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Author Topic: Postmodern Young People and the Liturgy [Article]  (Read 1955 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 29, 2012, 11:14:01 AM »

This is a decent read. It was written by the Very Reverend Fr. David J. Randolph Here's an excerpt.

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The term postmodern culture is used in many different ways, and cannot be grasped except in contrast to its predecessor, modernism, to which it is in reaction. Modernism displayed a high level of confidence in the abilities of humanity. Rooted in the Enlightenment, modernists attempted to rid themselves of the mystery of religion and things spiritual so as to focus purely on the empirical facts of science.

What say ye?

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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 11:23:04 PM »

   Modernity started in the renaissance, and I'm not sure it was anti-supernatural so much as anti-authoritarian and indiivdualistic.   The anti-supernaturalism probably occured more due to Newton and Darwin's discoveries.
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 12:38:11 AM »

Postmodernism should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 01:16:44 AM »

   Modernity started in the renaissance, and I'm not sure it was anti-supernatural so much as anti-authoritarian and indiivdualistic.   The anti-supernaturalism probably occured more due to Newton and Darwin's discoveries.

Are you suggesting the discoveries themselves are wrong, or merely the reaction by some because of them?
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2013, 12:25:42 AM »

As far as I know, postmodernism started as an architectural design innovation.  From there it moved into various academic fields like literary criticism, with proponents like Stanley Fish.  From reading Professor Fish, I decided that these were people either desperate to appear intelligent by writing totally nonsensical and incomprehensible drivel in hopes of keeping themselves employed, or they were just writing drivel to mess with us all. 

I'm wondering why now young people are being referred to as 'postmodern'. 

I think it's pretty tough to summarize the attitudes of an entire portion of the population. 

Not sure what kids experience in mega-churches since I've never been to one, but I know I was burned out on them before I ever showed up. 

I have been inside one building though, it was very strange.  They have 'worship teams' and have worship team magazine articles about why they should drag out the old Trinity theme, dust it off, and use it again with their Las Vegas style light and music show.  They have big rock bands with groupies.  They have Starbucks coffeeshops.  The nave looks like a giant barren auditorium.  It just looks like everything else in the secular world from what I could see.

It would be interesting to hear from a 20 something person why they would or wouldn't like Orthodoxy.  It's not really easy to be Orthodox.

I see some young people gravitating toward Islam, and it would be interesting to understand what draws them to that. 

Orthodoxy is fairly rigorous, and these days, sort of even counter-cultural.  Not sure a lot of young people want to give up their lifestyle for membership in a church, especially when the major trend seems to be anti-'organized' religion.  And the ones who do go to church might have the impression that there is supposed to be a lot of clapping and random outbursts.  So, Orthodoxy might look a little too tame in comparison. 

And some of those young people who grew up in American whatever churches have now become the neo militant atheists. 

Might be a good idea for more Orthodox clergy to visit prisoners.  Seems like a lot of people convert to one thing or another while in prison.  Lots of people are converting to Islam in the prisons, because they make an effort to proselytize there.   Maybe even donating Orthodox books to prison libraries might help someone. 

I hear we are living in a post-Christian era. 

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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 10:00:58 AM »

Okay it has been over 3 years since I posted. But here we go. I think as a cultural trend as opposed to academic it is a mindset that doesn't embrace the harsh dichotemies that led modern religiuos thinkers into pretty aggressive denial of basic tennets of doctrine(Rudolf Bultmann for example) or really contorted attempts at things like harmonizing the gospel accounts or papering over the obvious similarities between various old teastament stories and laws with the stories and law codes of the surrounding culture (Gilgamesh and hamarabi for instance).

Modern thinking led fundamentalist & evangelical scholars to reflexively attack or harmonize with convoluted apologetics the results of modern scholarship and the modern mindset that if science is true religion cant be. So you also get on the one hand young earth creationists and the harmonizing more accommodating old earth creationists and then later group with better marketing I stincts who want to call themselves proponents of intelligent design. Those are modern responses to modern challenges from the scientific or biblical studies worlds.

