Contours of Culture
Trinity & Modernity
by Ken Myers
We have been told that to be postmodern is to approach metanarratives—the Big Stories that explain Life, the Universe, and Everything—with incredulity. Of course, this raises the question of whether or not this definition of the postmodern temperament is itself a metanarrative, but I'll leave that for finer minds than mine to explore.
Possible paradoxes notwithstanding, I have to give grudging credit to Jean-François Lyotard for making this observation, because I do detect among most younger people a yawning indifference to efforts to explain history or theology or ethics or art in terms of grand and arching chronologies or chronicles. I suspect their minds and hearts have been colonized by thousands of what Lyotard called petits récits, small accounts of highly particular and often idiosyncratic episodes, all blithely disconnected from any framework, all resistant to organization in any structure of meaning. Perpetual exposure to a numbing torrent of bewildering bursts of narrativish fragments—increasingly in fewer than 140 characters—leaves little time or mental space for attending to connections and causality.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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