Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture by Gene Edward Veith Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Veith ably observes how postmodernism has changed the cultural landscape in art, movies, literature, politics and religion. The confusion of Babel has smashed into the modern world like a wrecking ball, leaving little of the bubbling confidence that we can fix all our problems if we just try hard enough.
But postmodernism swings the other way, skeptical of believing any story that claims to explain reality. We have to construct our own reality and meaning in life, they say. Christianity rightly critiques this by pointing to the ultimate reality of God and His revealed Word, a solid foundation on which to perceive and handle truth. We can take dominion of this world to an extent, and DO things.
I enjoyed Veith’s converse point even more, I think, though. Christians should welcome postmodernism’s critique of modernism in part. Most folks have set aside a naïve trust in the abilities of man to solve man’s problems. This opens people to the gospel in a new way. They see the problem and don’t see a solution. The problem is most are now prejudiced against accepting any solution from anywhere. Our current response to Trump is a good example: “Well, there’s a better chance of things improving with him than with Hillary.” This is the ringing endorsement I hear most often. Not agreement with his policies, not repeating his plans to lead. People are overwhelmingly pessimistic about solutions today. They refuse to be impressed. The cool response to everything is now, “Meh.” Veith calls it a cultivated blandness. This is the fruit of postmodernism.
There IS an absolute truth that we can count on outside of ourselves. Humanity is capable of great things, but we cannot fix all our problems by ourselves. Our knowledge and might is fragile. We are dependent on our Creator. At the end, Veith prophetically (in 1994) says Christians will come to be targeted for holding to absolute assertions about truth regarding God, ethics, and salvation. When the foundations are destroyed (Psalm 11), what can the righteous do? There appears to be no answer, except that God is in His temple. HE is the answer to the chaos of Babel, to the refusal to accept answers to our questions and hurts in life.
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