Some of you have read my blog for quite awhile and might know that I struggle with the whole scrap-booking/memory preservation industry.
Last night, while watching The Truth Project tour on History. I finally nailed down why. During the video, Del Tacket discussed postmodernism and how it effects our understanding of history. It was like being beamed between the eyes. Now I know what is inherently wrong with how the scrap-booking industry and many others approach the issue memory preservation.
Before the post-modern era we went through three main eras of historical understanding.
Christian Worldview: God is Truth. All of Creation is encompassed in His will and plan. Our understanding of history and life must take in His metanarrative. A metanarrative is an all-inclusive story that gives meaning to all events in life. The Christian Worldview recognized the need to see the big picture and to understand that our little story fits into a much bigger and much more important story. His.
Modern Worldview: The modern worldview gave rise to humanism. Human’s are the sum of the story and as human’s our understanding of science leads to progress and improvement. The story is no longer God’s it is mankind’s.
Postmodern Worldview: The postmodern worldview is completely subjective and linked to the individual story. Rather than one all-encompassing purpose (God’s), or conflicting broad-based purposes (depending on your view of mankind(for example, feminism or socialism)), you have a multiplicity of individual purposes and the value of every purpose is equal (What is okay for you is fine for you and what is okay for me is fine for me and we can’t judge at all).
In less technical terms you could look at these ways of approaching reality as God-centered, Human-centered, and Self-centered.
Jean-Francois Lyotard gives this brief definition of postmodern: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”
Albert Mohler responds to Lyotard by saying:
Claims to universal truth--the metanarratives--are oppressive, "totalizing" and thus must be resisted [for the Postmodernist].
The problem with this, of course, is that Christianity is meaningless apart from the gospel--which is a metanarrative. Indeed, the Christian gospel is nothing less than the Metanarrative of all Metanarratives. For Christianity to surrender the claim that the gospel is universally true and objectively established is to surrender the center of our faith. Christianity is the great metanarrative of redemption. Our story begins with creation by the sovereign, omnipotent God; continues through the fall of the humanity into sin and the redemption of sinners through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross; and promises an eternal dual destiny for all humanity--the redeemed with God forever in glory and the unredeemed in eternal punishment. That is the message we preach--and it is a glorious, world-changing metanarrative.
We do not preach the gospel as one narrative among many true narratives, or as "our" narrative alongside the authentic narratives of others. We cannot retreat to claim that biblical truth is merely true for us. Our claim is that the Bible is the Word of God for all. This is deeply offensive to the postmodern worldview, which charges all who claim universal truth with imperialism and oppression.
In light of these thoughts, go to the Creative Memories website. On the home page a banner declares “Your Life, Your Story, Your Way.”
Doesn’t get much more postmodern than that, does it? However, before you pitch all your scrap-booking supplies and the associated guilt with not keeping up, remember. Remember that God calls us to remember. He calls us to remembrance repeatedly in scripture. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper saying “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19.
Several years ago, when I returned to Kansas for my grandfather’s funeral, I wrote about some of my concerns about memory:
I have mixed feelings about memory. Not the kind of memory that recognizes we put the keys on the ledge and files it away for easy retrieval later. I am concerned with memory and how it defines us as individuals. I believe memory is vital. God often had the Israelites build altars at points of significance so that they would remember and not forget.
Yet there is a danger in altars. If we aren't careful we worship the altar and translate it into an idol. Sometimes I feel like that is what is happening in today's society. We worship at the altar of memory - we tithe to the gods of scrapbooks and journals of self. We lose track of why we are remembering and only focus on how well we are doing it.
How does memory serve us and define us as individuals? Poorly if we don’t fit it into the metanarrative. It becomes a self-centered activity that yields no meaning. Meaning is found only when we plug it into His story and understand our life in light of our growth in Him in relation to His purpose in history.
I am not suggesting that we stop scrap booking or preserving our memories in journals. Writing a memoir could be a very worthwhile activity.
I mean only to suggest that we need to understand that our memories are part of something bigger. Our stories should point to a bigger story and our memories should always remind us of who directs not only our life but who directs every detail of Creation.