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Beyond Postmoderism

Beyond Postmoderism January 4, 2022

Beyond Postmodernism

Implications for new generations, the church, and employers

Postmodernism has faded as a philosophy that has impacted religion with ideas like not-knowing, deconstruction, and a skepticism toward absolutes and metanarratives. But what replaces it? Let’s see if Jesus had something to say.

Philosophy
Philosophy Image by Top 10 website on Flickr

 

Jesus the reformer

Religion has always had people whose philosophical view of things are different. Jesus looked at Judaism with a critical eye and implied that what he was seeing was not truth and not true religion. He said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. He said people in the future would worship in spirit and in truth.

Looking at attitudes that prevented people from satisfying their physical hunger on the Sabbath, he said it was okay to pick grain to feed yourself. He said it was okay to heal on the Sabbath. The urgent needs of people were not subject to law. The required sacrifices were a major impediment to people, especially those with little or no wealth. He said the Temple with its endless sacrifices would be torn down, which would end sacrifice and people could ask forgiveness directly from God.

Speaking to the Jews, Jesus pointed them toward less emphasis on 613 laws and more emphasis on love. He sent his Apostles to the world not to spread endless Jewish Law, but to spread the idea of love as the transformation that was key to helping the world and entering the Kingdom of Heaven which is now and forever.

Jesus was like the prophets in his message. He emphasized social justice – helping others. This effort of Jesus is curious since he was talking to those who were largely without wealth.

Generally in such times like today, people look for security in income and social stability. Jesus didn’t offer them income. What Jesus offered them was hope. The load he offered the Jews was light compared to Judaism and the Temple hierarchy.

Today’s young adults are different

I watched a Dr. Phil program today on the Great Resignation. He got it half right, but some guests brought up some good points.

I will say that if you can’t pay a livable wage and treat people right, then you shouldn’t be in business. Promotion to higher levels may be about what you “bring to the table,” but paying a livable wage to all workers is about human decency. Many retail and fast-food businesses use untrained people as supervisors – the biggest qualification is they have two arms, two legs, and they’ve been there a while. Many of them are horrible.

If someone quits quietly, telling the manager why they are quitting, management never hears or takes it into consideration. Managers keep on doing things exactly the same way and blame the employee. “Oh, you’re just a Generation Z snowflake.” No, these are people standing up for themselves. So employees make the loudest “quit scene” they can and it goes viral on social media. If employers don’t want that to happen, they need to change their ways: Pay well, treat people well.

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” Romans 4:4 (NASB)

“Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” James 5:4 (NASB)

Working For Fair Pay at Open Bible Info.

The real world of today

Many companies are finding that if they pay higher wages then employee turnover is lower and profits are higher. These 8 Companies [pay and] Are Increasing Wages to Attract More Employees. – The Ascent, a  Motley Fool service.

Reality is that the population is stabilizing and jobs are plentiful. People may think things eventually will go back to the way they were. Nope. The US will continue to have about the same supply of young adults continuing into the future. Around 30% of jobs will not require post-secondary education (education after high school), 30% will, and 30% will require a university four-year degree. Ten percent will be entrepreneurs who create new businesses, and these are where most new jobs come from.

Importantly, those who are not educated will vie for the 30% of jobs not requiring post-secondary education and many will be unemployed. When the economy was mostly agriculture and manufacturing, people with less education could count on those jobs that were highly in demand. Things have changed radically. Agriculture and manufacturing combined are less than 25% of today’s economy. Today’s economy is primarily based on services, and the education needed is reflected in the preceding paragraph.

See my well researched book, Preparing for the Future of Work and Education, which took a year to write but I give it away for free for those entering the work force, those trying to improve their education and skills to get a better job, and those being disrupted in their current job by new technology.

From myth to pragmatism

Today’s Young Adults and New Adults are not willing to be treated like dirt or to believe theology that keeps people down or treats them unfairly. They see how people are hurt by churches. Generation Z will hardly step foot in a church, but they are looking for ways to address their spiritual needs.

They have lived through two or more major recessions in which massive numbers of people lost their jobs, their homes, their families, and ended up on the street, while companies and Wall Street made record profits. The hypocrisy is too much for them to stomach. They would rather start their own businesses and avoid consumerism. Living simply is in fashion (varieties of minimalism).

They are self-reliant and very social. Like most of us they want to feel part of something greater than themselves and have a higher purpose. They are more spiritual than religious. They want spiritual validity in churches, and more of a spiritual connection, and to be involved. Social action is important, not just lip service to some theology. Theology is not important to them. I talk about all of this, from Judaism, through Jesus, to today’s New Adults, in my book, New Generations Walk with Jesus: The missions in a changing world.

Churches and employers will have a very difficult time attracting Millennials, Generation Z, and new generations until they come to grips with the pragmatism of these generations. They simply won’t be where they are mistreated, disrespected, and underpaid.

It isn’t just newer generations. During the pandemic many took stock of what employment was doing to them, and opted for jobs that have less destructive impact on their lives.

Beyond Postmodernism – what philosophy will replace it?

Postmodernism is an amorphous philosophy that is difficult to define. It’s more of a reaction to Modernism, in which people spoke in absolutes and thought everything was known. There was no room left for other opinions and aspects of truth. Postmodernism is an attitude of skepticism with philosophical tools for deconstruction. I prefer to use spiritual growth rather than deconstruction.

For more information, see the Wikpedia article on Postmodernism.

Is everything “relative” in Postmodernism?

Postmodernism was less about “relativism,” as some assert, but about destroying the myths that were untrue.

Tim Suttle covered these issues in the Patheos article, What About the Real Problems that are Driving People to Deconstruct [religion]? I encounter people every day in religious groups who have been put off by religious beliefs, and often hurt by them.

An example of being skeptical of metanarratives is the American Dream story. We tell ourselves that if people work hard they will eventually buy a house in the suburbs and raise their children in comfort. For way too many people, this doesn’t happen – not even close. People have not only stopped believing this, they no longer believe that their children will be better off than they are. And we have pockets of poverty in major cities that could be resolved, but we lack the will and initiative to do it – we just don’t care and seem content to drag these problems to the end of this century. The Future Project: Resolving Systemic and Intractable Problems in Inner Cities.

What the new generations are shouting to anyone who will listen is: Stop hurting the world, stop hurting the climate, stop hurting people with religion, stop destroying people and families with jobs that require too much and pay unlivable wages. Get real and fix it!

What is the next philosophy?

In 2005 I wrote an article, Beyond Postmodernism. I said about finding what it will be, “No one knows ‘where to dig.’ Perhaps this is why there has been little written about it.” Several philosophers claim to know: Post Postmodernism on Wikipedia. Meh.

I think to know the philosophy that will replace Postmodernism and will impact religion, it is something more akin to pragmatism. It will be more genuine and have an actionable spiritual focus. Having immersed myself in studying and trying to assist new generations for several years now, this is the idea that strongly comes through.

Today many embrace the idea of fewer absolutes, less propaganda about what is absolutely known, and have embraced “not knowing.” This isn’t about “false truth” and “my truth,” it’s about aspects of the truth. I think Jesus understood truth in this way: “You can count on this.”

Like Jesus, new generations look at the world and ask what is true. They’re determined to live true lives, not lives distorted by consumerism, pollution, endlessly chasing the dollar, and being eternally too busy and tired.

_______________________

  • Dorian

Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

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