The Unraveling Postmodern Perspective (1 of 4)

It used to be when someone said “perception is reality” they were describing how an individual’s interpretation of reality informs their perspective, thereby being acted upon as if it were reality. But this phrase has now become postmodernity’s event horizon — in it’s complete abandoning of any meaningful context. Because for the postmodernist “perception is reality” has been codified, now being embraced as literal. Welcome to the world of the self-identifying culture!

This phenomenon has left many of us scratching our heads, wondering exactly how we arrived at this place. But in ordered to retrace our steps back to where we took the wrong turn, leading to this absurd leaping off point in believing that those suffering the self-delusions of dysphoria are to be unquestioningly accepted as whatever they declare themselves to be – we must first understand the failures of modernity that precipitated such a disavowing path as postmodernism.

Modernity began as an honest investigation of our world of wonders, only to devolve into a denouncement of the mythology and mysticism of religious belief. As a systematic deployment of the scientific method, it hoped to discover enough empirical evidence in a material universe to solve all of the ontological how questions – hoping to finally unlocking the question of why we exist . . . the fountainhead of all purpose and meaning. But modernity turned out to be nothing more than a bloodless reductionism of everything that makes life worthwhile – love, beauty, and significance. So instead of the panacea hoped for, it had reduced everything down to the mechanical pragmatism of survival – which for the most part proved to be a sterile unsatisfying philosophical position, intuitively rejected . . . only to usher in the postmodern era.

8c2f9e72abe611e5b6cf9c8e99086854-01When this latest iteration of Babel’s Tower fell, the swing of the pendulum back was not unlike a detoxification – as the arrogance of the intellectual elite was exposed for its obsession with the false God of a material universe. But as it picked up momentum in the other direction, Postmodernism began to reject the notion that truth and reality could be definitively comprehended, and that the perception of truth and reality was a far more practical pursuit. Given such a malleable and amorphous state, reality would finally yield the purpose and meaning that best suited our culture de jour – because it was a purpose and meaning of our own invention . . . a world created in our own image!

Now awash in a world of existential relativism, everyone is free to pronounce themselves whatever their psychosis will allow – and presto chango! They suddenly transform into whatever reality denying version of themselves they can imagine . . . and the rest of us are now somehow obligated to co-dependently accept their dysphoric delusions. This of course is reminiscent of watching children playing make believe, making up rules as they go along – which isn’t really so much about being logical . . . as it is about imposing will. But pretending can only last so long . . . eventually reality rips through this thin veneer, exposing the whole charade – revealing the unraveling threads of a devolving culture . . . and when history looks back on all of this self-delusion – it won’t be kind.

Knock the scales from my eyes
Knock the words from my lungs
I want to cry out
It’s on the tip of my tongue. 


Pressure and Time

Marriage isn’t difficult – it’s impossible! Expecting two fallen people to keep at bay, for a lifetime, their default desire to control, manipulate, and serve their selfishness – is beyond optimistic . . . it’s downright crazy! Compromise and good communication are noble theoretical goals, but they are concepts which are inescapably open to individual interpretation – subject to the subjectivity of sinful hearts. In truth if we were to ever fully appreciate just how pervasive the effects of the fall – we would realize that all relationships, let alone marriage, were impossible . . . and we would cry out, daily “Lord, have mercy on us” – convinced that only a miracle of God could make possible what is impossible . . . now, we’re getting somewhere!

My wife and I are just one such miracle, 32 years, 7 children, and 3 grandchildren later. There has been much to celebrate and be thankful for, but there have also been many dark Novembers of the soul that God has had to walk us through; times so emotionally crippling that if mirrored as physical wounds and scars would render us unrecognizable. There were even a few years along the way that I could have sworn that the valley of the shadow of death was an amusement park for which we had annual passes. So when people want to congratulate us on our enduring marriage, I can’t help but be embarrassed and humbled, in much the same way I imagine a holocaust survivor would react . . . because all we did was hang on.

