E – N/S – F/T – P

May 4, 2013

I feel like the bit of me that loves and makes stories is being strangled slowly in a corner while the bit of me that loves learning new and important things sits calmly in a chair, reading Kärkkäinen.

This makes me a little bit sick at heart. One of the things I value and enjoy most about myself is my ability to create and revel and delight in narrative; it’s as much a part of my emotional and historical and character makeup as being Chinese or living in New Zealand. There’s a bit of me that lives deeply in stories, is deeply and easily emotional, connects and empathises without conscious or rational thought with feelings encapsulated in a sentence or a picture or a moment or a look; loves the taste and shape and colour and feel of words like greed and grass and hope and bird and blood and bone; intuitively and easily feels rhythm, marvels and opens up like an inner eye to gape at and try hopelessly to swallow something visually and experientially real; dissolves entirely into a piece of music and is reshaped in each bone and breath by the colour and clarity and thereness of its instruments or harmonies. It’s the bit of me that understands and is yet without-understanding drawn to beauty, experienced and seen and felt and heard and lived; the same bit that can find emotion and truth and enjoyment in something as ordinary and yet as deeply satisfactory as steam curling up from a kettle or a spoon. It’s the open eye and it’s being sat in a corner and systematically starved.

I’m enjoying concepts here. It’s a different kind of enjoyment altogether; much less visceral, much more a delight of the analytical mind; much more a satisfaction of being able to grasp and comprehend and order and fill in other pieces of the puzzle, to consider and to cogitate. I like it. I like being able to read things and grasp concepts consciously, to understand what I’m reading in an abstract way and perhaps think about the implications. I like what I’m reading; I’ve always loved to know more. I think I’ve been mentally hungry for a long while and my brain is happy, in a peculiar, particular kind of subdued ferocious way, at having to grapple with things a little too big for it. But I feel like I’m leaving my favourite bit of myself behind and that makes me unhappy too.

I think the problem is I’m used to dwelling deeply in things that are visceral and sensual and emotive; I’m so much less used to the abstract. There’s a reason why I’ve never really enjoyed reading non-fiction, unless it was directly related to something specifically experiential (i.e. theatre and dramaturgical theory, which I still find exciting). Often enough, it’s all abstract concepts with very loose relation to the physical or material and it’s not worded in any particularly lovely way either. But lately, I feel like I’ve been so marinated in concepts- no, I can’t say that about concepts, marinated is an experience-word, a taste-and-feel-and-dwell word- I feel like I’ve been so inundated with, bombarded by abstract and conceptual literature in this abstract and conceptual discipline that I’ve gotten used to it by degrees. Theology, or at least systematic theology, is abstract.

And I am sitting here reading Kärkkäinen, who is critiqueing Moltmanns interpretation of perichoresis with regards to his rather contradictory conflation of the immanent and economic Trinity, and I have gotten my head around his critique with apparently no trouble.

Well, I had trouble in the beginning. That’s what all the silent screaming was about in class. But it’s become significantly less of an issue over these weeks as I’ve read further and dug deeper into and gotten more used to the landscape of Trinitarian doctrine and the theologians who populate it, and there are certainly still many concepts I don’t quite have a grasp of yet, but my brain isn’t exploding anywhere near as much anymore. And that alarms me a little because if my brain is learning to handle this, this may also mean my brain may get rusty in the other direction, with nothing to exercise it thusly. And that is bad.

I enjoy reading Kärkkäinen and I like being able to read him. I like learning things. But I don’t want to starve myself of stories or stop being able to create. And given that most of my time is and should be spent reading abstract concepts, this becomes problematic.


Yargh. Enough introspection. I’ma go back to work on my essay.


EDIT: Just did a google on Kärkkäinen; turns out he’s a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in the States. Hah. When I first began agonising about studying theology late December last, my old pastor suggested I go there. He’s known me since I was four and as such maintains an inflated view of my intelligence and academic capabilities. (I was a brilliantly precocious child. And we were in different countries when I fell completely to pieces post-adolescence, so you can’t blame him too much. Nonetheless. Overseas study was expensive, rife with overwhelming complexities and entirely outside my purview, particularly in the mental state I was in until Carey started up m’brain again and my love of learning kicked in proper.)

I was deeply covetous of their postgrad certificate in theology and the arts, though. Two of my favourite things in one lovely bundle.


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