The dialogue between Christianity and postmodernism in selected postmodern novels.
This paper seeks to explore the dialogue between postmodern thought and Christian theology. The dialogue will be grounded in four postmodern novels: Toni Morrison's Beloved, Ian McEwan's Atonement, Jill Paton Walsh's Knowledge of Angels, and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. In many Church circles, it has often been said that postmodernism, as it manifests itself in popular culture, is a threat to the Christian faith. However, I will be arguing that the opposite is the case, and that postmodernism has allowed for new ways of thinking about the self that has great resonance with certain theological conceptions of the self. It will be argued that the postmodern subject is one that seeks to make sense of 'the other' without risking the exploitation of the other, and that this lies very close to the theological concept of relationship, based on the idea of covenant. The self as responsible to an other and as a participant in community will be explored, from both the postmodern and theological perspectives. Before exploring issues of the self, this thesis will contextualize the dialogue by exploring postmodern conceptions of space and time. It will examine how ideas around space and time have been imagined throughout human history, thereby contextualizing the emergence of postmodern thinking. It will then show how this emergence of a postmodern space and time in fact creates new possibilities for the Christian faith to reexpress itself in ways that are more relevant to the 21st century. The concluding chapter of this thesis brings to light the longing within our postmodern reality for a place we can call home, a place where we can belong, and find healing. Such a place, such a homecoming, is offered to us in the spaces opened up to us by the dialogue between the Christian faith and postmodernity, and is found within a community of people who are learning that, as, postmodern philosopher Emmanuel Levinas states, "there is something more important than my life, and that is the life of the other" (in Beavers, 1996,16).
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