Saturday, September 30, 2006

So, postmodernity it is then...

Have been trying to get my head around the whole concept of postmodernity/postmodernism, and admittedly not succeeded very well.

What can't be denied (though i am sure there are plenty who will) is that Western culture is undergoing a radical shift in outlook - though there is some debate as to whether we are in the apex between two ways of understanding the world, at the end of one (modernity) or the beginning of another. Are we late modern, post modern, the malaise of the modern or what?

Perhaps it would help to think a bit about what Modernity as a 'world view' is (very broadly speaking, i don't claim to be an expert). Modernity is a post-enlightenment, rational/reason based view of the world characterised by a belief in the constant progress of humanity through technology and reason, the growth of institutions, the elevation of reason and rationality and science and a sense of always moving forward towards ultimate truths. This is a woefully inadequate summary, but the main strands of modernity seem to have arisen from the enlightenment and 'the age of reason' coupled with reform and revolution over the past five centuries or so - so read up on that to get a better idea.

The two world wars, international pandemics, looming environmental disaster, and a sense that 'maybe we aren't actually going forward' has caused a loss of the optimism that was built in to the project of modernity. Alongside this a resurgence of a quest for meaning and rediscovery of spiritual searching has meant that rational arguments don't hold the sway they used to. There is a mistrust of those that seek to impose their viewpoints on others and an overwhelming feeling of the individual as arbiter of truth. This is a situation that seems to have crept up on our society and offers challenges to all institutions and groups that claim to have a 'hold on truth' - so the church obviously has to respond to this in some way. Interestingly, the church, especially (but not exclusively) those of a 'reformed' tradition has bought into the model of the rational, modern way of being and doing in a big way. We need to think about what we truly are, about the characteristics of the postmodern world and how we respond to this. But that's enough for now, an opportunity to disagree with me follow - leave a comment.

1 comment:

moog said...

it seems the postmodernity focuses on what makes something true, ie it's contextualisation and the experience from which the truth arises. It is this that makes written 'truth' difficult to grasp, as everyone reads the words differently, coming as they do with their own diverse expereince. So should the church become more experiencial, or how should it discern between different understandings of truth? Or should it shun postmodernity and return to draconian implimentation of faith - cos at least everyone knows where they stand if they are told exactly what they can/cannot believe. I fear it is this latter reaction that is the fuel of fundamentalism. Perhaps it's just a reaction against postmodernity, rather than deep convictions of faith. does that make sense...