Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ways in Which You Refuse the Postmodern World

"Hipness is, ahh, what it is...,
But sometimes hipness is...what it ain't."
--Tower of Power, "What is Hip?"

This old lyric doesn't violate the law on noncontradition (also, ironically, known as the law of contradiction), but it does point out that we sometimes need to refuse trends, buck the system, and thumb our noses at the contemporary world--all good things for curmudgeons.

So, dear readers, in what ways do you refuse the postmodern world, go against the flow, fail to keep in step with the rest? Let me warm things up:

1. Refuse to have a remote car door un-locker. (I don't even know what they are called.)
2. Continue to buy and play record albums.
3. Continue to read entire books and talk about them and make students read them.
4. Continue to read the Bible in book form.
5. Don't even consider shaving your head or having short hair.
6. Inveigh against subwoofers, flat screen TVs (all TVs), etc.
7. Listen to dead jazz musicians.

You get the idea. Now it's your turn.

74 comments:

pgepps said...

Wow, that list is so post-modern! :-)

Hmmmm....defining "post-modern" to mean trendy, consumerist, and electronic--but definitely not expressing retro or "jazz" sensibility?

In that case, be un-post-modern by

8. preferring sacred art
9. wondering out loud why the critics and proponents of the construction "postmodern [whatever]" seem to agree that whatever it is, it's bad
10. ignoring anyone who tells you your irony is showing

God is so much bigger than our redefinitions of our reconstructions of our "selves," and knows all things....

david said...

I'm still a firm believer that the ride cymbals sound better on vinyl :)

Yossman said...

11. Buy and collect too many books on philosophy, apologetics and theology than your suitcase can handle on the way back from the US to Europe.

12. Read books on such topics in odd places.

13. Rant against tv, talkradio, commercials and advertising in general on a daily basis.

14. Listen to classical music publicly.

Doug Groothuis said...

Everything sounds better on vinyl!

havoc said...

Oh! Like napalm, it sticks, it burns!

1. Refuse to have a remote car door un-locker. (I don't even know what they are called.)
Can you buy a new car without one?

2. Continue to buy and play record albums.
I so sorry... my CD player won't play LPs. I'm sorry!

5. Don't even consider shaving your head or having short hair.
Hey! I had short hair before it was cool, and my bald is all natural.

6. Inveigh against subwoofers, flat screen TVs (all TVs), etc.
We finally had to replace the old TV (that we don't watch TV on), and I'm not going to buy a fat TV... and yet, I hang my head in shame.

7. Listen to dead jazz musicians.
You gifted me this one. Thank you!

havoc said...

Oh, my favorite:

Insist that words have meaning, and know both what they mean and how to use them.

J.E. McFatter said...

1. Insist that people give you reasons for what they believe if they expect you to take them seriously.

2. Hand out books on apologetics at family reunions.

3. Resist "chronological snobbery".

Jeff Sahol said...

1. Insist that the church needs to talk about sin, repentance, the devil, and other topics that don't make people feel good.

2. Avoid posting comments on blogs.

Jeff Burton said...

Professor, I think you will find much material in this article.

ChrisB said...

Doug some of these things seem contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

What's wrong with remote car locks? I laughed the first time I saw a van with doors that opened by remote -- then I got one. Carrying a kid and two bags of groceries was made much easier.

You want to be different in 21st century America?

1) Spend less than you make.
2) Reject the victim mentality.
3) Insist on being optimistic as much as possible. As the song says, life is hard, but God is good.

jim_l said...

Am I the only one who finds this topic and list humorous because it is on a blog (supported by Google)?

My contribution (one and only one needed):

1. Believe in absolute Truth as revealed by God in the Bible.

For me that trumps all post-modernism as I understand it.

By the way, the thing on the key ring is called a "fob".

Doug Groothuis said...

"Am I the only one who finds this topic and list humorous because it is on a blog (supported by Google)?"

People try this chop about once a week on The CC. Nothing is funny or contradictory. I am not a Luddite, but a Curmudgeon: appropriate use of appropriate technologies such that the technologies don't eclipse other better modalities of existence.

Bill said...

I thought the medium is the message?

James said...

1. Communicate like an adult. This means zero to limited text messaging, and that by no means shall I use "OMG," "LOL," or any other stupid abbreviations.
2. Use proper grammar, even in informal emails and casual conversation. This involves proof-reading manually rather than relying on a machine to fix my mistakes.
3. If I ever need glasses, no thick-rimmed Rob Bell/"Can you hear me now" guy style glasses.
4. No Rob Bell.
5. Enjoying wine for its craft and complexity, rather than its ability to inebriate.
6. No sandals or flip-flops. Men's feet (mine included) are generally disgusting and should not be exposed.
7. Nary a tattoo shall be found on my body. I look forward to the day I am 65 and the only one in my generation without an ugly optional blot on my body.
8. Dress nicely to church, not out of obligation or duty, but in reverence of being in the presence of the sacred.
9. Respect elders and authorities.

Tim Berglund said...

The injunction against short hair (which my son obeys in spades, although I do not) reminded me of a rule of mine which probably fits here better than you might think at first blush: never trust anyone who ever said not to trust anyone over the age of 30.

Adel Thalos said...

How about adding these to the list:

1. Refuse to use the term "like" as a fill in within sentences.
2. Never end sentences with "whatever". OOOPS!!
3. Boldly proclaim the absolute objective truths of the Gospel, without compromise.
4. Refuse to so simply the Christian faith as to gut it of all meaning.
5. To weep over those who reject the gospel and to rejoice wholeheartedly with those who repent and fully embrace the Truth.

Ken Click said...

Attend a traditional, Bible believing, church.

The Rich Factor said...

