a list and a rant

July 28, 2013

Semester Two has begun! I shall sit here at my desk, mightily pleased by today’s installation of a handy-dandy time-saving citation software in SBL style, surrounded by piles of non-fiction with titles like Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics and The Mediation of Christ, and proceed with being mildly alarmed that this is my life now.

Here are my observations and predictions at the beginning of this season.


1. I am going through chocolate at a rate of knots. This needs to stop. There are two opened blocks of Whittaker’s about a foot away from my desk right now (five-roll refined milk and L&P), and both are less than a week old, and both are halfway gone.  I started scarfing chocolate as a nervous habit during the essay-writing trauma of last semester for stress relief and energy-boosting purposes, and it’s just become a thing. It shall cease to be a thing. No more.

2. I wrote a song last semester for my Spirit and Trinity paper- did I mention that? It’s called Song and it has an accompanying two-thousand word theological commentary. You can listen to it here if you want. It’s not my favourite arrangement because it was done in such a hurry, but I’m proud of the lyrics and the melody. At some stage, when I can bear to listen to it again, I’ll rearrange it in a way that’s much less haphazard.

3. I appear to have adapted to my surroundings by turning into an introvert. And not only an introvert, but an antisocial, really rather misanthropic introvert. Relating to people is much too much effort, and I don’t particularly feel any compulsion or desire to, either. Socialisation? Whatever. Talking to friends? Eh. I did see this coming last semester, but at this point I don’t really care. It is just what happens. I’m isolated from close friends and family, adrift among acquaintances, confined within an incredibly limited radius, trapped in physical surroundings I don’t particularly want to be in and doing something that is mentally engaging. Of course I’m going to adapt my personality to something that best suits my surroundings.

I guess we’ll see where it goes. I tested INTP when I first moved to this country and found myself in similar, if more awful, conditions; if this keeps going, my bet is that a couple months down the line I’ll test INTP again. ENFP was where I was during university; right now, everything is borderline, except for the P. (Which does kind of explain why every other category is flexible and adaptable depending on circumstance.)

4. I just watched, and listened to, a recording of my ex-choir singing Deliver Us from Prince of Egypt at a BYO, probably at an Indian restaurant. Because that’s what my choir does, because it’s insane. And I miss choir badly, and I miss being able to stand up and sing at restaurants with a whole group of people in amazing, if slightly drunken, harmony, and I miss being able to sing, in a choral situation, but I’m not going to think about it because I can’t do a damn thing about it. I’m here, and if I choose to study here another two years, I’ll keep getting further and further away. And there are things I’ve given up to be here, to do this, and participational music is one of them. And that’s just the way it is.

5. I’m taking four papers this semester: Applied Christian Ethics, Intro to Theology, Worship and Wisdom Literature and Christian Spirituality. Out of the four, my favourite so far is Worship and Wisdom Literature, and I really wasn’t expecting to be so delighted by it. Then again, it’s pretty much going through poetry, so I’m not sure why I didn’t expect this kind of reaction from the beginning.

I’m also surprised to find I really dislike Intro to Theology. I was all set to enjoy it, and tried hard to do so all through the first class, until we got to the point where the lecturer told us to question his perspectives because he wasn’t God- which is perfectly fair- and then proceeded to ask us a trick question and then go aha! it was a trick question! in order to teach us, basically, to question him. I pretty much disliked him thoroughly at that point, and got very, very pissed off. Some of this was probably because I don’t like getting things wrong. And a lot of it was that it just felt mean-spirited; I’m not sure how to put into words why I feel this way, but look, place what he did in comparison with the behaviour of my favourite lecturer, the one who takes Spirit & Trinity and Ethics and other delicious subjects like that.

Now he makes it very clear at the beginning of and all the way throughout his courses that he very blatantly teaches from his perspective and his beliefs as a reformed theologian, that we do not have to agree with what he says (and indeed he expects that we as a class won’t, because otherwise something’s gone wrong), and that he’s perfectly happy to be questioned and argued with, as long as we can explain reasonably how we got to that point, and not just say because I think so. But he teaches us from the groundwork of his perspective so we have something to base our own opinions and arguments off, or a basic place to learn from if we don’t know anything about the subject; you can’t question anything if you don’t have a position or a framework from which to question, and if you don’t have that framework from which to question, it’s good to learn one from someone else who has thought things through, until you learn enough to know where your own opinions diverge.

My Intro to Theology lecturer, however, seemed to want to make the point that we couldn’t trust him or his questions, and this to a class of beginning theology students who most likely have no rigorous framework. And if your point is that I can’t trust your questions or your framework, I’m not going to bother paying attention in your class; I’m not going to bother paying attention to anything you teach me; I’m not going to bother investing in anything you say. This is the class I predict getting the lowest marks in because I’m just not going to care.

Also, I’d just like to point out that I hate being underestimated. I really hate being underestimated. And I realise I’m in a class geared towards people who’ve never taken theology before, or even done any academic study, but urgh, being told that this course will be much harder than anything I’m used to because it’s getting me halfway to the level of a paper I took last semester and did really well in is making me incredibly grumpy, even though I know there are many people in my class at that stage, and it’s a perfectly appropriate thing to say to them. But instead I sit there feeling incredibly patronised, and incredibly bored, and I think I may take my Greek textbook in with me and sit at the back of the class next time and practice my Greek.

I hate having to take papers like this. I really hate having to take papers not geared to my mental level, which I’m aware makes me sound like an intellectual snob but that’s unfortunately what I am. It’s a waste of my time and mental space and my money and I sit there wondering if I’m getting stupider by being taught this, in the same way that using a pair of sharp scissors on paper makes it duller and yes that’s actually what I think. It is terrible and snobbish, and I’m well aware that I’m incredibly touchy and defensive when it comes to my mental self-worth, and I even know why that is.

And guess what, now you get to! It’s basically a hangover, if by hangover we mean unresolved emotional reaction, from when I first got shipped to this country against my will and in the process got moved out of a competitive, academically challenging, extremely intellectual private school that turned people out to Oxbridge and Harvard etcetera, as well as an entire culture that supported academic pursuit, into a public school in a system and a country where people heartily dislike studying and think people who like knowing things and enjoy Shakespeare are snobs. There is a reason why I loathed New Zealand with all my being all the years up until university, and was moreover a creature of incessant, buried rage and mental and emotional horror and a whole bundle of fucked up identity issues etcetera for years and years, compounded with unhelpful defense mechanisms and isolation in the form of unhelpful and really rather nasty friendships and incredibly, dementedly, horrifically unhelpful family relationships. This is one of the reasons why I’m in possession of of the plethora of emotional and mental issues I’m still learning how to work through (well, there are many reasons for that joyous bundle of joy, but that move is really one of the largest factors).

In short, I am fucked up in my head because life happened, as life does. As a result, and there are many results but here’s the most pertinent one: I am incredibly touchy and insecure about my intellect, and I feel personally insulted when asked to study something that doesn’t challenge me, and even now the thought of that move still makes me incredibly furious. Neck-snappingly furious. And hello, impromptu rant. That was rather unexpected.

I’m a bit surprised as to how angry I still am about it. Okay. Moving on. The other two papers, Ethics and Spirituality, I’m still at a bit of a loss on, but doing the readings will probably help.



There are other things I’m thinking about, like what I’m going to do next year and where I’m going to live when the semester finishes, along with student allowance, and how I’m going to survive essays this semester (which seem to have increased in abundance), but being angry and having angry, negative voices in my head of people I used to know kind of took it out of me. I’m going to go read my textbook on Ethics.

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