God's Mission and Postmodern Culture
By: John C. Sivalon, MM
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.