Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Who's Afraid of the Pomo Wolf?

No, no, no not me! The title of this blog post should be sung to the tune of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf". You may now be asking yourself, "Okay, what's a Pomo Wolf? Is that something they let loose in Yellowstone?" No, Pomo is shorthand for "Postmodern". That is, the postmodernism movement, if it's a movement.

I was first introduced to postmodernism as an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) studying English Literature. Actually, it wasn't really introdcued. It was just sort of excepted. Postmodernism has the reputation as being complete relativism. That is that there is no 'absolute' truth. Please don't comment to me about the fact that the very statement I just made is an absolute truth claim. I figured that out already.

Actually, the postmodernism I'm thinking of basically revolves around Jacques Derrida and his idea of what happens when you read something, like this blog. Are you, right now, really understanding what I'm writing? Or, I am actually able to convey the meaning that I want to convey? Writing and reading and meaning are reduced to a sort of game. You can never be certain that I am meaning what you think I'm meaning. Problem is, even if you write that you understand what I am writing, then I may misunderstand you. Where is the meaning of this text? What is the meaning of meaning! GAAAH!!!

Anyway, it was this sort of madness that led me to Jesus Christ. Thank you, Mr. Derrida. After taking my philosophy and Lit. classes, I realized that if there were no God, then there is no real meaning. Life becomes absurd and necessarily meaningless. At least, it becomes meaningless in any final, absolute sense. That was depressing for me, since I was not certain if there was a God at the time. Postmodern relativism for me was like standing over the brink of an abyss. It was an abyss of meanlessness and vanity and futility. I was, to quote the Bard, "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." I was "a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more." I greatly feared that my life was "a tale told by an idiot." (Thank you, Mrs. Vassar, whereever you are.)

But, thanks be to God, Jesus rescued me from the despair of the abyss. I found in Christ meaning, life, and purpose. And that, my friends, is a glorious thing to find...or to be found by.

I see in the pomo Church, or the 'Emergent Church', some of the marks of my old depression. They find things, especially "institutional" things to be meaningless. Propostional truths are not persuasive to them because their believe in one's ability to make a certain, absolute truth statement has been eroded. They doubt everything except that they are doubting. Truth claims send them into tizzies because if they cannot know something, then certainly someone else cannot know it either. (I used to hate it when someone would say that they knew, without a doubt, that they would go to heaven.)

However, I must say that I have found some positive things in having a pomo mindset. Yes, I still have a pomo mindset, I guess. Can one ever completely escape the influence of one's time? The positive thing about being a product of this generation is that I question things. When I see a truth statement, I know how to look for the assumptions underlying the statement. I know where to go to find the validity of a claim.

When I did not know the truth (though I had heard it, it had not been brought home to me by the Objective Power, that is, God Himself) I was in agony. Now that I know Christ, I have joy unceasing. Now, I can use the experience that God allowed me to have to build the confidence of others in God's absolute truth, and that He did indeed inspire the Bible to be infallible and without error. And that we can trust the Word to guide us "into all truth." What a relief.

1 comment:

Keith Horton said...

"The truth, by definition, is exclusive." Pomo's don't like exlusivity and in our world of "self-help" and "self-image" we thrive on atta boy's and kudos. In the words of Jack Nicholson, "You can't handle the truth." That is so true for our culture. Thanks be to God for His Spirit to "lead us into all truth."