Post Modernism – Part 5

This is a continuation from yesterday where we started looking at major themes in postmodernism.  Tomorrow we’ll start looking at ministry implications within the postmodern context, mostly based on the items in the lists for the last two days. 

These are the final four themes in the list that I would count as essential:

 

  • Narrative and Meta-Narrative – Since it is basically an image
    in word form, narrative is an increasingly important part of postmodern
    communication.  It is not just a collection of facts, but it is shows
    the deeper meaning that is going on behind the scenes.  All of life is
    viewed as a story, with characters weaving in and out of each other’s
    story as life progresses.  The real value in narrative comes when the
    postmodern can connect themselves to other narratives in the form of a
    meta-narrative, or an overarching story that captures all of humanity. 
    This facilitates a meaningful awareness of self as well as community
    bonds that span the individualistic tendencies of postmoderns.
  • Dialog
    and Discourse – For the postmodern, the journey is as important as the
    destination (see narrative above).  They don’t like closed doors and
    absolutes.  They want to be able to explore and question and teach as
    they proceed through discovery of life.  Because of this, they place a
    high value on conversation and dialog.  This will drive moderns crazy
    because it seems like postmoderns can never come to a decision and move
    forward.  Postmoderns, however, feel left out and offended if they walk
    into a meeting where someone says, "This is how it will be."  In
    addition, postmoderns seem to get a bit of a thrill out of the chasing
    of the discussion.  It seems the deeper the meaning that is wound in to
    discussion and the longer the discussion lasts the more accomplished
    the postmodern feels. 
  • Desire for Authenticity –
    The awareness of the hidden side of an issue and a few decades of
    ethical failure by leaders from all fields (church, government,
    business) has led postmoderns to place a high prize on authenticity. 
    Authenticity is not something that is immediately evident, so the
    postmodern requires time to process an issue or a person before
    investing in it/them.  This can make them seem like they have
    difficulty committing.  What they want is to see the deeper value, to
    see what the reality behind the scenes is, and to make sure that they
    feel like they can include this person/issue in their narrative before
    jumping on board.  This means that positional authority is out the
    window, which absolutely drives modernists crazy.  Modernist leaders
    rule in a top down approach.  Postmoderns look at the top and assume
    the person has been unethical in order to get that position.  Only
    after having spent time watching and observing these leaders will the
    postmodern begin to invest in them.
  • Holistic
    Involvement – This is a summary of many of the items that have been
    discussed already.  The postmodern is tired of seeing
    compartmentalization among people.  They see people act different ways
    in different settings and it makes them sick.  How much more
    unauthentic can you get?  Because of this, postmoderns want to take
    whatever it is that they are a part of, ingest it, and make it part of
    their whole lives.  They want authenticity and want to be authentic. 
    Their quest for deeper meaning causes them to seek that meaning out in
    their own lives.  They seek careers that enrich their lives and stem
    from their gifts.  To take a career that doesn’t "fit" would be
    unauthentic.

So, what are your impressions?  Do you have some that should be added to this list?  Do you see yourself in any of these descriptions?  Share your thoughts.

8 Responses to Post Modernism – Part 5

  1. meowmix says:

    In most ways, I see myself as post-modern. But I also am a touchy-feely person, and my heart rules me probably more than my head. Well, not probably; it DOES rule me more than my head. Anyone who knows me at all would quickly nod their head in agreement. But I TRY to think things through logically, and I do like to discuss situations and feelings, as well. Hence, I have been guilty of writing letters that were enormous trying to articulate my position on something, as well as what my heart is feeling. I also tend to get wordy when commenting on other people’s blogs! 🙂 Maybe we are all made up of some of each of these aspects. I can’t really place myself; I may just be stupid!! 🙂

  2. meowmix says:

    In most ways, I see myself as post-modern. But I also am a touchy-feely person, and my heart rules me probably more than my head. Well, not probably; it DOES rule me more than my head. Anyone who knows me at all would quickly nod their head in agreement. But I TRY to think things through logically, and I do like to discuss situations and feelings, as well. Hence, I have been guilty of writing letters that were enormous trying to articulate my position on something, as well as what my heart is feeling. I also tend to get wordy when commenting on other people’s blogs! 🙂 Maybe we are all made up of some of each of these aspects. I can’t really place myself; I may just be stupid!! 🙂

  3. James says:

    Regarding narrative and meta-narrative, I really need to loan you some of my John Eldredge books. He focuses very heavily on that concept and how much of literature and cinema is a yearning to express and connect with our place in God’s meta-narrative. He contends that “Narnia,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Matrix,” etc., are born of that and that is the reason they are so allegorical of faith and Christianity.
    ———–
    According to your description of dialog and discourse I am thoroughly post-modern in that respect. Take lunch for example. I could have talked for hours and hours. It doesn’t matter too much if we are in 100% agreement. The value comes in the discussion and the learning. It’s like being in a familiar room and finding a door that opens and reveals things you hadn’t seen before. I agree completely that the deeper the meaning and the longer the discussion the greater the sense of accomplishment.

