Robert Barron | – What is Postmodernism?

What is postmodernism? What gave rise to it, what are its main characteristics, and how should Catholics assess it? In this episode, Bishop Barron and Brandon discuss the postmodern turn and its results.

A listener asks, is it impossible for some people to believe in God?

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About The Author

Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at

Comment (48)

  1. Bishop Barron, I would like to hear your opinion on the pope's politics regarding the chinese church. I am inclined that he has betrayed the truly heroic catholic church who hasn't submitted itself to the CCP. I remember the critique which the church had to cope with because of the treaty with Nazi Germany, although this treaty is still valid to this day.

  2. Since I started a type of exegesis of Scholasticism/Neo-Scholasticism, I have ran into the thesis that certain Scholastics, some point to Suarez, pushed for a double end for humankind (separate material and spiritual ends) which is what led many to think the temporal needs are sufficient and the spiritual was superfluous. Perhaps you mentioned this in the enlightenment video, which I haven't seen yet. De Lubac got a lot of flack for reuniting the two ends, collapsing the natural and supernatural ends of humankind into a coherent whole. For me the guiding points for the future have seeds in a dynamic recovery of Thomism, such as in the case of Xavier Zubiri and perhaps the River Forest Thomists. I only hope and pray that people find the dynamic structures of reality through our Catholic faith and its doctors and philosopher/theologians. As Gilson said, if one begins with the mind, you end up in the mind. Reality is here, it is present. May the caricature of the Scholastic path as a prescriptivist monolith be casted out.

  3. If you haven't figured it out, the good bishop is getting us to see the roots of current culture. Americans spend too much time throwing at each other the fruit of the trees without having a clue how much plant poison we are all consuming.

  4. My take: Postmodernism is largely rebellious, ignorant or blind to history, angry, destructive, pretentious, conceited, and willfully blind to to the thoughts, values and beauty of "traditional" morality. (For starters)

  5. How difficult is to understand for the whole Christian family that knowing THE ONE WHO SENT JESUS is the beginning of salvation and everlasting life? John 5:24 Jesus said: MOST TRULY I SAY TO YOU, whoever HEARS MY WORD AND BELIEVES THE ONE WHO SENT ME HAS EVERLASTING LIFE, AND HE DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT but has passed over from death to life. John 8:50 But I am not seeking glory for myself; THERE IS ONE who is seeking and judging. 51 Most truly I say to you, if anyone observes my word, he will never see death at all.”
    John 14:31 But for the world to know that I LOVE THE FATHER, I AM DOING JUST AS THE FATHER HAS COMMANDED ME TO DO.

  6. I stand as living testimony that God can overcome an inability to believe. I was a vehement atheist well into my 40's (following a Christian upbringing), I returned to Christ when I came to the end of myself. I thank God that He came for me.

  7. In The Postmodern Condition Jean-Francois Lyotard defines postmodernism as “incredulity to metanarratives.” Insofar as modernism alludes to all encompassing ideals, say of progress, or makes “an explicit appeal to some grand narrative,” it could be said that the role of the postmodern artist is to call these narratives into question. As Frederic Jameson points out, although it may appear to be anti-modern, postmodernism is a recognition of a basic failure of modernism´s own terms in that the work of Corbusier and Wright had not changed the world as promised. I don´t understand this line of thought in contemporary christianity (maybe coming from Jordanson Peterson) which is associating post-modernism with the devil, so to speak. It was modernism which was anti-religious. The writings of Cardinal Ratzinger in this sense are very post-modern, in that they criticize the line of thought founded in modernism, they provide "incredulity" to the atheism of modernism. Ratzinger in Introdution to Christiantiy attempts to relativize the truth of science: the totality of knowledge is not limited to our senses, we need belief as an alternative form of knowing etc. It´s hard to pin any one moment as modernist or postmodernist as they exist in relation to each other. Karl Marx was undoubtedly a modernist – his idea that "so far philosophers have described the world – it is necessary to change it" is a modernist call to progress and action. Modernism attempted to destroy tradition. Since truth was attached to progress and not tradition, tradition was no longer necessary. A renewed interest in tradition is something post-modernist. The latin mass after the second vatican council is post-modernist. One can´t pin complaints of the contemporary world to post-modernism, that leads to this feeling that it is "hard to pin down" – it is nothing more that a spritit of questioning in relation to the modernist notion of progress, a modernist notion which at its worst tried to destroy Christianity.

  8. Reminds me of Peter (modern) and John (post-modern), the latter running and the former hesitantly moving towards the empty grave. The modernist project has certainly "petrified". John's intensity/dunamic is contagious, but his highest point is when he awaits for Peter to enter the grave. Only then can the truth about Jesus can be understood in the figure of the empty grave. The beauty about the catholic church is that both are necessary, form and dynamics.

  9. It would be interesting to analyze how post-modernism alter society decision-making process. Post-modernism, the best decisions are made by individuals. There is no need for discussion where people can express different perspectives. All educated people will have the same opinions, and this will be the correct opinion.

