Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Note to Brian McLaren

So, I've been reading Brian McLaren's book A Generous Orthodoxy and I would have to give it a 3/5.  My main issues with the book is the style of writing.  He's overly arrogant about what he has to say and he uses far too many meaningless footnotes and uses parentheses every paragraph.  It drives me nuts.  And half of his footnotes tell how another freaking book he's written explains what he's saying better.

But the biggest issue I have with the book is how he sees what he is writing about as truly groundbreaking.  It makes sense to a person who was born in the modern era that thinking postmodernly would be groundbreaking.  So, to him it seems groundbreaking and new and fresh because he once was a modernist. But to a postmodern such as I am (or anyone in their twenties or under, really) it just seems second nature.  What he says makes sense, but he needs to admit that he's found this himself and to him it's new and fresh and not something he somehow figured out on his own.  

Writers like Mars Hill's pastor Rob Bell or Donald Miller are much more honest in their Christian worldviews and they also don't seem forced in the presentation of their ideas.  They also are true postmoderns.  At least, McLaren is able to admit how much in common he has and all Christians have with other denominations.  These are just a few thoughts I've had lately. Living in Tunisia makes you realize how stupid all the division within the church is and how prejudiced people are towards new ideas and different ways of doing things.  I like how the emergent church is willing to step out and do something new, but I don't like that they're arrogant in the way that they do it and in the way they think they've somehow got it all right. Everyone thinks they've got it all right.

I wish more would think they're just doing their best and simply keep trying to do their best. And don't get me started on how I feel about Christians not doing their best (we could start with the Christian "music (if you could call it that)" scene).



Matt K said...

Jack you're not postmodern.

Anonymous said...

if we take Lyotard's definition of postmodernism to be our standard definition (an incredulity towards meta-narratives); then I don't see how anyone you mention is in anyway 'postmodern'. For example, people like Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, don't really have a 'Christian Worldview' as such (and even if they did it wouldn't be postmodern because their worldview would function as a meta narrative); but on top of that, it's hard to find any evangelical Christian in the united states that doesn't live a life that in largely determined by the structures of capitalism and the free market. The force of capital determines the value of pretty much everything in western society, and determines who is valuable, disposable, etc.

If one really wanted to locate people thinking in a way which could be characterized as 'postmodern'; they would need to move pretty far from conservative american pastors and instead look to the french theorist of the 60's and 70's; but then we have to ask, what is the value in being 'postmodern'? Is it in anyway a 'good' or 'constructive' category? And more importantly, what does 'postmodernism' have to offer the function of religion and politics in contemporary society?

Also, I don't see how people in their twenties are postmodern at all; if anything, we are the generation most defined by our relationship to capital and the market. We 'think' we have freedom because we have an unlimited amount of products to buy, which gives us the sense that we have the freedom to determine our own reality; but in fact we are tightly within the grips of the capitalist system; thus, whether we realize it or not, most of our generation is unknowingly immersed in the meta-narrative (or, ontology) offered by late market capitalism.

And also, McLaren's book is kind of weak too.

Love you.