Postmodern Thoughts

I hesitate.

I hesitate because to make sense of the idea that the model of ministry I am engaged in can be related in some way to a postmodern world, I must define something that seems to defy definition. Create a Search on post-modernism or postmodernism or postmodernity and you will find as many different ideas of what it might be as you will find websites claiming to be postmodern. The very thought that you might be able to define something quite so abstract is scoffed at by a worldview which regards all truth as relative, which views language as something to be played with and that relishes the irony of breaking meta-narratives into small localised temporary transitionary stories. Yet if we are to use an expression we require a shared notion of what such an expression means.

I have found the critiques by Adams and Klages helpful, yet still find myself returning to David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity. Hence, when I talk about Postmodernism I recognise a world in which we speak different languages at home, at work, in the street, in church and in cyberspace. Each of these languages will have different layers of meaning, the texts will weave amongst each other and take on a life of their own, conveying meanings that we do not intend and which it is pointless attempting to control. This leads to a recognition of the authenticity of otherness. The different voices of gender, race, sexuality, religion, philosophy, art are able to speak for themselves and in doing so be liberated from those voices who would seek to control and dominate. It is a world in which fragmentation is not only accepted but celebrated as an expression of otherness. Experiences and image take centre stage and we are encouraged to use fashion and cultural forms to construct our own public identities. The culture of consumerism is promoted by creating desires and fantasy. Whole industries are sustained by producing nothing more than images. There is also a playfulness which encourages parody ( Postmodern Generator) or "the cosmic grab-bag of artistic, philosophical and mundane things that all conspire to participate in the postmodern genre" called Postmodern Art.

"Surfing the net is the ultimate postmodern experience... Cyberspace is an undefined spatiality, like the contours of a perfume, and you are an adventurer, a navigator in uncharted waters, discovering the hero inside yourself. You act anonymously, simply as the unnamed, unidentifiable viewpoint of so many interactive network games, and where an identity is needed, you can construct one. Reality is soft, malleable, permeable, and available only through the constant discharge of electronic energy signaling across the cosmos. Discourse is energized, sexualized. It issues from nowhere and sheers off towards a thousand synthetic horizons, all presented like so many Hollywood sunsets and sunrises. In this land of fantasy and ceaseless journeying, this experience of tasting, sampling, and passing on, truth, knowledge, and facts are only dots of light on a screen, evanescent, consumable. This is the ultimate in the secularization of the divine, for here is God who sees and knows all things, existing in pure activity and realized presence, in perpetuity. Divinization as the dissoltion of subjectivity within the immanent, amniotic satisfaction, is the final goal and object of postmodernity. Cyberspace is the realization of a metaphor used repeatedly by Derrida, Irigaray, and Kristeva - the Khora, the plenitudinous womb, dark, motile, and unformed, from which all things issue."
Graham Ward The Postmodern God, Blackwell, Oxford, 1997, pp xv-xvi

In Cyberspace you may simply read the thoughts of others, you may become the voyeur watching through the net curtains of your screen the interaction of others. You may choose to be consumer - downloading food, clothes, video's, music, articles, knowledge, tickets, software, hardware, holidays and fashion. But to play the game, one must also participate, give voice to ones own opinions, construct an identity, a cyberimage.

I flit and I play
I watch and I say
what I feel.
Who am I today?
I drift and I scan
I dream and I plan
I am
Who do you say that I am?

I watch
I listen
I research
I debate

Come play the game
A Postmodern Ministry?

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A Postmodern Ministry? Art and original art work © Craig Neil Muir, August 2000