Monday, July 14, 2008


"Oh, absolutely!"
"Is there anybody else out there who has noticed this adverb has become a substitute for "yes", "sure", and (in Minnesota) "you betcha"? One can hardly get through the day without hearing an "absolutely" launched by some talking head to affirm that a statement proposed by a leading question is, indeed, true. I, for one, have chosen to die on this hill in the grammar battles, refusing to refer to anything as absolute unless I'm sure it is always categorically true. And, more importantly, I have determined never use "absolutely" as anything other than a modifier for a verb, adjective, phrase, clause, or other adverb.

Now that I've got that self-righteous (and nerdy) rant off my chest, on to what's important. The use of "absolutely" in news stories has grown steadily since 2004 (when Google Trends started keeping track of such things). I propose that the rise in the use of "absolutely" indicates a search for absolutes in a postmodern cultural age.

To be more precise, the use of "absolutely" is one of the signals of our transition into what, for lack of a better term, has been called a post-postmodern age. In an article Ministry (June 2008), philosopher-pastor Aleksandar S. Santrac wrote about three tenets of post-postmodernism: (1) performatism [see above picture], (2) new transcendency, and (3) new utopia. It is the third point that involves our discussion, because the "new utopia" involves a rejection of anything-goes postmodernism, which had previously rejected all utopian ideals as dangerous tools of oppression.

It looks like the radical tolerance of postmodernism was only able to survive as long as there was an intolerant edifice of modernism to tear down. But for postmoderns, the edifice did eventually fall, and they had to confront an age where anything could happen and tolerance itself was dangerous. Or, as Santrac puts it, "After September 11, everything becomes possible, and humanity has no ground of hope or "anchor" of historical certainty."

Could it be that the stunning realization that we have no certainty left at all would drive my generation out of our deconstruction and irony to search for it again?


Tolerance is out. Transcendence is in. This opens a new set of spaces for the Christianity to operate in, as well as dangers to be avoided.

What possibilities or pitfalls do you see in the new cultural shift?

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