I recently left a comment on another blog that I tend not to read blogs written by younger women. There are exceptions, to be sure, but most of my blog reading is comprised of women who are closer to my own age, give or take several years.
A lot of it has to do with the writing style and focus. You know. Everything is messy. If there is one word that has become overused, I think it is messy. Everything is messy. The Christian life is messy. Messiness abounds. I think it is also related to the wallowing in sin that I wrote about before, but that’s a post for another day.
Jen Hatmaker and Postmodern Thinking
I came across an interesting post entitled Letting Go (archived link) based on a talk given at a MOPS convention. In the talk, Jen Hatmaker outlines the differences between modern and postmodern thinking. I don’t feel comfortable copying the lists and posting them here since they are lengthy, so you’ll have to click over and read them in the post. If you don’t read the lists and the premise of her talk, the rest of this probably won’t make sense.
I think the majority of the people who read this blog are in their thirties, forties, and fifties. I think the vast majority would lean more toward the modern list than the postmodern list. Not entirely, but to a great degree. Even though I clearly identify more with the modern list than the postmodern, it isn’t 100%. The twentysomethings who read here, I suspect, are not as postmodern as their peers. I just don’t think postmodern young adults would relate to how I write and that’s fine.
Modern or Postmodern?
Which leads me to my questions.
Where do you see yourself fitting?
Those of you who have children still at home… Do you see what Hatmaker is talking about in your own children?
I’m wondering how much the pull of the postmodern for youth today is peer driven and if homeschooling has an impact on that. How much of it is media driven?
It isn’t like children wake up and realize they want to be postmodern. That thinking is coming from somewhere. The thoughts are being planted. Where is it coming from? Where is it impacting your family? Are you driving it? Or are you fighting it yourself? Have you reluctantly capitulated?
The Fake Authenticity and Falseness Of Postmodernism
It is interesting that the postmodern is supposed to be all about the authentic (another word I’ve wearied of) and yet I find so much of the postmodern trappings to come across as anything but authentic. I find them really unappealing in so many ways. So Hatmaker’s belief that we as adults with a foot in both the modern and postmodern worlds need to more fully embrace the postmodern for the sake of our children… I don’t know. I guess I’m just not there.
I think it is because there is so much about the postmodern that seems unbiblical to me and so I have no interest in embracing it. But maybe it is because I am so thoroughly modern that I choose not to move past my own views.
It’s interesting being an older parent. I’m 45 with a 5 year old. I cannot even imagine the world that Caroline will have to live in. I can’t even say I’m really excited for her. Truth be told, I actually feel sorry for her at times. I don’t look at her future world with anticipation. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but the future doesn’t look rosy to me as an American, as a Christian, or as a member of the world community.
Is God at work? Absolutely! Is God at work in her life? Yes. But I’m not really excited about the future for her (or me, for that matter). I honestly don’t see postmodernism leading to good things. I know there are people who do, but I’m not one of them.
How are you preparing your children to live in this postmodern world? How are you preparing them to live for Christ in a postmodern world? Do you feel excited for them? Apprehensive? Do you find yourself embracing postmodernism for the sake of your children?
I’d seriously like to hear what people think about this topic.
I read this post and the corresponding posts and went to bed in thought. I too am an older mom, having my now 4 year old at the age of 36. I seem to view my job as a parent very differently than many.
I see myself as a mother bird, teaching her chick the skills that he needs to grow, develop, and survive and then letting him off to fly and make it on his own when the time is right. As a human, my son will have many of these letting go moments as he grows and matures, but I see ultimately my son belonging to G-d. He is not just my son, but ultimately a child of G-d’s. I want him dependent on himself, not the government or others for his and his family’s well being.
I want my child to embrace traditions that have been handed down from generations past, as well as the new ones developed by blending traditions from my family and that of my husband’s family. I believe that having traditions from early on, helped me stay connected to my family and the beliefs that I was raised with, especially during the teenage years. I want this grounding for my son.
We greatly limit the amount of t.v. that we watch. Instead we play games, read books, go for walks, talk, and do so many other things together as a family.
I tried working for the first two years of my son’s life and resented someone else raising my child. I am a stay at home mom now and love every minute of it. I look forward to beginning our homeschool adventure this summer and laugh when people make negative comments about being with your child all day. There really is no other place that I would rather be.
