Friday, April 30, 2010


I am probably someone that frustrates people quite a lot by not accepting, without question, things that others treat as normal. But something that I am starting to question very late is our understanding of worldviews. Worldviews are ok, but our absolute categorisation of them is starting to become static and unhelpful. Pre-modern/traditional, modern and postmodern. So pat, so easy. So even taught in university courses. I have questioned our understanding of postmodernism before - saying primarily that there are two streams, extreme modernism and counter modernism. Now I am wondering about modernism. What about two ages - the age of enlightenment (hey, we can actually solve problems and control our world to some extent) and then the age of despair (oh no, we can't solve as much as we want and actually we are helpless, simply a product of . . . whatever). They are both aspects of modernism.


Anonymous said...

Very well timed post (although maybe the discussion of worldviews is always relevant).

I’d agree that rigid categories are increasingly becoming less and less relevant because people are becoming more and more individualistic and hence so much more disparate in their beliefs. As such to say a person is postmodern is about as helpful as pointing out that they are human as the container is so broad that it actually gives you little insight into how that postmodern tag works out in their lives in a tangible way.

Individualism, truth relativism and fluid belief systems are the name of the game.

What interests me is how the church is increasing capitulating to the worldview in which we find ourselves in (hasn’t this always been the case?). A veritable chameleon not rooted in anything but swayed by every passing trend. Esotericism, Mysticism, Spiritualism, Whateverism the church seems to change with the times, no longer the anchor it’s called to be but now a participant in the world system it’s called out from.

Does that make sense or am I on my own mission?

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Despair? According to my philosophy friends, blind optimism still reigns supreme. "When will they ever learn ... ?"

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Mark - I think you are right. The church needs to be able to relate to people living in contemporary society, but that doesn't mean becoming just like the society.
Thomas - the age of despair ended some time back. I'm sure one of God's greatest gifts to humanity was almost incurable optimism. So sigh on!

Delme Linscott said...

Hi Jenny
Thanks for your posts - they are always insightful and thought-provoking.
I also wanted to thank you for writing about the book the other day. I appreciate your comments.
Blessings to you and the family.
Hope you are hanging in there!!!


Steve Hayes said...

I think we need to distinguish between modernism and modernity, postmodernism and postmodernity. One can also speak of premodernity, though I don't think anyone has used the term "premodernism" yet.

The Enlightenment produced its own reaction -- Romanticism. Was the Enlightenment a bad thing? It produced the music of Mozart, and I don't think that is all bad. The ramantic reaction produced Beethoven, and I don't think that is all bad either.

Worldviews are "ways of seeing", and there is quite a wider variety of ways of seeing in what we call modernity. If postmodernity means anything, however, one of the things it means is that worldview codeswitching is OK. As one writer pit it, "An experience that a premodern person might have understood as possession by an
evil spirit might be understood by a modern psychoanalytic patient as more mischief from the Id, and might be understood by a postmodern individual as a subpersonality making itself heard - might even, if you want to get really postmodern about it, be recognized as all three." (from Walter Truett Anderson, Reality isn't what it used to be.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Delme - thank you.
Steve - I like the example that you used to illustrate. I'm not too sure what the difference is between modernism and modernity?
It is the postmodern in me that is questioning the categorisation at all. I wonder, though - can we really pick and choose our worldview?

Steve Hayes said...

-ity is a condition, -ism is an ideology.