It’s funny how words come back to haunt you. Just a few short weeks ago I said, “If I even hint at doing a systematics course next year, please shoot me and put me out of my misery early.” Well, today I received an email from my Modern Christology lecturer inviting me (and a select few others) to give ‘serious consideration’ to doing his course on Barth next year. This was on the basis that we were some ‘of the best 3rd years [he has] had in [his] classes over the past 8 academic years’.
Now this is extremely flattering but I really doubt I merit such praise. What I am good at is clever revision and question-spotting in exams. Essays and presentations on the subject stress me out and I sit in class thinking about how little I understand much of the discussion. Added to that I’m not entirely sure I want to study Barth in such detail. I’m not convinced that he’s ‘my sort of theologian’. Of course, I can’t say that for sure until I’ve studied him.
And there’s the dilemma. I do actually, at heart, really like systematic theology. And I would like to study more of it but, like I say, it’s a struggle for me. My previous grades in it really don’t reflect my understanding of the subject (at least, in my opinion). So, what to do? Take back my words and change my opinion (and get slagged to bits by my peers) or stick to the ‘easy options’? My heart says do the systematics; my mind says steer clear. By following my reason, am I simply avoiding some hard work and should I pursue my gut reaction and perhaps actually learn something?