Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The inaugural speech and ceremony just finished.  Regardless of your perspective on this incoming President, the peaceful passing of power in this land is indeed unique and special in the world.  It was intriguing to see the looks of "knowing" and "understanding" that all the former presidents and first ladies had with the incoming President and new first lady.  Obama's face looked as if he was beginning to feel the reality of the pressure of being the leader of the free world.  There is a weight that none of us can truly understand.  Each of those former presidents also looked so much older than when we saw them stand where he did today.  One of the political/editorial cartoonists this morning showed the Chief Justice administering the oath of office and President Obama with a huge globe on his back.  Welcome to the Oval Office and all that goes with it.

This was indeed historic and my honest prayer is that God sees fit to look down and surround this president with wise people and discerning guidance.  The challenges ahead are even more daunting than in previous years and he is going to need that wisdom.  

From a worldview perspective I find it interesting that in a post-modern era - defined by the need for individuals to express themselves and do what they like - that we have just re-entered an era of more involved government.  So many of those that live by those same post-modern standards elected a government that believes whole-heartedly that government can and should help solve the problems of this country.  Time will indeed tell if this group of the electorate someday will think less about today in glowing terms, but like a new Kenny Chesney song - "I went home at 2 with a 10 and woke up at 10 with a 2"... 


Joel Liechty said...

If anything, postmodernism points towards a reliance upon the community and the lesser concept of the individual. If I were to identify postmodern tendencies with anyone, it would be those who encourage an "american" community that can overcome the odds it is currently facing. It is a community-issue, not an individual-issue. And this is much more postmodern.

kevbo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kevbo said...

Unfortunately, postmodernism ends up robbing people of transcendent purpose and meaning by which to live their lives. In other words, why should a community band together? There would need to be something to stand for, and postmodernism doesn't provide that.

What is community composed of but individuals? To be sure, it is easy to project blame "out there" so we can mystically band together, but how about the problems inside ourselves? What about the evil we see inside? It is easier to ignore when we are shouting about something else through the bullhorn.

Dr. Leland, I reckon by now you have heard or read the speech... er, prayer by Dr. Lowery. I wish I could hear your take on it. :)

Joel Liechty said...

Postmodernity is not meant to provide purpose (just as modernism isn't meant to provide a purpose). Rather, it functions as a way of understanding the world. It's not denying the reality of individuals or communities. Instead, it tries to depict the reality of the two. For example, postmodernity hopes to point out that Christianity finds its essence within a community. It doesn't have it's identity outside of it. The question, "Why do we need community" completely misses the mark. Rather, reality cannot exist outside of community just as Christianity cannot exist outside of community. This neither denies the evil within individuals or the evil within communities (both influenced by the other).

Ben Sutherland said...

It's so ironic, isn't it, Chris? Leftists are all about freedom, as long as your not talking about economic freedom or freedom of religion. Atheists, generally, bother me, a lot, on this last point. Both Christopher Hitchens and Charles Krauthammer will defend restrictions on the religious freedom of Muslim women to wear their traditional headdress in France - and Hitchens argued for a similar law in the U.S., recently - because the truth is that they don't really care much about religious freedom, unless it's their freedom to openly espouse their atheism, which I support, of course.

Liberal values - meaning the kind of 19th-century liberalism that is the intellectual backdrop of contemporary conservatism and liberalism - are taken for granted by the left and the right, as they find convenient, is my experience. Various shades of narrow application of principle. Ironic, since liberalism was meant to be a broad articulation of a commitment to freedom of conscience by as many different groups as possible. But completely predictable, given the relative self-centeredness of most folks, even as we, hopefully, work our way out of that hole.

Postmodernism is one long and bizarre defense of socialism, anti-empiricism, and a hodgepodge of narrow-minded leftism masquerading as something more highminded. I've only read some of Narrative Paradigm, but I would seriously bet that Walter Fisher and his half-assed reasoning would find its roots in this silly little movement. Foucault has some important things to say. Derrida makes for an interesting if often nonsensical read. But, mostly, it is apologia for the ideological distortions of the radical left.

The funny part is that postmodernism is not liberal in any recognizable sense of that word, in the way that conservativism and liberalism are, in shades. Postmodernists tend to live fairly laizzez-faire lifestyles. But it's freedom without responsibility, in my experience. And that, really, is where people always run into problems with any kind of freedom.

I'm no fundamentalist. But it's pretty clear to me that Jesus is, by far, a much more trustworthy example than any postmodernist I've ever come across. There is value in some of the thinking of some postmodernists. But you have to read really closely and overlook a lot of nonsense.

I'm pretty clear, at this point in my life, that anyone from any group that thinks they have all the right answers in the world are, more often than not, full of it. And postmodernists are no different. I'll take Twain over any ideologue, any day, personally. Because the world is too interesting a place to stop learning just to pretend that anyone has more final say than they really do. Kind of waste of life, by my lights. And if Foucault is useful for anything, it is as an object lesson that ideas have consequences. And the consequences in his life showed up in spades. Sadly. And sadly, mostly, because his life didn't have to be such a mess if he just could have had one conversation that didn't begin with the background conversation of, "I must prove to the world that I am the greatest mind who ever lived and I know everything." Sad to think that someone would live like that and really not be anything close to what he imagined himself to be.

Me, personally, I'd rather listen to my favorite Kenny Chesney, The Good Stuff, drink my Blue Moon or my root beer, and be just fine that I nor anyone could possibly know it all, if we wanted to with all our heart. Feels better to know that I get to wake up tomorrow and learn something new again.

Speaking of which, I better get the bed. Thanks for the reflections, Chris. I'll be back.