1. Critique Barack Hussein Obama.

David Strunk said...

1. Read two hardcopy newspapers weekly, as opposed to using the internet or television for all one's news.

2. Go on walks and ride a bike to work.

Heath Countryman said...

How about these for your list?

1. Engage in lecturing instead of dialogue.

2. Pretend that your perspective is universal.

3. Insist that everyone use the KJV.

4. Stick your head in the sand.

(OK, that last one is a bit inflamatory, but you catch my drift...)

Kevin Winters said...

1) Take the time to actually read Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault to see that they are not "postmodernists" (i.e. relativists).

pennoyer said...

Here's another:

1) Allow yourself to quietly wonder, "Is tolerance REALLY the Queen of the Virtues?"

The Rich Factor said...

"4. Stick your head in the sand."

This is the rhetoric of a flaming (futuristically literal) liberal that denies ABSOLUTE truth.

Absolute truth in contrast to relative truth (AKA postmodernism) is that it is absolute. The alternative is like saying that people can torture babies.

Kevin: In Truth Decay, Professor Groothuis correctly shows that these thinkers are relativists. You should read his work of "Art" and learn about the moral decay that post-modernism leads to. Modernism isn't perfect, but it is better than utter moral relativism.

Plus, I think that you are making a "straw" "man" logic problem.

One can argue that not being totally enarmoured with Obama is not unlike when one stick his (or her) head in the "proverbial" sand, I'm pretty certian, so the charge is meaningless and presupposes that Dr. Groothuis is anaware, (and quite frankly, a bit of a "rabbit trail" fallacy) Heath.

Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

Dr. Groothuis' analysis of Derrida consists of one well known quote from _Of Grammatology_, two primary texts as *cited* in two antagonistic sources, and a quote from a primary text as given in a secondary (and antagonistic) text. So we have four references, only one of which is from a primary source. You would think that if Derrida was such an *obvious* relativist that could be demonstrated from his own work...

His analysis of Foucault consists of two quotes from primary texts, one quote as given in a secondary text (this one is actually pro-"postmodern"), one reference as cited in a primary text (another pro-"postmodern"), reference to one antagonistic source, and reference to a 5-page _Encyclopedia_ reference as a good way of understanding Foucault's thought (despite the existence of the infinitely superior Rabinow and Dreyfus _Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics_ which Foucault endorsed himself!). The last is particularly striking to me: that Dr. Groothuis would reference a 5 page summary as a good introduction (if such could be true for *any* philosopher so summarily summarized) when an obviously superior and more exhaustive reference is available and readily acknowledged in the literature.

Furthermore, his anlaysis of both figures gives me no reason to assume that he is actually familiar with the primary texts, even the ones he directly quotes or cites. But if someone who is likewise unfamiliar with the primary literature reads _Truth Decay_ they wouldn't know any better, so I have become a curmudgeon on this point.

But pointing out the above has gotten me banned in the past, so I imagine this will be my last post for a bit...

Kevin Winters said...

Let me add that I believe a correct understanding of Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault would not invalidate Evangelical distaste for their thought; there is plenty that I imagine Evangelicals would disagree with given a correct understanding. So I'm surprised that Evangelicals decide to use a misunderstanding and thereby set themselves up for not being taken seriously by those who do understand these thinkers.

The Rich Factor said...

"Dr. Groothuis' analysis of Derrida consists of one well known quote from _Of Grammatology_, two primary texts as *cited* in two antagonistic sources, and a quote from a primary text as given in a secondary (and antagonistic) text. So we have four references, only one of which is from a primary source. You would think that if Derrida was such an *obvious* relativist that could be demonstrated from his own work...

His analysis of Foucault consists of two quotes from primary texts, one quote as given in a secondary text (this one is actually pro-"postmodern"), one reference as cited in a primary text (another pro-"postmodern"), reference to one antagonistic source, and reference to a 5-page _Encyclopedia_ reference as a good way of understanding Foucault's thought (despite the existence of the infinitely superior Rabinow and Dreyfus _Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics_ which Foucault endorsed himself!). The last is particularly striking to me: that Dr. Groothuis would reference a 5 page summary as a good introduction (if such could be true for *any* philosopher so summarily summarized) when an obviously superior and more exhaustive reference is available and readily acknowledged in the literature.

Furthermore, his anlaysis of both figures gives me no reason to assume that he is actually familiar with the primary texts, even the ones he directly quotes or cites. But if someone who is likewise unfamiliar with the primary literature reads _Truth Decay_ they wouldn't know any better, so I have become a curmudgeon on this point."

This is a rabbit trail because it assumes that people need to read the authors to understand what they think. He may not have "read" them according to your standards, but sees the problems in their ideas and how they lead to moral relativism.

Besides, I looked through this website a bit and saw that Dr. Groothuis has already answered you. He swears that he's read everything by all of these authors you accuse him of misquoting and misunderstanding, so you can't accuse him on something that he's already promised he's done.

Furthermore, you seem to suggest taht he is not taken seriously by philosophers. On the back of Truth Decay, his book was hailed as the greatest work on Postmodernism. Such endorsements don't come cheaply.

All postmodernists deny morality. Neitsche paved the way for Hitler and Barack Obama will pave the way for billions of abortionists and Islamic fascism because he's a moral relativist and denies ABSOLUTE truth.

pgepps said...

oh, dear, so many capital letters to buttress truth!

God can speak for himself, dear friends. And has.

And, in The End, shall.

Kevin Winters said...