Post modernists view the dichotemies not as either obstacles to faith or apologetics for faith but rather as poratals to experiencing faith in new ways. The ancients had a mythology ( in the sense of story or narrative that made sense of the world & question s of origins and cosmology not in the sense of the word myth meaning made up or fake) and we in the age of scientific discovery geology archeology and space travel have a different mythologies. Both mythologies allow us insights into God and how he may have first contemplated what he wanted the created world to be like and how he might have wanted to bring it into being.

Likewise similarities between existing cultures and stories and laws in old testament are not causes for questioning the Bibles uniqueness nor for contorted explanations as to why it is really different from surrounding ancient cultures. It is an opportunity to further appreciate the Incarnation because we see God all along "incarnating his message" in the cultural forms and categories people could understand at the time within their cultures. This is much the way Orthodox missions work with new cultures baptizing what is good and converting what is not in a new culture.

Likewise postmoderns don't see the need to choose the dichotomy of doubting the gospels because of one or three cock crows or having to posit 2 temple cleansings to harmonize  John with the other 3 gospels. Rather; like sitting around a campfire enjoying various recollections of some family or communal event BECAUSE of the variations of recollection and ways of recounting the same story or event the various gospel accounts are not problems but rather opportunities to enter more deeply into THE INCARNATION by experiencing the encounter with God the Son from a variety of ways the writers themselves experienced interacted with or recollected Christ (even if a gospel was written by a second hand source like Luke and even if the other gospels were written pen to parchment by editors not named Matthew Mark and John the content is from the communities that gathered around these apostles)

It is a way of interacting with changes in culture learning and society that has a lot in common with the Church Fathers. I would think Orthodox thinkers would find much to like in post modern thinking as it applies to religion. Post modern thought also has an innate openness to symbols and imagery that are easily baptized and converted to its understanding of the place and meaning of icons vestments etc.
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 10:02:26 AM »

I did the last post on a kindle fire so please excuse some lack of punctuation & capitalization in places.
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 10:32:44 AM »

Postmodernism should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Hear! Hear!
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 10:51:09 AM »

Finally got to a real compuer and could edit my post.

Okay it has been over 3 years since I posted. But here we go:
I think as a cultural trend, as opposed to academic, post modernism is a mindset that doesn't embrace the harsh dichotemies that led modern religious thinkers into pretty a aggressive denial of basic tennets of doctrine (Rudolf Bultmann for example) or really contorted attempts at things like harmonizing the gospel accounts or papering over the obvious similarities between various old testament stories and laws with the stories and law codes of the surrounding culture (Gilgamesh and Hamarabi for instance).

Modern thinking led fundamentalist & evangelical scholars to reflexively attack (former) or harmonize with convoluted apologetics (latter)the results of modern scholarship or led to the modern mindset that if science is true religion can't be. So you get on the one hand young earth creationists and the harmonizing, more accommodating old earth creationists and/or a group with better marketing instincts who want to call themselves proponents of intelligent design. Those are modern conservative religious responses to modern challenges from the scientific or biblical studies worlds. On the other hand you get the new atheists (Hitchens, Dennet, etc) in the secular side and Bart Ehrman or (Episcopal) Bishop Spong on the religious side of the skeptical, modern response.


Post modernists view the dichotemies not as either obstacles to faith, or apologetics for faith but rather as poratals to experiencing faith in new ways. The ancients had a mythology (mythology  in the sense of story or narrative that made sense of the world &  of questions regarding origins or cosmology, but not in the sense of the word myth meaning made up or fake) and we in the age of scientific discovery, geologic discovery, archeological discovery and space travel have a different mythology that we work off of. Both mythologies allow us insights into God and how he may have first contemplated what he wanted the created world to be like and how he might have wanted to bring it into being. Hence both open avenues to appreciating the vastness of God and the incomprehensibility of God and who are we to have bought into one mode of understanding and interpretation of the biblical stories and think we have a handle on God and His ways for all cultures and for all times.

