In the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the female lead character, Clementine (played expertly by Kate Winslet), makes the following key statement during the course of the narrative:
“I’m just a ****ed up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind.”
I think that is the heart’s cry of the postmodern world. We’re fast loosing the boastful arrogance of modernism that says that man is clawing his way up from the fog of primitive superstition into a glorious new age of progress and technology and mastery of the world. Too much violence and bloodshed and ecological disaster greeted us in the 20th century to allow for that.
Instead, we’re going for a totally different frame of mind: the world’s a messed up place, we’re all messed up, nobody really knows anything, the powers in high places don’t know anything, so all we should be doing is trying to “find ourselves” in whatever cultural or spiritual milieu floats our boat and just try to walk a path towards personal fulfillment and enlightenment to the best of our ability, whatever that means for each individual person. If we all could just get along and have peace in the midst of our various life journeys, the world wouldn’t be such a frightening place.
Instead of “man is the measure of all things”, it’s “everything’s cool, man”. This is a very different mindset than modernism, and in some ways I truly sympathize with the sentiment. My mom came out of the hippie movement, and growing up in Northern California playing Celtic music, you tend to hang out with postmodern and New Age people all the time. So I understand this attitude. This is my culture. These are my people.
The question that gnaws away at me every day as I ponder the subject is this: what are we doing as Christians to forge meaningful relationships with postmoderns and demonstrate a path of fulfillment and enlightenment that is relevant to their worldview and yet is still founded upon the eternal truths of who God is and what He has done in human history? The characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were looking for just that: a life devoid of pain and heartbreak. Maybe we just happen to know of a Way whereby that ultimate end really is possible. Are we living like we believe it?