Terribly sorry, but his analysis shows a stark lack of understanding. Understanding a thinker by relying so heavily on secondary sources is poor scholarship. It's like focusing on secondary sources rather than reading the Bible itself! Dr. Groothuis touts himself as an expert on so-called "postmodernism," which I imagine means that he is familiar with the primary sources (imagine an "expert" on the Bible who hasn't read much of it). So the apparent lack of familiarity with the primary sources is indicative of a lack of expertise on their thought (see again my comment on the _Encyclopedia_ versus Rabinow/Dreyfus).

As for the praise for his work, you will notice that those who praise it are in-house Evangelicals who continue to perpetuate the misunderstanding. To put it in incredibly stark terms (forgive the hyperbole), praise of ignorance by the ignorant doesn't mean much.

"it assumes that people need to read the authors to understand what they think"

Do you realize how silly this claim is? I'm trying to think of another term, but "silly" seems to be the best one: juvenile, naive, etc. Do you not assume that people need to read the Bible to understand what it says?

Kevin Winters said...

One more thing: "Ways in Which You*R* Refuse"? Thought you'd like to change that mistake.

nancy said...

Back on topic... and with the feminine twist

With regards to postmodern culture:

1. Never, absolutely never, today, nor yesterday, nor tomorrow wear those constricting pointy-toed shoes. They were not made for human feet. A WSJ article highlighted women who had their toes shortened to fit in those things.

2. No artificial petroleum products or other hazardous products (i.e. botox) sewn into or injected into the human body. (I am 40 and find that women who age naturally appear very attractive - not to me - they just have a sense of maturity and dignity that is beautiful in a unique way).

3. Keep ancient iPhone instead of braving the mass stampede for the 3G.

4. Wear frumpy T-shirt when running. (the only thing "cool" about my running gear is the shades).

5. Wear flip-flops with naked feet (no professional or amateur manicure). And I am okay with guys in flip-flops, especially in the summer heat.

6. Go out in public with naked face - no make up.

With regards to postmodern Christian culture:

7. Go to church with naked face.

8. Go to stuffy church wearing flip-flops and shorts.

9. Go to casual church dressed nicely with matching shoes/purse.

10. Think, think think.

11. Be able to articulate 3 admirable qualities of Obama (requires mastery of #7- oops supporting Obama may be very "hip" for the PM Christian culture)

12. Read the writings of atheists.

PS - Ditto to ChrisB. The electronic key thingy is "key" with little kiddos and arms laden with groceries.

Doug Groothuis said...

Warning to newbees:

Any time you say anything on postmodernism, Kevin Winters will jump in and endlessly post.

Doug Groothuis said...

Kevin's biggest chop to is say I don't use enough primary sources and really don't know the Truth abou the pomos. We've debated this too much already, so I won't continue.

By the way, I have read (enough of) Heidegger.

Doug Groothuis said...

Insisting that everyone use the KJV is just uninformed. Its based on inferior manuscripts.

Kevin Winters said...

So you would say Heidegger is a relativist?

Kevin Winters said...

I don't believe we've "debated" this at all: I've presented my argument, with evidence of various kinds (though, given the medium, only a small part of what I could provide) and you've simply proclaimed that I'm wrong. That's not a "debate"; if so the New Atheists have been "debating" all theists (a point I think we all would agree with).

If I have indeed missed a counter-argument, I *very honestly* would appreciate having it pointed out (I'm neither joking nor taking a pot shot with this request).

Tony Lombardo said...

(1) Adopt a slightly more confrontational posture (though with tact) toward folks who espouse the ubiquitous hyper-apathy toward anything and everything in the categories of "significant" or "substantive."
(2) Advocate church traditions with historical integrity, as opposed to the anachronistic pastiche one finds all over the "emergent" scene.
(3) Crank up the rock and roll music on a real stereo system, NOT an iPod with its lame-dash-O earbuds.

Heath Countryman said...

Wow...

Doug,

Regarding the KJV, we finally agree on something... Well that and that Obama is a terrible disaster waiting to happen.

Rich,

Your posts solidify my thinking of modernists. Your first response was to lecture... one that assumed that your perspective on the issue was authoritative. To assume that all post-moderns are liberals who reject Absolute Truth is simply naive. In fact, many post moderns do accept the premise that there is Absolute Truth. We are just not certain that modernists know what it is.

As a semi-post-modern (try pigeon-holing me on that one), I accept that God reveals Truth to us all, and I also accept that the Scripture is the primary and most reliable source for that revelation. Yet I also readily admit that how I approach Scripture is unique, and just as we each experience unique truths in unique ways, we also each have a unique experience of God’s revelation that others may never come to understand or accept. God is as much in the journey as He is the destination.

The problem with most modernists’ approach to scripture is they fail to accept the context of the writers and instead substitute their own context when proclaiming the truth about revelation. A post-modern is much more likely to seek the context and look for Truth by seeking to contextualize the document. Unfortunately, this always leads to an incomplete picture, as we simply cannot take off our 21st century shoes to walk in their paths. So at best, a post-modern can say that we begin to understand Truth through scripture. But ultimately, Scripture is simply a signpost that points to Truth. Discovering it is the real challenge.

What disturbs me most about comments such as yours is that you are so quick to sentence me to hell (a “futuristically literal” hell, at least) when you have neither the right nor the authority to make such a pronouncement. It is an arrogance that often serves to fracture dialogue between post-moderns and modernists. If you truly believe that post-moderns are “going to hell” for their attempts to distinguish between the prevailing the truths of this world, I would think you would attempt to build a bridge of relationship instead of a self-righteous wall. When the stakes are eternal, do we really have the right to dismiss one another so casually?

Just some food for thought.

The Rich Factor said...

I will be the man in the gap for Dr. Groothuis.

Kevin:
You are wrong on several accounts.