To be honest, the ancient cosmologies may be a far better portal into the mystery of God for contemporary tribal cultures (please take note, New Atheists and the Bart Ehrmans of the religious academy)than the scientific one and the ancient cosmology may be a stumbling block to faith to a freshman biology major (please take note all you evangelical writers of books on apologetics). So the hubris of the modern way of thinking, whether of the skeptic or Christian apologist is something post moderns want to not engage in.

For a post modern religious thinker, similarities between existing cultures and stories and laws in the Old Testament are not causes for questioning the Bible's uniqueness nor for contorted explanations as to why it is "really" different from surrounding ancient cultures. It is rather an opportunity to further appreciate the Incarnation because we see God all along "incarnating his message" in the cultural forms and categories people could understand at the time within their own cultures. This is much the way Orthodox missions work, with missionaries in new cultures baptizing what is good and converting what is not in a new culture.

Likewise postmoderns don't see the need to choose the dichotomy of doubting the gospels because of one or three cock crows; or having to posit 2 temple cleansings to harmonize John with the other 3 gospels. Rather, like sitting around a campfire enjoying various recollections of some family or communal event BECAUSE of the variations of recollection and ways of recounting the same story or event, the various gospel accounts are not problems but rather opportunities to enter more deeply into THE INCARNATION by experiencing the encounter with God the Son from a variety of ways that the writers themselves experienced, interacted with, or recollected Christ (even if a gospel was written by a second hand source like Luke and even if the other gospels were written, pen to parchment, by editors not named Matthew, Mark and John -- the content is nevertheless from the communities that gathered around these apostles).

This is a way of interacting with changes in cultural learning and society that has a lot in common with the Church Fathers. I would think Orthodox thinkers would find much to like in post modern thinking as it applies to religion. Post modern thought also has an innate openness to symbols and imagery that are easily baptized and converted to its understanding of the place and meaning of icons, vestments etc.
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 11:36:02 AM »

I've never encountered a "postmodern" idea that was not just a badly written regurgitation of some old idea.
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2013, 12:23:06 PM »

Pre-Modern: The Myth is Real.
Modern: The Myth is False. Science is Real.
Post-Modern: The Myth Works. Science Works. Both are Real.
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2013, 12:43:36 PM »

Pre-Modern: The Myth is Real.

And science is an integrated part of it.

Quote
Modern: The Myth is False. Science is Real.

Basically a revamp of Epicureanism. We actually haven't really passed out of this as the predominant worldview.

Quote
Post-Modern: The Myth Works. Science Works. Both are Real.

Plato, Ptolemy, etc. could have told you as much, not to mention assorted Buddhists, Daoists, etc. (another thing about this historical narrative is that it's very eurocentric).
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2013, 01:06:36 PM »

   Modernity started in the renaissance, and I'm not sure it was anti-supernatural so much as anti-authoritarian and indiivdualistic.   The anti-supernaturalism probably occured more due to Newton and Darwin's discoveries.

What in particular are you thinking of with Newton please?  It's an interesting idea; I'm curious as to specifics.
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2013, 02:33:32 PM »

I've never encountered a "postmodern" idea that was not just a badly written regurgitation of some old idea.

I actually agree with you there. Although I hope you are not commenting on the quality of my own writing in the post -LOL!

The only difference I would try to posit is that a Modern mindset will nonetheless state the same idea in a manner that seeks to "explain" the perceived conflict in a manner that "feels" like, if not fundamenalist, then at least like Reformed or historical (as opposed to the media definition of evangelical) evangelical apologetics.

There is even a bit of that in conventional apologetics feel in conservative RC scholarship on some of these issues.

I think there is a nuance of difference in the "post modern" (if we have to call it that) approach. It doesn't make it more cool or hip or contemporary (which is one of the nauseating aspects of the post-modern identification sometimes; it can be almost like I'm part of the skinny jeans crowd and you're not).

It's more of a less "critical" openness to explore in the first place kind of nuance. I can't really describe it.

