We are much more prone to eclecticism than we are to the creation of pure structures that have never existed. We just keep borrowing stuff from somewhere else.
Christianity, for example, is notorious for slapping together aspects from paganism and other older religions. Alan: In this turbulent sea, how do you set your political rudder? You advocate taking strong positions — but how do you sort through the complexities and competing values systems to know where to stand? Walt: First off, you make some choices. Certain issues, for whatever reasons, have a lot of energy for me.
Lately I find myself less involved with mainstream environmentalism but very involved in biotechnology issues, which are getting neglected in a lot of ways. So I put my energy where it feels like some difference can be made. I think the scare talk about biotechnology has prevented people from understanding what a tremendous revolution is going on in the life sciences, and how important this will become in the very near future.
And consciousness of this range of choices is simply a fundamental part of the joy, as well as the stress, of being a person in the postmodern world. There is no easy answer, since mapping the entire postmodern territory would be an undertaking on the scale of the human genome project. To make matters worse, the "postmodernists" have found much to disagree about — but there do seem to be one or two common hooks where the majority of postmodern thinkers all hang their hats.
As the word suggests, postmodernists make a distinction between the present state of Western culture and the "Modern" era. For much of the last 2, years, religion and theology — Judaism and Christianity in the West — were the dispensers of truth. The church defined morality, adjudicated the law and governed the state. But the Enlightenment permanently diminished the role of the church as the glue holding society together.
Eighteenth century thinkers like Kant and Rousseau, taking cues from Copernicus and Galileo, contributed to the substitution of man and science for God and theology. Thus the modern era evolved, bringing with it a tradition of scientific inquiry that was adopted by social thinkers as well as those concerned with the natural world. But the excesses of Stalin, the propensity for Marxist revolutionaries to pave the road for tyranny, and the stagnant bureaucracy of the Communist system ultimately demanded that intellectuals reassess the idea of social progress — and the framework outlined by Marx and his successors to realize it.
The branches of progressive critical thought which then grew away from the Marxist trunk led in many directions. On a very broad level, this accounts for at least some of the varieties of postmodernism. Generally postmodernists do not bother to critique Marx, nor are they concerned with shining a light on why Judeo-Christian theology, while claiming to uphold the virtues of tolerance and love, has often lent itself to imperialism and tyranny. Instead, they contend that the problem with these systems of thought is their claim to explain the world — its natural and social laws, its true morality, the course of history, the natural qualities of the human being — in universal terms that apply to all people in all places.
Today, science reigns in our systematic attempts to organize the world, and it too claims to get at the objective "truth. Postmodernists, united in their rejection of any universal interpretations of culture, stand convinced there are simply no absolute truths on which to agree. From here, they quit their common ground to join the various camps currently participating in the postmodern debate.
The deconstructionists , critics of language and text, attempt to understand how the vocabulary and media we use to represent our thoughts fail to mean the same thing to all people. The constructivist position, meanwhile, is resigned to forfeiting attempts at getting to "the truth. This position fits tightly with the revival of pragmatism which has taken place within postmodernism. Pragmatists trace their history to the intellectual individualism of Americans like Emerson, James, and Dewey and suggest that the loss of universal truths is a good reason to embrace local community.
For the pragmatists, postmodernism provides a rationale for growing closer to the only concepts and beliefs that we can know — those indigenous to our own cultures. And the list goes on. These are simply a few of the terms of debate, none of which represents a definitive account. Whether we choose to call them postmodern or not, the world is clearly replete with — and in need of — new ways of thinking.
How does this affect politics?
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Debate over free speech on college campuses, or over how to approach natural rights, suggests that our most time-honored principles are being questioned every day. Even within the recent Supreme Court nomination hearings, one heard it viably suggested that both Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill were telling the "truth" as they saw it.
And the postmodern debate — confusing and academic as it is — can have relevance for political involvement.
It suggests we can — and must — grow, adjust, create new ways of doing things. Postmodern criticism itself offers no models or frameworks for future political systems.
But it does open up some space for a more inclusive politics — one more responsive to the needs of our increasingly diverse society. Brain research indicates that the narrative form, or story, arises out of the way we process information. And the fact that most of our stories begin with "Once upon a time, in a land far away" lets us know that story is bounded by time and space.