1. One doesn't need to read these authors to understand them. I actually went on the Wikipedia article and read some of those postmodernists and the entries don't disagree with Dr. Groothuis. Thus, even though he hasn't read these authors, his opinions are still correct. I know that postmoderns believe is total moral relativism; I see it firsthand. Our nation no longer has one iota of morality left!

2. Lastly, so what if he doesn't use primary sources. You really can't expect him to master these thinkers; he would have had to sit at their feet for years. There's simply not enough time, so why not trust the experts in the field and take their word for it. Those experts write Encyclopedia articles (and sometimes even police Wikipedia articles).

3. Lastly, as for reading them. Wouldn't he have to read them in Latin (or whatever language they wrote in)? An English translation doesn't suffice, so why should he even bother trying if he doesn;t know how to read Latin.

4. Your standards, dear Kevin, are too high. We live in an age of technology overload adn people need to get saved. The book shouldn't have sat on his desk waiting for refinement for 20 years--souls are mroe important than your "scholarly standards."

5. Furthermore, this books has showed many young evangelicals the evils of liberalism. At Bible college, two books were highly suggested to us. Truth Decay and The Genesis Record to combat postmodernism and naturalistic science. Truth Decay is one of the most important resoruces for conservative evangelicals; it does not give in to liberalism like other "apologetic" books like Case for Creator and what not.

7. Your claim that it is only praised by inhouse people is false. I heard that they read this book at Harvard.

Heath:

You need to read Truth Decay. Your positions are severely illogical and you don't have the faintest understanding of postmodernism. Your belief system is nothing less than moral relativism and is the reason why babies are killed. Repent if you believe in Jesus (and not some "Postmodern" Jesus). Read Truth Decay, it will correct your false thinking and show why it leads to hell.

Christians: If we do not defend ABSOLUTE truth our culture will collapse and billions will die. Saving the life of billions is worth STEPPING on a few toes. Scarcely will a righteous man die for the unrighteous--but this is what we need to do! Put your "reputation" at the altar and warn people about the catastrophe that postmodernism will usher in. If you don't the blood is in your hands. That's a sober warning to apologists.

pgepps said...

monsieur le "rich factor" needs to dial it down. Shouting will not make God stronger.

You can't make truth more "really, really true" by calling it absolute or objective. You just show that you don't know how to differentiate "true claims that some conditions actually pertain" from "conditions actually pertinent to some claim." As long as the claims are utterances from (to borrow Aquinas) contingent beings, to contingent beings, their truth is necessarily NOT absolute. If we insist on using the language of absolute-ness and objectivity, well, the only "knowing" that could possibly have that character is God's, in himself, incommunicably. As the one whose performative utterance originates what His will sustains (God's will is the only necessary condition of being--radical occasionalism alert), God's knowing "the world" is free from extrinsic phenomenal framing. ONLY His.

(and even then possibly only in a hypothetical pre-Creation state, before He entered into relations with His creatures)

So you can talk about absolute, objective knowing, but you can't have it. The question is whether your truth-claims are faithful readings and restatements of God's utterance, and whether you are able to be critiqued by that utterance in you restatement of it. Grabbing some of your contingent knowledge and jumping up and down on its ABSOLUTE nature is an awfully good way to insulate yourself against God's work of revelation. Even believers try this, a lot.

God's word is more powerful than your ABSOLUTE OBJECTIVE TRUTH, though, and will prevail. Ask Paul.

Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

1. Apparently you haven't read Dr. Groothuis' stuff as you are relying on Wikipedia for your information (will Dr. Groothuis pipe in on this point?). If you want a good book that actually understands so-called "postmodernism" but is also rightly critical of certain of its aspects, see Calvin Schrag's _The Resources of Rationality: A Response to the Postmodern Challenge_.

Let me reiterate a point I've made *many* times: I absolutely reject relativism; it is incoherent and inherently dangerous. But I reject the spurious scholarship that puts Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault in the list of relativists. They depend on fragmentary readings (primarily from the reliance on secondary sources) and miss important distinctions and nuances that are decidedly non-relativistic, in many cases anti-relativistic.

2. Dr. Groothuis is presenting himself as an expert on postmodernism. I would expect an expert in anything--philosophy, physics, physiology, etc.--to be familiar with the primary texts of those issues/thinkers that they address. I certainly wouldn't want a surgeon who hasn't read the best and latest works on surgery, rather than relying on abstracts or such.

3. He would primarily have to read German and French for many of the primary thinkers (where did you get Latin?), either of which tend to be standard education for most philosophy PhD programs (unless Dr. Groothuis went the ancient route of Greek and Latin). Either way, a mastery of these languages is not necessary in order to do a better job at understanding these figures.

4. Is this a serious excuse for poor scholarship? Souls are more important than actually giving them accurate information from which to make a judgment about something? In essence you are saying that one is allowed to lie (nay, one *should* lie) to Evangelicals--to purposefully give out poor work that hasn't taken the time to understand what it is talking about--as long as it saves souls. Yet again, I don't think you have actually read Dr. Groothuis' work as I don't think he would agree.

5. When this is coupled with (4), _Truth Decay_ is not showing the evils of anything. You can't show the evils of a straw man...well, I guess you can, but it wouldn't matter much in the real world.

6. You "heard" but cannot substantiate? The only positive journal reviews I've been able to find on JSTOR and EBSCO and such are, again, from in-house Evangelicals, but overall the book has been ignored in philosophical circles. Whatever good you think the work has done, at least be realistic on the extant of its use.

David Strunk said...

One of the biggest misunderstandings I hear from "emerging" voices or postmodern proponents regards knowing truly versus knowing exhaustively. To know God truly is not the same thing as knowing Him exhaustively. We can know Him in truth (general/particular revelation) as Creator, Savior, and Giver of Life but not know Him exhaustively or to the fullest extent(the imperfection of humans, the absolute holiness and otherness of God).

