Thursday, September 29, 2005

response with free quiz

My response to Jonathan's comment below got so long that I had to post it:

I'm afraid postmodernity can mean anything you want it to mean. I particularly liked your version: "the rape child of existentialism and modernism." The reason I write about it so much however is because I'm pushing mine, which is:
1. The Enlightenmenet sidelined God and deified reason.
2. The general consensus that this arrangement produced can be called "modernity."
3. Our time has come to see reason unable to bear this divine status, in consequence the modern project collapsed, and thus we live in "post"modernity.
You asked if I'm for or against it. I am for postmodernity in the sense that it liberates us from modernity's overblown take on reason. I am against postmodernity in the sense that it thinks liberation from modernity's reason means abandoning reason completely. That would be swinging to the opposite extreme, and just letting modernity call the shots once again. But this is, regretfully, what too many people mean when they refer to postmodernity. And my hope to correct this mistake is another reason why I write about it so much.

To use an analogy, being released from a straight jacket is a good thing - but if that means you're gonna act all crazy you might as well keep it on.

Your point that postmodernity is a temporary phenomenon is well taken. And this is why, again, Christians eager to marry it need keep in mind the phrase (which I've dual-genderized for wider circulation):
"She (or he) who marries the spirit of the age will soon become a widow(er)."
Or as the same idea was put by C.S. Lewis (I believe),
"The only fish that swim with the current are dead."
From this academic vantage point I indeed get the sense that people are ready to move beyond the postmodern moment, forward to a normal, yet chastened, view of reason. (But even if they weren't, the church should.) This has partly to do with the realization that "postmoderns" who claimed they had rid themselves of absolute truth claims were in fact using the smokescreen of postmodernity to conceal some frighteningly absolute assertions - often on notoriously complex political and social issues - which were all the more dangerous because they weren't admitted.

To put it another way, here's a quiz:
Find the absolute truth claim in the following statement:
"There are no absolute truths."
As it may be impossible to go through life without basic claims about reality, why not just admit them? Mine can be found in the two hymns quoted below.