The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

 

 

The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology and Faculdades EST, Brazil strengthen partnershiphttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4276The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology and Faculdades EST, Brazil strengthen partnershipDion Forster<p>The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology in the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University has been engaged in a rich and fruitful partnership with colleagues from Faculdades EST since 2007. Faculdades EST is a Brazilian institution of research and academic training in the fields of human sciences and applied social sciences, linguistics, languages, arts and health. The partnership has focussed predominantly on issues of Public Theologies in the respective contexts. Prof Dr Rudolf von Sinner from Faculdades EST and Dr Dion Forster from the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology serve as the coordinators of an ongoing research project on the nature and content of Public Theologies from Brazil and South Africa. This has been a very fruitful collaboration over the years with the exchange of staff and students, participation in conferences in Sao Leopoldo and Stellenbosch, and shared publications. <br> <br>On the 14th of September 2016 the Faculty of Theology (Stellenbosch University) and the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology presented Prof Dr Rudolf von Sinner with an artwork for the Centre for Ethics at Faculdades EST. The artwork, which was created by Prof Daniel Louw (Emeritus Professor - and former Dean - of the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch) is entitled '<em>The Cursed and Wounded Healer</em>'. It symbolises the frailty and brokenness of human persons and society as a result of sin. Yet, it points towards the hope of healing and restoration that the cross of Christ brings, expressed in Pauline terminology, as wholeness (<em>parrhesia</em>).</p><p>We look forward to many fruitful years of South by South collaboration between these two Southern hemisphere institutions. In this picture Dr Donald Katts, Stellenbosch (left) is presenting the artwork to Prof Dr Rudolf von Sinner (right) at a special service at Faculdades EST.</p>
Transgression and Transformation conferencehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6444Transgression and Transformation conferenceMarita Snyman<h2>​​​​​Transgression and transformation: the role of feminist, postcolonial and queer biblical interpretation in fostering communities of justice​<br></h2><h2><span lang="EN-ZA"><br></span></h2><p><span lang="EN-ZA" style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;">On March 13-15, 2019, the Gender Unit, Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, in collaboration with the Center for Theology, Women, and Gender of Princeton Theological Seminary hosted a successful Transgression and Transformation Conference.</span></p><p><span lang="EN-ZA" style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;"></span><span style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;">Keynote speakers to this conference included Prof Jacqueline Lapsley, Princeton Theological Seminary; Prof Christl Maier, </span><span lang="EN-ZA" style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;">Philipps University Marburg, Germany; Prof </span><span style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;">Dora Mbuwayesango, Hood Theological Seminary; Prof Linda Thomas, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL; Prof Charlene van der Walt, University</span><span lang="EN-ZA" style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;"> of KwaZulu-Natal. </span></p><p><span lang="EN-ZA" style="line-height:107%;font-family:"times new roman",serif;font-size:11pt;">This conference formed part of the Core Module of the MTh Gender and Health as well as the MDIV class and were attended by between 60-70 participants.</span><br></p>
We should cultivate healthier social media habitshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7768We should cultivate healthier social media habitsDion Forster <p>We should cultivate healthier social media habits that are aligned to our better values, writes Prof Dion Forster from the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology) in an article for <em>The Conversation</em> (21 October 2020).<br></p><ul><li>Re​ad the article below or click <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-must-make-moral-choices-about-how-we-relate-to-social-media-apps-147509"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""> </strong>for the piece as published.</li></ul><p>​Recently a South African radio show asked, “If you had to choose between your mobile phone and your pet, which would choose?" Think about that for a moment. Many callers responded they would choose their phone. I was shocked… But to be honest, I give more attention to my phone than to my beloved dogs!<br></p><p>Throughout history there have been discoveries that have changed society in unimaginable ways. Written language made it possible to communicate over space and time. The printing press, say historians, helped shape societies through the mass dissemination of ideas. New modes of transport radically transformed social norms by bringing people into contact with new cultures.</p><p>Yet these pale in comparison to how the internet is shaping, and misshaping, our individual and social identities. I remember the first time I heard a teenager speaking with an American accent and discovered she'd never been out of South Africa but picked up her accent from watching YouTube. We shape our technologies, but they also shape us.</p><p>The potentially negative impacts of social media have again been highlighted by <em>The Social Dilemma</em> on Netflix. The documentary, which Facebook has slammed as sensational and unfair, shows how dominant and largely unregulated social media companies manipulate users by harvesting personal data, while using algorithms to push information and ads that can lead to social media addiction – and dangerous anti-social behaviour. Among others, the show makes an example of the conspiracy theory QAnon, which is increasingly targeting Africans.