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Leithart on the Differences Between Modernity and Postmodernity

July 16, 2009

I’m still reading through Peter Liethart’s Solomon Among the Postmoderns.  He has a long section of one-liners on pages 56-57 on what modernity is contrasted with postmodernity.  His best one is this:

Modernity systematizes theology and declares the pope infallible; postmodernity says theology is more like poetry, turns the priest around to face the congregation, and gives him a banjo.

Classic Leithart.

Where Leithart seems most sympathetic with postmodernism – I say this only two-thirds of the way through the book – is “postmodernism’s recognition of the frailty of human thought and reason.”  He defends, what is seemingly, postmodern relativism, and calls it “postmodern provisionalism.”  He writes, “Antifoundationalism says that our knowledge is partial, limited, provisional.  Which it is” (p. 77).  He takes the “provisionalism” of postmodernity and the deconstruction of Derrida and seems to Solomonize them.  

He has yet to engage postmodernism with a Christian worldview.  He claims that epistemology is not central in postmodern claims.  However, Leithart’s postmodern “provisionalism” is an epistemological assumption!  I’m still reading.

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