2006-11-16

postmodernism...

I was talking with a friend about postmodernism today and a couple of things kind of hit me in terms of how we as postmoderns view the world (to make a generalization that I feel applies to a large number of people).

I think those who grew up with a more modern background, upbringing, etc were more comfortable accepting one ideology that offered all the answers they needed for life. For instance, if you grew up as an american protestant christian, you were ok just existing within the framework of the ideology that was presented to you by american protestant christianity. The same applies to politics and a lot of other things. And that group of people would be uncomfortable with things which came from outside the ideology they were familiar with or identified with.

As postmoderns, I think we feel much more comfortable taking multiple ideologies, finding the pieces which are non-contradictory, and forming them into something new. For instance, to use the same analogy, as an american protestant christian, I think a postmodern would be much more comfortable taking some ideas from buddhism, islam, judaism, american protestant christianty, etc. which are not contradictory to the ideas presented in the Bible and incorporate them into their worldview and into their practice of daily life.

I think the big difference here is that as postmoderns, we don't see there being a single, monolithic right answer that encompasses all areas of life and all situations in the way that the previous few generations have. I think we would tend to view the world more like this - that there are truths which inform our decisions and views on life, but there is not one single right answer for everything.

13 comments:

  1. The Grace-Seeker11/24/2006 3:40 PM

    Great perspective! I've never thought of it in that way before. As a American Protestant Christian growing up in the Modern era, that is exactly how we thought; one right answer and all the rest are wrong, and probably wrong in total by association.

    The question is how does a post-modern decide what pieces of this and that to take as one's own? Since absolute truth probably doesn't exist in the thinking of a post-modern, then it really doesn't matter what pieces one adopts as their belief system.

    However if there is an Infinite-Personal God who is absolute truth and that God has communicated that absolute truth about Himself, the world, ourselves, etc. then it matterswhat peices of different philosophies I adopt.

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  2. well, at least for me, I feel that I have a very different idea of what absolute truth is than the average modern... but I still believe in absolute truth. it seems to me that for a modern, everything in the particular ideology that they subscribe to becomes absolute truth (obviously not always for everyone, but that seems to be a tendency), whereas I would see for instance an absolute truth as something like "God is love", which then works itself out in many different ways for many different people. The absolute truth is not my interpretation and experience of "God is love", it is simply that "God is love". So, in choosing which pieces of things I would choose to put together, I would choose things which go along with those, for instance, in many eastern religions such as buddhism, there is an emphasis on quiet, and if we believe that there is a God who communicates with us, I believe we have to take time to listen. If we only talk when we communicate with God, how do we ever learn? So I might choose to meditate or have times of complete silence just in order to listen. It's just one example of many, but in general I would just say that I take what I see to be absolute truths communicated in scripture and then determine how they work out in my own life and experience.

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  3. The Grace-Seeker11/24/2006 10:09 PM

    Thanks melancholic optimist! I agree that truth can be found in many places and many people reflect truth in various ways. I am glad God spoke and gave us the sacred scriptures, which miraculously is absolute truth of God communicated to all of us on the planet. While we can all seek truth in many areas, God has given us the source of all truth, the bible. I'd encourage you to make that book the focus of your pursuit of truth.

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  4. The Grace-Seeker11/25/2006 6:21 PM

    From God Himself:

    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.

    Psalm 1: 1-2

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  5. I have some comments for "grace-seeker"

    Personally, I absolutely despise the terms modern, post modern, etc. I hope I will never, no any of us, be content with finding one "philosophy", "one generation point of view", one opinion and then stop learning and be humble and changeable for the rest of my days. For me to pin your self down to a label is dangerous to a healthy growing relationship with God.

    secondly, and this is just my interpretation, but your posts feel almost condescending, a bit like you are coming to this topic with an assumption that he doesn't regard the bible as the source and measure of all things. You seem to assume that he doesn't read the bible or look to it. You seem to have come to this topic with an air of you are the one with the true answers and the wisdom. There is a feeling of 'I like your point but...this is how things are and don't question them.'

