Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Postmodern Blues

I was thinking last night that I'm very sick of hearing about Postmodern philosophy everywhere I go. It's exhausting, and depressing. I'm sure it makes talking to me exhausting and depressing, because it is gradually claiming more and more of my attention every day. Frankly, I despise people who tell everyone things like, "It's good to feel confused," or "It's right to be contradictory." Who said? Who made up that rule? What do they mean by that, anyway?

I was talking to my mother, earlier, and telling her that I'm starting to have a knee jerk reaction every time I turn on the television or open up a book. I'm always thinking, "Oh, it's postmodern crud again! When will they ever leave me alone?!" and storming off angry. What upsets me so badly is that a lot of people I consider good and intelligent are slowly buying into it. I'm fairly certain that they don't even know this movement has a name, or a set of teachings so organized that it is more like a doctrinal creed. I'm not even sure these good people would persist in believing them, if someone really showed them what they were being spoon fed. Well, if I can, I want to teach them how to recognize poisonous messages and spit them out.

Here are some of the central "doctrines" of postmodernism. I'm sorry that this list is extremely technical and fraught with jargon. I have tried very hard to explain all the jargon as I introduce it. I feel that if I don't use the jargon, others will, to try to confuse you. In order to help you, I'm trying to give you some insiders' information ahead of time.

I challenge readers to really analyze these "teachings." Where have you heard this before? You will probably never hear postmodernism spelled out, unless you take a college class for teaching majors--there, you will be instructed in these things, so that you can slip them into lessons for children.

While you are analyzing this list, I want you to ask yourself this: Are these things really damaging? How can a basic change in my thinking affect my life and society at large? I challenge you to challenge postmodernism in your own minds. Put it on trial; it will stand up to a good trial if it is right. In my analysis, it failed on so many levels that I have summarily thrown it out of my life, and I get angry when people try to shove it back into my life.

The Postmodern Credo

  • Postmodernism states that the "old ways" of thinking were too hierarchical (categorizing everything into opposing [binary] pairs, like male/female, black/white, good/evil, etc.) and that they favored one of the pair over the other, such as MALE/female, black/WHITE, GOOD/evil, etc. In their teaching, the valuing of one over another (favoring men over women, for instance), is based on cultural teachings, not an absolute set of rules that applies equally for all cultures.

  • By creating opposing pairs in all of our thinking, Postmodernists preach, we have tended to paint one thing as "bad" and the other as "good," creating an unfair division between the two values, and often unfairly imposing our own culture's viewpoints on another culture. Their solution to this is to treat both sides of the binary pairs as equal, or at least to downgrade the "favored" side of the binary pair, in order to give the other side a chance. In this way, black is no longer impure, evil is no longer bad, female is no longer less important, etc. On the other hand, being white is not so special anymore, being good is not so great anymore, and being male is not anything to brag about anymore.

  • Postmodernists go further than this, stating that if we are going to treat both sides of these traditional binaries without bias (without calling "Good" good or "Bad" bad), we must agree to live in a state of non-commitment--that is, we must decide not to favor one over another. In other words, we must tolerate both sides equally, no matter how uncomfortable that makes us. In fact, uncomfortable, or confused, is good, in Postmodern teachings.

  • Postmodernism pulls stability and certainty away from us, telling us that it is impossible to really know anything, or have any opinion, because those were based on arbitrary assignments of value (arbitrarily deciding that right was right, wrong was wrong, good was good, bad was bad).

  • Now that Postmodernism has broken down the line between what was traditionally viewed as good and evil, it has freed itself from having any kind of an established pattern of behavior. In other words, it is okay, even preferable, to be morally unpredictable or relativistic in our decision making. We cannot establish a pattern of calling something wrong in all cases, because that would be favoring one of the binary opposites (RIGHT/wrong), or thinking in "outdated" or "old-fashioned" ways.

The Christian Rebuttal

Is your head spinning yet? Mine was, the first time all of this was presented to me. I began to see how some of this thinking had been sneaking into my own conscious thought. In response, I composed a Christian rebuttal for each of the points I have just listed. Feel free to scroll up and look at the points above, for comparison.

