Postmodern Blues

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Or . . . It’s all good!

Our world muffles us in technological comfort as it coaxes us to adopt new views and attitudes as givens. In our age there is no truth, you see. Or should I say that there is no truth except for this truth: that there is no truth! Every point of view or attitude or lifestyle is as valid as any other. But as most of us realise this is not quite the case. Some truths are admitted without challenge, and indeed to challenge them is to be regarded as heretical and a pariah. One does not, if one is wise, challenge the received and obvious truth that climate change is a real and present threat and that we could do something about it if only we would change our wicked polluting ways. (Please note reader that I am not arguing either way on this; just pointing out that things happen to people who do adopt a contrary position). Neither is it wise to be seen as anything other than squeaky clean in the areas of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, saving endangered species, or if you are an Australian, in the recently re-defined and re-packaged sin of misogyny. The old religious sins have been replaced, almost without our noticing it, with secular sins. These are used to control and exclude just as ruthlessly as religious ones used to be.
The problem with all of our communal feel good platforms and carefully scripted attitudes that our contemporary culture exhorts in us is that critical thinking kind of drives a truck through them.
So prepare for a little discomfort! Come on a guided tour through a day in my world.
Maybe your world is a little different from mine. Maybe, but I’m prepared to wager our worlds have some things in common.
What are your days like? Do you wake to a schedule? Go to work, or maybe have a list of things to be accomplished? Morning radio, internet. Is the mobile charged? Traffic, crowds of other people each with their own purposes, each bound more or less to a routine. Accommodate, negotiate, be gracious, do battle or retreat as the need arises. Bureaucratic pygmies, compliance regimes, sanctions against anything remotely risky, no smoking, no littering, no added sugar . . . and so it flows on . . . and on.
Home again, safe inside. Look around at the furniture, the toys, the technology that keeps you cool or warm, entertained, informed, fed and watered. Tidy up that pile of DVDs, turn on the washing machine, think about the weekend, or maybe that holiday later in the year. Time for a peek into Facebook? Phone parents, phone kids, catch up with neglected friends. Feel guilty that you haven’t ( . . . Fill in the gap . . . ). Get depressed at what you see and hear on the news.

Amidst the busyness an uncomfortable, only partly formed question returns now and then to tug at you half heartedly. Amidst the routines we construct for ourselves; the certainties that aren’t certainties; the mirages that confuse and seduce us; the technological mazes in which we imprison ourselves; where is truth and goodness? Where is significance?

I quote the following lines from a conference address given by my friend, Rev. Dr. Noel Due, an Australian Lutheran pastor and theologian, as he comments on human triumphs in subjugating our world and our own lives ever more closely to our wills through technological innovation and ‘progressive’ thinking and attitudes. In doing so, he holds up to us our own postmodern western culture:

“We’ve sat at least three generations atop creations like these, as on so many brightly painted merry-go-round horses. The youngsters have squealed with delight at the ups and downs of the ride, but the music, lights and mirrors are a distraction against the clammy air of the gathering night. They’re getting sick from the ride—to the point of death—and there’s some evidence to suggest the mechanism has sand in its gears. Will it throw all the riders off in a bruising tumble? Or grind to a noisy halt, allowing the disillusioned jockeys to wander off, looking for something more substantial?”

“We’ve forged a world with the “reader” at the very centre of all things, even the ability to construct their own identity.”

We have placed ourselves at the ‘centre’ but perversely we find ourselves without bearings and without purpose. We can not keep the wolves at bay with carefully crafted laws and protocols that encourage ‘responsible’ attitudes and behaviour. It just doesn’t work. Don’t believe me? Look around you.
We have liberated ourselves from a host of taboos that once surrounded us. We can be who we want, do what we want. Sure we can. No consequences. No guilt. No regrets.
In the process though, we seem to have somehow left something of ourselves behind. So, where is truth? Where is significance?
To answer these important questions it is first necessary to step outside our postmodern context and ask some hard questions of the zeitgeist that surrounds us.

Dear Reader, in a thoroughly postmodern context I am loath to suggest or to push any remedy on to you. I have found mine. Or perhaps it found me. If you read some of my earlier posts you will know well enough where my truth and significance is. It is there for you too if you want it. Being a thoroughly postmodern kind of guy, I leave you to seek truth and significance on your own, but I push you off into the stream with good wishes and God speed.


(Google Images)


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