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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

PROPM--Part 2

Pointless Ramblings on PostModernism--Part 2, "How long?"

It seems that everywhere I've turned recently, the issue of Postmodernism is right before me. It's been the focus of some books, lectures and conversations I've had lately. As I've stated here before, I've struggled to understand the entire movement, and thought I'd take the next couple days to hammer out some of my observations. The observations don't mean a whole lot, remember, because I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

How long?

Maybe it's the ill aftereffects of modernism, but the vague nature of postmodernism can be a bit frustrating. Other eras seem to be fairly neatly wrapped up, we can get a rough idea of when the started and when they ended. Postmodernism, however, can not be as easily assessed. I think there are a couple of reasons:

Unidentifiable Catalyst. What started the postmodern movement? Typically eras have begun with the conquest of a governement, scientific discovery, or even a great philosopher. It's hard to label which of those things, if any, helped initiate the postmodern movement. Some have suggested the influx of technology, but it seems to me that postmodernism had arrived before the computer was mainstream.

Short Shelf Life. We're really the first generation in this era. I wonder if the Reformers sensed the world was entering a new era? I wonder if people realized the ramifications of the printing press at the time of its invention? For us, it's hard to label because we are just at the beginning of it. In our society, anything lasting 5-10 years is labeled an era. In history, things lasting less than 100 years are considered short lived fads. (In reality, if we've moved out of modernism, it too was a very short era.) The further back you go, the longer something had to last to be considered significant. In 2510 AD, if we were to look back at the philosophy of this age, the distinction between us and the seventeenth century will seem significantly smaller.

Is it possible that we are focussing so much energy into something that will not survive long? Is it possible, that someday, historians will see modernism and postmodernism as two sub-sets of a larger classification? Is it possible that postmodernism is merely a transitional phase to another era which will last much longer? Or is it possible that postmodernism is the first of a series of very short lived eras?

I totally understand we should be reaching people as they understand things. I believe the Great Commission refers to all peoples, regardless of their philosophy. I'm not talking about evangelism.

I'm just wondering if we could be spending so much time scrambling to adapt our churches, our ministries, our study, and our preaching to identify with a mindset we will shortly find obsolete.

1 Comments:

  • At 9:46 AM, Anonymous brian said…

    Good questions, Danny. And, as a novice who is studying culture, I would say that of course Jesus could not be defined in either camp. And, in view of history both movements are short flashes. And, While I don't thiink we have to adjust our churches to make them postmodern, I do think, even if it's a short movement, (who knows)we need to be aware of the tenents of it so we can do two things: 1)Learn to listen and communicate a deep love for people. (Grace)2)Communicate the Gospel clearly in a way that connects (Grace and Truth), moving past a strict fundementalist view of complete separation. I think some of the principles in postmodernism do give us license to create new outlets for church that would open up more doorways to reach more people with the message. Within the transition we have to ask ourselves some stinging questions that will drive us to change. The goal is to connect the truths of God with all people, not to hold onto a certain way of doing church. I think that's what this movement is doing in certian realms of culture (on the positive side). Of course, (on the negative side) there are some weirder angles to it as well. But from my vantage point, knowing and listening to a postmodern culture is very different from becoming a pure postmodern church. But even after I writing this, the lack of definition for a "postmodern church" probably leaves this comment a bit ambiguous, but this comment has already gone to long, so I'll stop here.

     

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