</p><p>Despite its flaws, the doccie got me wondering what our relationship should be to social media? As an ethics professor, I've come to realise that we must make moral choices about how we relate to our technologies. This requires an honest evaluation of our needs and weaknesses, and a clear understanding of the intentions of these platforms.<br></p><p><strong>Tug-of-war with technology</strong></p><p>Yuval Noah Harari, author of <em>Sapiens</em>, contends it's our ability to inhabit “fiction" that differentiates humans. He claims you “could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven". Humans have a capacity to believe in things we cannot see – which changes things that do exist. Ideas like prejudice and hatred, for example, are powerful enough to cause wars that displace thousands.</p><p>The wall between Israel and Palestine was conceived in people's minds before being transformed into bricks and barbed wire. Philosopher Oliver Razac's book <em>Barbed Wire: A political history</em> traces how this razor-sharp technology has been deployed from farms that displaced indigenous peoples to the trenches of World War I and the prisons of contemporary democracies.</p><p>Technology is in a constant psychological, political and economic tug-of-war with humanity. Yet, some of today's technologies are much more subtle than barbed wire. They are deeply integrated into our lives – they know us better than we know ourselves.<br></p><p>I have thousands of 'friends' on social media – far too many to relate to meaningfully. Yet, at times I can be more present to people that I have never met than I am to my family. This is not by chance – social media platforms are designed to seek and hold our attention. They are businesses, intent on making money. Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff, who features in the documentary, explains in <em>The Age of Surveillance Capitalism</em> that social media “trades exclusively in human futures".</p><p><strong>We are the product</strong></p><p>Zuboff says that social media platforms exploit our emotions and pre-cognate needs like belonging, recognition, acceptance and pleasure that are 'hard wired' into us to secure our survival.</p><p>Recognition relates to two of the primary functions of the brain, avoiding danger and finding ways to meet our basic survival needs (such as food or a mate to perpetuate our gene pool). These corporations, she says, are hiring the smartest engineers, social psychologists, behavioural economists and artists to hold our attention, while interspersing adverts between our videos, photos and status updates. They make money by offering a future that their advertisers will sell you.</p><p>Or, as former Google and Facebook employee Justin Rosenstein, says in <em>The Social Dilemma</em>:</p><p><em>Our attention is the product being sold to advertisers.</em></p><p>If our adult brains are so susceptible to this kind of manipulation, what effects are they having on the developing minds of children?</p><p>The documentary also reminds the viewer that social media has a more subtle and powerful influence on our lives – shaping our social and political realities.</p><p><strong>Fake news and hate speech</strong></p><p>The documentary uses an example from 2017 in which Facebook use is linked to violence that led to the displacement of close to 700,000 Rohingya persons in Myanmar. Something that doesn't really exist (a social media platform) violently changed something that does exist (the safety of people). Facebook was a primary means of communication in Myanmar. New phones came with Facebook pre-installed. What users were unaware of was a 'third person' – Facebook's algorithms – feeding information that included hate speech and fake news into their conversations. In Africa, similar reports have emerged from South Sudan and Zimbabwe.</p><p>Another example used is the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which also played out in Africa, most notably in Nigeria and Kenya. Facebook user information was mined and sold to nefarious political actors. This information (like what people feared and what upset them) was used to spread misinformation and manipulate their voting decisions on important elections.</p><p><strong>What to do about it?</strong></p><p>So, what do we do? We can't very well give up on social media completely, and I don't think it is necessary. These technologies are already deeply intertwined with our daily lives. We cannot deny they have some value.</p><p>However, just like humans had to adapt to the responsible use of the printing press or long-distance travel, we will need to be more intentional about how we relate to these new technologies. We can begin by cultivating healthier social media habits.</p><p>We should also develop a greater awareness of the aims of these companies and how they achieve them, while understanding how our information is being used. This will allow us to make some simple commitments that align our social media usage to our better values.</p><p> </p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
Memorial service for Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel on 29 Mayhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7388Memorial service for Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel on 29 MayMarita Snyman<p>​<a href="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Memorial%20service%20MAP.jpg"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/15/images/icjpg.gif" alt="" />Memorial service MAP.jpg</a><br></p>
