Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Trial Continues

...that is, postmodernity's endless one.

Have Christians spent too much time critiquing postmodernity? Yes. Can you blame us? Well, it's kinda fun. But I'll admit it takes energy better spent both speaking and living the Gospel, especially considering those outside the church are often much better at critiquing postmodernity than Christians are. I've mentioned several before, but this time, here come the Marxists, with a rhythm of argument that may sound familiar:
"Postmodernist culture has produced a rich, bold, exhilarating body of work across the whole span of the arts, and has generated more than its fair share of execrable kitsch. It has pulled the rug out from beneath a number of complacent certainties, pried open some paranoid totalities, tainted some jealously guarded purities, bent some oppressive norms, and shaken some rather solid-looking foundations. It has also tended to surrender to a politically paralyzing skepticism, a flashy populism, a full-blooded moral relativism, and a brand of sophism for which, since all conventions are arbitrary anyway, we might as well conform to those of the Free World. In pulling the rug out from under the certainties of its political opponents, this postmodern culture has often enough pulled it out from under itself too, leaving itself with no more reason why we should resist fascism than the feebly pragmatic plea that fascism is not the way we do things in Sussex or Sacramento.

"Postmodernism has a quick eye for irony; but there is one irony above all that seems to have escaped it... In a powerfully estranging gesture [the revolutions of Eastern Europe have] expose[d] postmodernism as the ideology of a peculiarly jaded, defeatist wing of the liberal-capitalist intelligentsia, which has mistaken its own very local difficulties for a universal human condition in exactly the manner of the universality ideologies it denounces" (25).

"The irony of post-modernism is that while purporting to have transcended modernity, it abandons from the start all hope of transcending capitalism itself and entering a post-capitalist era. Postmodernist theory is therefore easily absorbed within the dominant cultural frame and has given rise recently to texts such as Postmodern Marketing, which attempts to utilize the insights of thinkers like Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, and Baudillard to market goods within a capitalist economy" (193).
(By the way, if you too are interested in "transcending" capitalism, I know of a writer who will get you there much quicker than Karl Marx.)

I can appreciate Christians who call themselves postmodern in order to "reach this generation" with the Gospel. But considering what may be this generation's increasing disillusionment with postmodernity, perhaps one should consider being post-postmodern for exactly the same reason.