By George Elerick
Ben and Jerry’s is one of the biggest ice cream conglomerates in the world. Most know Ben and Jerry’s for their plethora of flavors and creative interactive buffet of items to add to their ice cream. It’s like Disneyland for the taste buds. This corner shop enterprise is a great metaphor for the global shift from postmodernism to pseudo-modernism that is happening today.
A lot of people have been talking about the death of many things lately. The death of culture, the death of church, the death of the emerging conversation and even the death of postmodernism. But, what will take its place and how will that affect how we see the world and react to our faith-traditions? And how can we use this information to transform things like debt down to zero?
Some anthropologists are using the term pseudo-modernism to explain the new incoming cultural shift. Others refer to this as post-postmodernism. Postmodernism tends to be a knee-jerk reaction against modernism. In its origin, it was a reaction against modern architecture. Postmoderns believed that the way things were constructed weren’t indicative of the nature of the shift of culture. And so out of postmodernism came the necessary question “What is reality?” and “Who gets to define reality?”
Pseudo-modernism takes that question a step further and actually gives reality a definition. It says that anything that can’t be interacted with isn’t real. Just because a book is written doesn’t make it a book, but when you interact with it that interaction makes it a book.
A church service isn’t a church service unless we can interact with it.
Where postmodernism reality was always hanging by a thin thread, pseudo-modernism says that reality can only only be defined as an experience of the senses. This new cultural shift means we can no longer solely depend upon things like logic or debate to defend what we believe. In fact, there is no room for debate or defense in pseudo-modernism. The generations that live through this awkward transition along with those who are born during its reign will come to see the world as one big cinematic experience.
The world, religion, discussion, the Bible, Jesus and others in the milieu will not get to “argue” their case unless they can be interacted with. Interaction is the new reality. The name of the new game is a surrender to a sensory overload. For those who decide to stay modern or even postmodern will be shunned by these new virtual realists because those would choose to stay where they are don’t want to interact.
The gospel in Aramaic doesn’t mean “four steps to peace with God”; it means only “hope” has to become even more fluid. More engaging and less supported but structure and even theology. It is hope unfettered by the Jesus’ of our theology. It is hope that can be seen and felt. Hope that can be tasted and seen.
Churches can no longer survive on the assumption that only one person can share their thoughts on the divine. If this model continues, the Church will continue to decay as it has been. In terms of pseudo-modernism, the Church would have to completely alter their way of doing things and re-frame their whole ethos and worldview to allow for more interactive opportunities driven by eye-candy.
Theology as an educational pursuit might just cease to exist. In the world of pseudo-modernism the new education answers the question, “How can I experience things like God, truth, peace, love and grace in an explosion of sensory overload?”
This might seem like an unsettling worldview to even agree with or let alone validate for most people. But this might be what we need to move us out of our pews and into the world like we were first invited to be. The more time we spend being the movement that the Church should always have been the closer we come to meeting people at the point of their need and bring hope.
But, in the world of the pseudo-modernists, it isn’t about bringing hope. It’s about being hope. Incarnating hope in such a way that people will see, believe, touch, smell and taste the divine reconciliation that has already happened and is offered to them.
George loves the outdoors, singing in the shower and doing underwater, synchronized pilates. He is currently working on a book entitled Jesus Bootlegged: Recapturing the Stolen Message of Jesus for The World. You can read more about him at his blog.