    I think the truth is that people in today's world are more concerned with things that are true than what has been the way things are done. Christian or not. People are not afraid that the questions might take some time to figure out, or that there might be mistakes along the way, as long as they come close to an answer. You can't have a relationship with anyone, let along God, if you are afraid to make a mistake so you don't do anything or engage in the process of the relationship.

    I regards to your last 2 comments regarding the bible...The thing is, the bible is the truth of God. BUT how are we to understand and interpret it? Only by the leading of the Holy Spirit. You are to read it and listen. I believe that God speaks to us in a multitude of ways. he helps us understand the things we read, experience, and see. He uses the written word, prayer, others, the creation around us, our own unique God-made personality. So ones pursuit of truth should be focused on God. A person should be willing and open to allow Him to speak to you in a multitude of ways. The bible is true but we are human and our understanding is so very limited, so to me it's seems completely wise and Godly to look to the tools God has given us to become progressively more and more like Him.

    The intrinsic nature of truth is that is is and always will be true. Something that is truth in the bible does not suddenly become untrue if you find it also in other places. New ways of phrasing a truth does not mean the truth is negated.

    I almost feel a fear from you that in our looking around the world God has placed us in to further understand truth and know Him more, that that automatically that means the bible is thrown out.

    Honestly, for me, I am really discouraged by this response. It is the same response i and so many others get from so many people, even people whom we think know us well enough to know our relationship with God and our regard for truth. A response that feels full of assumption, and immense concern for our spiritual well being with out really asking any questions to see what our hearts really are at before making the assumption that we don't value truth, not really listening or giving a fair thought to our questions if those questions the way things have been done or understood.

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  6. Dave, Trina,
    Good conversation! I'll have to get in here and read more often! This could become more of a Dialogue site!

    Trina, regarding "absolutely despising", creating labels for certain things can be bad but it can also be very useful when trying to communicate. Modern and Post-modern thinking, while both having a wide range of views are consistent enough to be quite useful labels. I don't want to have to spell out all the details of a particular worldview just to have a conversation. It shouldn't be something to be "absolutely despised", just be aware of the dangers and use the benefits.

    I probably align more with grace-seeker than both of you do. I think a key point is that there is ahuge disctinction between thing that are true and truth itself. God's Word says that it "is truth", not "is true". No other book or source in the world can say that. So while we may find things that are true in lots of places, the Word of God is the only place to find "the truth". I think that is what Grace-Seeker is saying.

    Trina, you mentioned "The intrinsic nature of truth is that is is and always will be true." That is true (circluar argument) but when truth is mixed with everything else, how do we clearly distinguish what is true and what is not? That requires an intentional discipline in one's life as a christian to be wholly absorbed in the truth of God's word so we have a reference when we are reading and living in the rest of the world. Dave, when you say Buhdism believes in quiet, they are not talking about the same truth of meditating as is in the Bible so quiet and meditation in an eastern thinker is quite completely different than the quiet meditation of God's word. I can't string those 2 together as you do.

    Anyhow, good conversation. And Trina, don't get discouraged with someone pointing back to God's word as the ultimate source of all truth. God is Truth and it is only in him that we find truth and light. That is where anything that is true on this planet has and will come from.

    Paj

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  7. I think the thing we found frustrating is that in my original post, I wrote that when looking at other ideologies, I would put the things I'm looking at up against what I find in the Bible to determine if they are true or not. Therefore I am basing truth on the Bible. Also, the Bible talks plenty about meditation and its usefulness, and also silence and its usefulness, it just is something that is often overlooked by contemporary christianity, so that's why I say I'm willing to look at things outside of the ideology that is given me by culture or the church or whatever to take pieces of other things which don't contradict the Bible. Essentially, what the Bible talks about as meditation and what Buddhism considers meditation are the same thing - the main difference is what they are meditating on. In our case, God's word, or some part of it, in their case, the teachings of Buddha. I'm not saying I meditate on the teachings of Buddha, I'm saying I use meditation and silence as a tool in my life. Anyway, I hope that makes more sense.

