In critical theory, and particularly postmodernism, a metanarrative (from meta-narrative, sometimes also known as a master- or grand narrative) is an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens it “is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience”. The prefix meta- means “beyond” and is here used to mean “about”, and narrative is a story constructed in a sequential fashion. Therefore, a metanarrative is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other “little stories” within totalizing schemes.
… because each one heard them speaking in his own language … all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does it all mean?” Acts 2
we are made for story. for narrative. for life. for moments to unfold. for pages to turn.
but our story isn’t part of one single meta-narrative. our views evolve from a multi-centered existence.
from multi-centered narratives. we participate in a life of pluralistic possibilities that draw us into the reality that there is more discovery involved with our existential dilemmas than finding one single answer that offers the illusion of peace.
theology in light of the current cultural shifts which are and evolve out of the inherent paradigmatic shifts are informed by the multi-centric possibilities. these multi-centric possibilities include those who might express their beliefs in God from a completely different center. but because the nature of this new multi-centered (monotheistic) theology embraces pluralism as its ethos, it allows those from other religions to have an equal voice. a voice that isn’t controlled by any meta-narrative that would seek to supplant its value in the mutually reciprocated dialogue.
this multi-centered theology is a theology that can inform politics, ecology, economics, social justice, equality and the many subjects that encompass the life of a society. this theology is not the meta-narrative for informing all of the above fields. it is not the meta-narrative in the oppressive sense of the word. it is not a sovereign meta-narrative. in fact, maybe we can remove that word all together and introduce something completely alternative. it is an integrated theology that is “post-meta-narrative” and embraces a new integrated hybrid between the subjects of politics, ecology, economics, social justice, equality and the others. in fact they all come to the table as equal players and are informed by one another.
they are interdependent upon the other.
this is a fully integrated ’roundtable theology’ that invites all voices to come and learn and share to be transformed to then go and transform. this multi-centered space allows for many outcomes. this multicentered space invites an innumerous amount of people to share the cup of harmony in the midst of their sustained diversity.
this new space where all are integrated into one isn’t homogenous; in the sense of belief systems. it is homogenous towards the agreed upon ends. the platform of critical reflection allows the space for those who participate to agree upon certain terms and definitions within the sphere of dialogue that would be taking place. these terms suspend their general scholastic meanings and are allowed much room for ‘play’ as long as those who are voicing their interests agree upon the terms for dialogue. this again allows for multi-centric outcomes that add to the creative process of the next step that needs to take place towards the agreed upon progressive end.
so rather than seeing each subject as a separate entity, they each have a deficit without the other. they are integrated inter-locking objects for discovering what it looks like to make a better society. they are not opposing forces, they are not enemies. they need one another. these inter-locking objects work together for the sake of the defined need.
if we can integrate this new form of theology than we can be a people who embrace the reality that compassion is the driving force behind why work together. this compassion informs the ethos of this integrated theology. since this is an integrated theoretical framework it involves not only compassion, but the act of compassion, in that it invites the other to be part of the multi-centric roundtable dialogue. in this scenario the stranger isn’t just the receiver of the benevolent aftermath of such a discussion, but part of the roundtable discussion. the natural state of this integrated framework is that it embrace non-capitalistic, non-hegemonic, trans-national qualities that evolve as time evolves.
if we apply this framework we can begin dreaming outloud what a new kind of world could look like.