Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On Postmodern Times

In silently lurking around various Christian blogs, I've seen some people advance the idea that if we don't get with it, where "with it" means embracing some principles of the amorphous and nigh-infinitely malleable blob known as Postmodernism [or "postmodern thinking"], we won't be able to do various things particularly well, such as evangelize, defend the faith, or even communicate with people. When this idea of embracing pomo'ism is advanced, there has been a chorus of agreement, along with what I detect as a self-congratulatory attitude for being so enlightened as to realizing this profound truth.

(1) When this urge is combined with the fact that some of its proponents demur giving a precise definition of pomo'ism, it is hard to take it seriously. We are then being urged to take a position, or, as some adherents would have it, an attitude or pose, whose demarcation line is so fuzzy that we have a good deal of trouble saying that somebody is on whatever side of the line.

(2) On a sociological and personal note, I get the feeling that many of the adherents of the amorphous blob known as pomo'ism seem to enjoy their nouveau intellectual status, given what I see as a perpetual self-congratulatory attitude [as mentioned in the initial paragraph]. Also, any scrutiny applied to whatever fuzzy claims the nouveau intellectuals put forth is usually met with the couterclaim that [yawn] the person asking the question just doesn't get it. Given that chasing after pomo'ism is akin to chasing after the Cheshire Cat, the natural question to ask is: we just don't get WHAT?!

(3) When discussing things with people, I have found that the biggest obstacle to making any sort of case for my position is getting them to realize that the law of the excluded middle and the standards of evidence apply to propositions in general, and not just non-religious propositions. Taking a line from CS Lewis, the problem is to get them to realize that something is TRUE or NOT TRUE. Discussions of, say, the existence of normative narratives and meta-narratives don't really make any headway on this question.

(4) Some pomo's have a habit of complaining that their posts are misunderstood, even though "there isn't an overarching narrative." This constantly causes groans from my end.

(5) Some of the things I've seen pomo's advocate, such as taking things in context, sensitivity to nuance, etc, are, rather than being great profound truths that pomo'ism has revealed to the darkened masses, mundane trivialities that one hopefully knew in one's young adult life.

(6) In attempting to see just where the "usual" method of reading Biblical texts is deficient [and in reading the queries by others asking the same], I have yet to see anything by the pomo internet denizens that demonstrates anything to warrant the general smugness put forth by the pomo advocates.

(7) This has also been said before on a previous blog entry, but the big names to drop: Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, etc, seem to enjoy a higher authority than do Paul, John, Peter, etc.

Some authors say some silly things but have interesting [and possibly new] truths intermingled with the aforementioned silly things. Some authors just spout gibberish. I wish more Christians would call a spade and spade and not worry about incurring the wrath of the nouveau intellectuals. Quoting a philosophy friend: "Derrida and Lyotard are to philosophy as are Cheech and Chong to physics."

(8) Often, the implicit fallacy of saying that you need a degree in X to make relevant comments about X is invoked to attempt to silence postmodernism's critics.
This can be met on a number of fronts:

(a) This is demonstrably false: I wrote a textbook in an area for which I didn't specialize in my training. Also, most people have practical or theoretical experience with things outside of their degree field.

(b) Let's say that a pomo knows more than somebody like me about the breadth of what has been written on the topic. Assuming that my points against pomo'ism are coherent, these points still stand or fall independently of my status relative to the breadth of what has been written. If a proposition is false, it is false regardless of how well-read the person who holds its truth thinks it is.

(c) I've seen a denigration of "Bible Colleges" by some of the more obnoxious pomo's. Implicit is the assumption that a secular or non-Bible college is somehow superior. Again, this is silly, as non-Bible colleges [and some Bible colleges too] often have curricula that are fad-based. Throw in the fact that most degree fields are not rigorous [which means that the PhD's and the academics in that field are not particularly trained in rigorous thinking], and it is quite possible for somebody who went to a non-Bible college to not really have much formal exercise in critical thinking, but to have great experience in classes designed to push through a political or ideological agenda under the guise of "general education."

This isn't to say that Bible Colleges are necessarily superior, but a mere appeal to the fact that somebody went to a Bible College doesn't even begin to broker the issue.


In looking back at the above in what passes as an edit session, the question arises of whether I'm being too hard on the internet pomo's I've seen. The question also arises as to whether I'm caricaturing them to a certain degree.

Answers: no and no.

Postmodernism [the amorphous ideology or the attitude] is one of those things for which I've never been able to see why non-silly people embrace it. The answer, after a decade of seeing this nonsense, still seems to be that pomo'ism carries with it an attitude or certain hipness. It is an ideology that either can't be nailed down, or, if it is nailed down, suffers from being laughably false or trivially true. That a certain portion of academics has embraced this fad merely shows one the sorry state of academics relative to the humanities.

EDIT --- Fixed a grammatical error.


Blogger centuri0n said...

PP --

Paul and Peter were trapped in their ignorance of their biases.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Paul and Peter were logocentric bastards who merely wanted to broaden the hegemony of their privileged points of view, eh?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

yo mama fat as house

(if you read my blog, you get it)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 5:15:00 AM  

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