Postmodernism: — a state of mind in a particular period of history affecting every area of western culture
Postmodernism is a term that has gained popularity in scholarly writing as well as casual conversations. Thomas Guarino (1996) says, “It’s a “movement” that has inspired raging debates about ‘the cult theory’ across the arts and sciences” (p. 654) My intention in this paper about postmodernism is not to solve the debate, but to understand the influence that state of mind held has upon contemporary beliefs about spirituality.
What Does Research say About Postmodernism?
A description given by Daniel J. Adams (1997) says, “The postmodern era can best be understood in terms of four major characteristics: the decline of the West, the legitimation crisis, the intellectual marketplace, and the process of deconstruction” (Toward a theological understanding of postmodernism).
What Adams perspective demonstrates is a fundamental shift in thinking that began in a demonstrable period of time and is associated with significant phenomenon in Western Culture characterized with the period of decline.
His analysis of Western Decline draws attention to point of view that is fundamental to an evolution of spiritual meaning that has correlates to historical-cultural development. Adams (1997) says, “the legitimation crisis, identified with metanarrative show [what] is now being seriously called into question” (2). Unlimited development and capitalistic in American ideology versus environmental pollution, limited resources, concerns about nuclear proliferation—use of energy, environmental threats, third world poverty, and the goals of the NAFTA have deligitimated what had characterized capitalism and the success of the West. Postmodern thinking is characterized by a shift in state of mind about core beliefs that are delegitimized in an essential devaluation of past matters of importance.
Adams, draws attention to another significant development correlated to Western Decline the, “metanarrative of Judeo-Christian sexual ethic” (p. 2) characterizing American culture. His perspective identifies the shift of views about sexuality chastity, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, and traditional view of marriage as another deconstructed normative value in culture. With Judeo-Christian ethics disempowered from authoritative acceptance, norms from the past are replaced with a plurality of views with no central source of knowledge or universally held value to describe a way of life experience in America. Deligitimation in postmodern life of the Judeo Christian ethic demonstrates changing beliefs about marriage, sexual behavior, and accepted norms indicate a shifting emphasis upon past.
A perspective about the impact of postmodernism upon Christian thought is offered by David Couchman (2002) who describes how mind set has been affected: “if you drop a frog into boiling water, it will jump out immediately, but if you put it in cold water and heat it slowly, you can boil it alive because it does not realize what is happening. … We think we know what is going on, while the culture in which we are immersed is slowly killing us without our realizing it” (Couchman, 2002, p. p. 74).
Adams, D. L. (1997). Toward a theological understanding of postmodernism. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Crosscurrents: http://crosscurrents.orh/adams.html
Couchman, D. (2002). Facing the challenge of our times equipping christians to respond biblically and effectively to postmodernism. Evangel , 20 (3), pp. 74-78 retrieved from EBSCOhost March 09, 2011.
Guarino, T. (1996). Postmodernity and five fundamental theological issues [electronic version]. Theological Studies , 57 (4), Retrieved from EBSCOhost March 30,2011.
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