The post modern world is full of hate for Christians. The hatred for Christianity is all around us and seems to be growing stronger. I want my son to grow up and know who he is, what his beliefs are, and have a firm foot in the ground. I won’t be letting my son spend the weekend in the city of Atlanta with the homeless, so that he can experience what it’s like to be homeless-there are many other less dangerous ways to do this than spending the night on the dangerous city streets.
I am scared for my son. I look at what “post modern” movements like the Occupy movement really stand for, how they have shepherded sheep with talking points and many following the movement lack critical thinking skills or understanding of who those financially supporting the movement are and what they ultimately stand for.
I don’t know what my son’s life will look like, but I do not think that we as parents or as a nation should be embracing many things that are “post modern,” as I can’t find much good in any of them.
I was a young mom and then (surprise!) an older mom so I lived with a foot in both worlds… and you learn to bite your tongue and be polite when someone comments about your grandchild (which happens even more as both you and your child get older).
The world is so different even from the time Stephanie was the same age as Christopher. But I think the one thing both kids had in common growing up was our desire to have a continual conversation going.
Both were allowed certain books to read and media to watch when they were very young and then as they reached the junior high and then high school years, we read and watched more “worldly” items and talked about them and how the worldview shown fit into our desire to see them follow Christ as LORD in their life.
Of course, we watched and read nothing defiling as there are common sense limits which should be in place for every young person (even though they are not within the general community… even the homeschool world!).
I explained it this way to some friends, it is one thing to live our life as a family IN CHRIST, having Him be the center of the wheel in which everything else revolves.
It is another to share Christ with our kids with only Sunday School materials and for homeschoolers using math books where you add twenty Bibles and thirty hymnals!
For people who truly want their children to be followers of Christ, we are constantly fighting upstream each and every day while at the same time trying to show love and compassion and Christ to a fallen world. It is not easy.
Both Francis and Edith Schaeffer wrote a lot about this as they saw it happen in Europe and then before his death, Francis Schaeffer said it was well into the churches of the United States… “postmodernism”.
I’ve been reading one of the BEST biographies ever about Jonathan Edwards (my fourth or fifth I’ve read about him). Just got through the section about what life was like before that “Awakening”… young people were rejecting their faith and involved in immorality. I guess some things don’t change… sigh.
Sometimes I read blogs by very young women whose “having it all together” attitude make me smile. It reminds me of something Christopher said one time about a friend of his who had no patience with people. He said… “They have not suffered, yet”.
Can’t you tell when you read something from people who write about the Christian life being EASY, parenting “no problem” (they cannot have strong willed and/or ADHD kids), cook full meals with veggies they grew themselves or purchased organic, and worked out for an hour that day?
My favorites are those people who have gone through a lot and survived well (and sometimes blogs of the young women who grew up in such an environment and learned lessons of life early).
Speaking of which… I need to return to the real world and pray a lot. Life has been happening.
Oh Sallie, Sallie, Sallie. I’ve read your blog for many years now and I am finally convinced that if we lived in a close enough town, we’d be good friends for lots of reasons. This post sealed the deal, so to speak.
I saw your tweet last night late, read the modern/postmodern thing over at Hatmakers (don’t tell, but I’m not a fan…tho she seems to have quite a following) and then slept on it. I thought about it all night and most of today. I get VERY introspective with theology and philosophy and it goes round and round in my head in waves. I think that is an INTJ thing but I’m not sure.
Anyhow, i don’t have any clear or concise words to explain how I feel except to say – I FEEL YOU.
I’m 34. I had kids young. (too young, really) Anyhow, I’ve ALWAYS been told, even since I was a young child that I’m an “old soul” and I’ve always acted 10 years older than I really am. I think that has a lot to do with being an only child raised in a household with two professionals as parents. I raised myself in many ways. I might be 34, but most days I feel about 58. But to me, that isn’t an insult or calling myself old. It’s a compliment, really.
Back to the modern/postmodern thing. I get SO SICK of the labels and terms and like you the whole messiness and authenticity crap. Those terms are completely overused. Why? Because they sell books and conference tickets, fill up auditoriums of “like minded folks” and thereby get you large masses of followers. Putting ourselves in new camps, and identifying ourselves as HIP, postmodern people gets us new friends, notoriety, and popularity.
