the post-modern problem in worship

30 09 2009

I am pretty much over the whole anti-post-modern dialogue at church. My perspective is that moderns and post-moderns are no closer philosophically to the truth of God than the other. They both have problems, so why not just leverage the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses.

I think it would be beneficial, though, to address the problem with post-modernism in worship.

If you watch this clip from Return to Source: Philosophy & the Matrix you can get an idea of what the problem is.

Starting at the 1:02 mark (the section ends at 1:57) Frances Flannery-Dailey retells the beginning of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, in which he utilizes a Borges fable to make a point.

The story is of an empire that makes a map so detailed it covers exactly the real world. As the story goes the map degrades, which represents the fall of the empire.

In this story the real world holds primacy, and the map is secondary.

Baudrillard takes the idea and flips it. For his illustration the map endures as the real world rots. His point is that now the “maps” of our lives have primacy and the real has become irrelevant.

Sheryl Crow’s lyrics from “If It Makes You Happy” reflect this state of life

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

The bottom line is that lives are no longer being based on reality. The reason life still hurts is because reality hurts.

How does this relate to worship?

Worship usually is leveraged through songs which when done correctly are a representation of the real – Scripture backed truth.

What happens when people start to base their beliefs off the songs and not an encounter with the Truth?

Fyodor Dostoevsky is credited with saying

At first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts.

We can apply this to worship in this way: “At first, worship is rooted in a true encounter with God. Then an encounter with God will be rooted in worship. Then our relationship with God will find it’s very existence from worship.”

Is it a real relationship with God if worship is what makes our relationship with God? Worship is an interactive response with God for who He is and what He has done.

Worship as the base for our relationship with God is like physical intimacy without the relationship. Intimacy without relationship, while fun is ultimately hollow.

The problem with post-modernism in worship is the predisposition to allow the reflection of the truth and the associated experiences as truth themselves.

God’s truth should hold primacy while worship should be a reflection; it should hold a subsequent position in our hearts.