About 8 years ago I started reading about the whole post-modern thing. A friend had given me a copy of Middleton and Walsh's, truth is stranger than it used to be. And I started down the rabbit hole... I also found on my shelves Thomas C. Oden's, two worlds, notes on the death of modernity in america and russia. It's a pretty good read though it looks like it's out of print...
Anyway I got all excited when I realized that I was living in the country that gave birth to a lot of postmodern thought... So I formulated a hypothesis: France would be a great place to test out the ideas of the post-modern, now emerging church, crowd's ideas. That was a faux piste as we say in French and ultimately a dead-end.
I got a first indication of this in the fall of 2001. I was invited to speak at a coupl of church weekends about the church in relation to the world today. I was planning on talking about the pre-modern/modern/post-modern transistions and the impact that has had on the way we do church. Then finishing up with what is postmodernity.
Once I got through my material my audience gave out a collective yawn. Now there was certainly a bit of my own inadequacies and inexperience that played into their boredom but it went much deeper.
Their "so-what" reaction is indicative of a lot what I've seen in France. They have a sort of intellectual detachment in relation to this kind of stuff. The understand it but aren't too bothered to go over the past and do sort of autopsy. They are general more concerned with what needs to happen today, not what happen in the past or what's going to happen in the future. They live in the moment. The "No" vote is a good indication of this. The no wasn't about what the European Union had done to this point or what it would do. It was about a lot of disatisfaction with the way things are today and the present government.
What I didn't know then is the truth that the American expression of post-modern/emerging church talk is dripping with the American cultural identity. And while France has a huge intellectual heritage in this matter what's happening on the ground is very different.
When you think about it this all very normal.
So if you come to France you looking for the "emerging church" thinking it'll look like something you've already seen you'll be looking for awhile.