Yes, the conclusions are mostly the same and have been said before (and sometimes with more elegance) but the conclusions are drawn with a slightly different attitude maybe? Sometimes snobby and "hipper than thou"; but other times surprisingly refreshing because of an almost naive starting point (that isn't naive because of lack of intellect, scholarship or experience, but rather a naivitee of attitude to explore?) and maybe the arrival point is reached with a less dogmatic conclusion?

Also we EXIST in the context modernity and most of our recent thought, discovery and debate in the last couple centuries have been characterized by the intellectual categories of modernity so it isn't like you can just hit a switch and be "post modern." That is aggravating, I agree, when people seem to be saying, "get with it man, this is the post-modern world."

In fact, we are all even sometimes pre-modern in our speech and thinking ("what a beautiful sunset" -- phenomenologically, to our eyes, the sun IS setting and we don't stop ourselves and say "hey, wait a minute, the planet is actually rotating!" We also ask, :What time was sunrise today?").

Truth told, we are mostly "modern" in our thinking - most of us on this board just would never "buy" a young earth literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. We are not going to view that fundamentalist view AND the scientific view as two portals into encountering God's wonder in creation. So our so-called post-modernism is selective! AND, we WANT molecular biologists to find modern cures for diseases and think and conduct experiments with a modern, critcal mindset. We DEMAND that our doctors practice the most modern procedures and would not want them telling us that both bloddletting by leaches and modern transfusions are both pathways to experiencing a transformative encounter with the healing powers of the universe. That would be a Quack! We understand what is necessary to launch a space vehicle beyond earth's atmosphere (in the general sense at least of enough thrust to esape the earth's gravity).


And sometimes. without using the term we are actually post-modern in our thinking. We appreciate the real humanity and stuggles of the saints painted in our icons and know some of their all too human flaws -- YET we relish the hagiography we read about them that maybe exaggerates certain events or embellishes certain encounters they had with God. We hold both understandings at the same time and know what we are doing and we neither take this approach uncritically as a pre-modern thinker, nor with a forced willing-suspension-of-disbelief as a modern thinker. We just sort of do it.

And maybe that is the best example of the kind nuance I am trying to describe by what I consider the term "post-modern" in its best sense!
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2013, 02:40:46 PM »

Pre-Modern: The Myth is Real.

And science is an integrated part of it.

Quote
Modern: The Myth is False. Science is Real.

Basically a revamp of Epicureanism. We actually haven't really passed out of this as the predominant worldview.

Quote
Post-Modern: The Myth Works. Science Works. Both are Real.

Plato, Ptolemy, etc. could have told you as much, not to mention assorted Buddhists, Daoists, etc. (another thing about this historical narrative is that it's very eurocentric).

Agreed, VERY Eurocentric. But as North Americans (most of us) THAT is precisely our cultural milieu.
I mean, I cannot discuss modernity, antiquity or post-modernism as a tribal-religion-born-African; nor as an Indian Hindu.
Probably only a very few visitor's here could and they are here anyway probably because they have a foot in both worlds an have a job, address or education somewhere that is Eurocentric in its cultural orientation
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2013, 07:10:27 PM »

"Postmodern" is just a fancy way of saying intellectually lazy and rejecting rational thought.
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2013, 09:09:58 PM »

"Postmodern" is just a fancy way of saying intellectually lazy and rejecting rational thought.

Not the way many contemporary Christian writers are using the term. They indeed have written volumes and include alot of careful thought (even if they could have spared themselves half the effort by reading more of the Church Fathers; although of them have done so, or they at least reference them).

Most of these are Emergent Christian thinkers. But apart from their contemporary worship services and non-traditional venues, many of these writers/thinkers share more in common with Orthodoxy in terms of doctrine and approach to the Faith than any other group of non-Orthodox Christians, in my opinion.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2013, 02:19:24 AM »

I don't know, reading GK Chesterton makes me think "postmodernism" was alive and kicking in even the early 20th century:


"But what we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.
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At any street corner we may meet a man who utters the frantic and blasphemous statement that he may be wrong. Every day one comes across somebody who says that of course his view may not be the right one. Of course his view must be the right one, or it is not his view. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced. The meek do inherit the earth; but the modern skeptics are too meek even to claim their inheritance.”