The mistake I've seen made in many preceding posts is that these two things- knowing truly and knowing exhaustively- are the same thing. Logically, they are not.

The Rich Factor said...

"Apparently you haven't read Dr. Groothuis' stuff as you are relying on Wikipedia for your information (will Dr. Groothuis pipe in on this point?)."

I'm not saying that he used Wikipedia, but that his information isn't different. You misunderstood my point. At Bible college, students were never allowed to use Wikipedia for scholarly papers. I don't think Dr. Groothuis would allow this at his seminary.

"2. Dr. Groothuis is presenting himself as an expert on postmodernism. I would expect an expert in anything--philosophy, physics, physiology, etc.--to be familiar with the primary texts of those issues/thinkers that they address. I certainly wouldn't want a surgeon who hasn't read the best and latest works on surgery, rather than relying on abstracts or such." Dr. Groothuis has published a book and is vaunted by other apologists. I think that qualifies as an expert.

3. Why do you claim I haven't read Truth Decay. My point was that he doesn't have the time to research every single little detail on everything. Since, as you seem to have clearly demonstrated, he has not read these authors, I'm saying that this is okay. While I can't discern what his motives were, I think that he may have wanted to be as expedient as responsibly possible for the Kingdom. He didn't resort to "wikipedia articles" and he didn't read everything 20 times. To read things 20 times would have been an unneccesary waste of time because souls need to be saved.

Fact: our culture is postmodern (Truth Decay)
Fact: postmodernism IS relativism (Truth Decay)
Fact: our culture is declining (Truth Decay)

You can't deny FACTS. That's the problem with postmodernism.

"but overall the book has been ignored in philosophical circles." You read it.

pgepps said...

Mr. Strunk is quite correct that confusing "knowing truly" for "knowing exhaustively" is a perennial problem, here.

Again, I would suggest that "knowing truly" and "knowing absolutely" or "knowing objectively" are similarly related.

Truth doesn't lose its truthiness (toothy grin) by not being given modifiers. In some ways, we might say that truth is more "really true" when it is not supplmented by "absolute, objective, exhaustive" or the like.

Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

Interesting because I didn't say Dr. Groothuis used Wikipedia either. I was merely pointing out that your using it to "validate" Dr. Groothuis' claims is very un-Groothuisian of you: he has condemned the use of Wikipedia as a reliable source of information on many occasions. Merely pointing out an interesting observation.

I am claiming that you haven't read Dr. Groothuis' work because your proposal that one present misinformation merely for the sake of saving souls is not something that I think Dr. Groothuis himself would agree with, from my reading of his work and this blog. Such would be poor scholarship and would be fertile grounds for rejecting his work, which I think he would agree with (that is, if he thought that is what he did, which he obviously doesn't). That you think that spreading misinformation on a wide scale is ok, I judge that you haven't really read Dr. Groothuis' work.

As for your "facts," let me put a little more context to them. First, "culture" is hardly as monolithic as you are presenting it. Such oversimplification really is a matter of concern for me, academically and personally: academically because it is simply wrong and personally because I consider myself part of a culture that is not "postmodern" in the sense you and Dr. Groothuis are claiming. *Parts* of culture are so-called "postmodern."

Your second fact is also false: if we include in the purview of "postmodern" thinkers such as Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault (as is often, if not *always* done in the literature), then postmodernism does not equal relativism. And here is where an *incredibly* useful distinction *should* be used by critics of so-called postmodernism: "cultural postmodernism," as is found in the wider cultural circles divorced from genuine scholarship, is indeed relativistic. In as much as I say this I will join the rally cry: "Down with (cultural) postmodernism." But "philosophical postmodernism" = relativism is a minority view. Evangelicals are right to focus on Rorty as he certainly is a relativist. But the problem comes when such is extended to Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault (and probably others as well). So, yes, combat relativism, but don't be so ignorant as to think that the thinkers that many of these relativists present as their patron Saints agree wholly with their views. A similar example would be those whom you think misinterpret the Bible: they present it as their source of information, yet you would argue quite strenuously that the Bible does not present the views they are giving.

So, yes, I can deny the "facts" when they aren't indeed "facts." That is the problem with your analysis.

Finally, yes, I did read it, but I hardly think I represent "wider philosophical circles." I am but one person, after all, with particular interests that have lead me to the book. Do you really think that my reading it refutes my claim?

Kevin Winters said...

David,

To further make my position clear, I agree that this is an issue in "emergent" thought. But I honestly think that "emergent" thinkers misunderstand the primary thinkers in postmodernism just as much as the Evangelicals do, which is bound to create more confusion about exactly what these thinkers believe *unless* one takes the time to actually read their work (in tandem with the best scholarship available on their thought).

The Rich Factor said...

"That you think that spreading misinformation on a wide scale is ok." You're putting words into my mouth. I don't think he spreads any misinformation!

Not reading something does not equal misreprenting something. The latter is rephrensible.

"Without arguments for the gospel's objective truth, we can only call people to commit; we are in no better position than any other contender in the postmodern marketplace." (Truth Decay 143)

and about Foucolt: ""truth" is a function not of verifiable evidence or sound-logic but power-relationships" (Truth Decay 30). He quotes Foucolt own words that say this? I fail to see how he misrepresented Foucolt.

I haven't read everything by Plato to know that Socrates isn't the main character. I haven't read every biblical scholar, but I know that Jesus is the son of God. I haven't read Kant but I'm pretty sure I know what the categorical imperative is. One doesn't need to know EVERYTHING about a topic to make accurate observations. No one, not even nobel prize winners no EVERYTHING.

The Rich Factor said...