I am not one of these women who spend my life giddy about this missions conference or that next “big” blog conference coming up. As you know I had somewhat of a day in the sun with my old blog, and I got over it real fast. All of these women bloggers who find their identity in their blog and their words and being asked to speak at this or that conference annoy me. All the talk of sitting around in coffee shops blogging away as their kids are at school annoy me. All the perfect homeschool moms annoy me. The constant push of this or that latest-and-greatest e-book to solve all Christian mom’s problems annoy me too. I guess everyone these days tends to get in my side. Another INTJ thing, perhaps.
As Brenda said above “They Have Not Suffered Yet.” I fully agree. I am too busy raising 3 kids, 2 of which have pretty serious medical & special needs. I don’t care about subscribing to postmodernism or the latest trend in ministry blogs because I simply do not have the time, energy, or money to care. Harsh, yes. Harsh but true. Church & Christianity in America has made me very cynical.
One thing Hatmaker said that I can identify with and see in my own kids is the blurb about her kids wanting to skip college and go to Africa, not go to children’s church etc. I get that. My kids are very different from cultural norms. Personally I think that’s part of being home schooled but also because they’re just different kinds of kids. We’ve allowed them to be different, as long as they play by certain rules. Where Hatmaker and I differ is that I’m not convinced that’s a postmodern thing. (Although the postmods do put a lot of stock into sending their kids on mission trips, it’s the new hip thing to do!)
I have to get kids to a birthday party so I can’t write much more, but I’d like to. Perhaps I’ll come back later.
Brandy @ Afterthoughts
All of this is very interesting, Sallie!
I must say that words like “messy” and “authentic” make me cringe. It’s not that I don’t think life is hard (because it *is* and you know we’ve been through a few things ourselves), but because I often feel like when people call life messy it is an excuse to wallow in the mess rather than a mere acceptance that the world is fallen and we have to work in reality. Another way of saying it is to say that I believe in *real* sanctification, and the “messy” people (in my experience) seem to want to roll around in the mud rather than be washed and baptized, if that makes sense.
As far as the latter goes, most the folks I’ve met who focus on authenticity seem to think that word means that only bad things are real. So if I’m down in the dumps and I’m struggling, that’s “real” but if I’m joyful and things are going well, that’s “fake” and frankly I’ve experienced both in life and one is as real as the other, and the key is learning to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice while learning the time and place for all things.
I read both of the lists, and I, too, don’t think I fall neatly into either column. Honestly, I feel like a medievalist most of the time, because I’m not into scientific rationalism like the moderns (though I believe in the rational faculty, of course) and I’m not into the illogic of postmodernism. I find them both tiresome, and I wish that Christians would just stick to being Christian rather than being modern or postmodern or whatever is the cool thing out there.
I’m 34 next week, so my birth took place right on that dividing line as far as the generations go.
I think I’m also raising little medievalists, but not on purpose. We don’t do much media and technology (which I think is where a lot of these things come from) and we read a lot, which means we’re often exposed to the perspectives that come from times in the past.
As far as Hatmaker’s assertion that “the old ways are not holding” I personally think that is ridiculous in the sense that what kids these days are walking away from–in fact, what many of my peers walked away from–was worldly culture in the church. Our youth group growing up was all an extension of the local high school, of what was cool and hip. of who was popular. It appealed to the flesh in the sense that it appealed to man’s natural desires. It rarely encouraged us to truly know and love God, or even to learn more about Him. Those who walked away from the faith never had it, but I often blame the church who though they could save without Christ, and the parents who thought they could disciple by hiring their kids out to the youth pastor.
I am weary. From what I have seen of “postmodernism” in the church, it is just that cool kids club from the local youth group, perfected and refined, with a technological edge added in for good measure. We left a postmodern church years ago (in our early 20s) because it became about the Leader and about being cool (which they called “reaching out”) *at the expense of truth*. Bibles not required, you know.