Dr Chris Jones’s book wins most downloaded book awardhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8780Dr Chris Jones’s book wins most downloaded book awardMarita Snyman<p>The BNC congratulates <strong>Chris Jones* and Juri van den Heever</strong> on winning the following award:</p><ul><li>Most downloaded book during 2020 in the <strong>Humanities & Social Sciences AOSIS Scholarly Domain</strong></li><li>Book Title: <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://books.aosis.co.za/index.php/ob/catalog/book/114&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912194577%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=CrwyxqgKuuk7HTLsQUrGsnMAembp2FtnB5fGmGz9PBM%3D&reserved=0"><strong>Moral Issues in the Natural Sciences and Technologies</strong></a></li></ul><p>*Dr Chris Jones is the head of the Moral Leadership Unit of the Beyers Naudé Centre<br></p><p><em>This book reflects academically on important and relevant natural scientific disciplines, important technologies, and related media to determine and communicate the moral issues and challenges within those specific fields of study, and how to deal with them morally and from a multidimensional South African context. It aims to add scientific, technological, and ethical value, locally and globally, by reflecting mainly from the viewpoint of specific scholars, writing about the most pressing moral issues or challenges raised by problems within their specific field of study</em>. – Chris Jones & Juri van den Heever</p><p><em>This collected work reflects, in a multidimensional fashion, on moral issues that arise in scientific and technological work. It resembles the South African heritage and circumstances of the authors. Let me state unequivocally that this is a very professionally conceived and completed project. That it is multidimensional is a given</em> – Prof Michael Ruse, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America. </p><p>More about the AOIS Laureatus Awards:<br></p><p>The annual <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://aosis.co.za/laureatus-awards-2021/&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912184619%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=1gPTEPW9sRIJra3UaLEdzsReV2E%2BFS8qZdz5kNL5BxU%3D&reserved=0"><strong>AOSIS Laureatus Awards</strong></a> is a prestigious awards ceremony where we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of authors and researchers who are making an impact in our scholarly community. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we have adapted with the times to bring you the 2021 awards ceremony <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v%3DRNqFBA1MGk8%26t%3D43s&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912184619%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=zHsjb0MMkFSjJiCKlaXqnaC1GRYSy2ryB97ezbc%2B7UE%3D&reserved=0">virtually.</a> </p><p>  It is with great pleasure that we give well deserved recognition to all the winners. View the complete list of prize winners: <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://bit.ly/30U7tJZ&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912194577%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=Wl9E4fGYd8/mQGM8QAn2V9uC%2B73nmXLbGKSFfB3tmoU%3D&reserved=0">https://bit.ly/30U7tJZ</a></p><p>Click <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v%3DRNqFBA1MGk8%26t%3D3s&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912204535%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=rzA%2Ba7iIyJTQyUy3diymsRlNV/zAHlbFh0tJYNL%2BLF8%3D&reserved=0"><strong>HERE</strong></a> to watch the <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v%3DRNqFBA1MGk8%26t%3D3s&data=04%7c01%7c%7c1ba09e175cb144e9d1fa08d9b00885ad%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c637734372912204535%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000&sdata=rzA%2Ba7iIyJTQyUy3diymsRlNV/zAHlbFh0tJYNL%2BLF8%3D&reserved=0"><strong>Laureatus Awards.</strong></a></p><p>​<br></p>
Dr Marthie Momberg awarded a top 20 Post-Doctoral Fellow prizehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7955Dr Marthie Momberg awarded a top 20 Post-Doctoral Fellow prizeMarita Snyman<p>The Beyers Naudé Centre congratulate their colleague and project leader, Dr Marthie Momberg, with being recognised as among the top 20 Post-Doctoral Fellows out of over 320 at the University of Stellenbosch.<br></p><p>Her colleagues are very grateful for the significant work that Dr Momberg has done on the important topic of 'Shifting Perceptions of Zionism', with a particular focus on issues of justice for the people of Palestine in the Israel / Palestine conflict. <br></p><p>Please click on the link below for an article on the award:<br></p><p> <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7844&fbclid=IwAR0VgKatSA6DbnYva8_lg1Vy4V8nMT3gjEUh-ZwVyffEBUguSuO8R5VUc0g">http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7844&fbclid=IwAR0VgKatSA6DbnYva8_lg1Vy4V8nMT3gjEUh-ZwVyffEBUguSuO8R5VUc0g</a><br></p><p><br></p>
Engaging "radical economic transformation" and land ownership in South Africahttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5601Engaging "radical economic transformation" and land ownership in South AfricaMarita Snyman<p>​The Faculty of Theology commemorated the beginning of theological education in Stellenbosch when the first classes were conducted on 3<sup> </sup>November 1859. The BNC facilitated a short but rigorous discussion of a topic that is relevant for our society as a whole and that will assist in focusing, challenging and informing the Faculty's Public Theology. Keynote speakers included Ms Bokang Mpeta, lecturer in Economics, Stellenbosch University and Dr Aninka Claassens, Director: Land and Accountability Research Centre, University of Cape Town.<br><br></p><p>Photo: Dr Dion Forster; Dr Aninka Claassens; Ms Bokang Mpeta; Prof Reggie Nel; Prof Hendrik Bosman<br></p>