"Finally, yes, I did read it, but I hardly think I represent "wider philosophical circles." I am but one person, after all, with particular interests that have lead me to the book. Do you really think that my reading it refutes my claim?"

Yes.

Heath Countryman said...

I love bible colleges. They improve dialogue so much. Thanks, TRF. You must be a gem at Thanksgiving dinner.

Heath Countryman said...

just singing up for the comment feed with this post...

Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

No, I wasn't putting words in your mouth: you said quite explicitly that the work of soul saving warrants bad scholarship (i.e. misinformation) because of the work and time needed to do good scholarship.

While it is true that not reading something does not necessarily mean one is misinformed, but it certainly makes the reader vulnerable to misunderstanding. That is my point: by not reading the primary texts (like needing to reference a secondary work to cite _Limited Inc._, in my mind one of the most important of Derrida's work and certainly the easiest read out of his middle and later period) Dr. Groothuis opened himself up to misunderstanding, which I believe did happen.

On Foucault, no he does not say that. "Power" is quite different than many commentators think it is and Foucault himself, in one of the last things he wrote (see his work at the end of the Rabinow/Dreyfus work mentioned above) he clarifies both his notion of power and its place in his work (i.e. that it is not his central concern). From what you've said so far, I am not impressed that you fail to see how Dr. Groothuis misinterprets Foucault. Honestly, how much Foucault have you actually read such that your failure to see misunderstanding should matter to me? This sounds flippant, but that is what you are asking me to do: to take your word for it that Dr. Groothuis did not misunderstand Foucault, especially that based on a single quote (which we all know is very open to misunderstanding as it is torn from its context...how very Derridian).

On your last point in the previous post: I'm not requiring Dr. Groothuis to read everything on Heidegger, Derrida, or Foucault. Heck, I would *most certainly* fail that requirement, even on Heidegger with whom I've done the most of the three above. But he is showing (in my mind) a serious lack of familiarity with even the basic primary texts (see again my comment above on _Limited Inc._ or my previous comment on Foucault and the 5 pg. _Encyclopedia vs. the much more adequate Rabinow/Dreyfus).

My argument is not that Dr. Groothuis has not read everything about these thinkers, but that he hasn't done even the basic reading and research which thereby gives him a faulty foundation on which to discuss and thereby critique their thought. Again, if Dr. Groothuis and other Evangelicals got their interpretation of these thinkers right I think that they would still have plenty to argue against, given their perspective. This makes me wonder why they must rely on the straw man...

On your very last point: if we sent out a questionnaire to major philosophical departments, or even just focus on those that have classes on "postmodernism," I would wager that the large majority would say, "Groothuis who?" Again, *this particular point* is not about the adequacy of _Truth Decay_, but of the quantifiable extent of the use and recognition of his work outside Evangelical circles. My reading it is statistically negligible and demonstrates little, if anything.

The Rich Factor said...

"No, I wasn't putting words in your mouth: you said quite explicitly that the work of soul saving warrants bad scholarship" I mean not-perfect. Not-perfect scholarship doesn't = bad scholarship.

You obviously know a ton more than me about philosophy and apologetics. At Bible College (Faith Baptist), an accredited undergraduate and graduate school, we read two books in apologetics. Truth Decay and The Genesis Record, because they made strong, unyielding stances on biblical truth and didn't get caught up in the worldliness of scholarly standards. We read a chapter by Norman Geisler, but sadly, he is becoming more liberal these days. So the fact that you are saying that Truth Decay doesn't meet your "scholarly" standards is precisely the reason I was required to read it. It didn't give in to liberalism at ALL.

But I think I'm starting to understand what you are trying to say. You are saying that the book does not show an awareness of postmodernism, but that it says that postmodernism is relativism. And that this is false because he has not read enough material and the material says something more complex. How can I verify this claim?

I have a couple of responses.

1. It is a helpful rhetorical tool to get to the main point. Talking in circles around the issue often just confuses people and this book was written for the average churchgoer not some Ivory tower professor. That's why it gets to the point.

2. Other apologists who are recognized as top scholars in the university system also agree with Dr. Groothuis. Thomas Ice of Liberty University, Henry Morris, PhD, Peter Kreeft at Boston College (though he is a Catholic!), Duane Gish, Dr. Joshua McDowell, John A. Jelinek, and the list goes on. I mean Dr. Groothuis may not be as well known as all these top scholars, but he is totally operating at their level. And they seem to agree that postmodernism = relativism.

You should read The Journal of Chirstian Apologetics. It is very technical.

"I would wager that the large majority would say, "Groothuis who?" Again, *this particular point* is not about the adequacy of _Truth Decay_, but of the quantifiable extent of the use and recognition of his work outside Evangelical circles." I'd be willing to bet that this is not the case, but scripture prevents gambling! Like I said, they read this book at HARVARD!, so you can't be even close to being correct.

jim_l said...

Doug -

I did not intend to "chop" or otherwise denigrate the blog, it was merely a tongue in cheek aside (tone does not come across well in printed matter). Sorry about that.

pgepps said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

I find it interesting that you seem to be equating rigorous scholarship with liberalism. Is that intentional?

While I certainly understand the need to bring things down when writing for a popular audience, there is no real indication in _Truth Decay_ or other Evangelical works on so-called "postmodernism" that there is anything like the distinction I gave: Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault, along with the wider culture, simply *are* relativists. So when such respected writers do not make such an important distinction, their readers have no felt impetus to actually read these writers. After all, the great Douglas Groothuis, J.P. Moreland, and R. Scott Smith, all Evangelical philosophical superstars (a new show: Evangelical Idol!), give no indication that things could be otherwise or be more complex than postmodernism (without distinguishing thinkers or movements) = relativism.

