Thursday, October 13, 2005

Post Modernity?

Is post-modernity a true paradigm shift or is it really just the actualization of the Newtonian shift to modernity?

This is what I am wrestling with in a paper I am about to write. I understand the shift towards modernity from an aristotelian worldview - but what I have discovered is that this shift was not all-inclusive. In fact, especially in the realm of faith, this shift has been fought against all the way along. Now as we see a surge of post-modern approaches to ministry, is this finally the church catching up with society?

There is a shift for sure between modernity and post-modernity. But rather than a paradigm shift, indicating a monolithic change in the way we know and tell, perhaps it is more a realization that the headiness of the paradigm shift into modernity was overly optimistic - especially in the area of human potential.

I would characterize post-modernity with a sense of distrust. The markers we held on to are all put into question - and for the post-modern person this is not a bad thing. For the modernist, who works in the realm of scientific probabilities rather than trying to build equations that prove the proven, isn't this exactly what Newton ushered in? Isn't the ability to question everything the hallmark of modern science?

Now with this ability to question also comes the perception that we are in control. And this is really the sticking point for much of the resistance in the world of faith - an Aristotelian world was a very controlled and predictable world. The modern world is a wildly unpredictable beast, and we are but ticks on its back hoping that the paws of history don't just scratch us off.

At first when thinkers began to embrace the shift to modernity they chose as their touchstone human potential. They placed man, with his intellect and bravado, right at the center of the universe. But this veritable tower of Babel has once again been struck by God and we are left with a multitude of voices throughout the land trying to pick up the pieces - this is what I call post-modernity.

Post-modernity is not a leaving off of modernity, but an attempt to go back and recheck our assumptions. Maybe this time we'll not place ourselves at the center of the universe.

1 comment:

Glenn Brown said...

I completely agree - postmodernity is merely modernity taken to its logical conclusion. This is especially true when you consider folks like Vico and Herder were talking in a very postmodern sense as early as the 18th century.