Notes on Christianity
and Ideas

Issue 12
June 2000

Published by Theodore Plantinga

In this issue ....

John Hockenberry, a paraplegic, shares his battle to return to life after a crippling accident. Myodicy comments briefly. Click here to read "Never Say No: Reinventing Life from a Wheelchair"

Have you heard of Dundas? It's about to disappear from the map. Will it be missed? Click here to read "Why Dundas Matters."


Don't take the term literally. I don't plan to turn pages for you. If I inform you of a website, I will simply pass on the address. But for the most part I will comment here on materials in the world of the printed page -- brief book notes, observations about periodicals, and perhaps a comment on an event.

Understanding the elderly. It's often harder than one might expect, for there is a generally-based culture clash that tends to keep the elderly of any given era and their immediate offspring apart. Mary Pipher, a psychologist, has worked hard at bridging that gap and has recorded many of her insights for us in a stimulating book entitled Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999). The title is apt, for it does indeed seem, much of the time, that in visiting the elderly, we have entered a foreign land where expectations and assumptions alien to our everyday thinking lay the basis for misunderstandings on every side.

Pipher makes much of Bernice Neugarten's distinction between the "young-old" and the "old-old" (see p. 28). The former are the ones held up to us as a model. They are active in their retirement years, and old age seems, in their case, largely a time for laying aside responsibilities and doing what you really want to do. But suddenly one is transferred to the category of the "old-old" through some health breakdown that proves not to be reversible. Pipher covers both categories in the book, which I hereby recommend to all who fit into neither category and sometimes find old folks a bit peculiar or hard to fathom.

The great divide. What gives postmodernism its "post" character? What is it, precisely, that postmodernism supersedes and renders obsolete? Many abstruse academic tomes have attempted answers to this question. But much of what one needs to know can be stated rather simply -- and it's been done!

The book I would recommend is Robert Fulford's The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture (Toronto: Anansi, 1999). It is significant that Fulford is not himself an accredited academic but a journalist. For nineteen years he served as editor of Saturday Night. magazine. His book originated as a series of Massey Lectures on Canada's CBC Radio.

Storytelling, for Fulford, is almost a Kantian category that we apply to experience to make sense of it. But there are elements in mass culture that undermine our love of storytelling and our commitment to it. Those elements provide postmodern developments with a degree of credibility for their seemingly subversive claims sowing distrust in our hearts. For those who are new to this lively discussion, Fulford's book would be a fine place to start.

Again, no end-of-term report. During the winter term 1999-2000, I taught two sections of Introduction to Philosophy, plus a class in Philosophy of Language, plus a class in Philosophy of Religion, which again involved "apolomics" exercises on the part of the students (see my "End-of-Term Report" for the winter term of 1997-98).

General information

This electronic journal is my way of keeping in touch with friends, colleagues, former students, and so forth. It does not have a regular publication schedule. Feel free to download it and pass it around. You may even wish to send me a comment; I do not guarantee a response to each communication. If you wish to repost anything in this journal, please let me know. If you care to print something in paper form, this can also be arranged, provided that I retain the copyright so that I will remain free in my use of the material. Please regard the materials in Myodicy as copyrighted by me, except in the case of articles written by someone else. What is written in Myodicy should not be regarded as reflecting any official position or policy of Redeemer College.

Theodore Plantinga
E-mail: [email protected]

To read Myodicy:
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