  10. 10-11-2020 – – – – What comes after postmodernism? Pre-end-ism? Followed by endism? Followed by post-end-ism? Please God run your comb through our matted-hair of intellectual confusion. Come back and give us a working set of instructions for life. The bible has failed. Preachers have failed. No one believes anything useful any more. Come back and explain stuff so people will know what the plan is. Watch some idiot respond to this comment with his/her version of what they think the plan is. Go ahead. Prove you're stupid.

  11. What a welcome and insightful reflection. A relief from the corrosive prattle of the perpetually angry Catholic punditry of late and the banalities of popular Catholic media. Bishop Barron is today’s Fulton Sheen, sans cape and chalkboard, but with the same burning love for Holy Mother Church and her children, shepherding us with keen intellect in our time as Sheen did with engaging chatechesis in his day.

  12. You are giving deconstruction way too much of a positive spin,almost presenting as a sophisticated form of the fashionable myth of inclusiveness. It is little more than a more complicated and obfuscating game of skepticism and relativism. What i cannot forgive Derrida for is his distortion of the concept and reality of the Logos. Thank God he is not so fashionable anymore, but he contributed his considerable share to the present nihilism that we are undergoing.

  13. Bishop Robert Robert Barron, it is possible that you are off the true Way, or mistaking the Order of Priorities in regard to the Truth and "branches" of all sorts of philosophies, which the Truth can contain without any conflict. If these philosophies they are in the Light of the Truth and at the service of the Human's minds in the exaltation of the Truth. It is common practice for philosophers to instrumentalize the Sacred Scriptures /Jesus Christ Good News, in the dark meanders of some kind of human thinking/reasoning, admirable, but non important or necessary and most of the time heretic thoughts. The Perfection of Divine Revelation has been given to all of Us for the purpose to save our Soul to Eternal Life, as was gain for us by Jesus Christ by His sacrifice on the Cross. If the Son of God, a Man God, has teach us, in a super abundant way of Grace and Sacraments, in simple pedagogy, using Parables and Stories how to reach the Kingdom of God, what is the purpose of these human hyperbolic treatise of speculative philosophies, sophisms needed for? (To try to prove that God is wrong?…Eve is enough…) In simple logic, if such type of thinking and convoluted linguistics were necessary, do we/you think Christ will had not the opportunity to instruct us? Indeed once He did it with the Doctors of the Temple of Jerusalem, calling them: White Sepulchers and a Race of Vipers. To this and for all of Us: If we are not innocent and simple as these children YOU will not enter the Kingdom of God. Our Saints and Martyrs amply testify to that Truth. We are off tracks (Pope Francis) and driven by false prophets, (of course not all) Masonry from within the Church and from the secular World, following the prophecies: but first the Great Apostasy, now in act. (Saint Paul Apostle). At the due time we will be answering, in Judgment, how we have taken care of God's Vineyard: no one excluded. Regard , respectfully, Paul Candiago ([email protected])

  14. Ken Burns would say that what follows post-modernism is the "Integral", when we realize that every level of consciousness evolution stands upon the shoulders of the movement that preceded it. Could that be Catholicism? I don't know. Enjoyed this conversation.

  15. No, that's a pretty adequate read of Derrida, actually. Your approach to the question why God allows suffering is pretty similar, for example. It's just looking at something from multiple angles, in humility.

  16. Bishop Barren is such a clever man, yet balanced, open minded and not arrogant about anything!! I first came across the Bishop on EWTN, but there was never enough of him on the network. It has been such a comfort to come across this channel ❤

  17. I would argue that we're in the confessionalist period prefigured, by poets such as Sylvia Plath, rather than the post-modern period of the mid to late 20th century. We have left the period of reaction against order and entered the period of reaction against the self.

  18. Christ already solved the issue of enforcing a worldview. If they don’t believe then “shake the dust from your sandals” and move to the next town. Christ’s fundamental axiom was extending the invitation for godliness but not forcing anyone to take part. That only came later as fallen people exerted their wills.

  19. Religion is exposing one thing for sure.
    – A. You're pro life and wish life to flourish or
    – B. You're anti-life, anti-humans and hate to see people happy.

    I noticed one thing at my job. Since I made clear that I don't listen or care about what they socially expect from me… then the mask fell off you see what is their real interest toward my health and well being.

    I wish they stop doing thing they hate. It would stop to produce more anger at least…

  20. This Bishop’s is great; but his take on Post-Modernism would have been brilliant had he not been a Catholic.

    His Catholicism probably limits him to speak on morality as duplicitous as he does when he invoke the example of the “[six-foot White male asking someone on the street if they can perceive of him as a Chinese woman]” and when he invoke “[the global pursue of Catholicism]”. How can Catholicism be global, thus globally ubiquitous or universal – just after acknowledging that Post-Modernism problematises absolutes.