I agree with Hatmaker that Jesus loved the poor, but to focus on that alone is just as myopic as focusing on Jesus as perfect authority or whatever it was the moderns did. There are a lot of aspects of the Christian life, and I don’t think we do any favors to our kids to focus on one thing at the expense of others. Following Jesus is about loving the poor…and also our spouses and children, and also the sacraments, and also the Truth (for the Church is called the pillar and foundation of the truth) and also learning and growing and working and providing for our families and taking care of our own widows and needy within our own families and on and on forever and ever amen.
And now I’m going on and on so I’ll stop before my multitude of words gets me in dire trouble. I look forward to following this discussion more.
My life is messy right now, but I mean this literally. My daughter seems to be acquiring a zoo, and I need another bottle of Lysol, I think.
I’m a medievalist too. Love that idea Brandy. 🙂 It fits!
I’m 32 and see myself as a mixture of the modern/postmodern…not sure what they mean by “messy” or “authentic.” If that means taking off our role-playing masks and not worrying about our “image” then I’m all for it. If it means wallowing in sin, not so much.
I like the clearcut boundaries, organization, and the “I have all the answers” of modern thought and I can say that I wholeheartedly embraced it until a few years ago. My world makes more sense with rules and systems. But God showed me that I’d let my love of rules and formulas cloud my perception of Him and His ways. My black and white world turned gray when I realized God isn’t as easy to figure out as I thought He was.
Distrust of organized religion? Oh yeah. We aren’t members of any denomination and have no desire to be. I’ve never left Jesus and I didn’t leave the church physically but I did leave it in other ways. My husband and I have been burnt by authorities/spiritual leaders and their legalism/hypocrisy and have lost trust in them. So from an authority perspective I am now completely in the postmodern camp and I don’t see that as a bad thing. I agree with this article that most churches are still in the modern mindset and we struggle with the authoritarianism we encounter at church. The idea that I should submit to an authority “just because” they happen to be that position makes me cringe and want to run the other way! However, if a leader exhibits humility and sacrificial love he/she would completely have my loyalty. Leadership is about servanthood and sacrifice, not about authority and control.
“I have all the answers and so can you” is exactly the attitude I used to have. “I don’t have the answers and neither do you” is my attitude now. Probably somewhere in between is where I should be 🙂
I would part ways with the postmodernists when it comes to absolute truth. I do believe in absolute truth. However, the beliefs that I define as “absolute truth” have narrowed and been refined. I also am not optimistic about the future, but I tend to be pessimistic about everything in life so no surprise there! I am not into environmentalism or globalism but that’s probably because I’m an Appalachian country girl. Recycling? That’s fer city folks.
As far as this obsession with helping the poor and marginalized–this seems to be a popular topic in recent books and I wonder if that’s what’s fueling it? Off the top of my head I’m thinking of of Crazy Love (Francis Chan), Kisses From Katie (an awesome read, btw!), Radical (David Platt), Ann Voskamp’s family forgoing Christmas presents so they can give to the poor. Even The Hunger Games trilogy has the theme of the rich, whether purposefully or ignorantly, taking advantage of the poor. I think it’s good to use whatever influence and strength we have to help others less fortunate. It’s a refreshing change from the inward focus, idolization of family and the 200 year plans of the patriarchal world in which I used to live. It’s a theme all through the Bible that we’re to be concerned for the less fortunate in society. One reason God brought judgment on Judah (in Jeremiah) was because the rulers weren’t upholding justice for the poor and were allowing them to be taken advantage of. God wants us to lift up the weak, not take advantage of them. However, doing these things in order to find significance and meaning in life is obviously a dead-end street.
We’ve been reading “Kisses From Katie” aloud as a family and my 8 year old suddenly wants to move to Africa and help poor people. She gathered up a box of toys to give to poor people. She told me “I wish I could move to where poor people live right now but I’m not old enough to drive.” I’ve been trying to help her brainstorm ways that she can help the poor right now–that she doesn’t have to wait until she’s an adult.
I’m not trying to parent in a postmodern way, but I guess since I’m partly postmodern I can’t help it? We have stopped being controlling, authoritarian parents who are focused on maintaining our image. For the most part our family operates as a group–we want input from our kids. We try to lead them with love and humility and prefer them above ourselves. Obviously there are times when we must lay down the law, but overall this approach is working much better than the hierarchical methods we used to follow. I’m sure our skepticism of authority rubs off on our kids…but I want them to be willing to question authority, even if it means that sometimes they question me 🙂 So I think any postmodernism my kids are picking up is coming from my husband and me and/or from books and movies we read and watch. I think we try to point out the good aspects of postmodernism, like concern for the poor, while also bringing in the good aspects of modernism, such as absolute truth.
