So Go Nomo to the Pomo

So I have written about the problems of postmodernism, what I have called the problem of European brain snakes. This might seem a little dismissive, but it all works out, because it actually is dismissive. Allow me to collect my thoughts on this in one place.

First, postmodernism, and all the posturing and posing connected thereunto, is utterly inconsistent with the spirit of testimony that faithful Christians love to exhibit. Our testimony (marturia) is to the truth, and the truth is personal and ultimate. When I say the truth is ultimate, I do not mean ultimate in the concerns of our own little faith community. I mean Lord of all that is, Lord of Heaven and earth, and King of all nature. The truth is Jesus, and He is eternal life — and there is no other.

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 John 5:10). “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:27). “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).

Anyone who can reconcile the aroma of these passages with the stench of postmodernism has already had too much graduate school, and should be sent home immediately.

This testimony is the basic reason why all postmodern pretense stands revealed for what it is — relativistic hash. But there are other criticisms that can be brought as well. The circus tent of postmodernism has no central pole, so there’s that. But there are other observations that can and should be made.

The fact that postmodernists have offered cogent criticisms of the pretenses of modernism is neither here nor there — even though I grant they have done so. The reason it is neither here nor there is that modernists can offer cogent criticisms of the postmodernists as well. When two secular positions get to criticizing one other, they are often very astute in their observations, and many of their thrusts go home. After Ammon and Moab were done with Seir they turned on one another (2 Chron. 20:23). Let them go to it, and then go get their stuff. But any Christian academic who in all seriousness publishes a series of papers on how Moab’s post-structuralist critique is worthy of some more chin-stroking on our part is just acting like an Ammonite and should be sent to his tent.

Next, we should reject postmodernism because it isn’t really postmodern. Before awarding the grand prefix post to anything, we should ascertain that it actually is describing something in the rear view mirror. If we look at the foundation stones of modernism, we should quickly identify one of them as being the thought of Darwin — evolution. But why is it that none of these johnnies are saying that they are post-Darwinian? Evolution is a metanarrative, but the only incredulity I can find anywhere is in the discussions of tourists in the parking lot of the Creation Museum. The postmodernists pretend that they are blowing up the foundations when they are actually just painting the eaves a different color.

And then, after we have rejected postmodernism because it is just the next stage of modernism, I will put forward the second half of my koan and say that we should reject it because it actually is postmodern. We should also reject postmodernism because, despite its strongest efforts to be an inconsistent parasite on the body of modernity, it remains a parasite that will in fact destroy its host. Modernity is not dead yet, but if this particular tapeworm has its way, that will eventually be accomplished, and the prefix post will come in fact to pass. Another foundational thinker for the modern project was John Stuart Mill, and the whole idea of liberty of thought. This is the basis for academic freedom and so on, but academic postmodernists are strangely drawn to the argument “because shut up.” They have shown, they thought, that all orthodoxies are disguised power grabs, which actually turns out to be preeminently true of them. This is the basis for all the hate speech nonsense, and the absolute intolerance for any views other than their own. Someone has aptly said that progressives want diversity in everything . . . except opinions. This really is the result of postmodernism, and postmodernism really is post-freedom. That part is true enough.

And last, postmodernism has been defined as “incredulity toward all metanarratives,” but the problem here is that this is not self-referential. Lack of self-awareness in this is the name of the game. “All metanarratives” is metanarratival, and far from displaying incredulity toward it, postmodernists are gulping it all down with the enthusiasm of a new recruit taking notes at a Watchtower conference. So let’s not listen to them.

We should not be surprised at your inability to stand if your argument is that you have no legs.

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Matthew N. PetersenDavid NilsenMayowa AdebiyiRFBRick Recent comment authors

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RFB
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RFB

After reading your last sentence, the first thing that I thought of was the “Black Knight” (Monty Python).
 
Merely a flesh wound…

Joseph Hession
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Joseph Hession

O Editor, where art thou?

