Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Henrietta and Merna explain Postmodernism

Meet Henrietta and Merna, ordinary women by day, Public Access TV superstars by night. They are not only singers, but also contemporary philosophers. Their unparalleled performance of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” provides a clear picture why Postmodernism is so prevalent today.

It not only matters what you say, but how you say it.

Check out the video and come right back.


It not only matters what you say, but how you say it.

Henrietta and Merna are singing a wonderful song that brightens the hearts of Christians around the globe during the Christmas season. “Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.” This is a really big deal for Christians. Jesus, the one who created the universe was born into the universe. Jesus, who was promised millennia before, has finally come. Jesus, the only solution to the problem and evil and brokenness in the world, has arrived to make things right. That is why his followers want to tell it from the mountain tops.

However, these ladies don’t seem to connect at all with this truth In fact, they look as if someone is forcing them to sing it—maybe someone is holding a gun offscreen. The truths they are singing seem meaningless because of the way they are singing them.

Now, Mr. Modernist will point out that the words are true even though Henrietta and Merna don’t seem to care about them. This has been the main rallying cry of Modernism as it has fought back against Mr. Postmodern had his friends. And he has a point.

How you say something does not determine whether it is true. However, it does determine whether people care.

Mr. Modern [Mr. M]: Jesus Christ is born.

Mr. Post-Modern [Mr. PM]: and . . .

Mr. M: It is a scientific fact. All the historical evidence points to the truth that Jesus Christ is born.

Mr. PM: Why does it seem like you are falling asleep while you are saying this?

Mr. M: Can you prove that Jesus Christ was not born? Josephus wrote in . . .

Mr. PM: What difference does it make to me, today, if some guy was born 2000 years ago?

Mr. M: All the difference in the world. If you don’t believe that Jesus was born, then you are wrong.

Mr. PM: But I feel a lot more happy than you look. Maybe it isn’t so bad to be wrong .

Mr. M: Did I mention the scientific evidence . . .?

Do you see the disconnect? Now imagine a few decades of people fighting for the truth all the while no more changed by the truth than Henrietta and Merna’s expressions. It is enough to make a whole generation exit stage right on Modernity and find something new, something they can feel, something that changes their lives.

It not only matters what you believe, but how it changes your life.

2 + 2 = 4.  It is a fact. That fact, however, makes no significant difference in your life (except in the grocery store or in an excel spreadsheet). The truth “Jesus Christ is born” however, does have life-changing implications. If God became a man, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and then rose from the dead, that affects every aspect of our lives. Yet, how many people are changed by it? A vast majority of Americans believe that Jesus Christ was born (86%) and rose from the dead (77%). Does America look radically different because so many people believe this truth?

To Mr. Postmodern, the more unchanged people believe a given truth, the more evidence there is that the truth is useless. Life-change is the language of this generation. Why waste your energy believing something that makes no difference in your life?

The moral of the song.

This is a cautionary tale. None of us want to look like Henrietta and Merna. What can we do?

Too many of us are trafficking in un-lived truths. When we proclaim a truth we have not experienced, we only add to the suspicion and objections of this generation. We need to communicate not only with our mouths and our minds, but also with our hearts and our lives.

What truths are you communicating? How have they changed your life?



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