message board

your email




join the conversation

write for us

add your site






[site search]   [ report a dead link] [ message board] [add your voice]


By John O’Keefe


Phobias are interesting; no, fascinating.  It is hard for me to see humans fear some of the things they fear.  Sure, I can see spiders, snakes and even lions, but how can anyone fear a cuddly little otter (lutraphobia is the fear of otters).   I once listed a grip of phobias on my blog:  theologicphobia is the fear of theology, theophobia is the fear of gods or religions, homilophobia is the fear of sermons, ecclesiophobia is the fear or church.  Today, I would like to introduce you to another phobia called “pomophobia, the fear of anything postmodern.”


I have seen this fear first hand and I can tell you it is alive, well, and living in the hearts of many people.  It is ramped, it is insidious, it is hurtful and most of all – it lives in the hearts of many church people today.  As our new bumper sticker campaign will say, “pomophobia, the scourge of the USAmerican church.”   I will tell you that I have read the pomophobic propaganda, their articles and books, by people who are plainly pomophobic.  This scourge, this menace, this – I can’t think of another word to put here, so you can add one – this “bad thing” (now, that really harsh) called pomophobia manifests itself in many ways and here are a few:


In articles written by a “postmodern” blasting postmodern thought and theology:  One of the worst signs of this pomophobia is the use of postmoderns to decry the realities of a postmodern world.  While I have no problem with an honest critique (heck, I do it all the time) of postmodern thought and theology, it drives me crazy when those who claim a postmodern tilt (by italicizing the word “tilt” you can actually make it tilt – cool) insult and attack others who are postmodern.  My first reaction to such an attack is to question if the person truly is postmodern or at they simply a “modern gorilla fighter” (MGF).  An MGF will attack, and strive to divide the postmodern camp.


“Postmodern” who claim it’s time to rebuild:  sure, there will come a time when the postmodern church will need to “rebuild” what we have been spending time deconstructing, but the time is not now.  I have found that those who are crying the loudest for “rebuilding” are the moderns who wish we would simply “go away.”  When they (the moderns – or the MGF – or the hyper-moderns – or the “postmoderns who are really not postmodern” – or the, well you get the picture) say they want to “rebuild” what I am actually hearing is, “We want you to compromise your beliefs and your ideas and settle on this middle ground.”  I am not sure we are at a “rebuilding” stage in postmodern thought and theology – heck, I am still playing with the blocks.  Mainly because I am not certain that those who desire to “rebuild” want to rebuild with a postmodern heart, or simply “pick up the scraps of a modern thought and theology” and rebuild a “cool modern church.”  Another fear I have when it comes to “rebuilding” too soon is that when we do, we will create a model that “is postmodern” – and who defines such a model?  One of the greatest things about postmodern worship, thought and theology is that there is no “central” guru who will or will not determine what “is postmodern.”  Moderns do not like this, because they need to have someone in control, some one central, someone “in charge.”


Moderns fear that in postmodern thought, because they do not understand it:  Sure, fear is a key to a phobia, after all that is what phobia means – but this is not fear as much as it is understanding.  Moderns just do not get it.  I sit with moderns and talk all the time about postmodern, emerging, thought and they just look at me as if I am crazy.  For a long time I felt that it was me and that I did not have the skills to communicate what I was trying to say – in fact, many moderns did blame me for their not understanding.  Then it dawned on me that no matter what I said, they simply would not get it.  It is strange, when I am with postmodern people I do not even have to speak and we all know what is happening – but with moderns it is a whole other ball game.


Moderns who say, “You are saying the same things we are, your just using different words.”  I will have to admit that I fell for that one a few years back, until I realized that that is not true – at all.  We are not saying the same things, so we are not thinking the same way.   We are not saying the same things.  We are using different words because we see things different. 



At this point, I will admit to having a pomophobia phobia or a “pomophibiaphobia.”  While it may not be a full-blown fear, it is defiantly there.  It centers on several areas; First, because I am not a “rebuild at this point kind-a-guy,” I tend to be seen as a radical, and that’s cool.  Second, because I am unwilling to compromise what I see as cores in postmodern thought and “accept a more modern look” I am seen as a radical, I can live with that.  Third, because I am not willing to say that one persons model or book is “postmodernism” I am seen as a radical, and that is cool.  Fourth, there really is no fourth; I just hated to stop at three – too modern for my tastes.


While some in the postmodern community are calling for a “rebuilding” I am not sure we are there.  I think we need more radicals, more people willing to go to the edge. More people willing to push the envelope and not worry about “offending” people.  When we stop pushing, when we stop looking, when we stop deconstructing, we start to settle and at that point we are no better off then the modern contemporary church.  The question I have asked of all those who desire to rebuild, is this – rebuild what?






shameless ads 

[click here to place an ad with ginkworld]