Saturday, January 17, 2009

I just don't understand postmodernism.


For those critics who read this video as an ‘attack’, or commentary on one specific religious/political/ideological group, a message: look deeper. For those who accuse this video of using a ‘broad brush’ to condemn one entire population: stories do not have to represent EVERY single experience of growing up — but may resonate with many people who HAVE experienced what’s depicted.

Strange isn’t it — some people have such a problem with the fact that these things do actually happen to some children: children from whatever religious/political/ideological background.

I’ve had literally 100s of messages saying, ‘This was/is exactly my experience too!’ — but maybe they’re all ‘wrong’, is that it? Well, just in case they aren’t, this video stands for them.

When I watched this video, I certainly sympathized with a lot of what was said. Not that my parents were like this or anything, but I knew people growing up with similar experiences. Whenever I hear about these situations of, "Don't question!!!" I get a knot in my stomach. It truly repulses me when someone will approach anyone with this type of attitude. With that said, I wanted to make it clear that I agree with this portion of the video.

However, while the "producer's notes" may make qualifications, actions speak louder than words. In the video, the child formed the most screwed up perception of the "manuel" possible. The parents claimed that he simply wasn't reading the manuel correctly, but the child swore he was doing exactly what it said.

Here's problem #1. While the producers were not explicitly suggesting that the manuel was symbolic of the Bible, I have a personal suspicion that this was, in fact, the case. Why? Well, the church service, the pastor; the whole thing was a characteristic of what I could only imagine as being "fundamentalist" Christianity. Again, this is just my personal opinion. Nonetheless, whatever their intent was, it is undeniable that people have this view of the Bible; that the Bible isn't the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. Instead, it is a collection of human writings written over a span of thousands of years, and like any other similar human work, would contain inaccuracies. Thus, the Bible is a big contradictory mish-mash and no one can figure out what it really means. Thus, neither the child or the parent's were "right" because there is no "right." But this view assumes what it is trying to prove; that because people come to different conclusions, neither can be right. But I refuse to hold to this postmodernistic notion, as I believe that the Bible can be read and correctly understood. Thus, when people do come to wrong interpretations, I can tell them, "you've read it wrong." Unfortunately, postmodernism doesn't grasp such a notion.

Problem #2. While I can sympathize with the characterization of those people who angrily disagreed with the child's new shelf, I wasn't satisfied with the general message. That is, the video seemed to be discouraging a "you're wrong" attitude. Thus, the two girls were wrong for telling the child that his shelf was wrong. Did they go about it the wrong way? Yes, they did. "Turn or burn" is not an accurate presentation of the Gospel. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling someone that their views are wrong. Can we do this with love and compassion? Absolutely, depending on the context. But we can also do it in a firm manner.

Problem #3. When the child's eyes were "opened," he noticed the beauty in diversity. Unfortunately, the portrayal was along the lines of, "I have my truth and you have your truth." Do I see beauty in diversity? Not if one's beliefs will end in judgment! I see nothing beautiful in a Catholic bowing before statues and uttering blasphemies to Mary. It is wrong. There is simply no other way to say it. However, I don't approach the Catholic screaming "turn or burn." Instead, I respectfully show him the errors in his beliefs and what the truth is.

Again, i'm not saying all this to demean the experience of those who grew up in such unfortunate circumstances. I simply wanted to point out that there is another and better way to represent such experiences.


Micah and Blair said...

I thought you writings on this video where great! It is nice to hear you disagree with people in such a compassionate way. Postmoderns do not believe that peace can come through disagreeing. That is why they parade around their ideas and that is why they are so threatened by someone who would disagree with them.

Mike-e said...

Thanks for your comment, Micah, its really good to hear from you!

Its interesting how they will say, "how dare you tell them that their view is wrong!" When someone says this to me, I always want to say, "how dare you tell me that i'm wrong for telling them that they are wrong!"