While never a great lamdin, I used to enjoy learning Gemara a great deal. The twists and turns, the final AHAH insight into the resolution of a sugya, it was really great intellectual stimulation. But as I got older, I noticed that I started to have an increasingly difficult time with Talmud study. My mind would wander, or I'd get very restless. I'd rather be doing something else. I'd rather be playing guitar. I'd rather be reading something else. And if the learning took place during a shiur, even a short lapse of attention left me temporarily clueless, further enhancing the vicious cycle of frustration.
Why was this becoming such a chore? Was age catching up to me? Was I becoming more stupid?? As I investigated the reason for this change in attitude, it came to me that "solving the puzzle at hand" had become the taful and the subject matter had become the ikkur. That is, the content was getting in the way of the process. And not only did I not care about much of the subject matter, but far too much of it represented a morale outlook that offended the sensibilities of my 21st century mind.
Did I really want to learn about the intricacies of the 4 methods of execution discussed at great length in Sanhedrin? Wasn't some of this just a little barbaric? Wasn't death by seraifah (e.g., for the daughter of priest that commits adultery) worthy of the most horrific slasher film?
How about the lengthy discussions relating to yiud in Kiddushin (among with numerous other "problematic" topics there)? Regardless of the cultural justifications for having a minor girl marry her rapist (or having him remunerate the father for the offense), isn't modern day jurisprudence just a bit more enlightened with treating this as a crime of violence that (ideally) requires removing the offender from society?
What about all of that stuff that has zero applicability today - things like the laws of korbanos, of tumah and taharah, of yibum, sota, nazir?
And, my goodness, you can't even learn normative halacha directly from the Talmud so it has little practical value for living one's life as an OrthoPraxic Jew!
Of course, all of this is irrelevant to the OrthoFundie (and even many ModernOrthoNonFundies). You learn because it's a mitzva! You learn because the Torah derives its kedusha from the Oral Law. You learn so that you may know (organ music please) The Mind of God!
But I dunno, to learn about the world around me, I'd much rather read a book on science, mythology, archaeology, or Terry Pratchett (plug here for Small Gods.)
My reverie is broken - finally, some aggadah! (Plug here for The Juggler and the King.) Hopefully it will be long piece that will carry me through to the end of the shiur...