MetanarrativePosted: July 10, 2007
Most every critique of postmodernism i read includes a statement about how postmoderns reject ideas of absolute truth and metanarrative. These critiques are generally not written by a pomo-minded individual, but by modern observers. Given the chance, i think a postmodern would say something quite different.
I think postmodernism does not reject absolute truth, but is rather weary of shams and playacting that tries to pass itself off as truth (nevermind absolute or all-encompassing and complete-can’t-be-added-to truth). I think the pomo rejection of truth has more to do with a rejection of tactics of individuals and groups who co-opt truth to further an agenda, political or otherwise.
This trickles into metanarrative and the attempt to stretch a viewpoint (mini-narrative) into an all-encompassing explanation for why the world is the way it is (which are two different concepts, by the way). This stretching looks a lot like trying to stretch one’s lower lip over one’s head; the observer can’t help but be awed by the dedication and effort put into the action, but does wonder about the ultimate value of the benefits, if any.
What i’d really like to say is: Salvation is limited to Christ, but not to our understanding of Christ. One’s understanding of Christ does not a metanarrative make.
It’s awfully easy to confuse meta and mini narratives. It’s easy to think that what i think about Christ is all there is to know as regards salvation, the kingdom, loving people… but what i think about Christ represents only a very small percentile of who Christ actually is- in reality, what i think about Christ does not really represent Christ one bit- but i act like it does, and that’s dangerous.
So, despite the accusation that postmoderns reject absolutes, i would argue it’s not the case. Modern critiques of postmodernism delight in pointing out the self-stultifying nature (thanks for the link, andrew!) of the “no absolutes” claim, but i think a postmodern would reject the “no absolutes” stuff as silly and say simply, “we ought to be more careful with what we call ‘absolute'”.
This post is in development. Caffeine will likely be required to bring it home.