FIRST-PERSON: Postmodern nonsense, straight out of the news

Baptist Press
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Posted: Oct 28, 2011 6:22 PM
FIRST-PERSON: Postmodern nonsense, straight out of the news
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--There are times when I peruse the daily news and can relate to the main character in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Penned by writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll in 1865, the book's protagonist, Alice, tumbles down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a fantasy world where the only absolute is nonsense.

An example of the absurd reality Alice encounters is aptly illustrated with Humpty Dumpty: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

In the wonderland Alice encountered, subjectivity ruled the day. Claims of absolute truth were deemed utter nonsense and the result was a world where chaos and confusion were normal. Carroll never imagined, though, that the absurd fantasy he created would one day become reality.

In order to understand that we have indeed plunged down a post-modern rabbit hole where nonsense reigns supreme, I call your attention to the following recent news stories:

-- A variety of news sources have reported that a Vanderbilt University policy prohibiting discrimination is being used against religious groups. At least four campus religious organizations have been placed on provisional status because leaders of their respective groups are required to submit to the group's religious beliefs. According to Vanderbilt's policy, an atheist should be allowed to lead a Christian or Jewish group.

-- Catholic University of America, located in Washington D.C., is being sued by Muslim students. A university news website reported that the complaint against the university is because the school "does not provide space -- as other universities do -- for the many daily prayers Muslim students must make, forcing them instead to find temporarily empty classrooms where they are often surrounded by Catholic symbols which are incongruous to their religion."

--- A headline on CNSNews.com read, "Girl Scouts allow 7-year-old boy to join because he is 'living as a girl.'"Originally denied membership, a young boy has been allowed to become a Brownie by The Girl Scouts of Colorado. "Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children," the Colorado scouting organization said in a statement. "In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach."

-- From Britain's Daily Mail Online comes the following headline: "Two men who divorced their wives, came out as gay, became transgender lesbians, now marry after one has a sex change." For the uninitiated, a transgender lesbian is defined as a lesbian female trapped in a man's body.

All of the above news reports are real. Nothing has been made up and, as far as I know, nothing has been embellished. And reports like these are becoming all too common.

If you are like me, you are probably shaking your head right now and wondering, "How did we get to the place in our world where such nonsense is viewed as acceptable?"

Welcome to the wonderland wrought by postmodernism. The very subjective nature of post-modernism makes defining it rather difficult. Adherents of the philosophy don't always exactly agree as to what they believe.

It is my understanding that on one end of the postmodern spectrum is the belief that it is impossible to know absolute or objective truth. On the opposite end is the belief that asserts absolute or objective truth does not exist. No matter how you look at, absolute truth is a casualty in postmodern thought.

According to postmodern thought, truth is a construct. Some adherents assert it is constructed by a community or culture. Others insist it is personally constructed. In either case, "truth" in postmodernism is based on subjective judgments and propositions. In other words, a community -- or an individual -- creates or constructs what is true. Something is true because the community or the individual believes it to be true.

One way to try and understand postmodern thought is to parse the phrase "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." Traditional thought is described by the first and last sentences of that phrase. The traditional view of truth is that it is objective, absolute and determined by God.

Postmodern thought is summed up by the last two sentences in the phrase, "I believe it. That settles it." Postmodern truth, whether decreed by a community or an individual, is personal, subjective and not open to debate. Postmodernism has taken us down a philosophical rabbit hole to a hyper-subjective wonderland where Muslims believe they are being discriminated against if a Catholic university does not provide them a special place to pray, free from any Catholic symbols.

Postmodern thought allows Vanderbilt University to see nothing wrong with forcing a religious organization to have leaders that do not adhere to the group's faith or doctrinal tenants.

Postmodernism has paved the way for a seven-year-old boy to say he believes he really is a girl. Not only do the parents encourage his belief, but they go so far to enroll him in the Girl Scouts -- and the organization accommodates him.

Postmodernism has led to two men in Britain taking a ride on a bizarre rollercoaster of sexual confusion that has seen them live as heterosexual, homosexual, homosexual transgendered and now a new category that I cannot describe.

Yes, there are times when reading the news that I feel like Alice must have felt upon encountering the chaos in the wonderland beyond the rabbit hole. Alice, however, woke and realized her absurd adventure was only a dream. Unfortunately, the postmodern world, with all of its nonsense, is all too real.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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