Saturday, January 01, 2005

Postmodernism and the Reformed Catholics--Revisited

There is a certain member of the Reformed Catholic group who keeps denying he is a postmodernist. He has, moreover, challenged his readers to see whether they can pin postmodernism on him. Here is how one scholar characterizes postmodernism. See if you can detect any familiar characteristics of our Reformed Catholic friend:

This [postmodern] attitude celebrates the demise of King Reason (including linear, "scientific" thinking), the Independent Ego, Absolute Truth and any unifying (or "totalizing") metanarratives. Pluralism [in this case, ecumenism], locality and historicism are celebrated. A second move that is typically postmodern is a kind of Marxist and Freudian suspicion of any claims to "truth" or "orthodoxy," any universal claim to reason. These smell like power-moves, just another way to continue the evils of the status- quo or substitute them with different forms of oppression. Michel Foucault in particular is important in this regard. I like the way Gary Percesepe put this in an article on postmodernism in CSR ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being Postmodern," XX:2 [December 1990], 124): "the hope of a self-grounding philosophy has crashed and burned, and every attempt to propagate one today is greeted with suspicion. This is the postmodern condition." Reason understood as all-encompassing and all-powerful; the Self understood as an independent, self-sustaining substance; and Truth understood as pure, absolute and self-evident: these are rejected by many [pomo] thinkers today, not just French ones.

Sound like anyone you know? The writer continues . . .

Since all claims to truth and reason are grounded in particular social and historical situations which relativize them, "truth" becomes just another power game.

It needs to be pointed out here that the writer (in the quotes above) is sympathetic to this postmodern sentiment, although not in its "extreme" form (but just who is to say what "extreme" is in postmodern thought?). The fundamental error that our "Reformed Catholic" writer (mentioned above) commits in his "challenge" is that he takes the most extreme anti-Christian representative of postmodernism imaginable (Derrida; who is critical of Christianity, period) and props him up as though he is the embodiment of postmodernism. There are many strains of postmodernism, and it is clear (and if that word caused a red flag in you, you may be postmodern yourself!) that our Reformed Catholic friend is deeply entrenched in the pomo camp. He rather fancies the nomenclature "countermodernist." Nope. He's post. And that fact becomes more glaring with every new article he writes. Has it escaped anyone's notice that he will go to the ends of the earth to cite every obscure philosopher in support of his views, but he refuses to engage Scripture? Doesn't that speak volumes about someone? That his worldview is informed by everything except the word of God? Ah, but how will he ever see this? After all, he's a slave to postmodernism, and he doesn't even know it.