Thursday, May 01, 2008

What is Sin to a Postmodern?

Here are my thoughts after reading Scot McKnight's post, "Emerging Atonement: What is Sin?"

Postmoderns reject Christian terminology as being judgmental, hypocritical, and exclusionary. "Sin" is on of the Christian terms they reject. If a discussion with a postmodern is to eventually lead to a discussion of atonement, then we need to consider what means "sin" to a postmodern and use those words. Let's explore the postmodern culture USA very briefly.

Self Aggrandizing
Raising one's street cred is not just about materialism (the latest technology for your hip and designer clothes) but it's also about how charitable you are or how green you are or how involved in other cultures you are. And this is all done on a large scale, globally, if possible. Send money to Phuket, bid at a charity auction, or volunteer at the humane society one day a week, then talk it up at the local coffee house that uses only organic materials and recycles.

Self Promotion
Do you have pictures on Flickr? Have you made videos for YouTube? How many friends do you have on FaceBook? Do you have a blog? Only one? The numbers of ways for social networking on-line are endless. YouTube videos alone have made several average, everyday people famous and/or rich. What could be better than having your video downloaded and viewed a million times? Getting paid for it, maybe.

Reality TV seems to be on it's way out, but the networks will repackage the idea because our desire to be affirmed in public is insatiable. We are the personalities now. Have you noticed how much more energetic and personable game show contestants are? And their whole family is on the show with them. The possibilities are endless for makeovers, surviving, getting a husband, getting a wife, becoming more sociably acceptable, losing weight, or proving you're top in your field. Who would have ever thought you'd see game show winners walking the red carpet?

Self Realization
You need to know who you are and what you want. And if you don't, at least you're doing a lot to get there. You're reading The Secret, you're doing yoga, or you're Feng Shui-ing your living room. If one thing doesn't work, you simply pursue another. There's always something new and better and they'll tell you about it on Oprah or Dr. Phil. You're getting closer all the time, you can just feel it! Closer to figuring out who you are and what you're doing here.

So, to a postmodern, these things are the actualization of a complete life. So why these things? Why pursue these particular things? What drives this culture to Self Aggrandizing, Self Promotion, and Self Realization?

Don't misunderstand me. These things are not wrong. Recycling, taking yoga, and giving to charity are all good things (I do these things), but for the postmodern they are a replacement for the real deal.

So what terminology or what imagery do you use in the postmodern culture for "sin"?


Erin said...

I guess that I would come at it from the angle that "sin" is the lack of whatever it is that is making us feel like we need to self-aggrandize, self-promote and self-actualize.
We would not be doing these "self" things if we didn't feel like we needed to compensate for something we are inherently missing.

Deanna said...

I think sin could be defined in our postmodern culture as that knowledge that no matter what you do, no matter who you talk to, no matter how you try to do good, there is some deep fear inside of you that something is wrong.