I have long ago tossed out the debate between complementarianism and egalitarianism. I think entertaining such a paradigm disproportionately informs the way we understand the mystery embedded in how a man and woman become one flesh. An argument over who’s in charge is never going to end well. Whether you believe that one person should be in control, or control should be shared, invariably the focus is on being in control . . . and not on a humble and contrite heart before God – which means both views are equally contaminated. If you accept my premise that marriage is a humanly impossible proposition – all debate over which human should be in control is like trying to decide who should be behind the wheel as the car goes over the cliff.

226339_6126501325_4999_nThe antidote for a power struggle isn’t found in how best to parcel out power . . . but in how to best imitate Christ. In Luke 22: 24-30 Jesus is anticipating setting aside all of his power in the ultimate act of sacrifice – only to discover his disciples bickering over which one of them gets to be the big cheese. In contrast, my wife and I have learned to trust that we are each one being conformed to Christ’s image, called to follow his sacrificial model – only to discover that our marriage was being transformed into something far greater than either of us could have imagined.

They tell me that it takes pressure and time to produce diamonds, and I’d say 32 years later, that’s about right . . . because what Doreen and I have is precious and rare. It is a clear eyed mature love that burns all of the ledgers; that knows that equality is a utopic myth; a love that offers grace at every turn. So I celebrate my wife for taking this long wild ride with me; for choosing to love me all these years, despite my fallen proclivities; for being the gift God knew I needed most of all. So I say – happy anniversary to my true love, Doreen . . . my only ever one.

This is ironically one of my oldest songs — which has taken me all these years to grow into.

On a Rock in a River

Under the sterile hum of florescent lighting, my brothers and I encircled her bed – to pray with mom one last time . . . prepared to release her into loving arms. We had each one, taken our turn the nights leading up to this moment, sitting vigil watch into that dark hospital disquiet, trying to listen beyond the pulsing clicking pings of the life monitoring machinery – for any sign of real life. Each of us were drawn into that inarticulate night, struggling to balance the weight of impending finality with the mystery of our faith – holding our breath, believing she would be stepping off this precipice into an immeasurable joy . . . but even so there was the heaviness of dread.

There is a popular platitude which, no doubt, is meant to comfort, but in actuality ends up opening a devouring philosophical abyss – “Death is just a natural part of living”. I imagine a bloodless bureaucrat stamping my papers while saying this – only to be followed by an abrupt “NEXT!” The reason these words ring so hollow is because with every cell in our body we intuitively know them to be wrong. Death is a tear in the fabric, an unraveling of the seam. It is an empty void mocking the very existence of meaning and purpose – it is the most virulent vestige of the fall. Simply put, death feels wrong — because it is wrong.

Moments like these are the crucible of faith, where the vacuous rhetoric of sentiment is the first thing to burnup; then the half measures of pretense begin to catch fire — until the smoke of doubt becomes so thick that the illusion of seeing is abandoned altogether . . . leaving only the bare naked substance of faith. This is the proving ground of what we truly believe . . . or have failed to believe.

Mom at 15My brothers and I were blessed to have had two devoutly Christian grandmothers who were instrumental in cultivating our spiritual formation. Our mother was a woman of quietly sure faith, instilling in us a durable and consistent awareness of God’s presence in our life. So as those days became hours, and those hours became minutes, the assurance of our hope became evident. The heaviness of those long night vigils grew increasingly lighter – until we finally left her in that shimmering doorway, waving goodbye . . . until we meet again.

There is a photo of my mother, where she is sitting with her mother on a rock in a river, she is about fifteen, and the sun is shining on what appears to be an exceptionally beautiful day – and she is smiling an honest smile of contentment . . . this is how I imagine her now. This may strike you as odd given that it predates my birth, but I believe it best exemplifies where she is now. On that rock she is a young woman with her whole life still ahead of her, she is filled with the wonderment and expectation of youth, and it is a never ending day . . . except this time she leaves that river for a different shore.

I wrote this a few days after she passed

Until The Door Breaks Open

The passing light narrows beneath the door
Spilling out illuminated particles suspended adrift

In this thin pool of light measured against the circling black
Hangs the wavering sway of time like jerking universe present and translucent

A beckoning light flung across the far reach into the hazy edge of dust eddies
To search the lost darkness for willing survivors

A rumor of hope echoes faintly in this slip of light
Like payment in earnest of iridescent love cascading until the door breaks open