I am not a liberal

Neither am I a conservative, strictly speaking. In my own account, I am definitely not a charismatic, nor exactly a traditionalist. I wouldn’t like being called a fundamentalist, either. Some like to use the words progressive, emerging, or even postmodern, but all are labels.

I’m reading a lot of Brian McLaren these days, and he (rightly, I think) challenges us to look beyond the scales of, say, liberal versus conservative. In stead, we should transcend the difference in the making of something new. A classic dialectic exercise, if you will, the result here being, in McLarens words, a new kind of Christian. And the term postmodern is rapidly gaining hype within Christian circles, something that I too must admit to having encouraged.

But there are dangers with excessive labeling. One is, obviously, over-simplifying. It is very easy to let ‘postmodern’ be just another box, even though that would be contrary to the very essence of the postmodern.

Another more sinister danger comes from the notion that we always view the world from a certain vantage point. In a postmodern society there is no fixed point, and our perspectives can and will change, sometimes rapidly. But there is a blind spot in that we cannot observe our own observation. By applying the label postmodern to ourselves we see the outside in terms of whether it is postmodern, modern, pre-modern, or ancient. Once again, we have created a scale, forgetting that by doing so we see other phenomena through just our own glasses.

I am pretty sure that many people would be just as annoyed by being labeled modern as I would be by being labeled liberal.

Where does this lead us? A greater degree of reflection and nuance would probably be a good thing.

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