I used to visit a blog occasionally that entertained some pretty hot debate. Here's a comment left by a man named Scott:
"“If I use 'biblical' (and I’m not sure I ever have), it’s not in the sense you outline. I’m far too postmodern to believe a text has any real meaning apart from interpretation. There is less argument over what the Holy Scriptures say than there is over what they mean. When someone says, 'The bible says …', I immediately mentally translate that to 'Here’s what I interpret the words of the text to mean …'”
"I'm far too postmodern to believe a text has any real meaning apart from interpretation."
What a statement. It struck me like a thunderbolt then, and it still does.
Can you imagine that we live in an age when text -- even text that comes from God Himself -- has no intrinsic meaning? The implication here is that the writer -- even Writer God -- has no unique, discernible message that he can communicate in the writing. The writer has no intent, or if he does, we can't know it.
We can just interpret. And, in our postmodern world, interpretation is individual; the Bible (or any other text, or movie, or even facebook conversation) may have one meaning for you, and a different (even opposite) meaning for me.
And guess what? They're both right! That's the wonder of post-modernism! Miracles still occur -- mutually exclusive statements remain simultaneously, illogically true, in our post-modern world.
So, you can customize your pizza, and your ice cream cone, and your perfume. And your philosophy. Truth is assembled by you, for you, cafeteria-style.
I ran into this same concept lately in the fun movie, "Julie & Julia." I enjoyed the whole movie (minus a few cuss words), but then one conversation jarred me. Julie Powell finds out, shockingly, that the REAL Julia Child is rather disgusted by Julie's whole blog project. She is affronted by it. So, what comforts Julie when the REAL Julia is a disappointment?
She decides that she prefers the OTHER Julia, you know, the one in her head! The Julia Child that she has imagined for herself. The Julia that "speaks" to her and guides her through her troubles, soothes her with sauces and cheers her with stews. THAT Julia. Her personal Julia. The real Julia Child doesn't matter.
Personal interpretation of another human being, that's what matters. Right?
Adam mentioned to me another cultural wonder, Reinhard Bonnke, faith-healer extraordinaire. You know, that kind of public Christian who makes sincere followers of Christ look like cheating snake-oil salesmen? This fellow was investigated and found out to be a total fraud. Did it matter to his followers?
Evidently not. They liked Mr. Bonnke as he was, in their imaginations. What he was in real life, rather like the REAL Julia Child, was of no consequence.
So, what matters? Is there truth out there somewhere? Can we even claim, like John Keats, that "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty"? There was some certainty for you! Romanticized certainty, but it's better than the insipid drivel we tolerate these days.
No, thank you. I will stick to some pre-modern stuff, in which truth is objective and definable, God and His Word are what he intends and not what I prefer, and there is only ONE Julia Child.