As for how you can verify the claim I'm making, it is quite simple (yet complex): take the time to actually read the primary literature with the help of good scholarly secondary literature. For Foucault, for example, you can start with _How to Read Foucault_ and _Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics_ in tandem with reading his own works. For so-called "postmodernism" as a whole, I would suggest again Calvin Schrag's _The Resources of Rationality: A Response to the Postmodern Challenge_ as a book that is overall very accurate on his understanding of the primary thinkers, but isn't a "poster boy".

Beyond the simple beginning suggested above, it is also complex because it *will* take a lot of time to understand these thinkers. They are not simple, as even their best scholars would admit, and understanding what they are trying to say requires much time and effort. So I would suggest focusing on a particular thinker, rather than trying to digest them all at once. For me that was Heidegger, which is fortuitous as both Derrida and Foucault explicitly express a great debt to him as a primary influence on their work. This then gives me a very good background from which to understand them as I'm very familiar with one of their primary predecessors and can then also distinguish how they differ, what they provide that Heidegger didn't, or perhaps how they criticize Heidegger and thus move beyond him in some ways (particularly in the case of Derrida, though later Heidegger's thought does move in the corrective way Derrida suggests).

Lastly, on Harvard: at first you were presenting it as hearsay and I'm still trying to find verification that such actually happened, including how his work was situated and used in the class/classes (i.e. fully endorsed, criticized, etc.). Do you have any evidence for your claim or am I to take your word on it?

Still, let me repeat what I said before: Harvard using _Truth Decay_ is statistically negligible if there is no evidence that other universities are doing likewise. The existence of one *may* indicate the existence of more, but such is very weak if at present only one example is known.

Zarathustra said...

pgepps said:
"As long as the claims are utterances from (to borrow Aquinas) contingent beings, to contingent beings, their truth is necessarily NOT absolute. If we insist on using the language of absolute-ness and objectivity, well, the only "knowing" that could possibly have that character is God's, in himself, incommunicably."

Just curious. How do you know? It sounds like you are making a claim to know something absolutely. And it appears that this claim of knowledge is being made from one contingent be to another. Thus, per your claim, the truth of your utterance would be necessarily not absolute.

Kevin Winters said...

Such truly is the tentative nature of transcendental arguments. See Charles Taylor's "The Validity of Transcendental Arguments," in _Philosophical Arguments_.

Kevin Winters said...

That comment was for Zarathustra...

pgepps said...

When I was in intercollegiate debate, some years ago, a team of ill-prepared briefing-book debaters spent an entire CX period attempting to rephrase the same question so I would use the key word to introduce one of their briefs.

The attempt to create reflexive incoherence in arguments about the paradoxical necessity and tentativeness of knowledge claims for contingent beings (and the special case of depraved ones like us) is very similar to that Rose-Hulman tack.

I cannot empirically prove a negative. I can repeatedly demonstrate the manner in which semantic word-play creates illusions like "objective" and "absolute" knowledge which somehow wedges some "truth" out of the economy of revelation, sets it up as iconic, and proceeds to usher in a wholesale idolatry of mind and spirit.

I all-too-humanly infer that this repeated demonstration will eventually convince you to read more carefully and faithfully, rather than to systematically erect systems of uprightness and character based on your self-interested renegotiation of language in argument. And I cannot attempt to persuade you without, in my own sinfulness, constantly courting the danger--in fact engaging you with precisely the same sort of rhetorical violence.

We lost to those debaters because the judge hated Bob Jones University, and liked the word "plethora."

You choose an odd ID. Strauss fan?

pgepps said...

Mr. Winters, at the risk of fueling the fire--I honestly think your point about the need to (re)visit the Continentals, with which I fully agree, has been sufficiently made. What do you think you gain by extending the argument?

Kevin Winters said...

pgepps,

Well, first I was simply presenting a good source (from an author that some Evangelicals have referenced favorably, due to his influential _Sources of the Self_) about the tentative nature of transcendental arguments, which I think your post was pointing towards (i.e. the finite nature of human understanding as it relates to absolute beginnings/foundations, or first philosophy). Taylor's article deals with Kant, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty, so I believe it could be beneficially used by everyone, regardless of their take on the supposed analytic-continental divide.

Second, I hardly think the point has been made, unless by some miracle *this* attempt to argue for such has somehow been more successful than the many other attempts I've made in the past on this same point, here and elsewhere. But since that point was not the point of my response (see first paragraph), I don't think I was belaboring my original argument by pointing to Taylor's work. :o)

pgepps said...

:-) I think perhaps I was referring to the volumes before, and not the brief and apposite comment after, zarathustra's interjection.

Kevin Winters said...

What can I say: a curmudgeon's job is never done. ;o)

The Rich Factor said...

"Mr. Winters, at the risk of fueling the fire--I honestly think your point about the need to (re)visit the Continentals, with which I fully agree, has been sufficiently made."

Who are the continentals?

Dr. Winters: I'm troubled by your demand to read primary literature from liberal thinkers.

I went through Dr. Groothuis' book and saw that whenever he interactered with liberal thinkers he relied on conservative sources rather than liberal ones. Had he relied on liberal sources--or as you might say "the horse's mouth"--he wouldn't have come to the same conclusion. I'm not comfortable moving in liberal circles and so, like Dr. Groothuis, I want to use conservative sources. For me, this means that I rely on Dr. Groothuis, who relies on J.P. Moreland, I think. The Proverbs talk about taking counsel from the wicked.

I actually spoke with a student at Liberty (probably the top apologetics and philosophy program in the country) and he told me that they don't read the liberal stuff. And if they are forced to, it's only to point out how incredibly flawed it is becuase they don't believe in God and the Bible. And if that's what they do at Liberty, I'd imagine Dr. Groothuis has just as high of standards.

