I’m typing Section 3 of dissertation today, and the rest of the month, and I’m listening to music with my iconic white Apple Ear buds. I’m actually listening to one of the greatest Pop albums ever, Cartel’s Chroma.
The white ear buds are iconic for Apple. When one is listening to music with these in, there is no doubt what they are up to, and to whom they belong to. These are Apple’s; they are fully-devoted disciples to Apple. Without even asking, you know that they belong to a particular group of people.
I loathe the Bluetooth ear pieces that people wear. At least 100 times in my life, I’ve come across folks with these ear pieces in and you cannot tell exactly what they are doing. Are they on the phone? Are they trying to look as if they are busy and important? I must admit several times I’ve wanted to do them a favor and tear the phone out of their ear and say, “Make up your mind if you want to be present in this room/conversation… life with everyone else.”
This narraphor (hat tip to Len Sweet) represents, in a peculiar way, the religious climate in North America.
Streaming out of the chaos of the Protestant Reformation, Western thinkers wanted to discover a more “civil” way of experiencing religion. Leveraging the chorus lines from Modern philosophy and the pursuit of reason, they found it best to keep your religion private, at home or in the church building, and leave it behind in public discourse. Along came some snarky French philosophers who declared that such division is impossible; how can people simply leave a vital part of who they are “at home” and expect to fully dive into the important work of public discourse?
However, these French Postmodern philosophers, even though they appealed to the admission of one’s faith into the public discourse, said only a generic kind of faith was allowed, not one’s particular faith. So, they said it was great to be religious, but not particular to any certain religion.
So, it appears that they were playing both sides of the chess board. “You can have faith, but only the type of faith that I prescribe.” This is why Chuck Conniry says Postmodern may be “Most-modern”.
So, as James K A Smith defends, these French philosophers are not really “Persistent Postmoderns”. They exchange the opportunity for orthodoxy for a generic spirituality. So, Smith announces, what if “Persistent Postmodernism is actually the greatest opportunity at Orthodoxy?”
This generic form of faith is the allergy that Pragmatic Evangelicalism has adopted. “Make a personal faith commitment, have a personal ministry within the church, and shape your own, private Christian home.” In essence, wear a Bluetooth device, you can keep it in, take it off, ignore calls, take calls, at your leisure. We also have tiny Bluetooth devices that will make it difficult for anyone to know that you even have it in.”
A Persistent Postmodernism, or a cycling back to Classic Christianity (Robert Webber), ignores the temptation to embrace a generic faith. It says, “In the midst of all of the options out there, I stand by the unique and particular (even peculiar) shape of historic Christianity. This is who I am. Now let’s party.”
Persistent Postmodernism is the White Apple Ear Buds; “you know who I belong to, and it’s all good!”
Well, just a few thoughts from my dissertation… Hope you enjoy more than you loathe, here.