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  8. The other thing being that we feel from Christians a lot that if we do anything they wouldn't do, or say anything they wouldn't say, that they immediately question whether we believe in truth or believe in the Bible as truth, and that gets really wearing.

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  9. Dave,
    Your comments make a lot of sense! What was critically missing in your original blog was what you just now stated

    "I wrote that when looking at other ideologies, I would put the things I'm looking at up against what I find in the Bible to determine if they are true or not."

    What you said in your original blog was "I think we feel much more comfortable taking multiple ideologies, finding the pieces which are non-contradictory, and forming them into something new."

    Whether you intended it or not, these two statements are quite different.

    Regarding Buddhist vs Christian meditation. While the word "meditation" is the same, virtually everything about the underlying concepts are very different. Who is God, what is man, what is man's fundamental prpblem, what is the solution to man's fundamental problem, etc. There is virtually no connection between the two other than the word "meditation". So in searching for the Buddhist's view of quiet and meditation, all discovery there will be quite quite different than a Biblical view of mediatation. So other than the fact that we use a common word, the values underneath those words have nothing in common. And I disagree that the current church has denigrated the importance of meditation. I certainly know a lot of people who routinely have a daily quiet time in the Word to primarily "listen" to what God is saying to them and not be talking to God. That has been one of the healthiest practices I have had as a Christian.

    So Dave, regarding your final comment about other christians questioning your faith in God and truth, well, frankly a statement like you made "I think we feel much more comfortable taking multiple ideologies, finding the pieces which are non-contradictory, and forming them into something new." would cause most biblically based christians to question and wonder what you meant by that, if in fact you take that as your own philosophy, which you implied in your blog.
    Paj

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  10. ok, in looking at my original post again, that was a typo on my part - what I originally meant to say was "non-contradictory to scripture". sorry about that, I was just assuming that was what I wrote, and I just read over it before.

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  11. but anyway, even if I did leave out the non-contradictory to scripture, and just said non-contradictory, why should this lead you to question my faith? do you really feel that uncertain about whether the Bible is a part of my life? and if the Bible is a part of my life, then the non-contradictory to scripture is implied. also, regarding ideologies, they are all things which are made up by man. the american christian ideology is not equivalent to the Bible. All ideologies are made up by humans, and therefore are a mixture of truth and falsity. I don't believe that holding entirely to an american christian ideology is the mark of a good christian, I believe that holding true to what is in the Bible is the way to go, and those are two different things. I don't agree with you that the form of meditation is necessarily that different between buddhism and christianity. I still think you're focusing on the content of the meditation and assuming I'm accepting more of the ideology than I am, which was kind of what I was getting at in my original post - I'm simply taking the emphasis on quiet and meditation and saying that is really valuable, I'm not saying I meditate on the teachings of buddha, I'm just saying that meditation is important. I think you may be assuming that I'm incorporating a whole other ideology when I'm only taking that emphasis. I'm also not saying that no american christians meditate or have quiet times, but that in my experience, that has been something that is lacking in how we think about our faith.

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  12. I think that people get so closely identified with an ideology that they equate the ideology with the Bible and if one questions that ideology, they assume the person is questioning the Bible, and I don't believe that is healthy.

    Also, Trina wasn't discouraged about someone saying that the Bible is the source of truth, she was discouraged about some of the assumptions implicit in that response (such as, that we needed to be told that the Bible is the source of truth).

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  13. Dave, I don't think I ever questioned your faith, at least I didn't intend to. I only questioned the validity of your statement made originally and aligning it with your latest comment related to "I believe that holding true to what is in the Bible is the way to go"

    I think we are in close agreement on these things and now that you have clarified your original blog, I now better understand and agree. Thanks Dave!
    Paj

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