“My goal is to demythologize postmodernism by showing that what we commonly think so-called postmodernists are saying is usually not the case. Second, and perhaps more provocatively, I will demonstrate that, in fact, all these claims have a deep affinity with central Christian claims.” –“Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?”
I first stumbled across this little volume shortly after completing my master’s degree several years ago, and I was thrilled to find it. “Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault to Church” by James K. A. Smith is the first installment in a series entitled “The Church and Postmodern Culture” that seeks to offer Christian perspectives on postmodernism in a practical and very readable way.
Evangelical Christian professors engaging with academic big guns like Derrida and Foucault? And engaging them on a fair and critical level, pointing out where they got it right – not just offering sweeping condemnation? Where have you been all these years?
In this book, Smith argues that Christians misunderstand the main claims of postmodernism (below) because they don’t understand the context of these claims:
“There is nothing outside the text.” -Derrida
“Postmodernity is ‘incredulity toward metanarratives.'” -Lyotard
“Power is knowledge.” -Foucault
Smith spends the remainder of the book explaining how, when understood in context, all of these postmodernist slogans actually hold true in the Christian worldview. Smith’s book reads clearly and accessibly, but that does not hinder its profundity. If you like books that offer a little philosophy trip, you’ll want to pick up this book. Prepare to change your mind about postmodernism as you always thought you knew it.