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How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy And Art [Paperback]

By Crystal L. Downing (Author)
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Item description for How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy And Art by Crystal L. Downing...

Can Christians learn from postmodern thinkers and their critique of modernism? Crystal L. Downing introduces students (especially those in the arts) to postmoderism: where it came from, and how Christians can best understand, critique and benefit from its insights. She believes that the challenges, questions and insights of postmodernism can contribute to a deeper and clearer grasp of our faith. She thinks so because, beginning as a graduate student, she explored the best of postmodern thought and came out thankful for it. Through honest engagement, Downing seeks to guide students along a path that will ultimately strengthen their faith.

Publishers Description
Thinking that postmodernism is a threat, many Christians take a duck-and-cover approach to dealing with it. But that will not make postmodernism go away. Can Christians learn from postmodern thinkers and their critique of modernism? Yes, says author Crystal L. Downing. Postmodernism should not be judged by some of the problematic practices carried out in its name. In a lively engagement with literature, philosophy and art, Downing introduces readers to what postmodernism is and where it came from, aiming to show how Christians can best understand, critique and even benefit from its insights. She draws on her own experiences as a graduate student and her careful research into this worldview's modernist and artistic origins, the challenges of foundationalism and poststructuralism, and the complexity of relativism. She ends with a challenge to Christians: that they not be postmodern in their attitudes towards postmodernism, but instead to "be in the world and not of it" and to extend grace where it is most needed. Downing believes that the challenges, questions and insights of postmodernism can contribute to a deeper and clearer grasp of our faith, as well as providing unique paradigms for sharing the truth of Christ.

Citations And Professional Reviews
How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy And Art by Crystal L. Downing has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Foreword - 07/01/2006 page 53
  • Publishers Weekly - 04/10/2006 page 67

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 7.08" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 15, 2006
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830827587  
ISBN13  9780830827589  

Availability  0 units.

More About Crystal L. Downing

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Crystal Downing, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College (PA), has published widely on the relationship between Christianity and culture. Her first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers (Palgrave Macmillan) received the international Barbara Reynolds Award for best scholarship on Sayers, granted at Cambridge in 2009 by the Dorothy L. Sayers Society. Her second book, How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (IVP Academic), grapples with the rhetorical and religious turns in philosophy. Downing has also published scores of essays in Books and Culture, The Cresset, and Religion and the Arts, drawing Christianity and culture into conversation through analysis of film semiotics.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > Philosophical Theology

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Reviews - What do customers think about How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy And Art?

Proposes a thesis without logical foundation  Dec 8, 2006
After reading this book for a philosophy class, I am strongly of the opinion that Downing has little skill as a writer or logician. Yes, she does establish postmodernism and its roots nicely, but she fails to establish the very thesis of her book--that postmodernism serves faith. While I will admit my bias to disagree with her, she did not successfully make her arguments. I found myself repeatedly wondering how she could fail to see the circular reasoning and illogical leaps. Maybe if she had actually been able to argue her point, I might have thought more highly of this book.
Insightful, but inclusive  Dec 4, 2006
Downing is an excellent writer making postmodern philosophy very accessible. Another plus is she has interacted with the primary sources. Too many evangelicals just read critiques by other evangelicals. Downing has spent some time with postmodern writers. Much of the book was helpful. She shows that postmodernisms exposing of the flaws of modernism has served our faith. This is very true in many ways, but Downing goes too far the other way. She leans toward inclusivism, which is a very tempting thing to do in today's postmodern culture in order to not offend, and remain respectable. The problem is the biblical worldview will not allow it. Christians must build their worldview from Scripture, as unpopluar as this may be. You just can't mix worldviews and remain faithful to both. I would reccomend Veith's 'Postmodern Times' then this one.
Excellent job about describing the post-modernism's influence on the Christian message  Nov 5, 2006
In order to describe Postmodernism, one has to first explain what Modernism was -- since Postmodernism is something that comes after Modernism. In fact, until I read this book, I was not sure about what Modernism was, let alone what Postmodernism was. The author of this book does a superb job elucidating the entangled relationship between Modernism and Postmodernism, and their relationship to Christian faith. As the author points out, there is no one singular definition of Postmodernism, since it is a phenomenon that envelops art, literature, music as well as philosophy. I think Postmodernism is something that you FEEL, rather than THINK. So it is terribly difficult to describe what it is, let alone explain its relationship to Christianity. Nevertheless it is a task somebody has to accomplish in order to equip Christian apologetics in this Postmodern era. But I had one question as I was reading this book: if Postmodernism can be defined, for the sake of simplicity, as "Any Way You Make It," and it can aid our Christian faith, does it mean that the Christian truth is also any way you make it? I think not. We believe in absolute truth, and it is written in the Bible and capsulated in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not negotiable and not open to any twists and turns of human interprepation. However, I agree with the author that, in so far as Postmodernism destroys the tower of skepticism that Modernists had set up so high, Postmodernism can help our Christian faith and advocacy.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." ~Einstein  Jun 29, 2006
What distinguishes Downing's book from fourscore others explaining postmodernism to Christians? She practices what she preaches. She preaches that language is a servant not a master; she is a master of oration. She preaches that truth is inseparable from the personal; she weaves her personal narrative into an engaging account. Her goal is to "celebrate deconstruction of the reason/faith binary," "inspired by C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers." (138) She succeeds.

Downing's book illustrates Chase's theorem: "Things are more complicated than they seem, even after taking into account Chase's theorem." A children's Halloween story opens up into a sophisticated discussion of relativism. Children's construction paper towers first become transparent, then represent the Tower of Babel, and finally the Twin Towers destroyed on September 11. Downing has surveyed mountains of postmodern resources both primary and secondary, here converting intimidating mounts into inspiring montages.

Downing has exposed a secret more arcane than a DaVinci code: Academics is fun. Consider this, delivered with deadpan humor. "Note the dictionary definition of relativism. ... of course other dictionaries may define it differently." (185) Too many other explainers of postmodernism take themselves too seriously. A labyrinth can be fun; a labyrinth can be a prayer path. A labyrinth does not have to be a formal English garden. This book is both fun and a prayer path.

Take a leaf from Dante, whose Comedy Dorothy L. Sayers translates. If you're going to explain heaven and hell, write poetically. If you're going to go there, take a poet as a guide. And for heaven's sake, write in the language of the common people! Thank you, Crystal Downing, for doing that.

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