification beyond just slapping points on tasks) you can look into Acey Boyce's work. Google Scholar is a good place to find the most important research papers by either author.
 
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James Mangum
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AnEvenWeirderMove wrote:
Have you watched the "Ivory Dice Tower" segments on the Board Game Breakfast show? Those go a bit deeper into Nicholson's "Recipe." If you want other meaningful gamification research (that is, gamification beyond just slapping points on tasks) you can look into Acey Boyce's work. Google Scholar is a good place to find the most important research papers by either author.


I appreciate your suggestions. I have read and watched everything I can find from Scott Nicholson. His RECIPE is extremely helpful. I have been particularly interested in his ideas on the "Transformative Games." However, I have not been very successful in finding this term online. I will continue looking.

As for Acey Boyce, that is a new one to me. I will definitely have a look.
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James Mangum
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montebanc wrote:
Make scripture memorization meaningful by creating an RPG game-like situation in which you (or even better, members of other groups of students) create real life situations in which remembering a piece of scripture would be immensely helpful! . . . What could make this outstandingly self-motivationg and meaningful learning for the Ss is if THEY choose the real world situations for another team - one for each scripture verse. This will indicate that they've really understood the heart of that passage, as well as giving the whole class a deeper sense of how helpful to the life of a believer the words of the Bible can be!


Thanks for the ideas on meaningfulness. Lately I have thought a lot about how to get students to apply the scriptures to their own lives. I have thought about creating a series of case studies (just as you have suggested) and matching up three students.

1. The case study would be read by the first student.
2. The two other students would take cards from their hands that could be used in that situation. Each card/scripture would be worth a certain number of points (based on the student's ability to locate, apply, and memorize the scripture).


This card would be worth 2 points toward the contest.

3. The first student would then judge if the submitted scriptures related to the life situation.
4. Student scores would be tallied and the winner identified.

These are just my initial thoughts, but it would provide a way for them to apply the verses to real life situations. There are other factors I am considering: how many cards played, what color the card is, the length of the passage, etc. All of these things might make a card more valuable.

I have also thought about having the students write their own real life situations that apply to a specific scripture. This could be the way they get to check off the "Apply" box on the card. Then this situation could be used in game play.

I am grateful for all of your feedback. It is nice to be in a supportive community.
 
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I really like the sample card! However, I don't like the idea of judging the "appropriateness" of a certain scripture to a given situation. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit works through the words in the Bible in a very individual way in each of our lives, right?

On the other hand, if ***ACTUAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCES*** in which a scripture helped YOU in YOUR life are given as examples (great chance for personal witness, right?) then the Ss quest will be to find the **actual** verses among the ones available that was the ACTUAL verse that God mistered truth or support to you with. Once the Ss get the idea that they're trying to match scripture to life (not force life to fit scripture which is too often the way scripture memorization is approached IMHO) thjey may have a lot of **inspired** fun creating situations they could imagine themselves, classmates or family members in - in which an idividual scripture would give help needed.

If students can't imagine how a given verse might be helpful, WOW! What a great opportunity for teaching to the immediate need!

Chuck
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Some good ideas here. Others:

A concentration game with half of a verse on one card and half on the other. Players have to find both halves.

A daily challenge game with points and teams (anything longer than one day will discourage everyone but the people who are already winning). Or you can have winners move up an experience level, and then only students of the same level can complete against each other.

Yehuda
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Shade_Jon wrote:
A concentration game with half of a verse on one card and half on the other. Players have to find both halves.


To follow on from this: you could make a version of Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets). The basic idea is that you have a set of the cards as above (with the verse/passage spread between two cards). Two players (/teams/...) and a referee. The referee holds the top-half cards. The bottom-half cards are laid out in a tableau (randomised). The referee starts to read from a top-half card. The first player to grab the matching bottom-half card from the tableau claims the "trick". Continue for some number of "tricks" that is a handful or two less than the number of verses (so that the last round still has a choice of 10+ cards in the tableau).

The action starts about 30 seconds into the video



Regards,

David.
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Charles Waterman
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................meaningful....?
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Learning scripture is learning a language to help you deal with everything that happens throughout life. It's great to be able to apply it right away, but sometimes you learn a passage that doesn't have deep application for you until much later in life. It's worth learning it so you can reflect on it later, but the "application = motivation" equation doesn't always happen at the time a passage is being learned. Learning languages and habits is easier at early ages, so it is definitely worth memorizing scripture as children. (Old school is not always a bad thing!)

Sometimes we learn language (in this case, scripture) by playing with it, which leads me to a game idea. I'm thinking of wordplay - something akin to Apples to Apples that takes itself more lightly than most memorization exercises. Give the students a scripture passage, and have them each submit a pun or play on the words in it. Then the group votes on which pun or wordplay they like best. They could choose the most profound answer, the funniest, most bizarre train of thought, or whatever. Then have each kid share how they got from the scripture passage to the answer they submitted. That ties it back to the original passage, and helps cement the passage in their mind by association to the joke/pun/story they created. You could keep score if you want, and even offer bonus points if their answer references another scripture passage. But like most party games, the group will care more about the fun than the score.

A willingness to play (appropriately) with scripture does not show disrespect to scripture, as long as the wordplay and conversation are respectful. Remember, God created the platypus and giraffe, and Jesus made more wine when the wedding party at Cana ran dry, so God certainly has a sense of play. Let scripture be used in ways that are fun and not just rote practice. Then passages will come to mind naturally in all situations, not just when we're in trouble.
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