This work is a culminating one-volume synthesis of Leo Driedger's career-long work on the sociology of North American Mennonites, with particular attention to those in Canada. The book has an autobiographical flavor to it, in that Driedger writes as a professional sociologist and Mennonite who is very conscious of where he comes from and concerned with the direction of Mennonitism in North America. There is a tone in some of this writing that suggests that Mennonites, as Driedger himself, might be in a state of shock at how drastically Mennonites have changed in the course of the 20th century. In his preface Driedger ponders what his grandmother would think of him as an urban professional writing on a computer, but still a devout Mennonite. He thinks she would recognize only the latter aspect of him. Much of the rest she would find completely unfamiliar. This autobiographical vignette locates the book's investigation of transformations in Mennonite society. But the book puts a sociological disciplinary mold onto this story so that the narrative flows along—not too smoothly—with the jargon of 20th century sociology and media criticism. Thus, Driedger and his grandmother represent the transformation of Mennonites from traditional to modern, and now most recently, to postmodern. This trilogy of concepts, the modernist optic, more or less a product of 18th century Enlightenment, is supposed to clarify who Mennonites are, what they have become, and the extent to which they still possess the uniqueness of their spiritual heritage and ideology. The sociological and media optics are rounded out with the popularizing phrases of the global village of Marshall McLuhan. Charts and summaries abbreviate this story with rates of rural to urban migration, professions assumed, incomes, education, and family habits of Mennonites.

The book is made up of three parts, each with several chapters. Part I examines the information revolution and how professionalization and individualism have shaped Mennonite life in North America. Part II examines symbolic extensions of cultural change, media shifts, and changes from extended families to nuclear and lone-parent families. Here the sacred village of Mennonite tradition is contrasted to McLuhan's global village. Part III explores reconstruction in the midst of post-modern diversity. Here we find a look at what is happening to Mennonite youth, the changing face of Mennonite institutions of higher education (where Driedger finds educational Monastery fused with market-driven educational production), the changing place of Mennonite women in society, and the transformation of the Mennonite peace ethic. Each chapter of these three parts of the book tackles a dimension or arena of the change from traditional to modern and postmodern. Driedger's sources for this synthetic book on Mennonites are drawn from the range of his own work, often conducted in collaboration with other Mennonite scholars such as Howard Kauffman, Leland Harder, Abe Bergen, Don Kraybill, Dorothy Nickel Friesen, and others.

I find the chapter on the sacred village to global village in Part II most interesting. I asked myself why this chapter was the most attractive to me. It is a detailed account of Driedger's paternal grandfather and his family in a Saskatchewan Old Colony community just after the turn of the century. This family was well to do and supported the church with its wealth, its intellectual energy, and its membership. And yet, the church and the community reacted negatively to this energetic family by rejecting them. The head of the family, Driedger's grandfather, was formally excommunicated by the church, and informally shunned, by boycotting the family business. Not many years later most of the Old Colony Mennonites in this community emigrated to Mexico, and the Driedgers left behind mostly joined more progressive Mennonite churches, or left the church altogether. This chapter was drawn from Driedger's M. A. thesis at the University of Chicago, so it probably went through revisions. But what drew me to it was the lucid writing style, the dramatic power of the story, and probably because it best expresses the roots and branches of Leo Driedger's character. Of course, as an anthropologist, I must confess that this chapter looks the most like ethnography, or thick description, vivid accounts of real people in their historical and social context, in their own words and images if at all possible, without the crutches of objective verbal abstractions.

This chapter, standing in such sharp contrast in its style to many of the other chapters, seems to me to clarify a number of dimensions of Driedger's sociology, and his passion for the sociology of Mennonites. He appears almost driven to adopt the latest jargon, to put his interpretation of his own people and faith into the language of one of the most secular disciplines in the academy. At the same time he is passionate about his continuing participation in the Mennonite church and its myriad social networks and institutions. The reader who ponders these dimensions of Driedger's work and life may ask if he is still trying to prove to the Old Colony elders who excommunicated his grandfather, and the neighbors who shunned the family and boycotted their store, that one can simultaneously be progressive and be Mennonite Christian. I wish I had known this about Leo Driedger back in the 1960s when we were fellow students at Bethel College, headed for graduate study at the University of Chicago. I leave for another time the topic of the consequences of religious and social rejection in the Mennonite world upon those so excommunicated, as well as their descendants.

But the main paradigm in which Driedger's Mennonites in the Global Village is couched is, as already noted, modernization theory, and to be nit-picky, also neo-modernization theory. Granted, this was the dominant social science theory of the last half of the twentieth century. All aspects of Driedger's Mennonite sociology—the community, the media revolution, the impact of individualism, education, women's roles, the most visible Mennonite teaching about war and peace—have been subjected to the analytical rigors of modernization theory, often with statistical demonstrations of hypotheses. In Driedger's account, Mennonites of North America have by and large moved through the modernist framework, and are now postmodern. What does this mean, or how can it be really proven or tested? Does it really fit?

As a Mennonite and an academic professional, with ample connections in the broader Mennonite world, and with an on-going interest in many of the intricacies of the Mennonite world, and I might add as a practicing Mennonite, I find such a formulaic interpretation rather limiting. There seems to be little place in this picture of Mennonites in North America for the unique and peculiar tensions and combinations of institutions one really finds across the landscape—denominationally, culturally, technologically, and economically. Does this model of analysis allow for the community affirming Mennonite and Anabaptist branches—e.g., the increasingly numerous and varied groups across North America such as the Amish, Old Colony, Chortitza, and Bergthalers, the Hutterites—who embrace electronic technology for some purposes, but seemingly effectively resist its individualizing impact? Does the model of modernization or modernity really explain Mennonites' passion for higher education, psychiatric care, global service, the study of foreign languages, and collective congregation? Evidence that it does not is that Driedger repeatedly encounters paradoxes and contradictions that are exceptions to the rule of the theories he employs. Thus, in the chapter on education, he wonders why the Dutch-Prussian Mennonites of Kansas have not all moved to Wichita, the dominant metropolitan area, given that they embrace higher education. If they are modern, they should be urban, right? But perhaps the fruits of industrial and electronic technology and the blessings of rich land and moderate climate mitigate against this lock-step movement of social forces. In the chapter on the transformations of pacifism, increased education results in greater emphasis on the teachings of pacifism as well as, paradoxically, a decline in resistance to abortion. I suggest that the straitjacket of modernization theory—putting all human manifestations into the categories of traditional, modern, and postmodern—hinders a profound analysis of the Mennonite community in the twentieth and twenty-first century world.

Still, despite these drawbacks, this book is a monument to Leo Driedger's passion to be Mennonite and to be an academic scholar of Mennonites, his own people. If you wish to read one volume of Canada's leading Mennonite sociologist, this is the book that should be on your shelf.

John M. Janzen
Professor of Anthropology
University of Kansas