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PREACHING TO POSTMODERNS : The Problem PowerPoint Presentation
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  2. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • American culture is the dominant culture in the world today • Consider how the world been influenced by our pop culture • MTV • Hollywood • Apple, Sony, Dell • MGM/Universal • FOX and CNN Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  3. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “During the 20th century, mass entertainment extended the reach of American culture, reversing the direction of influence as Europe and the world became consumers of American popular culture.America became the dominant cultural source for entertainment and popular fashion, from the jeans and T-shirts young people wear to the music groups and rock stars they listen to and the movies they see. Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  4. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • People all over the world view American television programs, often years after the program’s popularity has declined in the United States. American television has become such an international fixture that American news broadcasts help define what people in other countries know about current events and politics. American entertainment is probably one of the strongest means by which American culture influences the world . . . .” Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  5. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • Consider the influence of Hollywood on “McWorld” • “Thus while in 1972 only 86 or one-third of the 255 foreign films shown in West Germany were American, by 1991, 162 or nearly two-thirds of 262 foreign films were American. In Europe today [1996], American films account for about 85% of the revenue- about $1.7 billion of the $2 billion in box office receipts.” Barber, Jihad Vs. McWorld, 93 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  6. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • Benjamin Barber, Rutgers Poli-Sci professor, describes the America- spawned, globalized, consumer based economy as “McWorld.” • “McWorld’s denizens are consumers and clients whose freedom consists of the right to buy in markets they cannot control and whose identity is imposed on them by a consumerism they scarcely notice.” Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  7. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “The style marketed is uniquely American yet potentially global since, for the corporations in a quite literal sense, we are the world. To the world, America offers an incoherent and contradictory but seductive style . . . : youthful, rich urban, austere cowboy, Hollywood glamorous, Garden of Eden unbounded, goodwilled to a fault, socially aware, politically correct . . . ” Barber, Jihad Vs. McWorld, 61 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  8. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “For America’s largest brand-name consumer goods corporations like Coca-Cola, Marlboro, KFC, Nike, Hershey, Levi’s, Pepsi, Wrigley, or McDonald’s, selling American products means selling America: its pop culture, its putative prosperity, its ubiquitous imagery and software, and thus its very soul.” Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  9. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “Not long after World War II, Victor Lebow recognized that ‘Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and selling of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption.’” Barber, Jihad Vs. McWorld, 223 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  10. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • American GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for 2006 is expected to be 13.5 trillion • European Union GDP, for 2005, was 13.5 trillion • Or, to make another comparison, the American GDP in 2005 was equal to the combined GDP of • Japan • China • Canada • South Korea • Brazil • India • Mexico, and • Russia Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  11. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • Truth? Or Fiction. Consider this: • “The TV ‘needs’ the VCR, which ‘needs’ a laser disc player, which ‘needs’ a computer, which ‘needs’ endless software.” • Barber calls this, ‘modern man’s conundrum.’ “The more powerful he becomes, the more miserable he feels. All that we have only serves to make us ‘need’ more . . . .” Barber, Jihad Vs. McWorld, 41 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  12. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “ . . . today’s ‘pop hedonism,’ cult of instant joy, fun morality, and the generalized confusion between self-realization and simple self-gratification, has its origin not in the culture of modernism but in capitalism as a system that, born from the Protestant work ethic, could develop only by encouraging consumption, social mobility, and status seeking . . . .” • Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 7 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  13. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty, and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  14. MODERNITY: Homo Economicus • All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind. The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe.” Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  15. POSTMODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “The reality is that modern consumption is not simply about shopping because what we are buying is not simply goods and services. Modern consumption is about buying meaning for ourselves. It is about the way we construct ourselves, the vantage point from which we want to look at the world. . . . What was once just a matter of producing goods has become a way of producing culture and meaning . . .” • Wells, Above All Earthly Powers, 77 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  16. POSTMODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “It is quite striking, then, to note the parallels between post-modern habits of mind and the realities which have come to mark our highly formed capitalism: volatility, obsolescence, the rapid passing of fashions and ideas, the disappearance of stability, constant revision, repackaging, Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  17. POSTMODERNITY: Homo Economicus • the new look, the newer than new product, the future always looming over the present. The postmodern mind is a reflection of this high capitalism, and it is probably this high capitalism, as much as postmodern argument, which is bringing down the Enlightenment belief about stable, fixed, and unchanging metanarratives.” • Wells, Above All Earthly Powers, 77 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  18. POSTMODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “Given all the choice in the West today, then, the awareness of difference and of diversity, the pluralism and plasticity of life, it seems highly implausible that there is any such metanarrative, any such central and single meaning, or viable and compelling worldview. All that we have is our own, individual petite histoire, our on story, a story no more compelling than anyone else’s and no more true.” • Wells, Above All Earthly Powers, 78 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  19. POSTMODERNITY: Homo Economicus • “It is modernity itself, and the consumer society which arose from its loins, which has finally pulled down its own false universals. . . . what is called postmodern is really a crisis within modernity even if postmodern thinkers want to take credit for this accomplishment. There is now no narrative which connects together the events of life into a single form of meaning.” • Wells, Above All Earthly Powers, 79 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  20. Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848


  22. THE PROBLEM • “As theologian Langdon Gilkey puts it, ‘An autumnal chill is in the air; its similarity to the chill in other periods of cultural decline is undeniable.’” • Walsh and Middleton, Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be, 25 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  23. THE PROBLEM • “As we approach the end of the twentieth century, modernity is in radical decline. Its legitimating myths are no longer believed with any conviction.” • Walsh and Middleton, Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be, 25 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  24. THE PROBLEM • “It is not as if people fear clearly defined threats. Rather, it feels as if our whole culture has the willies.” • Walsh and Middleton, Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be, 25 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  25. THE PROBLEM • “During the last few decades the antinomian and deliberately deviant patterns of modernist imagination have not only won out culturally but have been adopted practically and translated into the life style of an increasingly large intellectual minority.” • Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 6 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  26. THE PROBLEM • “Parallel to this process, the traditional ideal of bourgeois life, with its concerns for sobriety and rationality, has lost its cultural champions and has reached the point where it simply can no longer be taken seriously.” • Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 6 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  27. THE PROBLEM • “What we have today is a radical disjunction of culture and social structure, and it is such disjunctions which historically have paved the way for more direct social revolutions . . . . The post-modernist temper demands that what was previously played out in fantasy and imagination must be acted out in life as well. There is no distinction between art and life.” • Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, quoted in Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 7 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  28. THE PROBLEM • “John Dominic Crossan puts it this way: ‘There is no lighthouse keeper. There is no lighthouse. There is no dry land. There are only people living on rafts made from their own imaginations. And there is the sea.’ The modern era began with Columbus setting out to sea. He seemed to have had at least some idea as to where he was going. As that epoch ends and a postmodern era begins we find ourselves again at sea. But this time we have no navigational assistance and no direction. We are alone, adrift in a postmodern world.” • Walsh and Middleton, Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be, 62 Preaching to Postmoderns 4

  29. THE PROBLEM • “Suppose we think of a man made of water in an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of water. Desiring to get out of water, he makes a ladder of water. He sets this ladder upon the water and against the water and then attempts to climb out of the water. So hopeless and senseless a picture must be drawn of the natural man’s methodology based as it is upon the assumption that time or chance is ultimate. On his assumption his own rationality is a product of chance. On his assumption even the laws of logic which he employs are products of chance. The rationality and purpose that he may be searching for are still bound to be products of chance.” C. Van Til Preaching to Postmoderns 4