How to Arrange Your Apol Box

[Author’s note: Pray my brother Jeremy doesn’t see this photo I took of him about five years ago.]

He who lives in the clouds must eventually fall to the ground.
– A wise man

Okay, I made that quote up. I’ll leave the evaluation of my self-description to you.

Here’s the meaning: the last few posts have been rather abstract. We’ve been up in the clouds of Apologetics theory—valuable, but not immediately actionable.

Now we’re bringing it back to the ground. Let’s be eminently practical. Once you have written all of your cards, how should you put them into your box?

Maybe you’ve never thought of this before. Perhaps you think there’s only one way to do it. But three different approaches are possible, which we’ll introduce and evaluate in turn.

Approach 1. Listed

The simplest way is to add cards to your box in the same order as the official topic list.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Predictable
  • Understandable order

Cons:

  • Hard to remember topic order

Approach 2. Alphabetical

You could also organize your cards alphabetically, by the first significant word of the topic. So “If the Bible was written by men, how could it also be written by God?” would precede “Jesus clearly demonstrated His belief in the authority of Scriptures. Defend this statement with evidence.”

I’ve always dismissed this as a poor option. But considering it now, I realize that it may be the absolute easiest way to find your cards quickly. No memorization is required, apart from your ABC’s. As soon as you see the topic, you know where it is.

This is significant because the single largest time-waster during Apologetics prep is finding cards. It can take up to 20 seconds a card, perhaps more if it’s not where you remembered. And I always looked at my cards for all three topics before deciding which one to speak on, which elongated the total time. Alphabetizing removes all uncertainty as to card location.

Pros:

  • Easiest way to find cards quickly
  • Predictable and understandable order

Cons:

  • Not a thematic approach

Approach 3. Thematic

This is my preferred approach. You arrange the cards by theme, instead of alphabetically or by topic order. You can thematically order your entire box with no regard to the five categories; alterantively, you can create themes only within the official categories.

Note that you have to create this organizational structure (as yours truly did). Or purchase it from someone who has already created it (like yours truly now enables you to do). Either way, you’re doing the work of forming and/or committing the categories to memory.

The primary benefit of this approach is that it enables you to see how diverse topics relate to one another. Within any category, a Meaning/Significance (also known as Define/Defend) question may closely connect to a General Question and a Statement Analysis. Neither of the previous two organizational systems reveals this. But when you reorganize topically, you put “like with like.”

While competing in Apologetics, I found this approach personally beneficial. I remember one round where I drew three topics, went to my box, and prompty discovered that I lacked cards for all three. *gasp* What was I to do?

Thankfully, my card was arranged thematically. Right next to an empty spot—where my “atonement” card was not—sat my “lamb of God” card. So I thought to myself, “Hmm. Lambs were used in the Old Testament as sacrifices of atonement, right? And Jesus as the Lamb of God fulfills those types and makes atonement for us, right? Maybe I can speak on atonement through the lens of the Lamb of God!” So I did. And scored quite well, in fact—all due to thematic organization.

Pros:

  • Reveals connection between topics
  • Can save your hide in-round

Cons:

  • Hard to create
  • Requires memorization to locate cards in-round

Conclusion

There you go! The three approaches to organizing your Apologetics box. As you gear up for tournament, may your efforts to arrange your box bear much fruit in saved time and diminshed stress.