Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the color of m'n'ms

Anyone who tries to talk about the question of Christian faith in the presence of people who are not thoroughly at home with ecclesiastical language and thought soon comes to sense the alien--alienating--nature of such an enterprise. --Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity

This is the post-modern problem in a nutshell: we can order our own M'n'Ms. In any color we want. We can pick and choose our own candy colors. The creators of M'n'Ms have no power over us and our consumer choices: No one can dictate what color my M'nMs are no siree, thank you very much. We have taken control of our world and seized the autonomy and agency for ourselves in our M'n'M color selection that we deserved!!

But seriously.
That's not really the post-modern problem.
Because how would we ever solve that? We're all too wedded to our personalized M'n'Ms.
Divorcing those infinite color choices from our lives is an impossibility.
Okay, but for realz, guys, this whole M'n'M color scheme dilemma was a revelation to me. (Not really, but kind of. I just thought it'd be a catchy blog post opening.) See, the post-modern problem is this: we don't like to take a stance. We don't want to decide that we're going to stick with a certain system of beliefs. Because belief--believing in something: a cause, a religion, or even just something trivial like believing that one should always begin your mornings with green tea, not black--means that you're automatically a part of a community. The community of fellow activists, fellow believers, or fellow green tea advocates.

So, here's the root of the issue: Post-modernists (meaning basically everyone in our society. I'm enjoying making broad generalizations. Bear with me,) don't want to implicate ourselves too deeply in anything. Why? Well, for starters, because organizations, communities, are tricky things. Communities and organizations are generally full of wonderful people who believe the same things as us, inspire us, and support us, and that's why we join them. But they're also full of stupid people. People who say stupid things, or are embarrassing, or do or say things with which that we disagree. We don't want to have to lump ourselves into a group with those people. Because then everyone else is going to think we're like them. We don't want to have to associate ourselves with embarrassing specimens of humanity. Then people will assume things about us, and associate us with the peons who are intellectually and evolutionarily inferior to us and everything would just be awful.

Secondly, the post-modern problem is that is that we can't force ourselves to just accept the colors of M'n'Ms that come in the bags. We have to personalize our M'n'Ms, never ordering the same colors if we don't want to. We don't have to make a commitment, we don't have to align ourself with something. We just don't want to have to tie ourselves down. We drift.  It's easier than taking a stand and saying: I am ____. Because what if you find out ____ is wrong, old-fashioned, or (heaven forbid) passé and Out of Fashion. We drift through the world, not having to get involved in any belief system, happily in a neutrally agnostic existence, not harming or hurting anyone, not being offended or misconstrued by anyone, content in our comfortable post-modernism.

I'm calling a red flag on this one, peeps. Human beings were not created to be drifters. Drifting doesn't get you anywhere, except stuck treading water in the middle of the ocean. And, dude, let's be real, that sounds miserable. Belief means that you decide to take a leap of faith, trust the map--even though it may lead you astray-- and swim on, landward bound. Our poor legs are dying for the land. They may serve us well while we're treading water, but they were created to walk on solid ground.

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