We always enjoy a family trip to the bookstore. Last week the five of us went to dinner, the mall and Barnes and Noble. I have more than enough to read. A bookstore has an iPod shuffle effect on me. The Apple website suggests “random is the new order.” Looking over the vast shelves of books certain interests hit me at the appropriate time. Interests developed through my reading habits lie latent until there is no book in my hand to be read and thousands on the shelves to be perused. Maybe it is random and maybe not. But the bookstore does seem to have that effect of presenting the right book at the right time. How is that for expressing my latent “biblio” addiction?
I have read the late Stanley Grenz’s, Primer on Postmodernism. Some seemed to accuse Grenz of capitulation. However, I sensed a looking for value and critique. I would say Stanley looked to “employ” where valuable. This may be way too simplistic but I think I will let that stand. I have never read any “source” material considered “postmodern.” Looking over the “Philosophy” section at Barnes and Noble a book with a big mouth reminiscent of the big lips often associated with the Rolling Stones caught my eye. Introducing Postmodernismby Richard Appignanesi and Christ Garratt with Ziauddin Sardar and Patrick Curry, presents the material in a fascinatingly illustrated manner.
The book opens with a scanned piece on the “The Origins of ‘postmodernism.'” The following quote sets the course,
Charles Jencks, an authority on postmodern architecture and art, provides a useful scanning of the term postmodern. But what does it mean in practices? Does “postmodern” accurately sum up the story of what we are living at present? Or is it just a fashionable term that leaves us enlightened about our true historical condition? (p.3)
Part One discusses postmodern as it relates to art. In an attempt to help the reader, and do I need it, the authors point out “modern” comes from the Latin, “modo” which means, “just now.” Anything after “just now” is “post”-modern. So, in a very real sense “postmodern” always describes a time. But, just what does that mean? I confess to be still working through the book and am just beyond half-way. I have read some who think we should not bother with these intellectual pursuits and stay the course reading theology and more importantly theology which buttresses what is already formed in our minds so as to deepen its entrenchment. Sadly, those same critics fail to exercise the same sense of the academic when making their critiques. It suffices for them to quote someone else who may or may not have read the necessary source material to offer a solid analysis. Critique coming from these “theologs” should exercise the same academic rigor they admit to be pursuing. Anything less discredits the critique.
Why is this so bothersome? These thoughts came to mind when I read a Eugene Petersonquote on “perspicuity” offered by Daryl Dash. Simply put, Peterson asserts The Reformers believed the Scripture to be sufficiently clear in matters of salvation so the unlearned did not need mediaries to explicate what is necessary for salvation. Unaided by the mediatorial work of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul suggests the “natural man” cannot discern these things. Somethings is at work when a person approaches the Spirit’s book. Again, I like Wrights suggestion that it is at this point one encounters the “authority of God.”
Few would argue their understanding of life and faith deepens and as they go and this is often aided by the work of the Spirit. Often the Spirit of God will operate through the Scriptures and may well use the stories, meditations, sermons and articulations of others. So, the idea of the sufficiency of the individual may need to collapse into a broader understanding of said person’s place within a community of faith and the prayerful interactions with the word of God mediated by the Spirit of God. We then would have to say we are all in something of a process of learning that extends beyond what I may reasonably ascertain from a cursory reading of the Scriptures. Ironically it is the description of personal process and discovery and attacks from critiques that sent TheBlueRaja to the sidelines. See if what “TheBlueRaja” writes does not in some way or at some point describe your own adventure in learning more and more what it means to be a Christ follower.
When you started you were modern. But, after that just now moment of reading, you may well have entered something of the always “postmodern” …