I'm pretty sure that Harvard uses truth decay in the Post-modern course. I can't think of what other class it would be used in.

Heath Countryman said...

hahahahaha!!!

I am truly laughing over here....

:)

"I'm not comfortable moving in liberal circles and so, like Dr. Groothuis, I want to use conservative sources."

I point you back to my original comment, Item #4.

What is there to be afraid of? If it contains Truth, then it should be accepted. If not, then it is easily dismissed. Are you honestly worried that your faith is that weak?

The Rich Factor said...

You wonder why I want to avoid liberal sources. That's easy, and I'm laughing that you actually don't see how this is a problem. Let me answer this from many ways.

1. People slip in liberalism through subtle mediums. Ideas cannot be isolated from their context and delivery. The medium is the message.

2. Evangelical schools have seen this so they require strict doctrinal statements to weed out liberal faculty. Schools like Liberty University see the validity in this approach and shun liberal "scholars." Even Denver Seminary separates the wheat from the tares. If you argue against me, you'd have to argue against all of conservative evangelicalism.

Let me ask you this: Why do you think Dr. Groothuis relies on conservative sources. He realizes the inherent danger of running in liberal circles and using liberal sources, except to refute them. So I trust his wisdom and follow "in his steps."

You need to seriously take stock of your soul and spiritual life. Yea, ye are leading people onto the wide path of destruction. The path to eternal life is narrow.

Jesus = logic (John 1) and Truth (John 14:6); therefore, Postmodernism leads to hell because it denies logic and truth. May he baptize you with tongues of fire to speakforth the unsearchable wisdom of our gracious savior. Amen.

My main concern, however, is that Barack (6) Hussen (6) Obahma (Arabic Spelling) (6) is the anti-CHrist and I don't want to see fellow conservative believers miss the path he's leading our God founded country in the wrong direction.

Heath Countryman said...

Oh, do tell, Rich, how do you refute something you have never read?

Also, your statement that the "medium is the message," seems very... um... postmodern.

pgepps said...

I'm beginning to return to my initial assessment that trf is a parody. In the middle, though, I admit I was convinced there was a sincere writer, there. 'fess up, and let there be honest dialogue.

pgepps said...

by the way--while I do not believe for a moment that Liberty shuns contact with primary sources programmatically, I would not directly expose unprepared undergrads to a lot of this stuff. It takes a lot of background to get there, and it's extremely toxic if mishandled. I'd start them out with a good grounding in the faith, reflected upon by growing historical awareness of the Western tradition, enriched by comparative work in world literatures/religions. With lots of good questions around the edges to tempt them to keep looking for more. Then, somewhere in their PhD programs, they'd be ready to read e.g. Derrida without *completely* misreading him--they can get over the "wallowing in undecidability" phase quicker that way.

The Rich Factor said...

"Oh, do tell, Rich, how do you refute something you have never read?"

This is a simple and illogical question.

Are you a Muslim? No, even though you haven't read the Koran.

Are you a ballet dancer? No, even though you haven't take lessons.

Why do you hold me to a different standard than you hold yourself onto. As I've said before, evangelical apologetics don't need to read something to know that it stinks. You don't need to inspect your garbage can to know that rotting tuna fish cans reek. Moral relativism is wrong, just plain and simple, whether you need to have it explained or not.

Pgrepps:

I agree with this statement: " would not directly expose unprepared undergrads to a lot of this stuff. It takes a lot of background to get there, and it's extremely toxic if mishandled. I'd start them out with a good grounding in the faith." That was why I went to Bible College rather than a liberal school.

You mentioned that you went to Bob Jones, which, while a little conservative for my tastes, seems to have ground you in the faith well. I appreciate how you don't give liberalism the time of day when it's all said and done. Just like a cancer, it spreads before you know and the only way to deal with it is to surgically remove it, knowing that there might be some collateral damage.

Maybe I should wait to read the moral relitavists in a PhD program rather than as Mr. Winters has suggested that I read them now. For seminary, I'll focus on grounding myself before a Phd so that I'll be prepared to refute them in my PhD.


For the record, knowing that liberalism is communicated in subtle ways via a medium has nothing to do with postmodernism.

Kevin Winters said...

I am *incredibly* curious about what Dr. Groothuis thinks of TRF's understanding and elucidation of his approach to "liberal sources" and such. Is TRF accurately representing and therefore emulating Dr. Groothuis' approach, as he claims?

The Rich Factor said...

Dr. Winters:

I took up your advice and read The Acts of Religion.

I think that you are correct. His rhetoric is a bit all over the place, but I don't get the impression that Dr. Groothuis has ever read him. Interpreting reality as ambivalent is different than saying that things are relative.

Perhaps Pgrepps was correct in his charge against Dr. Groothuis when he wrote that Dr. Groothuis *completely* misreading him [Derrida]".

I really don't know how to feel. On the one hand, Postmodernism is still moral relativism and is dangerous, which Dr. Groothuis successfully argues, but on the other hand, he's misrepresenting the subjects. It reminds me of Reverend Wright, who would change lives for the better with a less than honest (or distorted message). When it's all said and done, changed lives are more important than total accuracy. So I forgive Dr. Groothuis.

Kevin Winters said...

TRF,

Just for the record, I am not a "Dr." :o)

Doug Groothuis said...

Comparing me to Jeremiah Wright is one of the worst insults I have ever received. And it is profoundly wrong, since I am not a racial bigot, nor an intellectually reckless propagandist.

pgepps said...

And I am certain that, if it does not get lost in a quick perusal on the way to more important things, Dr. Groothuis knows better than to believe I charged him with completely misreading Derrida.