Young Postmodern Faith

This post first appeared on the Emergent Boise blog to which I also belong.  I wanted to share my thoughts on this quote from a book I am reading.

I am reading a book (thanks to Mark’s earlier blog) on the faith of Barack Obama.  I approached this book wearily, because I don’t like to read the religious drivel that is often produced and prominently displayed in Christian book stores as thoughtful.  Thus far (eleven pages into the introduction) if found this gleaming quote that follows up nicely a discussion on truth and beauty from the emergent gathering the other night and fits nicely into our plans for October’s gathering discussing politics and the upcoming election..  

“Religiously, the majority of America’s young are postmodern, which means they do faith like jazz: informal, eclectic, and often without theme.  They have largely rejected organized religion in favor of a religious  pastiche that works for them.  They think nothing of hammering together a personal faith from widely differing religious traditions, and many acquire their theology the same way they catch colds: through casual contact with strangers.  Thus, when Obama speaks  of questioning certain tenets of his Christian faith or the importance of doubt in religion or his respect for non-Christian religions, the majority of the young instantly related and welcome his nontraditional faith as a basis for his – and their – left-leaning politics” (page XiX of the intro to “The faith of Barack Obama”.  

Now, I give you the paragraph mainly as a means of not proof texting by attempting to include some context of the phrase that has so captured me.  But I love this description of postmodern religious folk:Which means that they do faith like jazz: informal, eclectic, and often with out theme.  Now I have been reading emergent and postmodern Christian books for quite a while now, and I must say that this artistically worded description gets at what I have observed and felt regarding the cultural shift to a postmodern perspective and the effects of that shift upon religious thought and primarily upon the Christian faith to which I belong.  That is so what we do in our re-evaluation, our thinking outside of the acceptable and traditional boxes; it sounds as though there is no theme, but there is to the one playing it, to the rhythm that they feel inside.  It doesn’t make sense to so many who hear it, yet it has a beauty to it and in so many ways it is more beautiful than it is cognitive or accepting of objective reduction.  For many, however it is noise.

One thought on “Young Postmodern Faith

  1. I love the last paragraph… good stuff. I think that there’s a lot to this. Where does the rhythm come from? Who’s setting the tempo?

    If the song (faith) you are playing (living out) isn’t performed according to an internal rhythm, who does it ultimately belong to?

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