Soul, Self, and Society: A Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World

Article excerpt

Soul, Self, and Society: A Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World. By Michael Rynkiewich. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books, 2012. Pp. xv, 280. Paperback $33.

Those of us who regularly attend anthropology conferences recognize a dramatic disciplinary change in recent years. So also in mission the changes are dramatic - missionaries come from the world at large, and former sending nations have themselves become "mission fields. " Michael Rynkiewich highlights these changes and encourages missionaries and anthropologists alike to use their respective disciplines to realize God's concern for human souls in the context of their sociocultural environment.

Rynkiewich presents his case in thirteen chapters, beginning with definitions of anthropology, theology, and missiology (chap. 1) and describing radical post-World War II paradigm shifts (chaps. 2-3). While anthropology embraced postmodernity, missiology embraced anthropology as it had been. Therein resides the thesis of the book: two disciplines going in different directions despite their common interest in humanity with all its diversity (chap. 9), transnational migration (chap. 11), and globalization (chap. 12). Utilizing standard anthropological subsystems of social structure (chap. 4), kinship (chap. 5), economics (chap. 6), political organization (chap. 7), and religion (chap. 8), Rynkiewich contrasts the two disciplines. …