Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today in my Christianity and Culture class, we're going through the typology of a guy named Jacque Ellul who lived entirely within the 20th century, he died in 1984. He writes a lot on technology and what he calls "technique." Technique is essentially an overarching rule or law that arises from the human drive to better technology and increase the "quality of life." The problem with technique is that it ends up controlling how a person lives, and even those (in Ellul's mind) who try to fight it ultimately in their resistence produce a new form of "technique." The logic follows and he does come up with some solutions, basically to fight against what is seen as "necessity", those things society views as essential to life, to live simply. This of course is within the context of a technological society, where he found himself.

Ellul claims that freedom only comes when one refuses to allow this "necessity" to control their life. Whether all of his train of thought is impervious to rebuttal is moot, my thoughts from this discussion stem from the point of freedom being apart from this "necessity."

I am caught in this idea. Freedom. Is that not what so many people desire? Is that not what we teach in church? One may argue that freedom is really only found in Christ, I would not disagree.

In fact, I think that's what Ellul is trying to get at ultimately. His plea is for the "Church" to actually reflect a Christ community, instead of being driven by success or what people view as success, to discover that Christ was actually showing us how to be free from the "system" of society. Jesus challenged the Pharisees to do that, and unfortunately the more experience I have with "Church" the more I see similar attitudes to those of the Pharisees of the New Testament.

I also see people whose genuine desire is to see Christ glorified in everything they do and exist in the "necessary evil" of the evangelical world as it is right now because that is our current existence.

I long for freedom. I long for personal freedom in every way, not to do whatever I feel like doing but to be released from this notion of "technique" that seems to have been forced upon me by a generation that has become separated from the culture in which it exists.

I have come back to this post after a couple weeks have passed and in the same class (you may think that because I'm writing that I'm not paying attention, it's actually because I'm paying attention that I write) and today we are discussing postmodernity. That all too nauseating term that has been said and fought for a number of years now. However sickening one may become from hearing the term, I think it would be irresponsible to neglect the present existence in this place and time.

Postmodernity is basically the context in which we live here in Canada and the US. Much of Europe I think would probably even fall into it as well, though my understanding/knowledge of Europe is very limited. A big question that arises when this topic surfaces has to do with the whole notion of Truth, that which is absolute, or not. Those who have been raised in modernity struggle and fight against the thought of postmodernity denying absolutes, especially when it comes to truth. It's scary for them, for who see the truth of Scripture and Jesus Christ as something that must be exactly as they have understood it in order for their faith to remain.
I love truth, it's nice to have a foundation like that, but how can it be a foundation if it is merely a perspective and not reality. I think that's what the main issue is, denying individual perspectives and seeking what simply is. The problem with postmodernity is that it seems to be a pendulum swing that is merely opposing that which has previously existed, going from one extreme to another. The problem with modernity is that simply holds on to that "absolute" that they have been engrained with because if that breaks down, their faith is ruined. The concept of truth, as modernity sees it, is a nice concept that allows those who hold to it not to think about it, basically taking it for granted.

I don't want to be a cynic on this issue, it's just something that I'm thinking about. I think the "structure" can be abandoned without losing the reality of Christ. I think the "absolutes" that modernity is so afraid of losing can be questioned without Jesus Christ being kicked out His position as King. Ultimately, it's the structure that has become the technique which Ellul spoke so much of. Modernity and it's style has become technique, postmodernity seeks to question the technique, in search of something is more flexible. But for Ellul, this too will become technique. The freedom is found in relationship, with God and with people. Freedom may be subjective for some, but it's what many long for, being released from the "necessity" of life is what will free us in our faith and action. It may not make sense, that's ok, I'm not sure I understand it completely.