Just wanted to add–I agree with the others in my dislike of labels. I had no idea what “modernism” and “postmodernism” was until I read the article you linked!
If you were to ask me where I am with this, Modern or Postmodern, I would have to say neither. I’m trying very hard to be post-post modern, to move beyond postmodernism, even though we don’t even have a word for that yet.
(In the art world, there is a word for post-postmodernism, it’s called the New Aesthetic. I’m not comfortable applying that label to what I currently believe in a philosophical sense, because the New Aesthetic is limited to art at the moment, and if there is a philosophic analogue to the New Aesthetic, nobody has a word for it or a definition yet. Post-postmodern is as close as I can get, it’s a reaction against postmodernism that is distinct from modernism itself.)
Let me explain a bit how I got here.
Modernism: there is one right way to do things. We see truth in the world, we can know that truth, we can communicate it to other people. Or as she put it in her post:
“Marked by: rational linear thinking, pragmatic thought, science, education, dogmatism, individualism, fundamentalism and absolute truth, authority was unquestioned and respected…emphasis on the individual man’s capabilities, logic, and knowledge
Modern soundbyte: ‘I have all the answers, and so can you.'”
I have two criticisms of modernism, one from a cultural standpoint and one from a Christian standpoint.
The Christian argument against modernism is quite simple: we are not God. Even if absolute truth exists, and even if we can know it, we are imperfect beings, there is no way we can grasp absolute truth in its entirety. We will always have an imperfect grasp of the truth, we will always be wrong about something.
Furthermore, God meets us where we are, he does not force us to come to Him. We do not need to know all of the answers before he accepts and forgives us. Jesus does not require us to know everything before we begin to follow him. Indeed, his call to his disciples is “Come, follow me.” We are all learning on the job, as it were.
This growth, this continual drawing nearer to God over time has made me skeptical of “I have all the answers, and so can you”, if only because I have been so tragically wrong with my answers in the past!
As far as cultural modernism goes, it is great, if the culture agrees with us. Unfortunately, Modernity and modernist thinking leads to a real tyranny of the majority. During modernism’s heyday, most woman and minorities faced major discrimination in some form or another, because hey, that’s just the way the world works, you know?
(“Ten reasons men should not be ordained into the ministry” is a great reaction against Modern gender roles.)
But look at how Jesus treated the woman at the well. He did not conform to the expectations of the culture around him. Jews hated the Samaritans. Even the fact that Jesus was in Samaria was extremely odd, as Jews would detour around the entire region rather than walk through it and associate with them. The Samaritans were backwards, ignorant, and had deep theological differences with the Jews.
But Jesus is not willing to exclude the Samaritans, no matter how “backwards”, provincial, or “incorrect” their theology is. Just as Jesus is unwilling to exclude, I must be unwilling to exclude. Modernism, is, at its core, an exclusionary worldview. “I have the answers, you can too”, but what if you refuse to accept my answers? Then what?
Modernity says, you are wrong, and you should be shunned for being wrong.
Jesus says, you are wrong, but I am always here waiting for you.
Boy, I wish I could say that with Jesus. But I cannot be as certain about truth as Jesus is, so I must always be open to the possibility that I am the one who is wrong. Usually when I am wrong its because I’ve jumped to conclusions about the situation I’m wrong about. Or something along the lines of believing one of my friends and not the other when they were talking about the divorce, and years later it turns out that the friend I believed lied to me.
This is the “mess” postmodernists talk about. It’s part of life. People lie to us, and we believe them. We jump to conclusions. Or, to bring this back to theology, as a new Christian, I accepted nearly anything anyone told me about God. Sometimes I felt a still, small voice telling me something was wrong, but no, they were mature believers, right? I felt like I had to believe it, because that was what “everybody” believed.
Some of these wrong beliefs formed the bedrock of my Christian life. Later (years later!) it took a lot of work on God’s part to set me straight. Being tragically wrong is one reason I am deeply skeptical of modernism. Now whenever someone says “I have all of the answers!” my instinct is to run away.
