God's Mission and Postmodern Culture

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2013 Catholic Press Association Book Award: Professional Books (1st Place)

"Postmodernity" is a name frequently attached to our cultural milieu. Among its features are a sense of historical consciousness, a recognition of the social construction of knowledge, an appreciation for pluralism, and a suspicion of grand narratives. It is a worldview that is naturally suspicious of traditional models of Christian "mission." It is also a worldview that provokes the suspicion of many Catholics, evoking fears of relativism, secularism, and syncretism.

John Sivalon, drawing on his own mission training and experience, believes that the Gospel can and must be inculturated in any situation. Rather than fearing postmodernism, he believes this perspective breathes fresh insight, vision, and life into Vatican IIs understanding that mission is centered in the very heart of God. Above all, postmodernism offers "the gift of uncertainty." It grounds our questions: Why are we doing this? What should we do? How is it best done?

Drawing on personal narratives that reflect the new face of mission for our time, Fr. Sivalon offers a hopeful vision, showing how the Gospel retains its challenge and relevance in an age of uncertainty and change.

John C. Sivalon, a Maryknoll priest, was a missioner in Tanzania before serving as superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (2001-2008). Currently he teaches theology at the University of Scranton.

Book Details

God's Mission and Postmodern Culture
The Gift of Uncertainty
John C. Sivalon, MM
... a provocative book.
... accessible and a stimulating reformation of Trinitarian concepts. ... this book is a worthwhile read for anyone concerned with matters of evangelization (especially in a pluralist, postmodern or ecumenical context), ecclesiology, or the mystery of the Trinity. It is concisely written and well-structured, and though some of the scientific sections of the book may pose some confusion for the uninitiated, his frequent use of examples and summarizing of his arguments help the reader along.
"Christians too often confuse the empirical benchmarks of church success with the achievement of God's mission. Sivalon's book reveals the difference and warns us about confusing the two."
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