Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Postmodernism…Is It Based on the Assumption that God Does Not Matter?

Written by: on February 7, 2020

Volunteering as a Chaplain in jail ministry once a month at our local Kalamazoo jail has certainly been an eye opener at times. Guilt and shame have a powerful hold on many of the inmates along with anger and blame. Uncovering the “story behind the story” as I meet with these individuals is often the challenge as I provide a listening ear and try to help them sort out their internal conflicts. These broken men and women generally feel excluded, marginalized and judged by the outside world. Many prisoners actually feel a protective cocoon by being enclosed in the confined walls of the jail system.

I found Jean-Francois Lyotard’s statement that reason and power are one and the same – and are synonymous with ‘prison, selection process, and the public good’ as a truly interesting concept.[1] Lyotard goes on with this descriptive scenario:

“Prison is the only place where power is manifested in its naked state, in its most excessive form, and where it is justified as moral force. What is fascinating about prisons is that, for once, power doesn’t hide or mask itself; it reveals itself as tyranny pursued into the tiniest detail; it is cynical and at the same time, pure and entirely justified, because its practice can be totally formulated within the framework of morality. Its brutal tyranny consequently appears as the serene domination of Good over Evil, of order over disorder.”[2]

Insights into the world of political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of legal democracy are so desperately needed in our nation today. We are a nation in turmoil. We have a leader who doesn’t respect or adhere to political correctness. His actions often exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or already discriminated against. Multiculturalism should be enlisted to support distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society; yet, we have seemed to have lost this decorum in our government today.

I found it interesting in Explaining Postmoderism how the author shared that in Ancient Greece, the sovereign power was exercised by the people in a body – while in the United States, democracy has been given to a republic government.[3] So, have we regressed over the past 2000 years? Supposedly, constitutional government exists in a democracy and the power of the leader is check and restrained. Hmmm – doesn’t sound like the USA!

Postmodernism is an activist strategy against the coalition of reason and power. The author quotes Frank Lentriccia: “Postmodernism seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.”[4] I also found Foucault’s reflections most intriguing when he discusses capitalism. He states that the oppressed status of women, the poor, racial minorities, and others are almost always veiled because of self-serving rhetoric within the confines of postmodernism.[5]

In today’s world, right and wrong are clouded and in a very confused state. Hate is integrated into the people through incorrect propaganda, lies, and deceit. Yet, followers continue to believe in the leadership of our country. The opposite of love is not hate; it is fear. Everyone in this country seems to be so fearful of differing beliefs. I serve a diverse population in Hospice and my patients all have differing beliefs. My role is to meet them where they are at and help them on the journey. I have found that all I need to do is sit back and listen…there is so much to learn without making judgments, expressing my own convictions, or making them believe as I do. Let’s embrace our differences and let love win…even in this postmodernism world of confusion!

From the perspective of theologian Stanley Hauerwas: “Postmodernism merely names an interesting set of developments in the social order that is based on the presumption that God does not matter!”[6]

[1] Stephen R. C. Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (UK: Ockham’s Razor Publishing, 2011), Kindle Edition. (no page numbers provided)

[2] Ibid (kindle – no page #)

[3] Ibid (kindle – no page #)

[4] Ibid (kindle – no page #))

[5] Ibid (kindle, no page #)

[6] Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom (Michiana: University of Notre Dame, 1983), Kindle.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

9 responses to “Postmodernism…Is It Based on the Assumption that God Does Not Matter?”

  1. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful post. I would think your unique ministry in hospice would qualify you better than most for what really matters to people in the last term of their lives. Thank you for your most helpful admonition in the midst of unique many philosophical differences, “Let’s embrace our differences and let love win…even in this postmodernism world of confusion!” Bless you!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thank you, Harry. I agree that we live in a confused world. Hicks laid the beliefs of himself and so many others out in his book when he addressed power has replaced truth. Yet, I believe that as long as we are shining light in the darkness, we are lighting the way towards truth. Thank you for the bright light that both you and Gloria shine, Harry. Your beam is bright and your gift of friendship is precious to all!

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Amazing post Nancy. As I have a brother in jail it amazes me the difference in the worlds that we both inhabit. On another note, it is astonishing that we still live in a world where difference are seen as threats. But when you follow the thread back to the root it seems that “holding on to power” seems to be the anchor that is causing most of the problems.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for responding, Mario, and I agree with you. Power is now taking the place of truth -and so many people are believing the lies that are being told. There is a powerful book I once read titled, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”… you lie to them! It’s about the Holocaust and is very enlightening. I know people have differing opinions about leadership in our country and around the world, and that’s ok. I respect other’s beliefs. I just think we must keep our eyes open to the untruth’s being told in our nation and in the world.

  3. Great post Nancy, I like the way you relate the book to your work context. There beauty in diversity but it seems that our selfish pursuit of narrow personalized interests blinds us to the great beauty of embracing our differences. I love the great opportunity that our multicultural cohort presents for all of us learn from each other.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      I agree with you, Wallace. Our cohort brings with it a worldly perspective, which is truly enlightening. I am so glad you and John are a part of our group, as I always enjoy reading and hearing your commentaries. And I’m with you when you say the great beauty is in embracing our differences. Thanks so much for your response, Wallace. May you continue to be blessed in your endeavors.

  4. Mary Mims says:

    Great post, Nancy. You are right, it really seems like many (including Christians) believe that God doesn’t matter anymore. The confusion is terrible, especially in this government town. Our only hope is through prayer and supplication. Thank you for all you do for the least and left behind.

  5. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    And thanks for all that you do for our children in this world, Mary. I agree that our true hope is through prayer and supplication. We are limited in what we can do in this world – other than to keep our eyes and hearts open to helping fulfill the needs of others. Just as the story of the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, we can make a difference to each individual that we touch in a spiritual way. Blessings, my friend!

  6. John Muhanji says:

    Nancy, I love the way you always connect the reading we have to your profession and making it real and practical and understandable. It is true postmodernism brings more confusion than anything else. In my view from the other side of reason, it is destroying what was making order in a world of confusion where we want everybody to be what they want to be. Destroying what was orderly to disorderly process. That is why God gave guiding rules in life. The community of faith had created a lot of development despite many trying to discredit the process but it has brought the world where it is. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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