Postmodernism 5

Christian culture is based on traditional values; subsequently there is always the tension between being a follower of Jesus and engaging in the popular culture. Modernism likes the order inherent in tradition, but chafes against tradition for tradition’s sake. Religion is perceived, for the most part, in opposition to science. Since the reality of the postmodernism culture is subjective, rules and boundaries may be rejected as meaningless, especially when inconvenient. As an example, cheating is on the rise in educational institutions and in the job market. It is seen by many as necessary ‘to get ahead” and not a serious infraction. When the shoe is on the other foot, however, as when a competing job candidate lands a job because he embellished his resume, there is an indignant reaction from the losing candidate, due in part to the sudden realization that a wrong has been committed.

As for traditional religions, they are frequently viewed with suspicion by the postmodernist, and “fundamentalists” are seen as fanatical and downright dangerous. A fundamentalist may include anyone who is firm in their faith. Religions with a hierarchal structure are seen as the most oppressive. Many Christian beliefs, such as the concept of Hell, are rejected as intolerant. A subjective “spirituality” with few limits, such as with New Age religions, is seen as an attractive alternative. Atheism and existentialism are also more common among postmodernists.

This attitude towards religion, I feel, is understandable to some extent. Christianity tends to periodically gravitate towards rules and traditions, rather than focusing on being a follower of Christ. This is what Jesus warned against in Mark 7:8: "For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men…” (WEB). When this happens, the cold emptiness of dead faith drives away both the believer and the seeker. Hostility to religion is also fueled in part by lack of sound teaching of our youth, and negative media coverage of religion.


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In my opinion, the increasingly negative attitude towards religion is motivated, to some degree, by the attempt to “follow your bliss“. This charge originated with Joseph Campbell, influential writer and teacher of mythology. According to the website for the Joseph Campbell Foundation, “bliss” comes from “ananda”, a Sanskrit word that can also mean “rapture”. It seems that originally, he was encouraging people to pursue their life’s passion, but “follow your bliss” has become an exhortation to live a hedonistic lifestyle, regardless of consequences. Through Campbell’s writings and interviews a fuzzy spiritualism is revealed, along with some hostility to Christianity. The hostility to Christianity may be necessary when “following bliss” because bliss is more readily attained when morality and reality are out of the picture. Harsh realities, in particular, are not good for bliss. I saw a somewhat comical example of this on TV, when a wife complained that her husband only sporadically worked (for beer) instead of trying to provide for her and their children. When confronted, he replied that he didn’t want to work fulltime because “it might harsh my mellow”. In other words, finding work and fulfilling his obligations would force him to face an uncomfortable, inconvenient, bliss-killing reality.

Summary of Culture and Worldviews

Christian:

Order is desirable

Traditional values

Desire not to be conformed to the popular culture – rather to transform the culture

Modern:

Order is rational and good

Tradition is stifling

Expression is healthy

Technology improves quality of life

Faith and science are opposed

Postmodern:

Rejection of rules & boundaries

Order is oppressive

Institutions are oppressive

Religion is dangerous

Find bliss

Diversity

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