Post-modernism is where I ended up after trying out Modernism and being wrong all of the time.
(Man, I have a lot more to say but I have already spent 4 or 5 hours on this over two days. It’s nearly 5:00 in the morning and I have to get SOME sleep. More later.)
Thanks for the great comments! I want to respond in-depth to each one but it is going to take me some time. 🙂
It has been a long day and I’m just too mentally wiped out to do justice to any of the excellent comments above. I will try to start responding in the morning. 🙂
Sadly, this article explains so much, both of what I have seen and read online and in real life. For me, it’s not a question of whether or not I like what I see but what I am to do with it all if I am to continue obeying the command to make disciples of all nations. A while back I went through a bout of depression, a melt down as it were when back to back two women conveyed to me my irrelevance in having anything to offer to younger women. I am still processing it all.
I just read a lot of your blog and I loved it!
Thank you for letting me know! I appreciate it.
Oh, Karen!! Don’t believe that you have nothing relevant to offer!! I have spent hours on your site, listening to your podcasts–it’s truly a wealth of information. Lately I’ve been re-evaluating the “why” behind my homeschooling and listening to your earlier podcasts, especially the ones about the Moore’s and their work. I grew up in and around the homeschooling movement and though I’ve heard of the Moore’s I’d never read their books or really known what they were about. Anyway, that’s just one example. I’m also reading The Hurried Child because of your recommendation recently and it’s been eye-opening to me. I consider you an incredible resource and your site is one of my favorite stops on the web!
Becky! Thanks so much for your kind words! Like many have expressed here, my heart goes toward things that once were considered to be true and good through the eyes if the past. And I so like to think rather than feel all the time! But I do recognize that in order to truly minister to my kids’ generation, I have to consider the audience. That doesn’t mean we compromise the message. At all. It must be like learning to speak another language.
Here is an example. Our church is a very solid, conservative, Bible teaching church. BUT, in the last couple of months we have had video “ads” for conferences,. one a Beth Moore conference and one a Paul Tripp seminar. Personalities and teachings completely aside, I was left scratching my head at what the ads were even saying. When I got in the car, my husband had the same observation before I even said anything. After reading this article and thinking about it yesterday, I concluded that I wasn’t supposed to be left thinking anything, I was just supposed to be left with an impression and a feeling. And that is troubling to me on a variety of levels.
I’ve been reading your blog for years because it makes me think 🙂 However, you know that I only comment on occasion.
I took the time to read through the entire post from the other blog. I had a number of reactions and thoughts.
My overriding reaction is this: Jesus is presented as an experience, not as the Holy King of heaven who came to this earth to die–why? For our sin. While we don’t want to think about sin, we’d just rather think about how “messy” life is, that is the reason He came. Did He minister to physical needs? Yes, of course, but always for the purpose of ultimately meeting spiritual needs–not just to have an experience or to feel good about Himself. Also, while people may try to divide everything up into modern/postmodern, etc., Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His Word does not change. So, we continue to emphasize Biblical truth, but as Karen said, we do need to consider the audience. Isn’t that what wisdom is for? Didn’t God said He would give us wisdom when we lack–He’ll give liberally when we ask. So, while the audience certainly has changed, there is nothing new under the sun, and God’s Word is still the same, and He’ll give us the wisdom we need to reach others today and then we’ll glorify Him b/c we’ll know it was His working through us and not our own ability—-long sentence, but I just kept typing what I was thinking 🙂
I love Karen’s comment about things designed to give you a feeling and an impression as opposed to actually making you think. Just have a good experience with Jesus instead of coming before a holy, majestic, and righteous God in repentance. Does He extend grace? Yes. Mercy? Yes. But we need to see the whole counsel of Scripture not just the parts that make us feel good. People are going to hell right off the pews of churches where everything is designed to just make you feel good about yourself. It’s not until I see myself as I really am that I can truly grasp the depth of grace and mercy He has bestowed upon me. And furthermore, I resent the idea that just because you establish boundaries in the lives of your children you are considered a dictator. God established boundaries for us because He loves us.