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be. It's ironic that the Soviets rejuvenated Christianity by attempting to destroy it, while it has steadily lost influence in the West. So much for conceptions about "bourgeois" cultural values.
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« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2013, 01:02:28 PM »

Likewise similarities between existing cultures and stories and laws in old testament are not causes for questioning the Bibles uniqueness nor for contorted explanations as to why it is really different from surrounding ancient cultures. It is an opportunity to further appreciate the Incarnation because we see God all along "incarnating his message" in the cultural forms and categories people could understand at the time within their cultures. This is much the way Orthodox missions work with new cultures baptizing what is good and converting what is not in a new culture.

  Doesn't this make the meanings of the Bible somewhat culturally relative?   It would tend to make Biblicism untenable (slavery was challenged in the west despite Biblicist support, and a similar case could be made towards attitudes towards women or homosexuality).   Perhaps this is why "the Emerging Church" makes some conservative Protestants uneasy, it pulls the certainty out from under their worldview, but I can't see it being more consoling to the Orthodox.  Maybe you could clarify this.
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« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2013, 01:11:02 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be. It's ironic that the Soviets rejuvenated Christianity by attempting to destroy it, while it has steadily lost influence in the West. So much for conceptions about "bourgeois" cultural values.

   Individualism,  rooted more in consumerism and capitalism, has more to do with this than academic philosophers' deconstructions, or liberal/broad theology:
   http://www.craiguffman.com/2012/07/response-to-ross-douthat.html

  Lots of people are wrapped up inside themselves and have no room for the Transcendent to make any claims on their lives, because they've been told all their lives that their choices and preferences are the only ones that matter.
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« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 01:39:28 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be. It's ironic that the Soviets rejuvenated Christianity by attempting to destroy it, while it has steadily lost influence in the West. So much for conceptions about "bourgeois" cultural values.

   Individualism,  rooted more in consumerism and capitalism, has more to do with this than academic philosophers' deconstructions, or liberal/broad theology:
   http://www.craiguffman.com/2012/07/response-to-ross-douthat.html

  Lots of people are wrapped up inside themselves and have no room for the Transcendent to make any claims on their lives, because they've been told all their lives that their choices and preferences are the only ones that matter.

I don't see the connection between your post and my post?  Huh

Although, I don't entirely agree with the article.  
Quote

In other words, the last 50 years are characterized by the rise of subjectivity, distinct to the extent that the “social imaginary” of late modernity is radically more dominated by an interiority and immanent frame, with the individual at the center of ethical reasoning.

The last 50 years? Try the last 500 years, beginning with the Reformation (or arguably the Renaissance, and certainly the Enlightenment).

Quote
But he is surely wrong in his suggestion of cause and effect - the claim that liberal Christianity caused our decline.

I am fatigued by the simplistic pretense that some of us are liberal and others conservative.  As a friend reminded me recently, the fact is that all of us are liberal.  We are all modern.  We share common forebears. The question is not whether or not we will be liberal or modern.  The question is about what ideas will be the heirs to the liberalism and modernity that so far has shaped us.  If we all remember we have common forebears, perhaps we could forbear from the dualism that characterizes our discourse.

What does this mean? Religiously liberal? Politically liberal? Culturally liberal? If we take it by its dictionary definition, i.e. "favorable to reform," then obviously that's not true.
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« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 07:22:04 PM »

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There is one thing even stupider than modernism abandoning religion in society: theological modernism abandoning religion even in religion. The essence of theological modernism is the denial of the supernatural (miracles, Christ's divinity and resurrection, Heaven and Hell, the Second Coming, and the divine inspiration of scripture). These fundamentals of the faith are labeled "fundamentalistic"—modernity's other F-word. Modernism reduces religion to morality, morality to social morality, and social morality to socialism.
Modernism rejects the supernatural because science cannot capture it. Post-modernism accepts the supernatural because science cannot capture it.
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 08:15:57 PM »

I think that Nietzche predicted postmodernism when he said--paraquoting--that as science steadily explained away the unexplainable, more and more people would lose pleasure in life and reject science, returning back to superstition and intellectual laziness. That, the more science advanced and advanced, the more and more we would be miserable in life. Postmodernism is just that--it's the ultimate rejection--the "Screw you!!!" to logic, understanding and order in lieu for relativistic emotionalism based on what individuals WANT opposed to what is true. Modernism is the master race philosophy because it brought reason into the world. Postmodernism will never live up to its legacy.
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« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 08:22:26 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be.

