Thursday, February 19, 2009

Skyrocketing Anxiety

I am taking three courses for credit this quarter. Two of them, ethics and pastoral care, are fairly straightforward. One of them, Christology, is not. I am reviewing material for the take-home exam in my possession, due in two weeks.

As far as I can tell, I have not understood a single aspect of this course.

I'm not sure that this has ever happened to me before ~ except in calculus. I never grasped a concept in calculus, but I memorized the textbook, and aced the exam by recognizing problems parallel to those I had memorized and filling in the relevant numbers. My capacity to memorize has evaporated with age, which was the problem in Greek last year. I understood maybe 75% of the construct of the Greek language, but I could never remember any of it from one day to the next.

This is different. This is terrible. I just looked up synonyms for "understand." Comprehend, apprehend, catch on, deduce, infer, perceve, register, take in, appreciate, fathom, get. Nope, none of that going on here.

I have been wondering if maybe grief destroys myelin. I think that perhaps it does. I'm not sure that anyone really understands the physiological consequences of grief, but I can easily believe that one of them is the complete evaporation of the myelin sheath.

I'm in seminary. Studying for the Christian ministry. Christology is, oh, you know, at the center of the whole enterprise.

This is a problem.


Kathryn J said...

I can not speak to the effects of grief but I can speak to age and grad school. There are things my brain does much better than in my youth; there are other things that are much worse.

I hope you find bits of clarity soon.

Carol said...

While I know nothing of Christology, the name alone sounds very theoretical and to require MUCH higher level thinking. I'm with Kathryn on the age thing. Not sure of the grief aspect specifically but I think it may have to do with overall age and stress.

Lisa :-] said...

Personally, Robin, I'm amazed that you can even DO school at your (our) age. I cannot even memorize my own prices or the layout of my cash register keyboard...which I designed myself.

As I am searching for the right keys or trying to remember the prices, I tell the customers that, at my age, for every piece of new information you stuff in your brain, some other piece of information, incidental or otherwise, has to fall out. what is Christology????

And, just by the MEMORIZED your calculus textbook? You have got to be kidding... :p

Joan Calvin said...

IMHO, if a person who has trained as a lawyer cannot understand a philosophical concept it is because the philosophers/theologians are not clearly communicating their thoughts. They make up difficult to understand words and concepts to cover their faulty thinking. Of course, I just don't get philosophy. And theology is just a subspecies of philosophy.

I didn't get calc either and didn't have the sense to memorize. (But I still remember the time I told Art Austin that the case he asked me to brief in first year contracts was wrong. He was amazed because of course that is the whole point of law school: figuring out which cases are right and which are wrong.)

My sympathies with your frustration.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Take a breath. It's gonna be OK. Maybe your stressed because you're trying to wrap your mind around the whole rather than starting at the very beginning with the first little bits.

It's gonna be OK.


Teri said...

I studied this when I was young and before my mom got sick, and I still didn't get it. I'm not sure Christology is the center of the whole enterprise, Christ is.

Perhaps, though, I just have a very low Christology.

Quotidian Grace said...

Dear GG--
I'm with Joan Calvin and Teri.

Really, I don't believe Christ ever intended for a course in Christology to be necessary for understanding Him. This is a human construct, albeit one you have to deal with.

Grief can certainly make concentration and retention more difficult, though.

Because Christ is in your heart, He will be in your head, too.

Sophia said...

Oh, Gannet, how miserable....I will keep you in prayer.

(And if you want a phone tutorial on your Christology questions email me for my number and a good time to talk and I'll do my best).

Michelle said...

You've done the Exercises - of course you understand Christ! Oh, but I do know that feeling (not with calculus though :) ).

Can you find a good basic synopsis? I found that helped when I was in such straits. McBrien's Catholicism might help -- it's got pretty straightforward summaries of basic Christology common to most traditions.

mompriest said...

Studying Christology, any theology for that matter, is learning a new language....I hope you are reading the Christologies of a number of different theologians....because one of them may end up speaking to you in a way that the others cannot. I always like John Macquarrie, but he's Anglican...

Beach Walkin said...

Christology is NOT the center of the universe... or even of Christianity. I know... I flunked that part of the "test" to get out of seminary... but I got out anyway!!!! Luckily... the profs decided I needed to read a book that's ben out of print for 20 years. I finally found a copy on the internet... for $4... read two pages and promptly went to sleep. Best sleep-aid I ever purchased. I haven't gotten past page 10... in 5 years.

verification - dedly... yep!

Jodie said...

I've learned over the years that often when something doesn't make sense, specially if I give it an honest try, it is because deep down, it HAS no sense.

But memorizing calculus? It never occurred to me that was even possible.

Although a friend of mine who was one of those key people who invented satellite communications back in the 60s (we take all that stuff for granted today) told me that, when he was young, he had a perfect photographic memory.

Now THAT would have been convenient. Almost like cheating.

Stratoz said...

Been away for a bit, but thinking of you more????? My brain keeps forgetting about my shoulder, but then the pain reminds me that it is not quite right these days.