Thursday, January 6, 2005

Postmodern theology in pop-culture

I was watching West Wing last night, and I did a double take (literally... thanks TiVo) at this exchange between Toby and a Republican senator that just popped in for this episode.

Wilkenson: "Do you believe the Bible to be literally true?"

Toby: "Yes sir, but I don't think either of us is smart enough to understand it."

In my limited reading, this is probably the most concise rendering of what a postmodern theologian (at least Christian) looks like. I did a double take because I fully expected Toby to say something like "are you kidding me? that's just a bunch of stories that we tell children to make them behave?" or something else to the effect of "that's superstitition" or something otherwise derogatory that would emphasize how Christianity isn't reasonable.

Christianity often times isn't reasonable, but then again would you imagine any infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Being to seem reasonable to us; finite, powerless, and not all that brilliant? But why should it be dismissed because of that? Donald Miller in "Blue Like Jazz" has a great thought about this:

(talking about a friend that has just told him that she CAN'T believe in God because she feels Christianity is "stupid")

I had no explanation for Laura. I don't think there is an explanation. My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific and yet there was nothing I could do to separate myself from this belief. I think Laura was looking for something rational, because she believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn't the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don't make any sense. I think one of the problems Laura was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense to me than I will to an ant.

Increasingly, I feel like the popular rhetoric about religion is shifting away from proof to experience. We don't have to feel the burden of proving that God exists, but rather is He beautiful and does following Him make your life more joyful/hopeful?

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