Take Nathan, give him 104 temperature sickness, ready to collapse, and make sure that up to this point you, the math professor, have put pressure on him and everyone else in class by saying 4 times a week for months, during every math class, that there will be an exam without which one would not only fail the course but the entire year of high school if it was missed, so that you’re obliged to come even if your family dies, even if you die. And then, you, the math professor, when the day finally comes, you tell everyone to put their books and papers and all such down on the floor as they are not needed, that this will be an oral exam. You will draw out the problem on the blackboard and then call on a student to answer for everyone else. But then you draw it out not on the blackboard, but a few inches away from the blackboard, so that everyone has to intensely follow the chalk flying around in the air off of the blackboard. you know, one of those lots of garbage = equals lots of garbage equations, something like this:
I can’t remember what the first problem was, but it was some such rubbish. I was the one who was sick, terribly sick, almost collapsing to the floor. “George!” the professor exclaimed, calling on me to answer. I did, correctly. Some other students were miffed telling him to leave me alone because, couldn’t he see I was sick? But I got it right. He did this writing rubbish in the air way in front of the blackboard two more times. He again called on me two more times. Other students stood up and objected the second time. The third time most all the class stood up and were loudly voicing that they wanted to be called on because I should be given a break. I got those right as well. But that experience – probably rightly intentioned by the professor to give me confidence that I could do such mental gymnastics in that rather rather elite if also local prep school – set me into a severe mental block of innumeracy lasting until this very day. I did NOT like that professor. Perhaps I didn’t like being even helpfully challenged at the time, wanting to set my own and I thought better challenges. And that’s how weak I was in getting on with life. My bad. It is what it is. Grrr!
Meanwhile, all that once-upon-a-time numeracy now turned into innumeracy was directed to that which was to any biblical exegete an impossible task, Genesis 2:4a–3:24. Got that one too. Nailed it. But this remains an agony for me every day of my life. I must do a popular version of this explication of how original sin is by propagation not imitation, of how the Mother of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15 is immaculate, as is her Son, our Redeemer. But the profs have made this difficult with their threats of attack, promising that I won’t be able to publish (which threat they made good on immediately). I got the doctorate with honors but… hell! And that’s how weak I still am in getting on with life. My bad. Is it what it is. Grrr! I’m waiting for logistics to be able to accomplish the task, but not doing much to make them happen.
In the video above Nathan smacks his head against the blackboard in an agony of how it is that he can bring about an easy to understand explanation for the class. That’s me, smacking my head against my computer screen, agonizing how it is that I can bring about an easy to understand explanation for all and sundry.
In the case of the exegesis, the problem is not mental gymnastics, but rather a matter of faith. It’s not that people are to be bullied into seeing whatever explanation. The literary logic, if you will, is quite mathematical. It’s not hard. It speaks for itself. But like me in getting an innumeracy mental block because of non-friendship with a math professor, what makes an explanation of the historical philology of the ancient biblical Hebrew difficult is not the philological logistics, not the historical analysis of changing syntax and literary tricks, but the pre-emptive rejection of anything to do with the faith by those profs who should know better, what with their being priests and studied up in all things linguistic and biblical. They are afraid of conclusions consonant with the faith.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: while in Rome for some 14+ years I did not meet even once a single professor actively teaching who believed in original sin. Not one. Not in any Pontifical University or Athenaeum or Institute or whatever, even the ones known to be the “most conservative” or the “most orthodox.” Indeed, they were some of the very worst.
This is hard for me to take in. It is to look upon the wounds of Jesus which I also put there. While I might enjoy some smidgeon of understanding that Jesus has forgiven me – to this point, as far as I know, anyway – it is so unbearable to see so many scandalizing so many worldwide who are ever so intransigent about accepting the fact of original sin, personal sin, redemption, forgiveness, the divinity of the Redeemer. They. Do. Not. Want. To. Hear. Truth.
Maybe some day I’ll get over myself, take myself less seriously, take Jesus and His wounds more seriously, take the salvation of souls, including the souls of those who throw away the Key of Knowledge – Jesus – more seriously…
Anything that we ever do for Jesus and Mary has nothing to do with the simple logistics of things. It has everything to do with being believers, an active faith, in reverence before Him who is Truth, Love, Life. I’m so very weak that our dear Lord has to drag me to do what I have to do. But I thank Him for dragging me along. He’s very patient.
4 responses to “Nathan’s math / Fr George’s innumeracy. For Genesis, it’s all about Jesus.”
Reading of your experience in Rome reminded me of an exasperating experience. I once met a priest who said ‘God the Father is total love and would never punish anyone for eternity.’ He didn’t believe in hell.
When I questioned him, he snapped, ‘who do you think you are, St Catherine of Sienna?
What’s happening in our church?
I have friends who went to the prep school near The Bunker of Our Lord.
Re: “while in Rome for some 14+ years I did not meet even once a single professor actively teaching who believed in original sin.”
That’s shocking!!! I knew things were bad but … that bad?! That’s more than shocking.
Re: “it is so unbearable to see so many scandalizing so many worldwide who are ever so intransigent about accepting the fact of original sin, personal sin, redemption, forgiveness, the divinity of the Redeemer. They. Do. Not. Want. To. Hear. Truth.”
Yes, but we do Father!
Would it help, when you sit down at your computer agonising over how to produce the popular version of your thesis, if you imagined you were speaking directly to your parishioners and to us here at your blog? Perhaps don’t sit at your computer at all; blackboards and computer screens can be mind numbing. Instead, perhaps you could use one of those recorders that are voice activated (turn on when you speak and off when you are silent) and walk up and down if you think better on your feet. Then, later, transfer the recording to print. Just a thought.
I pace. Lots of stories about pacing and thinking. Yikes. But I am the kind that has to take that pacing… prayer… to the keyboard…