How many times has this happened to you?
You intend to quickly look up one thing on the internet and then 2 hours later you are like…“Whoa...where am I?” Maybe you started out looking for some information on a current political event and then BOOM...5 clicks down the Youtube wormhole and you’re trying to figure out which celebrities have Illuminati ties? You know you have much better things to do with your time, but at the moment this search seems SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. Who else is going to uncover and expose the dark secrets of the universe if you don’t do it!!??
Well, one day I found myself in a Shia Labeouf wormhole. And despite “Transformers” and “Indiana Jones”, I have always liked Shia. Ever since my times watching “Even Stevens” with my younger brother I have always thought he was a sincere and funny person.
So my wormhole started with this article where Shia apparently has joined team Jesus.
“I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a f***ing bulls**t way—in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can't identify unless you're really going through it. It's a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.”
Awesome. I was pretty stoked that he seemed to be interested in following Jesus. Maybe we could have him at Catalyst next year instead of Si from Duck Dynasty.
Then, it went to this amazing and hilarious piece of art:
THEN...I got to watching a bunch of interviews, did some research on his #IAMSORRY project and his interest in “metamodernism.” Although he has been all over the map lately, has had some trouble with the law, and has used some unconventional antics around the idea of performance art/method acting, I get the feeling that he sincerely cares about his craft and is trying to make a statement with his work.
All this to say, my wormhole led me to an exploration of the concept of “metamodernism” and how it may relate to faith.
Wikipedia gives a general definition of metamodernism as, “a set of developments in philosophy, aesthetics, and culture which are emerging from and reacting to postmodernism with mediations between aspects of both modernism and postmodernism.”
What interested me about this concept is that I have never felt quite comfortable with the idealism and certainty of modernism, but at the same time I have never felt quite like I fit the postmodern mold that typically embodies, doubt and deconstruction. Maybe this could be a blend of both?
In metamodernism, the word “Meta” actually comes from Plato’s “metaxy” that denotes, “movement between opposite poles but also beyond them.” The poles in this case being modernism and postmodernism. Metamodernism gives space for someone like myself who may at times sincerely believe that a better future is possible, while also knowing that each time we strive for the future there will inevitably be mistakes, failures and necessary critique.
Seth Abramson from the Huffington Post writes that:
“Metamodernism seeks to collapse distances, especially the distance between things that seem to be opposites, to recreate a sense of wholeness that allows us to -- in the lay sense -- transcend our environment and move forward with the aim of creating positive change in our communities and the world.”
You can see the embrace of this concept playing out in one of my favorite shows, “Parks and Recreation.” We are constantly moved back and forth between characters and their ideologies but never fully embracing or discrediting their stances. You have the optimism and naivete of government embodied in Leslie Knope and the deconstruction and pessimism of government embodied in Ron Swanson. Both are awesome, both are flawed and the show constantly goes back and forth between them. You could go through most of the characters in this way. Andy (sincere) and April (cynical) are another great example. I’m not sure how Jean Ralphio or Lil Sebastion fit in but both are amazing nonetheless.
Perhaps the idea of metamoderism makes room for people like myself who sincerely follow Christ, love the Church and believe that we can in some way help bring a better future, while at the same time accounting for our human nature that inevitably get things wrong.
One of my main pushbacks to metamodernism is the word “oscillation” or movement back and forth between. I think this could lead to a bit of a schizophrenic faith or life that is constantly jumping from one idea or concept to the next but never finding contentment in where you stand. I don’t really think that we have to constantly swing back and forth but can actually embody our faith and doubts together, grace and works, construction and deconstruction. Maybe we can call this postmetamodernism or post-post-postmoderism. :)
I am glad to see that people are looking to find ways to transcend both modernism and postmodernism. I have always felt that the post-modern culture especially is one that is tough for the Church to operate in and I think the metamodern sensibility allows for more hope, faith and sincere love.
Maybe Shia has found faith in a real way and will continue in his quest to follow Jesus or maybe it is just a metamodern oscillation that he will swing away from. Either way, I find his search for truth to be of interest.
If you are like me and think this may be an important topic in regards to philosophy and faith, check out these resources that will do much better at explaining this concept than my tiny blog post.
Into the wormhole we go!