I highly disagree. Relativism has no logical basis; it's driven by emotion. The laws of logic refute relativism; it's refutable by its very concept. On the other hand, atheistic arguments are actually legitimate--ie, why isn't there any evidence for God? These are the questions that will ALWAYS plague us, at least me anyway. And telling someone that God is "not understandable by logic" just seems like a cop-out, and begs the question, well why worship God at all if we got no assurance that He exists? I've said it before and I still stand by it, Scholastic doubts to God are the only heresies that the Church has not refuted yet and thus are the most dangerous.
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« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2013, 08:27:52 PM »

I see some young people gravitating toward Islam, and it would be interesting to understand what draws them to that.

This is mostly just in the United States and UK, and I think I could guess a couple reasons why. Firstly, as much as we may doubt it, the US and UK ARE primarily Christian (Protestant) in regards to religion. And most young people--especially liberals--are drawn to counter-culture and being different, and Islam offers them just that. They see it as being new, different and counter-cultural to the Protestantism that they had been around their entire lives. What they don't realize though is that Orthodoxy is counter-cultural as well, not all Christianity is Protestantism. Secondly, I think that they are deluded by the lies that the Qur'an is more accurate than the Bible and was really penned all at once by Muhammed in the cave and has been perfectly preserved  Roll Eyes and finally--as much as they may hate to admit it--possibly due to wanting to rebel against society. Let's face it, at least the United States is VERY Islamaphobic (I don't blame us for it either), and many young people find this stupid, and thus, by adopting Islam, they feel like they are rebels and that Islam isn't really that bad.
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« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 08:31:35 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be.

I highly disagree. Relativism has no logical basis; it's driven by emotion. The laws of logic refute relativism;

Nothing has a logical basis. For that matter, there is no such thing as logic until you accept certain assumptions. All arguments are circular, speculative, and nonsensical (including this one), relativism just takes this to it's conclusion. Having said that, most people aren't relativists so much as contextualists.
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« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2013, 08:33:44 PM »

I think that Nietzche predicted postmodernism when he said--paraquoting--that as science steadily explained away the unexplainable, more and more people would lose pleasure in life and reject science....
But hasn't science provided us with more questions, more "unexplainables", more mystery, even as we gain more knowledge?
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« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2013, 08:45:15 PM »

I think that Nietzche predicted postmodernism when he said--paraquoting--that as science steadily explained away the unexplainable, more and more people would lose pleasure in life and reject science....
But hasn't science provided us with more questions, more "unexplainables", more mystery, even as we gain more knowledge?

Yeah, but at the same time, for many people it has shattered what they previously considered sacred.
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« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2013, 08:50:43 PM »

I think that Nietzche predicted postmodernism when he said--paraquoting--that as science steadily explained away the unexplainable, more and more people would lose pleasure in life and reject science....
But hasn't science provided us with more questions, more "unexplainables", more mystery, even as we gain more knowledge?

Yeah, but at the same time, for many people it has shattered what they previously considered sacred.
Give us another 100 years or so, when people are able to re-sacralize scientific knowledge (e.g., evolution).
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« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2013, 10:31:09 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be.

I highly disagree. Relativism has no logical basis; it's driven by emotion. The laws of logic refute relativism;

Nothing has a logical basis. For that matter, there is no such thing as logic until you accept certain assumptions. All arguments are circular, speculative, and nonsensical (including this one), relativism just takes this to it's conclusion.

This, basically.

