Friday, October 4, 2013

Thoughts on Pope Francis


Mike Baker said...

It seems like the "postmodern" label gets offered up whenever Pope Francis is discussed, but I just don't see it. I think it is something else that looks very similar to what we call postmodernity... and postmodernity is such a popular ill in this age that we like to go to it as a descriptor right out of the gate.

But finding our subjective inner light inside of us and having profound divine truth within oneself were not ideas that were invented by postmodern thought. It has been with Roman Catholicism since at least the 1500s. His comments sound more like Teresa of Avila than Brian McLaren. There has been a resurgence recently in Roman Catholic mysticism (The Interior Castle, etc)... that may be what this is.

The citique about civil righteousness is exactly spot on. That is exactly what Francis is confusing.

J. Dean said...

You are right, Mike, that such "inner subjectivism" has been around for a while, but those quotes sound JUST like McLaren, Rob Bell, and the like.

And there are a number of Roman Catholics of the more conservative bent who are not at all pleased with this pope.

I don't know whether or not the College of Cardinals can effect a deposing of a pope, but I'm wondering whether or not something like that would happen.

Nicholas said...

Not just Pr. Cooper, but Chris Rosebrough has also suggested that Pope Francis may be a "postmodern pontiff":

In any case, Bergoglio is a Jesuit, and the Jesuits are one of the most liberal religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church today, and have been for some time.

Mike Baker said...

I'm not disagreeing with any of the points and critiques that Pastor Cooper, Chris Rosebrough have said about this new pope. I happen to believe that they are right.

...I just don't think that Francis' positions and statements constitute "postmodernism" as a label. I think they can be defined and explained by trends within the papacy (including statements of past popes) that predate postmodernism as a philosophical movement.

All forms of postmodernism (be it art, literary works, or philosophy) hinge on six key distinctions that define what it means to be postmodern:

1. Deconstruction
2. Denial of objective truth
3. Emphasis on defining things by cultural context and metanarratives.
4. Adversarial critiques set against classical "modernism".
5. Advocacy of liberation themes (i.e. anti-imperialism and anti-institutionalism.)
6. The reinvention of terms so that words no longer have objective meaning but subjective meaning defined by the hearer.

The very office of the pope is the exact opposite of these things. It is an imperial-style office founded on many modernist norms that requires the office holder to not only believe in objective truth, but also that he is empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak that objective truth and have it be universally applied to the church.

The irony of this label is that the very act of deconstructing of the pope's statements, developing context by the hearer's interpretation of what he says over what he actually intends to say, and the redefinition of what it means to be "postmodern" is--in itself--kind of a postmodern exercise.

If you listen to Rosebrough's October 7th podcast where he deals with nothing but emergent thinkers, you can really hear undiluted postmodernism. It really doesn't sound anything like the current pope... wrong though he may be.