Eighth Winter School at Theologyhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6603Eighth Winter School at TheologyHelette van der Westhuizen<p style="margin:0mm 0mm 0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal;"><font color="#000000" face="Calibri" size="3">​​The Winter School of the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, was recently presented for the eighth time. The Winter School is an initiative of the faculty, Communitas, Ekklesia and the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, which aims to create a dialogue on contemporary issues affecting communities and congregations. It also provides an opportunity for additional theological training of spiritual leaders, and empowering members of the congregation.</font></p><p style="margin:0mm 0mm 0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal;"><font color="#000000" face="Calibri" size="3">Prof Anita Cloete, coordinator of the Winter School, says: “This year we reflected on 25 years of democracy in conversation with religion. The keynote speakers highlighted the theme from different perspectives and emphasized the public role that the church plays. On the first day, Prof Nadine Bowers-du Toit focused on identity politics and how, on the one hand, it promotes polarization and, on the other hand, is often intertwined with religion. Former Statistics General Dr Pali Lehohla outlined the story of democracy on day two using statistics about South Africa. Prof Allan Boesak concluded the Winter School with an emphasis on the important contribution of religion in the fight against apartheid, also outlining the role for religion in South Africa’s future democracy. " Follow the link for a copy of his address. <a href="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Prof%20Allan%20Boesak.pdf"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/15/images/icpdf.png" alt="" />Prof Allan Boesak.pdf</a></font></p><p style="margin:0mm 0mm 0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal;"><font color="#000000" face="Calibri" size="3">“The parallel sessions that took place in the morning and afternoon followed the main themes of the day. The Winter School was very well attended with more than 200 participants. One of the highlights of the Winter School is that it brings people together from different denominations, cultures and generations. This diversity also adds depth to our shared sense of community and conversations because it allows us to learn more about each other, crossing boundaries. Each day began with participants joining together in a moment of stillness to read the Word. In the feedback after the course, many participants described it as one of the most valuable moments of the Winter School. "</font></p><p style="margin:0mm 0mm 0pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal;"><font color="#000000" face="Calibri" size="3">“We hope this initiative will continue as a way of communicating hope to congregations and communities. "</font></p><p style="margin:0mm 0mm 0pt;line-height:normal;"><font color="#000000" face="Calibri" size="3">The dates of the 2020 Winter School will be announced soon.</font></p><p><br> </p>
Launch of Gender Unit at the Faculty of Theologyhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4786Launch of Gender Unit at the Faculty of TheologyHelette van der Westhuizen<p>Prof Juliana Claassens, Professor of Old Testament and Head of the Gender Unit, shared the story of the unit and said, "We want to offer a creative space for interdisciplinary research on an intersectional understanding of gender where we bring together students and scholars, locally, nationally and internationally to help us think differently about gender. Within this Gender Unit, we want very much to adhere to a feminist ethos that can be described as honouring all voices, interrogating power relations and reconstituting community."</p><p>The Vice-Rector for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Eugene Cloete, who played an important role in the establishment of the Gender Unit, said the unit stands for human dignity. "Human dignity is the number one priority. The second is creating an inclusive environment and a space where people can talk to one another. The idea is to work towards a common good."</p><p>Prof Amanda Gouws, who wished the Gender Unit well on behalf of the wider SU campus, talked about the importance of partnerships, and how essential it is to work together across departments and faculties in terms of issues of gender.</p><p>According to Dr Charlene van der Walt, Research and Programme coordinator of the Gender Unit and the very successful MTh Gender, Health and Theology programme, the unit already collaborates closely with various NGOs working on gender-based violence and minority sexualities in Africa, and they look forward to including other interested partners. Dr Funlola Olojede is the first postdoctoral fellow at the unit. She is making a valuable contribution with her focus on Africa women reading the Bible in terms of the challenges and opportunities in our contemporary context.</p><p>Prof Claassens concluded her address with a quote by<strong> </strong><em>bell hooks:</em> "I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another's differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility." May the Gender Unit be such a place.</p>
Public lecture by Lord Rowan Williamshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4389Public lecture by Lord Rowan WilliamsMarita Snyman<p>Lord Williams was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 – 2012 and currently holds the position of<span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"> </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Masters_of_Magdalene_College%2c_Cambridge"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Master</span></a><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"> of </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalene_College%2c_Cambridge"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Magdalene College</span></a><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"> at </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Cambridge University</span></a><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">. </span>He is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. His visit forms part of the Global Network for Public Theology's Consultation on Democracy and Social Justice in Glocal contexts, presented by the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology and the Faculty of Theology. Please note that there is limited seating – please book your seat with Marita Snyman (<a href="mailto:maritasnyman@sun.ac.za">maritasnyman@sun.ac.za</a> or 021 808 2538) as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.</p>