DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Humanities 101

Written by: on February 9, 2020

Much of my memory of college is a blur. I remember the campus at Michigan State University and how cold it was during the winter. One of the things I remember is walking across a section of campus nicknamed the Frozen Tundra to get to humanities class on the south campus. I do not remember the professor’s name, but I can see in my mind’s eye his hippie-looking long gray hair, untrimmed beard, and unkempt appearance. His favorite things were swearing in class, watching Fellini films, hating on Christians, and being obsessed with Friedrich Nietzsche. Enduring the three required humanities courses left me with a brief, but incomplete exposure to postmodernism. Although I had this brief exposure to what became postmodernism, I was unsure how I would ever use this information in real-life situations.

Stephen R. C. Hicks is Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University, Illinois, Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship, and Senior Scholar at The Atlas Society. In his book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, he states,

Metaphysically, postmodernism is anti-realist, holding that it is impossible to speak meaningfully about an independently existing reality. Postmodernism substitutes instead a social-linguistic, constructionist account of reality. Epistemologically, having rejected the notion of an independently existing reality, postmodernism denies that reason or any other method is a means of acquiring objective knowledge of that reality. [1]

Postmodernism marks a turn from the age of reason to a time where “truth is rejected explicitly and consistency can be a rare phenomenon.”[2] I struggle to fully understand postmodernism and all of its contradictory discourses;

On the one hand, all truth is relative; on the other hand, postmodernism tells it like it really is. On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad. Values are subjective—but sexism and racism are really evil. Technology is bad and destructive—and it is unfair that some people have more technology than others. Tolerance is good and dominance is bad—but when postmodernists come to power, political correctness follows.[3]

However, in my research in creating culturally relevant religious curriculum for African American children, I have found some usefulness in postmodernism academic themes such as Critical Race Theory, a subset of Critical Legal Theory.

Critical Race Theory clarifies the inequities of education. “As we attempt to make linkages between critical race theory and education, we contend that the voice of people of color is required for a complete analysis of the educational system.”[4] The same applies to the religious education of African American children. It is imperative that people of color who are also people of faith provide input in the development of curriculum in religious education.

Although postmodernism is still difficult for me to fully understand, I am glad that I have found something useful in postmodernism theories that will help with my research.

 

[1]. Hicks, Stephen R. C. Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Scholargy Publishing, 2004:6.

[2]. Ibid., 184.

[3]. Ibid., 184.

[4]. Ladson-Billings, Gloria, and William F. Tate IV. “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” Teacher’s College Record, Vol. 95, No. 1, 1995:58.

About the Author

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Mary Mims

I am a licensed and ordained Baptist minister and have worked with the children and youth for the last seven years. I have resided in the Washington, DC area for the last 30 years, but I am originally from Michigan. I am also bi-vocational and work at the US Patent and Trademark Office in the Scientific Library.

3 responses to “Humanities 101”

  1. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thanks, Mary for making the connection of postmodernism to the Africa American as described by Hicks. I still find it confusing especially to the African community. It is moving to fast beyond what we can comprehend from Africa and hence confusing and not providing clarity to the future. But what does it do to the family of faith especially Christianity? I agree with you Mary that postmodernism is hard to comprehend fully.

  2. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Enlightening post, Mary. Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoyed reading your insight about serving African American children. I know that all races and cultures have some differing views and perspectives because of experiences. All of our perspectives/perceptions in life are based on our past experiences, so truly listening to others is the key to understanding. Thanks for sharing your insight, Mary, and for all you do working with children.

  3. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Mary,
    Good for you, finding something out of the subject of philosophy that will help your research. Personally, I am finding these texts harder and harder as I am seeing less and less application to the real world I serve. Thanks again.

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