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How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy and Art
Inter-varsity Press / 2006 / Paperback
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Knocking down a number of straw men, Downing finds that the challenges, questions, and insights of postmodernists, especially in the arts, have deepened and strengthened her own faith. She clarifies difficult ideas couched in convoluted language, outlining the progression of her own spiritual journey. 262 pages, softcover. InterVarsity.
Thinking that postmodernism is a threat, many Christians take a duck-and-cover approach to dealing with it. But that will not make postmodernism go away. Can Christians learn from postmodern thinkers and their critique of modernism? Yes, says author Crystal L. Downing. Postmodernism should not be judged by some of the problematic practices carried out in its name. In a lively engagement with literature, philosophy and art, Downing introduces readers to what postmodernism is and where it came from, aiming to show how Christians can best understand, critique and even benefit from its insights. She draws on her own experiences as a graduate student and her careful research into this worldview's modernist and artistic origins, the challenges of foundationalism and poststructuralism, and the complexity of relativism. She ends with a challenge to Christians: that they not be postmodern in their attitudes towards postmodernism, but instead to "be in the world and not of it" and to extend grace where it is most needed. Downing believes that the challenges, questions and insights of postmodernism can contribute to a deeper and clearer grasp of our faith, as well as providing unique paradigms for sharing the truth of Christ.
Crystal Downing, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College (PA), has published widely on the relationship between Christianity and culture. Her first book, (Palgrave Macmillan) received the international Barbara Reynolds Award for best scholarship on Sayers, granted at Cambridge in 2009 by the Dorothy L. Sayers Society. Her second book, (IVP Academic), grapples with the rhetorical and religious turns in philosophy. Downing has also published scores of essays in , and , drawing Christianity and culture into conversation through analysis of film semiotics.
"I never thought I'd describe a book about po-mo theory as exciting--but this book is. Crystal Downing not only explains where postmodern theory came from and what its aims are but, more important, shows how postmodern theory can help articulate a Christianity free from modernist assumptions. This is the single most helpful introduction to postmodernism I've read."
"Shortly after a few of us started using the word postmodern, the term in the hands of some became a club--a blunt instrument used to intimidate, insult or exclude (one way or another). Thankfully, thoughtful and articulate scholars like Crystal Downing are now stepping forward, providing nuanced reflection so more charitable dialogue can prevail. Her treatment of relativism alone is worth the price of the book. Highly recommended."
"Crystal Downing provides us with a wonderfully personal glimpse into the ways in which postmodernism has served to deepen her faith. Drawing in the reader through everyday vignettes, Downing shows that postmodernism isn't necessarily the 'dangerous' entity that so many evangelicals take it to be. Of course, Downing in no way uncritically accepts all things postmodern. Rather she deftly guides the reader through the positive contributions--and pitfalls--of postmodernism. Although Downing writes on postmodernism in terms of her own faith journey, I suspect that many readers will readily identify with that journey, and find that postmodernism likewise serves their faith."
"Crystal Downing has provided a wonderful resource for those who are wrestling with the challenges of relating their Christian commitments to postmodernity. In a personal and winsome style, she invites readers to consider the ways in which her own critical and constructive engagement with postmodern thought has served to strengthen and deepen her faith. In so doing she has marked out a clear path for others to follow and produced one of the most enjoyable and helpful books currently available on postmodernism and its implications for Christian faith."
"Crystal Downing has written a superb exposition of postmodernism for Christians, utilizing personal experience, concrete examples and a delightful literary style. She explains complex ideas without oversimplification, while clearly having fun with language. This book will go a long way toward dispelling unnecessary fears concerning the bogeyman of postmodernism, while demonstrating its positive value for thoughtful Christians."
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