But there are other criticisms that can be brought as well. The circus tent of postmodernism has no central pole, so there’s that. But there are other observations that can and should be made.

Isaiah Taylor
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Stop it, stop it… I’m choking on my lunch. Laughing and eating is almost as dangerous as going mo to the pomo.   I think you just wrote that post merely so you could have a title on your blog “So Go Nomo to the Pomo.” Yep. I can see it all now. “Hey, Nancy, I just came up with a great title! Listen to this!” “Hahahaha thats funny Doug.” “Haha I know. Now what could I put in it?” “Oh, I don’t know, hilarious satire, deep insights formed in a joke, and apt use of scripture?” “Bingo!”   Echem… Read more »

melody
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melody

Since the things that will destroy modernity will also destroy freedom as we know it. Parasites are not benign things, they latch on to good things as well as bad.

antexw
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Mo: Giving God the credit through revelation is not needed since we can arrive at truth when we avoid inconsistency and arbitrariness.                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pomo: We don’t need to even consistently worry about inconsistency and arbitrariness because our seeking of truth relies on arbitrary power-grabs which are consistently inescapable anyway.                                                                                                                                                                                                               So Go Nomo to the Pomo: Now that you are cut to the quick with intellectual & cultural hell/dissipation as the fruit of your modernism’s freedom to reject Jesus Christ, without faithful repentance toward God, you must also consistently reject finding any hope of finding truth as being consistent and non-arbitrary. Arbitrarily shrugging this off… Read more »

antexw
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‘Acts 7:54,56,57,58; 8:1’ was the intended parenthetical reference.

Matthew N. Petersen
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Matthew N. Petersen

I have no idea what you’re actually talking about in this post. P. J. Leithart? Derrida? Levinas? Foucault? John Paul II? Wittgenstein? Milbank? Herbert McCabe?

Rick
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Rick

Matthew, I have a feeling that, despite not knowing what this post is about, you have already decided he’s wrong about WHATEVER it is.

RFB
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RFB

I am really glad I was not drinking a really good bourbon when you said that.  I hate nostril bourbon :)

Matthew N. Petersen
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Matthew N. Petersen

Rick: The post would have to rise the level of saying something precise, rather than providing empty words that could equally apply to Dr. Leithart, as to Levinas, as to Derrida, as to Foucault’s poor imitators, for me to disagree with it.
However, I merely noted that his post is not clear. Your response, which very unjustly claims to read my heart, is rather rude.

Mayowa Adebiyi
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Matt: hear, hear ! Though I think I understand what Doug is against in this post, maybe (or mos def) all of the above i.e. Derrida, Foucault and certainly Leithart since Doug will be what he called an APC – Anti Pomo Christian.

David Nilsen
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Matthew and Mayowa, I would submit that your questions/critiques of Doug’s post are equally unclear.  Doug is clearly arguing against a certain “flavor” of philosophical thinking that is prevalent in Western culture today, especially academia.   He is obviously critiquing the usual suspects (Derrida et al), but also anyone who would make similar claims or advance a similar worldview.   Now, I can only guess (due to the lack of clarity in your own comments), but it seems as though you are both wondering whether Doug is critiquing Peter Leithart (and possibly other Christian thinkers whom you feel would fall… Read more »

Matthew N. Petersen
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Matthew N. Petersen

David:   No, I’m not asking if he’s critiquing Peter Leithart. Just noting that based on the ambiguity of his criteria, they either apply to no one–not even Derrida or Foucault–or else apply to everyone. “Postmodern” in this article is just a wax nose–no content, only hand waving–and has about as much sense in it as Dawkin’s “religion”. That would just be annoying, except that he launches an attack on anyone who takes “postmodernism” seriously. And thus this post falls into exactly the same category as say Richard Dawkins’ attacks on religion do: Intellectual preening, no real substance, and therefore, dangerous.… Read more »