Distance and Postmodernity

Mars Hill Audio has made available an excellent essay [PDF] by theologian R.R. Reno entitled “Postmodern Irony and Petronian Humanism.” In the essay, Reno identifies two of the more prominent elements of postmodern culture as fear of authority and flight from truth. These elements serve to distance people from any serious engagement with truth:

Nonetheless, the postmodern world cherishes the freedom that Derrida rightly identifies as the fruit of deconstruction. Ironic detachment, the smirk of critical tropes, the serene complacency made possible by the dogmatic belief that all truth is relative—these and other habits of mind keep our souls free from the disturbing need for inner change.

Reno goes on to describe some helpful ways evangelism might bear on these complacent cultural sensibilities—ways that do not include “watering down” the Gospel. The essay is only about 10 pages and is worth reading if you have a few minutes.

By the way, if you’re a Christian interested in engaging the culture, The Mars Hill Audio Journal is a resource not to be missed, especially if you’re a Christian blogger. Ken Myers’ interviews are fodder for sharp thinking. You can even request a sample issue to try it out. I got a subsciption as a gift this year and I can’t wait for each issue to arrive.