Wednesday, October 05, 2005


The following post is pretty much a book report on Truth is Stranger than it Used to Be by Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh. I thought by writing a response I would retain the book better, and I would get the thoughts in the book out to you guys. If you are interested enough, I would encourage you to read the book. I found it quite impressive.

In my readings I have found myself pretty much agreeing with the authors as they discuss Modernity, and Postmodernity. For those of you who do not know what the difference is, here's a quick run-down.

Modernity teaches us that through knowledge and technology, we can achieve the common goals of human kind. Technology and Science will eventually answer all of the questions about how the world works, will provide us with medicine to cure all of our ills, and will grant us a mode by which we will inhabit other worlds. Technology will generate an excess of liesure, money, food, and comfort. If we invest in these things, we will all live full happy lives. If we dedicate ourselves to these endeavors fully, we will be able to spread those same benefits to the rest of the world.

Modernity failed. Plain and simple. It is no secret that Modernity is a big fat lie. Science cannot answer all of our questions. (Scientists still do not know what gravity is.) Technology will not give us more liesure time. (I think of the steady stream of commercials starring the characiture a mother-as-motion-blur running from appointment to appointment.) Technology will not grant us long healthy lives. (I think of the modern debate over euthanasia. Technology has the ability to keep us alive, but some people are asking whether or not the life Technology can grant us is worth living.) Technology does not give us enough food. (Thousands in America are starving. Better food production does not mean better food distribution.) Technology will not make us all rich. (Bill Gates might be the richest man in the world, but America's vast technological advancement has not levelled the economic playing field.)

In the dust of the crumbling Modern hegemon, Postmodernity is the blood on the ground. The megolith of Modernity is not going to be rebuilt. The tower has been abandoned because we have realized that it doesn't do what it promised. At the base of the ruins of Modernity the blood of the fallen laborers is spreading. The puddle of Postmodernity cries against the lies of Modernity and it screams "Science is full of it, and Technology is going to over take us."

The result is a contagious postmodern viewpoint that I have found myself more and more fully believing in. Postmodernity says many things, but mainly it says that "Truth is experiential." Many anti-PoMos have said that Postmodernity is characterized by saying "There is no Truth" or "Truth is relative" I don't buy that PoMos believe that Truth is Relative. None of the PoMos I know would fall into that trap "If truth is relative then the truth that 'Truth is relative' is relative." Most PoMos I know would say that there is such a thing as truth. There might even be something such as objective truth for everyone. The problem with that objective truth is that we all see it through the windows of our own individual experiences. The result is a factioned world. Postmodernity has brought us from a global goal for the unionization of man and the global adoption of democracy, capitalism, and freedom to a worldview of allocation. We allocate truths to those willing to take them. We allocate liberty to those who desire it. Postmodernity basically teaches us that the world sits together at a smorgasbord of ideas and possibilities. We each grab for the ones we want, and no one slaps anyone's hand. If you want to eat dessert and no broccoli, by all means, you may.

The problem with this worldview is that it seems to go completely against Christianity. Christianity teaches that there is ultimate truth. Everyone must believe in Christ, and if you don't believe in Christ you go to Hell. Like it or not that's what our unfashionably elitist religion teaches. Think about it. Someone in a Postmodern world comes to the Christian Bible and he is confronted by people claiming to be mouthpieces of an allpowerful God. These people then tell stories about the glorious days when God helped them commit genocide. Then they move on to the new testament where one man suffers himself to death for all of mankind, and then the apostles advocate that those who do not believe in Christ will go to Hell, and those that do believe in Christ must abide by a life of love and forgiveness. In this life of love and fogiveness, women are told to submit to men, slavery is advocated, and children are to be subserviant to their fathers. Of course the patriarchs are told to be responsible with this authority, but the fact of the matter is, the New Testament (Like it or not) "Posits a divine authority that structures and orders the world in a certain way, attributes an authority to itself, wipes out any opposition that suggests things might be looked at differently, puts clear restrictions on personal and communal life, and then tops it all off with a divine sanction for patriarchy and slavery. And you want a postmodern person at the beginning of the twenty-first century to read this text, learn from it, and maybe even receive it as divinely inspired Scripture? I don't think so!" (Collosians Remixed, 18.)

The question becomes, how may we be Christians in a postmodern world? In a world which screams against all encompassing hegemonic worldviews, how are we to respond? How are we to approach scripture? How are we to live, to spread the message of love an acceptance in scripture without throwing away the message of necessity? How do we tell the whole world that we love and accept them while simultaneously believing in Hell?

Good questions. More on that later.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Thanks for a helpful and well-worded post. Looking forward to your sequel.