Having said that, most people aren't relativists so much as contextualists.

Okay, I should have signed up for more philosophy classes at college, could you please explain the difference (in as few words as possible) between ethical relativism and contextualism?
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« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2013, 10:43:08 PM »

I don't claim to know how others might define the terms, but fwiw I tend to think of relativism as more individualistic and emotional, and contextualism more societal and cultural. So, for example, there is a type of ethical question which offers these two scenarios:

1) There is a situation in which 5 people are about to die. However, by some strange turn of events you can save the five by directly intervening and killing someone. However, you have to put your hand to it and actually kill the person.

2) There is a situation in which 5 people are about to die. However, by some strange turn of events you can save the five by indirectly intervening in such a way that someone dies. You do not have to directly kill the person, but rather by pushing some type of button or pulling a lever the end result will be their death.

Most people would not kill the person in the first scenario, while many more would be willing to sacrifice the man in the second one. Now, what is the difference? The relativist would look at it as a choice that is based on personal opinion or whim, or based on who they thought more valuable, or something along those lines. The contextualist makes the choice based more on, first the context of the specific situation, and second the context in which they were raised (ie. how their society/culture has conditioned them to respond). Most people wouldn't just choose to sacrifice the man on a whim, but would rather try to abide by certain social ethics that they had learned (from religion, society, parents, etc.). It is not fair to dismiss this difficult choice, based on such factors, as mere relativism. Indeed, such a person would not consider things relative. It is not relativism to think the one man's life worth sacrificing to save the others. It may not be the choice you would make, but it's not relativism. Nor would the contextualist say something like "what's right for me and right for you are two different things," and not likely to say "who are you to judge me if I that was my choice, for aren't all decisions relative"?

Those are my thoughts anyway. I await orthonorm to either tear down my thoughts, or to simply say something about how people shouldn't be trying to philosophize when they're out of their depth.  angel
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« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2013, 10:49:11 PM »

Likewise similarities between existing cultures and stories and laws in old testament are not causes for questioning the Bibles uniqueness nor for contorted explanations as to why it is really different from surrounding ancient cultures. It is an opportunity to further appreciate the Incarnation because we see God all along "incarnating his message" in the cultural forms and categories people could understand at the time within their cultures. This is much the way Orthodox missions work with new cultures baptizing what is good and converting what is not in a new culture.

  Doesn't this make the meanings of the Bible somewhat culturally relative?   It would tend to make Biblicism untenable (slavery was challenged in the west despite Biblicist support, and a similar case could be made towards attitudes towards women or homosexuality).   Perhaps this is why "the Emerging Church" makes some conservative Protestants uneasy, it pulls the certainty out from under their worldview, but I can't see it being more consoling to the Orthodox.  Maybe you could clarify this.

I don't think this leads to cultural relativism because at some point one must form a conclusion as to what all this means. So, what IF Israel's law is not all that unique compared to the law codes of the surrounding Mesapotamian world in which it existed? Should that lead us to skepticism ala Bart Ehrman? Or, should it not surprise us that God would reveal His moral concerns for His people by taking what they already knew and were familiar with as being good and affirming it as such, while modifying it some to more singularly identify Himself not only as this people's God, but as the true God?

So, rather than reaching a conclusion that is culturally relative: so all this law stuff therefore doesn't matter, I'm just gonna do what I FEEL is right for ME because there is nothing unique about Israel's law (one response); we say, isn't God's incarnational approach remarkable? He communicates incarnationally by communicating through human agents living in human cultures in ways humans can grasp. He also communicates sacramentally by taking what is familiar - the common law codes of the surrounding majority culture and sanctifying it and setting it apart for religious use.

So this approach leads us to a greater insight and appreciation of THE INCARNATION and SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY. God is always joining human and divine, whether in giving us the small-case word of scripture or in giving us the LARGE-CASE WORD of God the Son made flesh!
Likewise God is always taking the common and setting it aside and mystically inhabiting it or transforming it into something greater, something other: whether law codes and social customs or baptismal water, or oil or bread and wine!

