Deranged Art (Part 1)

By Scott Hughes

Under a Naked Sky

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”1

Thanks to Douglas Porpora, author of Landscapes of the Soul, we have explored major shifts in how different eras supported identity creation. Over the next series of posts, we will focus more on current issues that reveal the complexity of identity formation today.

As we noted in earlier posts, part of the difficulty of identity creation in the postmodern context is that it is done in a virtual vacuum. Contrary to the pre and modern eras, we have overwhelming choices and little guidance about how to make these choices. There are so many voices attempting to fill this vacuum that the sound is muddled and confusing. The voice of individualism tells us to be autonomous. The consumer voice tells us we are exactly what the brands we are buying imagine us to be. There is a psychological voice that asks us to be simultaneously dependent and interdependent. And there is the over-demanding cultural voice declaring we can do it all, have it all, and look our best while doing it.

Then there is the voice of Christianity that calls us in healthy ways to be faithful in obedience to God’s story. Rarely does that voice prevail. The Christian voice can and should provide us with a framework for forming our identity and purpose.

Which voices predominate in our lives among the cacophony of sounds? Is it possible to focus on one voice when we’re so busy checking our smart-phones, updating our Facebook status, posting selfies on Instagram, or tweeting our thoughts or checking out those of our “friends”? (How many times have you been distracted from finishing even this short blog?) No wonder Porpora calls our age “deranged.” Although more information is available to us than at any time in history, “wisdom” certainly hasn’t been the defining characteristic of our age.

Questions for Individuals:

What cultural voice is the loudest for you? Are there others not named above?

Questions for Church Leaders:

How can churches help adults learn to hear God’s story among the various cultural voices? What are some ways you wish your church would explore to help adults hear God’s story?

1 Ibid, xii.