Worldview Moods

It is very easy to encapsulate various ways of seeing the world in technical language. We are used to talking about enlightenment rationalism, post-modern relativism and pre-modern classicism. However, during my own journey I am sure I had no such arsenal of terms. As I saw things, reflected on how I would approach the world, I just had feelings, images, impressions and reactions; lots of reactions.

Worldviews get banded about like sunglasses, as if they can be swapped to fit, but they are more like moods, just coming over you all of a sudden. The following is a meager attempt to remember and put into words how entering into a worldview feels:


I'll begin with modernism, something my generation grew up in (at least in its decline) and rounded on. The trouble with modernism, I felt, was that it was so drab, cold. It was like concrete in a rainy city - the grayest of gray. I disliked the cold, rational, impersonal order of it all, the attempt to totalize material, to get everything into one system. Modernism was like death to me, so I rejected it.

Going pre-modern was a better option because it had grandeur, a sense of something greater, like a vast cathedral. But it was devoid of humor. There is nothing funny about a cathedral, no irony in the pews. And it was austere, hierarchical and, for me, full of fear. I found myself to be too ragged for the ancients.

I thought post-modernism would do the trick. It had everything going for it - nothing had to change, it only had to be seen in new light. Gray modernism was re-interpreted, graffitied and turned into a scene from a Ballard novel. One only had to look at it from new eyes, to see the cool in it. Deathly gray was given a trip-hop beat and it was okay. Classicalism only had to be leveled, authority treated with derision - priests parodied, politicians patronized, dictators domesticated. And ancient rituals could be so cool if no one was breathing down your neck.

But, I rejected post-modernism too. Post-modernism turned in on itself - became the subject of its own irony, became decidedly... well... silly. Silly and slightly tiring. One had to be so detached from everything, holding every belief with an equal dose of doubt. That kind of detachment is draining, always looking from afar, never really believing in anything.

What was left? Nihilism?

Well, perhaps you can guess. I realized that although all that stuff I just mentioned would pass away, there was one thing that would always stand and that is the Bible. Sounds weird? Well not really. If God exists and if he can speak, he surely would say something about how to see the world. After all, it is his world; he made it and made me. That's what we mean by a "Biblical worldview"- a way of seeing the world as God describes it, of thinking God's thoughts after him.

Some of what I saw in modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism makes more sense now. The order of the universe observed in modernism is only orderly because of an orderer, the hierarchy of pre-modernism makes some sense because of the Lordship of Christ. Am I able to see gray concrete in a different way? Yes, everything seems different through the lens of scripture, whatever other mood I find myself in. But seeing the world while ignoring God and ignoring what he has to say will always lead to emptiness, to nil, to fear and to the cold.

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