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my knowledge trumps your experience - part 2

The “I’ve read about post modernity, let me tell you how it is” guy. This was a fun one (said with tongue in cheek). This guy is a leader at our previous church - Children’s ministry director in fact. REALLY NICE GUY - truly. I say that with all sincerity. I respect him on many levels and appreciated how kind he at least tried to be. He came to our house to talk about some stuff in the course of our dismissal from leadership from our past church. We got to talking about the “era” in which we now live. And with solid confidence he informed me that post modernity is relativistic. Now, there are so many flaws with this line of thinking it’s hard to know where to start but I let him shape the conversation and went along with it.

I first tried to explain that truth and relativism are false dichotomies but I got that sort of glazed over look you get from someone who has absolutely no frame of reference for what you’re talking about and then he informed me that because I talk smart it intimidates people who disagree with me and want to confront me …so once again, I just went with it and said that I’m post modern, all my friends are as well and none of us is relativistic. Not to mention that even “post modern” philosophers would say that post modernity does not include an inherent tendency toward relativism.

How do you dialog with someone who’s telling you that they heard something on the radio and read stuff about something and so they KNOW about it and that knowledge trumps everything you know through first hand experience? The knowledge/experience issue (by no means exclusive of one another) is becoming increasingly frustrating as I read encounters between emerging types and traditionalist types and as I have conversations myself.

I just had a conversation yesterday with someone who said the exact same thing. She said that she’s fine accepting that moderns/traditionalists are “where they need to be and I might be wrong anyway” and that I’m fine where I am and we can still coexist and have conversations and work together… which would be all well and good except that the moderns/traditionalists are so stuck on their “truth”, their “knowledge” and remain so convinced that they’re right. This knowledge of being right disallows any reciprocation of respectful engagement aside from vague kindness in telling you how wrong you are.

Next: my knowledge trumps your experience - part 3: The “If we don’t tell people what to believe they’ll be led astray” woman.

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  1. sonja — September 24, 2007 #

    Oh … Mak.

    Yeah … I’m sorry. What I really want to say to people like that is something along the lines of this:

    “Would you please allow me to be a grown up and make my own decisions? I am capable of thinking for myself. I have thoughtfully and prayerfully evaluated what I am doing and have decided that it is God honoring and full of Truth and Love. You are attempting to make me into a child and take away my decision making ability by telling me what to do and how to do it. Please honor that I am created in God’s image just I honor that you are created in His image by allowing you to have your own opinion and make your own decisions about your life and live with the free will that He gave you.”

    They just act like we’re stupid or something. It’s so insulting. There’s no arguing the merits because they’ve already made up their minds.

  2. Geoffrey — September 24, 2007 #

    As a post-modernist myself, who has attempted to discuss the issue with fundamentalists who insist I am saying something other than what I am saying, and that I do not know what I am really saying, I am glad that my experience is not unique.

    I agree they have already made up their minds. Indeed, one whom I have encountered and now avoid for the sake of my blood pressure, carries on a blog that purports to provide all sorts of “answers” most of which consist of repeating Bible verses, to questions that are actually unanswerable. I tried, for a while, to foster dialogue, but discovered that most such folks aren’t interested in dialogue, but in beating down opposition with all sorts of rhetorical nonsense.

    I much prefer ignoring these folks, allowing them their own sense of smug self-righteousness, and continuing my journey of trying to figure it all out as I go along.

  3. Dan — September 25, 2007 #

    It is tough to pick my favorite part of the conversation. It is either the “no, you have no idea what you believe and I will tell you that you are a revisionist.” Or the “You’re smarts are intimidating and you should work on it.”
    I love the fact that intellect of a Woman is intimidating to Man who is trying to “put her on the right path.” The funny thing is that typically the origin of intimidation of people’s intellect comes from the fact that the person confronting knows nothing of what they talk about.
    I have had tons of conversations like this with many modern-main line Christians. I find the best way to respond is simply asking questions and leading the person into accepting they know nothing about post-modern philosophy. Questions such as “Which post moderns are you talking about? What is the source material? Were you reading linguists, socialigists, psychologists, ect?”
    I know it sounds smug, but really if i am being attacked for holding a position, i would like to know what philosopher they were talking about.
    It is like me attacking the moderns for beliving they they know everything, but failing to cite what disipline i am talking about. I could be talking about the views of anyone from Freud, to Gould, to the Marque De Sade being that enlightment and modern thinking has so many different streams.
    Also, ask them if they believe everything Dominic Crossen believes? If they say no, tell them they don’t know what they are talking about because he identifies himself as Christian. So, with the line of thinking, all Chrisitians must believe the Jesus seminar.
    Sorry, got long winded. It’s a fun therapy technique to ignore the issue brought up and attack the root of the issue.
    But then again, you can just intimidate them with your Womanly Smarts.

  4. Mak — September 27, 2007 #

    Dan - hehehe…good stuff as always

    I think I’ll stick to intimidation ;)

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