Letters to the editor
Next-Wave would like to receive your comments and
questions. Here are some that came in after last
They Say it's just a phase...
Dear Pastor McLaren
Grace and Peace!
I read with interest your article discussing the importance of the
postmodern transition and the dangers in writing it of as "a phase." I am on the
committee here at Prairie working toward our conference on postmodernity this fall (along
with the folks at Beyond Magazine).
Here there is a bit of a split with the faculty. The younger ones (under 35) are
soft-postmodern for the most part; while the older ones are rather modernist in their
outlook. For example in an Apologetics course the professor introduced "The Death of
Truth" as a balanced perspective on the postmodernity issue -- to the astonishment of
some of us who have actually read the book! Nevertheless, there is an openness and
willingness to at least stand up and take notice of the situation instead of automatically
demonizing it or burying ones head in the sand.
The reason I am writing today is because I was thinking
characterization of your generation. I have been wondering lately if the transition we are
witnessing here is just an extension in many ways of the kinds of things young people were
talking and thinking about in the mid to late 1960's. Sometimes I feel like we in the
transition are simply caught up in the pendulum swing of history and are now reaching back
30 years and finding something in the past that resonates with us. As a historian I want
to know why things occur at particular times, and my question is: why didn't the
postmodern transition take off in the 1960's -- why have we had to wait 30 years for it to
grip our hearts and minds again? I wonder if it might have something to do with Vietnam. I
don't want to blame the war for
everything -- but I wonder if that conflict nipped the transition in the
bud in that generation. I'd be interested in your thoughts on it.
I'm looking forward to meeting you this fall.
Prairie Bible College
Three Hills, Alberta, Canada
Thank you for writing "They Say It's Just a
Phase" and making it available on the web. Until quite recently, I thought that
postmodernism was both a phase and an almost pure evil one at that. But now I agree
that it is a big deal and that it is not without some redeeming value.
I'm very interested in learning all I can about postmodernism. What books or
magazines should I read? What movies should I see? Any suggestions?
I'll give you a little background on myself since that may help you answer my question.
I'm basically a mainstream conservative evangelical, much more at home with
dispensationalism than deconstructionism. I'm 32, married, with three girls. I
used to be a math professor but now I'm a software consultant. I have studied the
history of ideas (reading, for example, Francis Schaeffer and Will Durant) but I'm
my studies don't extend to contemporary ideas.
I decided to take postmodernism seriously when I read an article by a Christian, Larry
Wall, who blew me away by having something good to say about postmodernism.
The article is an interesting mix of philosophy and computer science. I wrote
Larry Wall a note explaining my shock and my curiosity, and he referred me to the Next
Wave web site where I found your article.
Thank you for your time.
Superman is dead
"The pastor should view his call not as a superman,
but a coordinator of possibility in Gods plan for the Church. God places power in
His people. "
Great article, and very topical. No doubt a recreation of
the role of
clergy (particularly in mainline denominations) is part of the critical
path which leads to the revitalization of the Church -- the role of the
pastor will be both enabler of, and impediment to, that revitalization.
For some very astute observations regarding the subject, I recommend past issues of the
"Connections" newsletter, written by a United Methodist layperson, and available
I would only add that the laity is substantially
responsible for the
current clergy/laity division. Too many of us prefer to sit back and
watch the clergy do our ministry, when in fact, we should be doing
ministry ourselves. But it's easier to delegate that to someone else.
For clergy to evolve into the role that you present, laity
must accept, allow, and encourage that transformation, and accept the full
that is inherent in discipleship.
I just wanted to let you know I was blessed by your online
'zine! It has some great articles and links. It's tough as an intern in Ohio
planning to plant churches in Europe, to sometimes see the big picture. You help to
make a connection between the work we do in one church and the work God is doing in the
Enjoyed the article on postmodernism tremendously. Maybe
because I was born in '54 and maybe because I too am a cultural creative who happens to be
sr. pastor of a multi-Asian, multi-ethnic, multisocioeconomic, multigenerational SoCal
church. In my upcoming book, Pursuing the Pearl (Judson Press, Nov. 1999), I spend a good
portion of a chapter outlining very similar thoughts and feelings about the positive
impact of PoMo for the Church, esp. the AsiAm church. Keep up this critical work!
Rev. Dr. Ken Fong
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