A Challenge for the Divine Principle in the Postmodern Era

Facebook Connectivity 2010

A 2010 map displaying the connectivity of Facebook’s 1.1 billion global users (click to enlarge).

Keisuke Noda, Professor of Philosophy, Barrytown College of UTS

Keisuke_NodaCan the Divine Principle be attractive to others in the 21st century, or at least for the next 10 or 20 years as our Church’s 2020 goals envision? In Unificationist communities, that question has sparked the development of practical or technological methods of communication/presentation. People have created and re-crafted charts, slides, and PowerPoint presentations and will continue to do so.

The development of these materials is certainly a worthy endeavor, but another way to pose this question is to ask how the Principle answers the questions of the era or the “spirit of the time” (Zeitgeist). Although believers claim that religious teachings reflect truth that is eternal, ideas affirm their validity by responding to the questions of the era. Leading ideas must in fact “lead” the time by demonstrating their validity to people who are desperately trying to find their way. Thus, Unificationists must understand the intellectual climate that we live in if the Principle is to become a leading idea.

During the late 20th century, the United States and other developed countries underwent a major shift rooted in the comprehensive critique of modernity. It is imperative for any intellectual to understand this shift and the intellectual horizons that frame the climate today, known as postmodernism.

What Is Postmodernism?

Postmodernism is a concept that describes a general intellectual stance or tendency towards modernity. As the term post (“after”) modernism indicates, postmodernism is a departure from modernism based on a critical assessment of modernity. It is, in essence, skepticism towards basic assumptions of modernity. Postmodernism is a broad term which encompasses all social cultural spheres including architecture, art, literature, literary criticism, business, management, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and others. It is a term that can be seen as describing the spirit of the age (Zeitgeist). Postmodernism is distinguished from being just a “trend” because of its lasting and penetrating effects on all spheres of life.

Modernity, as postmodernists see it, is a social, cultural, political wave that lasted for centuries, from the Enlightenment to the late 20th century. Despite the diverse views and ideas encompassed within modernity, modernity was based on certain assumptions that postmodernists later questioned.  Postmodern thinkers have taken a variety of approaches, but the following are a few basic criticisms of modernity by Jean-François Lyotard, a French philosopher.

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