  • The Postmodernists' problem with traditional hierarchies is that sometimes they have led to the mistreatment of "marginalized" people, such as the mistreatment of women or the enslavement of peoples. I think their concerns are valid, but that their concerns are brought about by their own acknowledgment of absolutes that extend beyond the boundaries of cultures. Okay, let me put that more simply. In order for someone to call the mistreatment of women "objectionable," that person must first recognize such ideas as "justice," "mercy," and "equity." If it's wrong to favor men over women, I have to ask, who decided that? Certainly not culture, which is arbitrary and based on human opinions. It must be some set of rules that all human beings subscribe to. This code of rules must have been established by something bigger than human cultural values. Christians call this "rule-maker" God. If man rejects the existence of God, culture is the only other set of rules that governs his behavior, and these are indeed arbitrary.

  • God does not treat evil as good, or good as evil. This goes against His set of rules. In fact, to avoid confusion, God has explicitly stated,
    "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter....Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the LORD's anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down." (Isaiah 5: 20, 24, 25a NIV)
    God's laws, which raised this question in the first place, have been transgressed when we go so far as to call "Good" bad, or "Bad" good.

  • Postmodernists teach a state of "non-commitment" whereas Christianity teaches that we are either for God or against Him (Matthew 6: 24; Acts 5: 29-39). I've never known anyone who lacked any opinion at all--this seems to be beyond human nature. However, if it was possible to go through life without making an God's rules not apply to us if we don't commit to one side or another? If you have read your Bible, you see over and over again that God has taken away this "willful ignorance." We are not able to live without making a choice about how to live, and each time we make a choice, we are responsible for that choice. God has told us what He thinks we should do, and we have a choice to either listen to Him, or not. If you call yourself a Christian, you are claiming to have made a choice to listen to God. If you call yourself a Christian but don't do what the Bible says is right, you are labeling yourself as a hypocrite. God's rules are set in stone, but your behavior is your own responsibility.

  • Postmodernists teach that we don't really know anything, since having opinions are now "wrong" because they are binary. Au contraire! Knowing something is knowing the truth about something. Certainty, and knowing, are what Christianity is founded upon. If nothing the Bible says is absolute, yet it claims that these things are absolute, that means that the Bible is lying to us...and if it is lying to us, we should not follow it. However, if the Bible makes claims that are proven true, we should consider it to be telling the truth. If something has been proven true, then we know it, and cannot return again to being uncertain about it. Even scientists, using the scientific method, subscribe to this logic. To summarize my position, I'll just repeat what the Bible says: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him" (Psalm 34:8 NIV). God has invited us to check the facts that He has given us, to see if they are true. When we see that they are true, we become certain about what we know about God.

  • Finally, Postmodernists teach that we must be morally relativistic. I have already spoken at length about moral relativism. If you want to read some of my in-depth articles, just click on the "moral relativism" tag at the end of this article, and all the other ones should display. To summarize the Christian's response to this, I will remind you that God's ideas of right and wrong do not shift according to changes in the seasons, the cultures, the heart. Ignoring these rules is what got us here in the first place. A bad habit of justifying "pet" sins like slavery is what gave postmodernists apparent "justification" for objecting to Judeo-Christian values. Christians can agree with them that it is unjust to treat one person with more leniency than another, even if that means treating ourselves with more leniency than we treat those around us. In that respect, Postmodernists have undermined their own position. They are excusing their own pet sins in certain situations, but objecting (and rightfully so!) to the pet sins of others. To that effect, I have to say that we cannot be relative if we want to be just, and those who teach relative morality are unjust to teach it.

I apologize if this has been a difficult post to follow, but I felt it was necessary to get you thinking very hard about this subject. Writing this post has been difficult, for my part. Sort of like herding rabbits and trying to get them to march in military rows, or knitting a sweater out of a tangled pile of yarn. I hope that I have made sense of senselessness, or unraveled something desperately convoluted, so that you can be equipped to spot the trap before it has you tangled up.

Until next time, may God bless you and guard your path as you try to do what is right!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for removing the mask our Enemy was hiding behind--without the sheeps' wool, everyone should be able to see the wolf! :)