By V. Rev. Fr. David J. Randolph
From the Word magazine, January, 2012
The term postmodern culture is used in many different ways, and cannot be grasped except in contrast to its predecessor, modernism, to which it is in reaction. Modernism displayed a high level of confidence in the abilities of humanity. Rooted in the Enlightenment, modernists attempted to rid themselves of the mystery of religion and things spiritual so as to focus purely on the empirical facts of science. Some believed that humanity could build a perfect society founded on human principles and structures. The movement was idealistic, and its breakdown was painful to the generation that experienced it.
This reaction took different forms. For many people of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, pop culture became a kind of rebellious religiosity. Many were from broken families, and they concluded that all commitments are fragile. Some also experimented with different “spiritualities,” having a distinct distaste for “institutional religion.” Theirs was a time of political turmoil, growing up amid the anxiety of the cold war, and through the period of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the war in Iraq. The results for many were confusion, depression, and loneliness.
Postmodernism is the cultural reaction to the perceived failures of modernism. Youth ministers today face five challenges related to the postmodern stance.
First, postmodern young people give primacy to personal experience.
by Fr. John Abdalah
The importance of giving pastoral care to college-age people is certainly no secret to those who are doing it – and even more so in our time, when we have moved into what is called the “postmodern era.” Developmentally, the college years are a crucial and eventful time of moral, spiritual, physical and intellectual growth. I would suggest that the changes that occur in the four college years are so dramatic that, frequently, the college freshman is hardly recognizable as the same person when he or she graduates. College is also, in my opinion, the first time that individuals have the developmental skills and life experience really to understand the Christian message and dedicate themselves to Christ. Regardless of the effectiveness of our catechetical programs during childhood, those who are even younger are simply not prepared to understand abstract concepts like Trinity or Incarnation, and the implied relationships. Providing college-age Orthodox Christians an opportunity to discover, strengthen and (or) commit to Orthodox Christianity should certainly be a priority of the Church. Many Orthodox don’t return to the church after these years away at school. While the various statistics may be conflicting and controversial, all will agree that the loss to the Church of many young people, and the loss to the students of the Church, are of significant concern for the Church.