Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eller’s Christian Anarchy opened a new world for me.I no longer felt bound to a particular Christian tradition, set of dogmas, particular Christian guru, or religious/political ideology therefore I now I felt free to explore the religious landscape and I soon found myself knocking at the door of postmodernism. If you have followed the discussion regarding postmodernism closely over the years you understand that there are as many interpretations of postmodernism as there are denominations. For some, postmodernism represents a new bogeyman, to others a breathe of fresh air, and for others it represents a new emerging perspective on the world. For me I saw postmodernism as a logical extension of Christian Anarchy. Over the years my studies, reflections, and experience had created a significant amount of internal angst, ambiguity, and uncertainty and postmodernism provided an explanation for what I had been thinking and feeling for years. I am not sure exactly when or how I began exploring Postmodernism but I do remember the first book I read on the subject. It was called A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley Grenz a theologian from Regent College in Vancouver British Columbia. I don’t remember too much about the specific contents of the book but I do remember thinking to myself, that’s me! He’s describing how I think and feel. Now I know what I am. I’m a Postmodern Christian Anarchist!.....Not sure if there really is such an animal but if there is I certainly fit the bill. Shortly after I read my first book on Postmodernism I decided to do a search on Christianity and Postmodernism and that is when I discovered an internet discussion group from the U.K. that discussed the relationship between Christianity and postmodernism. For about a year I lurked and just soaked in the back and forth discussion between what I consider one of the most interesting and gifted group of Christians I have ever encountered. It was during this time I that I came to interact and get to know a guy named David Blakeslee. Often Dave would express on the discussion group what I was thinking or feeling and I eventually got up the nerve to email Dave off list. Dave was very gracious to entertain my questions and concerns but after a short time Dave encouraged me to take our conversations public on the UK Christian discussion group. At first I was reluctant because I lacked confidence in my writing and I felt intimidated by many of the participants on the discussion group. Not that anyone in particular was trying to intimidate me but there were some very, very, sharp people involved in this particular group which meant you couldn't get away with blowing smoke or making things up as you went along.....bottom line... I was afraid I might embarrass myself because I had never participated publicly with so many talented and gifted Christian thinkers and writers. I am not sure when I launched my first post but I do remember there were a number of gracious replies to my initial post and it marked the beginning of a series of online relationships that have grown and deepened over the years. The experience on this particular discussion group was critically important to my understanding of postmodernism because it put flesh and blood on what can otherwise be a rather abstract philosophical discussion. I read quite a few books during this time on Postmodernism but books have their limitations and I now consider my time on the various Postmodern discussion groups more important than all the books I ever read on the subject. Books often represent/portray carictures while online discussion groups represent real people who have integrated to one degree or another postmodernism into the various aspects of their lives which goes way beyond what one might read in most books on the subject....which....is why I tell people if you want to better understand what postmoderism is and it's relationship to Christianity, go online, and listen to what people are saying. Books can be helpful in giving a general understanding of what postmodernism is but the meat and potatoes is found on the discussion groups, IMHO...

2 comments:

Dave said...

Bill, it's really cool reading this part of your story, and not just because that's where "I" enter the picture! I just enjoy seeing how all the pieces fit together. I definitely will get around to putting my spiritual autobiography on my blog in the weeks to come but it won't be for awhile yet because I'll need to take some time to do it right. But I agree with what you say about the limitations of books and the revealing insights to be gained from interactive discussion groups where you can get to know people's thoughts and struggles over an extended period of time. Of course, the people have to be willing to go there and that's what I have really appreciated about the better lists that I've been part of over the years - the candor and unguardedness that people have shown while at the same time revealing very sensitive thoughts and sides of themselves.

I don't remember encouraging you to get more involved on-list the way you describe it but I don't dispute it either. I still have a collection of all my old PMX emails as well as my Faithmaps and NKOC posts. Unfortunately, most if not all of that old off-list stuff has been lost as I've migrated from one account to another over the years and replaced a few PCs along the way too. But it does get me thinking, we've known each other on-line a long time! We really do need to find a way to connect in person sometime.

Oh and by the way, my last name has two E's at the end! :o) (I know you know that, just playin'...)

Bilbo said...

Hi Dave,

The more things change the more they stay the same...regarding my spelling....I figure we have been interacting with each other now close to seven years. Another six months and we can qualify as a cyberspace domestic marriage....I too hope we can someday connect and meet face to face and do believe it will happen. I figure in another couple of years my sons will be working summers and pursuing their own dreams and than I will be free to do a bit more traveling towards the East coast. If you ever do make it out to California I'll do whatever is necessarily and hunt you down...In the meantime I guess we'll both keep chatting and carving our own spaces in the world of cyberspace.....