The first chapter in Postmodern Youth Ministry (PMYM) provides the a brief introduction to postmodernism. Tony surveys the development of modernism through the philosopher Rene Descartes and the subsequent philosophical shift the occurred with Frederick Nietzche, which led to what we now call postmodernism. Rather than hurting the church, Nietzche’s declaration that “God is dead” gave the church a valuable tool: deconstruction.
Tony gives the following “credos” of postmodenism:
- Objectivity is out, subjectivity is in.
- Question everything.
- There is no Truth with a capital “T”.
- Tell stories.
- Never make lists!
He also offers the following values of the modern/postmodern era:
Tony cautions readers that just because postmodernism might offer some things to Christianity, we cannot accept postmodern values wholesale. Some of them are simply incompatible with the Christian faith. But we must be aware of the changing landscape and begin to think through the implications for youth ministry. The rest of the book helps us do that.
When I was trying to understand postmodernism in my philosophy class, I often came back to Chapter 1 of PMYM. The book provides a (very) concise overview of postmodernism and gives some good characteristics that help the novice begin to understand this enigmatic and controversial philosophical shift. It is obvious Tony has spent much time studying postmodern philosophy, but you don’t need an M.Phil. to understand him. It’s the best of both worlds. There is probably not a better one-chapter introduction to postmodernism and it’s implications for Christians.