In the last post on this subject, I started to describe why I like postmodern philosophy and deconstructionism. I talked about how postmodern philosophy exposed the reality that we are all living life from different stories that frame our lives and make sense of reality. These are often called "narratives". Descriptively, postmodern philosophy is simply right. What I didn't mention is that postmodern philosophy goes wrong when it moves to a prescriptive place and says that there is no grand meta-narrative. Well, that's too strong. Descriptively, again, that's true. There is no grand meta-narrative that everyone ascribes to except possibly Renee Descartes famous statement cogito ergo sum, or "I think, therefore I am." Anyway, descriptively, there isn't one thing that everyone ascribes to. However, what postmodern philosophy cannot claim is that there is no framing reality. Or further yet, that there cannot be one framing story that is more consistent or congruent with reality as we know it. (I'll have to describe this later, but this has to do with the idea of a correspondence theory of truth.) So, what deconstruction does is helps us to see our framing-story. It also helps us to look at our framing-story and compare it to the framing-stories of others. We can put them side by side with our reality and see which once seems to correspond more consistently and make more sense of the reality we experience. (So, maybe its an existential correspondence theory of truth... whatever.) Given that, I think this is what McLaren is getting at in the following paragraph in Everything Must Change:
Is it possible that at the heart of the life and message of Jesus was an attempt to expose, challenge, confront, transform, and replace the unhealthy framing stories of his day? [p. 39]
It's completely possible that postmodern philosophy and deconstructionism can help us in getting to some core issues about the stories and beliefs that underly the way we live our lives - our "world-views," whether they be practical, cultural, or philosophical.
And here's part of the issue with young people and a new culture these days. Many young people today are recreating their own framing-stories by peicing together portions of other stories into a conglomerate reality that makes sense to them. Again, for them personally, this is an existential correspondence theory of personal truth. In other words, what the personally feel and experience that corresponds to their current reality and makes the most sense of it is what they believe in. In a sense, they are creating their own personal religion, their own version of how the world works, how they fit into it, and how it has meaning (read: world-view). Make sense? In the past, this was often called "syncretism".
So here's the interesting thing. Right now, we probably have the greatest opportunity to open up the picture of the kingdom to people in a way that we haven't before. We understand the provincial and cultural nature of our own beliefs because we live in a global village where we are constantly exposed to other people's framing-stories. We trade out parts of our framing stories for new ones all the time if they make more sense to us (if they correspond to our experience of reality).
And here's where the crux comes:
- If God is who he says he is, and Jesus is the communicator of this truth (meta-narrative of reality)...
- If it is true that all things were made through Christ, persist through Christ, are held together through Christ, and are renewed through Christ (Colossians 1)...
- Then we should not be afraid that any other framing-story will correspond to anyone's reality more than this story which frames all other stories.
The problem with this, however, is that we have to understand some pretty amazing realities about God and his creation and the whole history of creation-fall-redemption-restoration on a grand scale that can be communicated down to the minor things that happen every day. In other words, this gospel (the good news that everything holds together through Christ) is truly good news - that there is meaning for all of life, for all of our lives, and for everything in my life.
And that's what's at the heart of this discussion about the Unchristian. Young Outsiders are looking at Christianity - how it's communicated, how it's lived, and how it makes sense of everything in their lives (which includes sexuality, environment, violence, fun, etc.) - and making the judgment that what they see and/ or hear does not correspond to the realities that they are dealing with. So, either it doesn't correspond and the three bullets above aren't true (which for me, isn't an option), or we a) don't understand these realities b) we don't live in terms of these values, and/ or c) we are poor communicators either verbally and/ or through our lives. In other words, either our world-view is inadequate, we don't understand or know how to communicate our world view, and/or we don't live in terms of our world-view. I think the UnChristian study and statistics are finding that some version of this is what's happening in our world today.
And I agree.
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