I recently had an interesting interaction with my former philosophy teacher. He was telling me how he went to Belgium to study Phenomenology and I confessed that I had no idea how to define or understand what exactly “Phenomenology” is. I mostly knew what it meant to “do a phenomenology of x, y or z” but I found it difficult to grasp in the abstract. In an interesting turn he replied that he didn’t know how to define “Postmodern” which is the term I am most familiar with.
Apparently there is not a straightforward connection between French style Phenomenology and “Postmodernism.”
I have noticed that there is an exceeding amount of confusion as to what “Postmodernism” is in Christian circles (let along other circles). This seems to be in no small part on account of the various ramblings of those affiliated with the so-called “Emerging/ent Church” and the many responses the movement has invoked. It doesn’t help that there is no straightforward way to understand what “It” is and one wonders if we should just move the whole conversation away from this elusive word and its plurality of meanings.
I am one who would be more than willing to drop the term itself. I don’t want to define myself as a “postmodern.” Unfortunately I have found the term to be just useful enough to justify my continued cautious use of it.
I was recently given a fair grouping of books all concerned with the intersection of Christian theology and various flavors of “postmodern” philosophy. I will be spending a few posts here and there reviewing the books and contemplating the application of their conclusions to Christian life.
I am going to save a “definition” of postmodernism until we get to a specific book that deals with the topic. My first post will be dedicated to James K A Smith’s book “Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault to Church.” I think it is a very appropriate book to start off with.
***To see even more hilarious “Motivational Posters” for the “Emerging Church” see all of Pyromaniacs posters