i’m a post-Christian, and i’m a post-pastor.
i teach and write about Post-Modern culture, theologies, worldviews, and religious models. there’s no way to understand what Postmodernity is without knowing what Modernity is, or, at least, what people talk about when they talk about what is or was Modern. WARNING: HUGE OVERSIMPLIFICATIONS FOLLOW:
Modern is the 20th century, especially the High of the Post-World-War-II era. Modern is things making sense and having a meta-narrative that says that there is a coherent universe, with a Really Big Something, and that life, while difficult, can be meaningful and purposeful. we work hard, we try to be good, we sacrifice, we contribute, because we believe that there is a big system that holds it all together and if we do our part, we get some of the good stuff.
LOTS of what we see around us and what we think about is Modern. schools. banks. skyscrapers. churches. malls. McDonalds. Coca-Cola.
Postmodernity, though, suggests that there is no coherent meta-narrative that reflects an orderly universe. postmodern thinking points out that the 20th century was the most bloody in the history of the world, and while we were dancing to Swing and watching ourselves be idealized in movies and TV shows, the world was rife with misogyny, racism, genocide, apartheid, holocaust, nuclear war, religious abuse, hatred, and so on …
Postmodernity suggests that meaning can be found, but not from an over-arching explanation or rationale that makes everything make sense. instead, what makes life living – maybe – is acknowledgement of disaster, and embracing what is truly meaningful: community, self-awareness and growth, service, and, also, a general “fuck it” realism that is freeing and even empowering.
that’s what following Jesus is made of, for me.
i was a pastor for ten years in organized American religion, which generally has a Modern underpinning idea that “God’s in His Heaven, all’s right with the world” – or, at least, all may not be right with the world, but God, our God and King, who’s an Awesome God, has got the whole world in His hands, and we can just trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey … And
… i stopped believing that. and i couldn’t really preach it if i didn’t believe it.
when i left organized religion, i had the freedom to say, i want to find meaning that is right for me. i want to be part of a community that values those things.
i found meaning in letting go. not in letting go and letting god – just, in letting go.
next: Post Pastor Part II: What You Don’t Have To Believe, Unless You Just Want to