But while we have become accustomed to thinking analytically about the stories that shaped bygone cultures, we have trouble assessing our own more recent formulations. These stories — especially those concerning our religious traditions, scientific methods, and political ideologies — need close scrutiny. What is lacking in these thoughtful new stories, however, is thinking about thinking itself.
When such new stories arise, what seems to survive — sadly — is not the process of questioning and discovery, but a new dogma, a new piety, a new "worldview.
Constructivism, and more radically deconstructionism, asks questions about the cultural forces that dictate our views of reality. But we also need to know how we know what we know. Are there biological, as well as cultural, limits on our ability to know? The ubiquity of soldiers and military materials, with their physical presence or in occupying ideological space, explain much of the NT's military imagery. In the Gospels, Lk. On the other hand, Paul's letters mirror the rest of the NT, where war is also not addressed directly although indirect indications to war and fighting occur: sometimes in relation to God's kingdom and Jesus' kingship in the Gospels; in appeals for non-retaliation and love of enemies; in reference to Jesus' personal behaviour; and, with regard to texts referring to the roles of the state and military officials, the use of force cf.
Marshall ; Swartley Warfare imagery is used metaphorically in many NT texts to describe life in Christ. Military images underscore the link between violence and war, 31 but also indicate a masculine sense of identity.
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On the one hand, Hobbs is correct that the bulk of military language is referential or descriptive, and that in the Gospels soldiers are not portrayed to be acting as agents of an alien power. But on the other hand, in a high-context Malina social location where social customs and worldview are embedded in the text and not spelt out in every detail, those who received NT traditions and texts would have been in no doubt on whose behalf soldiers were acting.
Military imagery in the NT documents not only suggests malignant influence on communities and their people from the side of the Roman army together with lingering effects, but is also testimony to how in postcolonial mimicry-style NT authors took up and used such imagery, to further their own cause. The ambivalence often inhabiting post-colonial contexts is present in the NT documents, too! Recognition of the political nature of NT texts requires attention not only for their Roman imperial setting, and for the abundance of military metaphors, but also for the Jewish context of these texts.
The NT documents are Jewish. Dealing with matters Jewish in the first century is challenging anyhow, since pluriformity and diversity characterised Jewish life in Palestine and in Diaspora during the Hellenistic and Roman period. The thinking of someone like Paul was wrapped up in the story of Israel.
He wrote not as a Christian theologian, but as a first-century Jewish teacher of gentiles responding to concrete situations in early communities of Christ-followers.click here
Benedict Anderson, The Rooster’s Egg, NLR 2, March–April
The purpose of Paul's letters clearly was not to reject or criticise Judaism, but were Paul's response to God's call to be a "light to the nations" Johnson-Hodge Part of the difficulty of dealing with Judaism in the first century, is that it was neither aloof from the 'normalising' impact of the Roman Empire, nor were the boundary lines between Jewish and non-Jewish identity rigid but, at times, blurred, in fact Bij de Vaate and Van Henten This leads to one of two conclusions, both contentious. Relaxed 'border-control' in the first century probably initiated more cordial relationships between Jews and non-Jews, and such interaction was likely to generate one of two reactions and some positions in between : mutual acceptance of Jewish and non-Jewish bona fides, or alternatively, a more determined effort - at least from Jewish hard-liners - to re-establish social and political control by insistence on adequate lines of demarcation.
So, besides Paul's Jewish-affirmative claims in e. Rom ; 2 Cor. Segal's observation is typical of general scholarship: "As is quite clear from his rhetoric, he has thrown this all [his Jewish and Pharisaic identity] over to be in Christ and this is a mark of derision" Segal But the interpretive framework is not different religious paradigms, but rather a polemic between Paul and his adversaries. As is clear from his other letters also, Paul is not ditching his Jewish credentials, but he indicates that he no longer bases his status claims on them Eisenbaum ; cf.
Looking at either the NT authors' Jewish context or only their Roman context is not enough, then, because these contexts intersect with one another.
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So for example, various sources attest to special privileges given to Jewish communities in the Roman Empire. However, "Jews as a rule were exempt from the obligation to participate in Greco-Roman religious feasts and other such rites" Zetterholm Jewish historian Josephus BJ 7. On the one hand so-called God-fearers participated in synagogue activities e.