    I don’t think that “postmoderns can never come to a decision and move forward” as much as post-morderns view each decision as a stair-step up in the process. Moderns see each decision as a point of arrival or a goal accomplished. As we were saying today though, a problem with the “5 steps” is they reduce the journey of Christian experience to a formula that creates an artificial end-state and ignores everything that should follow baptism.
    ———–
    In my journey away from legalism I have developed a healthy suspicion if not borderline mistrust for those in “authority” in the church. This comes, I think, from seeing those “church offices” as being responsible for the doctrine and dogma I was fed and brought up on. Once I realized that our hermeneutic and exegesis, if not our doctrine, were so fatally flawed I became wary of putting my spiritual trust in those in power. Not because I necessarily “assume the person has been unethical in order to get that position.” Rather, I believe power corrupts and rulers tend to defend and protect the system that gave them power, regardless how flawed, ineffective or unscriptural that system may be.

    Again, I’m thoroughly enjoying this series of posts and looking forward to the next.

  4. James says:

    Regarding narrative and meta-narrative, I really need to loan you some of my John Eldredge books. He focuses very heavily on that concept and how much of literature and cinema is a yearning to express and connect with our place in God’s meta-narrative. He contends that “Narnia,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Matrix,” etc., are born of that and that is the reason they are so allegorical of faith and Christianity.
    ———–
    According to your description of dialog and discourse I am thoroughly post-modern in that respect. Take lunch for example. I could have talked for hours and hours. It doesn’t matter too much if we are in 100% agreement. The value comes in the discussion and the learning. It’s like being in a familiar room and finding a door that opens and reveals things you hadn’t seen before. I agree completely that the deeper the meaning and the longer the discussion the greater the sense of accomplishment.

    I don’t think that “postmoderns can never come to a decision and move forward” as much as post-morderns view each decision as a stair-step up in the process. Moderns see each decision as a point of arrival or a goal accomplished. As we were saying today though, a problem with the “5 steps” is they reduce the journey of Christian experience to a formula that creates an artificial end-state and ignores everything that should follow baptism.
    ———–
    In my journey away from legalism I have developed a healthy suspicion if not borderline mistrust for those in “authority” in the church. This comes, I think, from seeing those “church offices” as being responsible for the doctrine and dogma I was fed and brought up on. Once I realized that our hermeneutic and exegesis, if not our doctrine, were so fatally flawed I became wary of putting my spiritual trust in those in power. Not because I necessarily “assume the person has been unethical in order to get that position.” Rather, I believe power corrupts and rulers tend to defend and protect the system that gave them power, regardless how flawed, ineffective or unscriptural that system may be.

    Again, I’m thoroughly enjoying this series of posts and looking forward to the next.

  5. z-man says:

    You’ve raised a question in my mind and several thoughts with today’s post:

    Question: you refer to “individualistic tendencies” in post-modernists. In our American society, individualistic tendencies have been around for a long time, if not from the first European settlers and our founding. What distinguishes individualism and individualistic tendencies in modernists from those same characteristics in post-moderns?

    I may be getting ahead of you but I see the explosion of the popularity of small groups in the last few years as one manifestation of post-modernist influence. The desire for community, realism, authenticity, etc. can be met much easier in this setting than in a corporate, Sunday morning setting.

    I really like what you’ve described about holistic living. It always seemed odd to be and speaak one way on Sunday and maybe a few Wed. nights sprinkled in there, and then be and speak differently the rest of the time. I like the way Rob Bell describes it in “Velvet Elvis”. Christian is not an adjective, it’s a noun. I’m not a Christian health care professional, a Christian musician, a Christian accountant, a Christian athlete. I’m a Christian. Who lives every aspect of my life as a Christian, or at least tries. Compartmentalizing really screws up a person.

  6. z-man says:

    You’ve raised a question in my mind and several thoughts with today’s post:

    Question: you refer to “individualistic tendencies” in post-modernists. In our American society, individualistic tendencies have been around for a long time, if not from the first European settlers and our founding. What distinguishes individualism and individualistic tendencies in modernists from those same characteristics in post-moderns?

    I may be getting ahead of you but I see the explosion of the popularity of small groups in the last few years as one manifestation of post-modernist influence. The desire for community, realism, authenticity, etc. can be met much easier in this setting than in a corporate, Sunday morning setting.

    I really like what you’ve described about holistic living. It always seemed odd to be and speaak one way on Sunday and maybe a few Wed. nights sprinkled in there, and then be and speak differently the rest of the time. I like the way Rob Bell describes it in “Velvet Elvis”. Christian is not an adjective, it’s a noun. I’m not a Christian health care professional, a Christian musician, a Christian accountant, a Christian athlete. I’m a Christian. Who lives every aspect of my life as a Christian, or at least tries. Compartmentalizing really screws up a person.

  7. bradpalmore says:

    Individualistic tendencies have been around for awhile, that’s true. The difference for the postmodern is that the focus on the individual comes from a rejection of group think and because-its-always-been-that-way reasoning. The search for reality makes the postmodern test everything for themselves. This is where the potential for relativism comes in. If I decide everything for myself, I suppose I could define what is right and wrong as well. Being involved in a running dialog with other people helps to keep this negative side in check.

    Another way of looking at it is in terms of Grave’s work. Those seeking power and glory (conquistadors anyone?) were clearly system three. Those who legislated them into control are system four, and they are concerned for the group (mostly). The next step is to use the safety provided by system four to explore new ways of doing things and achieve individual recognition and success, turning the focus back to the self. These folks are system five.

    Loved Velvet Elvis! That will surely be in the recommended reading list.

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