Lord, help us teach our children to think. And to think Biblically. Everybody runs to the latest thing that makes them feel good as opposed to running to God’s Word. That’s part of why I love your blog, Sallie! It makes me think and it sends me to God’s Word to search things out for myself.
Enough of my thoughts…looking forward to reading your other thoughts, Sallie.
I wanted to point out that John left a great comment yesterday that somehow ended up in the spam folder. Scroll back up if you missed it.
John – Feel free to keep sharing. Excellent food for thought you provided!
Okay, jumping around here in no particular order…
And is it cheesy to say how much I really love and appreciate the people who read and comment here? Seriously. My life is so much richer because of the interactions I have here with people I’ve never met and probably never will this side of Heaven. A lot of you know me better than most of my extended family, my church family, and 98% of the people I’ve known in my life.
Here are a few comments that really resonated with me for various reasons…
Yes. I think this is very true.
Yes! And I think this has to do with the whole not believing there is Truth. If I can comfortably acknowledge the mess and roll around in it, I get to be spiritual but I don’t have to make the hard decisions about how to deal with it as a mature believer and live in light of the truth.
This is the conclusion I have come to as well. Just like Karen E said:
I think this is a huge problem. So huge I’m not even sure if most people really understand the magnitude.
LOL! I think so too! Except for the beach and Duke thing. 😉
I was thinking about the comments left here by all the “old souls” which is pretty much all of us. Even those under 40 who comment here I think are wise beyond their years, mostly due to the suffering and hardships they have experienced. If some thoroughly postmodern young women read what we are discussing here, I think it would immediately be dismissed out of hand. Why? Because we just “don’t get it”.
Part of the consequence of postmodernism among the younger set today is they don’t pick apart the arguments, wrestle with truth, etc. Why? Because in their mind there is no point. The highest good is to feel (as Karen pointed out in that great example) and connect. So you can read a post written in the most emotional way that yields very little meat for growth and it receives dozens of comments about people “feeling” the same way. People feel something and therefore the post has value. And yet it often ends there. But if it doesn’t change them in some way, make them think or something, does it really have much value?
(I’m trying to group my thoughts in different comments so if anyone responds it is easier to do so.)
One of the problems I’ve also seen developing among blogs written by younger women is what I thought was a lack of discernment and wisdom. But the more I have thought about it, the more I think it is postmodernism creeping in. The lack of discernment and wisdom comes into play as well, but it is the postmodern mindset driving it.
Here’s an example.
I sometimes find good stuff written about the complementarian versus egalitarian debate, but I am not willing to link to some of the blogs because of deep concerns I have over much of the rest of the blog content. I see young women embracing egalitarianism for practical reasons and as a reaction against the culture, not because through diligent study and prayer they have come to the conclusion is it true and biblical. This seems to lead to a careless mishandling of other Scripture to the point where they entertain some views and beliefs that I think are flat out unbiblical.
This then creates an interesting situation in the circles where people discuss these issues. You have younger people who embrace egalitarianism out of a response to culture in many ways. They are very pragmatic in their decision. Then you have others (usually older, but not always) who do deep research that results in well thought out theological responses to the question. Unfortunately it is the pragmatic bloggers who get the most face time online and I think it undermines the egalitarian position. Their tossing off of basically everything that has any hint of tradition in it creates a stumbling blog for those who are more traditional and are aghast at some of what passes for biblical thinking.
I don’t think we are supposed to really do anything with the information given to us. The feeling is the end in itself. Watch this, it will make you “feel” better!
Do you ever hang out over at The Wartburg Watch? You would love some of the discussions over there about authority in the church. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this issue the past few months. Wade Burleson has also had some excellent thoughts on this topic recently.
It’s funny that you said most churches are still modern in their thinking because David and I have been wrestling with this a great deal the past few months. We would really like to be in a church in the Cute Little Town now that we live here. We want to worship where we live and get to know people. We want Caroline to make friends here in Cute Little Town. Driving back to the Big City for church has a number of drawbacks.
I went through the listings for all the churches in the greater Cute Little Town area and was so discouraged. If I eliminate the ones where we simply would not fit in theologically at all, we are left with a list that I can break down into three general camps: postmodern, postmodern and need earplugs, and patriarchal/authoritarian.