I think sometimes we are the ones so culturally conditioned, not the biblical narratives in their original context, but whatever the concern dejour that makes us so afraid to take advantage of, for instance, the findings of contemporary biblical scholarship. The data it produces is just that - data. It has to be interacted with and interpreted. And like I have already posted, that response can be skepticism, it can be defensive, it can be a very contorted apologetic or it can be from a perspective that fills us with wonder and awe for God in the way he has chosen to reveal Himself throughout time.
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« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2013, 10:54:40 PM »

I think relativism is a more efficient way to drive people from Christianity than militant atheism ever could be.

I highly disagree. Relativism has no logical basis; it's driven by emotion. The laws of logic refute relativism; it's refutable by its very concept. On the other hand, atheistic arguments are actually legitimate--ie, why isn't there any evidence for God? These are the questions that will ALWAYS plague us, at least me anyway. And telling someone that God is "not understandable by logic" just seems like a cop-out, and begs the question, well why worship God at all if we got no assurance that He exists? I've said it before and I still stand by it, Scholastic doubts to God are the only heresies that the Church has not refuted yet and thus are the most dangerous.

I will agree with you on that last point!
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« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2013, 08:09:51 AM »

I don't think this leads to cultural relativism because at some point one must form a conclusion as to what all this means. So, what IF Israel's law is not all that unique compared to the law codes of the surrounding Mesapotamian world in which it existed? 

  Within the Incarnation is the concept of condescension to the created order.  God becomes known in particular places and times in different ways.  Here is where I'm saying it could impact how a person interprets the Bible's moral codes.

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Should that lead us to skepticism ala Bart Ehrman?

  It could... but people like Ehrman discount the real value of a religious life and religious community, even if we are dealing less with propositional truth statements, and more like stories and myths.   For many people (probably the vast majority), myth and story provides the only grammar for moral discourse and social imagination (look at the civil rights movement, for instance).   Healthy use of reason, on the other hand, can keep a religious person away from fundamentalism and puritanism.
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« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2013, 08:18:05 AM »

I've never encountered a "postmodern" idea that was not just a badly written regurgitation of some old idea.

Probably the greatest things I've ever read, watched, listened to, etc., have been at one time or another labeled postmodern by someone. The problem is of course the emptying of the term of any meaning. Most people would be pressed to give an account of modernity and be able to discuss its advent.

That they are incapable of doing the same for the very period for in which they live, doesn't surprise me.

If you want to understand postmodernity in a manner to eclipse the average English major, look in the dictionary.

If you want a better a grasp, you need only to read this thread. It is postmodernity.

Or you just coud just post modern young people and the liturgy. Probably more interesting.
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« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2013, 08:38:32 PM »

Orthonorm:

Quote from: Christian on Monday

We cannot legislate morality by passing laws controlling firearms. The only evil we can combat lies within our hearts.

Quote from: Christian on Tuesday

We need stronger laws to protect the moral foundation of society against the evil of gay marriage.

These are a joke, correct?
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« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2013, 09:09:07 PM »

Orthonorm:

Quote from: Christian on Monday

We cannot legislate morality by passing laws controlling firearms. The only evil we can combat lies within our hearts.

Quote from: Christian on Tuesday

We need stronger laws to protect the moral foundation of society against the evil of gay marriage.

These are a joke, correct?

Ummm, depends on what you mean by joke.

If the intent is to elicit a laugh, it is one of my poorer attempts.

But on this board this actually characterizes more than a few of the more vocal members and "Christians" as a whole in the US. I nearly read the sentences verbatim within 24 hours of each other. And many variations.

So yes, when Christians are asked for the state to make illegal things which might lead them into temptation that they enjoy, they go all Biedermeier and want to struggle with their own "passion" in the drawing room of their hearts.

But when it comes to something they hate or doesn't touch them, yeah, let the government protect others from the passions which inflict others.

Hope that helps.
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« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2013, 10:11:59 PM »

Yes, that helps.

And yes it almost was funny in a sad sort of way.
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