Saturday, March 25, 2006
Thesis update #2
Ok, here's an update on my thesis for all of those out there that are completely bored and want to continue reading. First of all, I found myself earlier this afternoon, broom in hand, cleaning out the back corners behind the stage of the Wherehouse (our youth facility). Finally it occurred to me, I will do anything to procrastinate writing this thesis. So...I came home and started this blog. Now, for an update on what I have actually written (and will be writing in ten minutes).
I laughed yesterday when I read a post on the actscelerate message boards. I saw a post where someone defined postmodernism in a single word using a web encylclopedia. I laughed when I thought about the obsurdity of this. So, I now have ironically come up with my own one sentence definition: postmodernism is a theory of language. There...I did it. This is where all of my focus is now turned: semiotics. The study of semi trucks. Ok, not really. But I have found myself engrossed in the theory of linguistics. Here's the basis. I have devoted much of my energy in the first portion of this thesis to distinguish between postmodernism and postmodernity. The first is the theory of linguistics as expressed in the world of academia. The second consists of the influence of such thought in popular culture. Remember postmodernism was first introduced to the masses when it was applied to architecture. The world of postmodernity is a reaction to a globalized society.
Now, here's how I see this fitting in to our discipleship practices. Look at theories of systems change. Primarily the differences between continuous and discontinuous change. The postmodern condition is an interruption of discontinuous change. This interruption is a time in which people find themselves without a way to interpret reality around them. Just listen to the tone of many fundamentalists, among other groups, out there. They have retreated into an extreme apologetic condition in order to retain a specific linguistic construct that makes sense of reality. The problem is that one cannot universalize this particular language. Thus, we cannot understand each other, much less make sense of the ever changing world around us. What I am stating then, in this thesis, is that our discipleship models must be a place in which people can ultimately find a linguistic construct with which one can make sense of the world. In this sense, the discipleship system becomes a datum that allows one to venture out from and return to in order to make sense of the world. In this situation, the discipleship system becomes a point of assimiliation that fits quite nicely with James Loder's theories.
We can take this a step further to show Derrida's influence upon meaning in linguistic symbols, or rather meaning that happens in the spaces between the symbols. To say that a text is dependent upon the reader is an assertion that should be welcomed by Christians, especially Pentecostal Christians. The text is always "the other" of Levinas, and furthermore, one only knows one's self in relationship to the other. Thus, to know the scriptures, is to be known by the scriptures. This is a much more dynamic and pneumatological understanding of the scriptures than the dichotomized view of "the universal Truth of the Word of God." By the way, Yoder points out that the "Word of God" is a term brought about by the enlightenment project to place emphasis upon the rationalistic attempt at knowing God through intellectual accent provided by preaching and reading of the scriptures. The "Word of God" in scriptures is the Logos, the Word of God that is God. Thus, to experience the "Word of God" is to experience the "Word who is God." The interaction of the text with the life of the person, is where meaning exists. This does not diminish the relevance of the scriptures, but enhances the role of the Spirit in relationship to the reader.
Well, there is so much more I want to say here. Other discoveries that I have made over the past week include finding the roots of nihilism in the enlightenment project, not in postmodernity. Also, I have discovered that relativism, the straw man of postmodernity set up by the enlightenment thinkers or "fundies," is actually a carrying forward of the thoughts from Kant and other modernists. The more I read from pomo writers, the more I see that the Christian faith can actually come alive today. I would like to say Thank You to all of those out there fighting to set free faith from the holds of rationalistic thought that has, in many cases, killed it. Nietzsche was right, "God is dead" in the enlightenment era controlled by rationalism. I wish that we could truly understand this.