It seems like churches are going one of two ways – totally postmodern including super casual and loud music OR entrenching more and more in the modern, strong complementarian (bordering on authoritarian) view with lots of push towards authority structures. It’s so obvious on the websites when you look at them. Mark Driscoll wannabe pastors. Light shows. Or churches heavy on parenting books, Proverbs 31 women, etc. Churches are either running full tilt to postmodern or they are digging their heels into what I think are some of the worst parts of the modern viewpoint.
The number one thing that has the potential to stress me out as a mother? Where to take Caroline to church. We won’t go to a church that is authoritarian. Period. We won’t go to a large, bring your earplugs church. Period. Seriously, what do we do? I really feel like we are at this huge crossroads and it is maddening. On top of that, our church has no program for children Caroline’s age in the summer. So for the next four months it’s full service with a spirited five year old. I told David this is why families end up in the big churches with big children’s programs. I DO NOT want to do that. Period.
Yes, the church thing really hits me hard right now.
John – I have to really think through your post and digest it!
I just took a link to a link to a link and ended up on a live performance, I mean worship service, with “How Great is Our God.” As I’m looking at the hundred person choir, full band, and twelve member worship team with lighting effects, stage, ultra-cool clothing, flashing lights, and advanced graphics the thought came to me.
If the “congregation” came back the next week and all the trapping were permanently gone, how many people would come back the next week? Would it be enough to simply sing “How Great is Our God” acapella or with a guitar without all the show? How many people there think the “feeling” they are getting from the “experience” is Christianity? How many of them are, as Karen said up above, going to hell in the pew, er, folding chair?
I’m not saying that all the trappings are evil or that no one there loves God. I am saying that if the postmoderns are relying on (as Hatmaker said) “spirituality, experience, community, betterment of the world, justice, creativity, relative truth, environmentalism, globalism, deconstruction/skepticism, and authenticity”… I fear for their souls.
You can have all the experience and feelings and community in the world. But if it isn’t rooted in the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you have NOTHING.
That is a great clip! I could hardly tell it was Meryl Streep. Wow.
As an aside… I saw Margaret Thatcher when she came to Hillsdale College the year I was teaching at the Academy. The Academy children sang for her. The only thing that would have made it better was if Reagan had been there too! LOL!
Okay, sorry for the rabbit trail! 🙂
I live in Cute LIttle Town Too, North Carolina. 🙂 We have lots of little churches around. But most of them we won’t go to for several reasons:
1. They are dying. Quite literally. We walk in the doors and we are the only people under the age of 60. No kids for our kids, etc.
2. They are independent fundamentalist baptist churches. I call them “sacrificial chicken churches” because sometimes they do that on the altar on Sunday. Or handle snakes. Or weird stuff like that. God bless ’em, but that isn’t me and I will never be one of those independent baptist women. EVER.
3. They are spiritually dead.
I’d like to find a good church in Cute Little Town Too. I just don’t know where it is and if it exists. I’m sadly so *over* church right now. I don’t even make excuses for it anymore. Currently our Sunday mornings consist of making pancakes together, working in the yard and garden, and having praise and worship at home in our own ways. I’d love for my husband to jump in and do some kind of service but that hasn’t happened and I’m not pushing. It is what it is.
I see a number of different threads running through the whole thing (messiness!).
But then when I look back at the time of Jesus and the early Church…. Jesus overturned and confounded all the expectations of the Jewish religious authorities (and literally overturned the tables of the traders in the Temple). Paul was converted through a very intense personal experience, not through his extensive education as a Pharisee. The early Church was led by the Holy Spirit and the apostles, and the systematic theology and creeds came later. I recently read a book by a postmodernist Christian that looked at all the cooperative efforts (versus authority-driven ones) in the Bible. So there are some points where we can connect with postmodernist feelings.
Yes, I subscribed to Wartburg Watch on my google reader about a year ago and heard about Wade Burleson through them as well.
My perspective on churches probably has a lot to do with the fact that I live in a rural area, far from any big cities. Churches are pretty traditional here and there’s not a lot of postmodernism around. Our church is 10 minutes from home and we like it and have many good friends there…so far the downsides haven’t been enough of an issue to make us pick up and leave. I really don’t know where we’d go if we left.