Postmodern Times

I just finished All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers. It was an interesting, if dated, exploration of pop culture and its effects. I am now reading Postmodern Times by Gene Veith. Reading these books back to back has been helpful. Veith advances and builds upon some of Myers’ ideas. This has been helpful for me because of how far downstream we are from Myers’ original context. I just finished chapter 3 of Postmodern Times, which is on deconstructing truth. Here are some of Veith’s descriptions of postmodernism. All italics and parenthesis are his. Brackets are mine

“Postmodernist ideology is more than simple relativism.  Whereas modern existentialism teaches that meaning is created by the individual, postmodern existentialism teaches that meaning is created by a social group and its language. According to this view, personal identity and the very contents of one’s thoughts are all social constructions.”

“Since there is no objective truth, history may be rewritten according to the needs of a particular group.”

“Postmodernist theories begin with the assumption that language cannot render truths about the world in objective way. Language, by its very nature, shapes what we think.  Since language is a cultural creation, meaning is ultimately (again) a social construction.”

“Language does not reveal meaning (which would imply that there is an objective, transcendent realm of truth); rather language constructs meaning.”

“Knowledge is no longer seen as absolute truth; rather knowledge is seen in terms of rearranging information into new paradigms.”

“Abstract ideas are not the only casualty [of postmodern thought]. When the objective realm is swallowed up by subjectivity, moral principles evaporate. Other people-even spouses and children-are valued only for what they can contribute to my pleasure.”

These quotes are all from the negative first half of the chapter. Veith goes on to note how postmodern theory has some basis in truth. He says that postmodern theorists are suspicious of everything. They are always looking for the hidden power play. Christians agree. There is a hidden power play: sin.  He also notes that because we are sinners people do use words to oppress, manipulate, twist, lie, etc.But there is one big difference between Christians and postmodern theorists. We believe there is a final, transcendent word. They do not.