Wineskins & Pseudo-Modernism

8 adults and two children have to get across the river in a small boat which, on any given trip, can only carry one adult, one child or two children …[1]

It was “new math”. Apparently someone came to the conclusion that the “old math” wasn’t working anymore. So instead of learning Algebra, we were presented with a “real world problem”. Or maybe the educational powers-that-be were just trying to make “boring” more interesting.

After reading The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond[2], I started remembering my childhood and how radically education changed in the 1960’s. We students were ready to go with the changes; not so all of our teachers. If we were the “new wine”, many of them were the “old wineskins”. There was a lot of tearing going on.

In the last seventy-five years the Western world has passed the torch, to quote President John Kennedy, from one generation to another; but never before in human history have the generations been marked by qualities so specific to each as to warrant their own title and classification, from “Baby-Boomers” all the way to “Generation Z”.[3]

In the article on The Death of Postmodernism, Alan Kirby suggests we are now in what he calls “Pseudo-Modernism”. From the upheaval and disestablishmentarianism of the Boomers who looked to jettison the culture of their parents, all the way to “the far more intense engagement with the cultural process” that characterizes the hyper-texting youth, it’s not just that the “times, they are a’changin’”; the times are being created moment by moment in the form of one app after another. The pseudo-modernists are not sitting passively at laptops; they are writing the code of their lives in a globalized context that IS the reality no matter what the Brits ultimately decide about their involvement in the EU.

Secularists can escape neither the spiritual moorings nor spiritual implications of our day. In an eerie way the ancient seers saw deep into human nature, even if they couldn’t anticipate the means, methods or speed of change in the centuries or millennia to come. Change at any pace still requires the cultural containers that can withstand the pressures of progress.

But wine is wine, no matter what the container; we can be just as intoxicated over our hand-held devices today as the ancients were with their horses and chariots of old. GPS has led more than one traveler off the edge of a cliff. And every now and then we have to admit that what we have created might just be making fun of us all.



[2] See Philosophy Now on line –

[3] For the markers of the successive generations, see this article by Natalie Waterworth.


Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.