The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology
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The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology and Faculdades EST, Brazil strengthen partnershiphttps://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>
Celebrating Allan Boesak’s 70th birthdayhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=3919Celebrating Allan Boesak’s 70th birthdayMarita Snyman<p>​​Before the event, attendees received the introduction and first chapter of Prof Boesak's latest book, <em>Kairos, Crisis, and Global Apartheid: The Challenge to Prophetic Resistance. Palgrave Macmillan.</em> </p><p>The reference to "Kairos" in the title of the book reminds of the 1985 Kairos Document which responded theologically to the crisis experienced in apartheid South Africa.  The book argues that thirty years later Christians and faith communities are facing a more global sort of apartheid, and apartheid that is – as the book states – "caused and characterized by growing social and economic inequalities, environmental devastation, and degradation of human dignity on a global scale." The book makes a powerful claim for the embodiment of a theology of prophetic resistance.</p><p>At the event, Prof Robert Vosloo put some questions about the book to Prof Boesak, to which he responded in his typical clear, challenging and inspiring manner.  He elaborated on terms such as "kairos consciousness" and "global apartheid," and also pointed to the influence of Calvin, Bonhoeffer, Beyers Naudé, liberation theology and black theology on the ideas put forward in the book. One of the questions addressed the challenges posed by the conversations on decolonization and the various #mustFall movements. The discussion also turned to the situation in the United States and the candidacy of Donald Trump. Prof Boesak responded by emphasizing the need for the church to stand with God for justice.</p><p>The event was well-attended and those present enjoyed the discussion which served as a challenge to embody the gospel in line with the legacy of people like Beyers Naudé. The event concluded with student leaders from the faculty congratulating Prof Boesak on his 70<sup>th</sup> birthday.​</p>
Memorial service for Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel on 29 Mayhttps://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>
Public lecture by Lord Rowan Williamshttps://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>
International Bonhoeffer Society raises voice in resistance to discrimination and aggressive nationalismhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4635International Bonhoeffer Society raises voice in resistance to discrimination and aggressive nationalismMarita Snyman<p>Comprising scholars and religious leaders from the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the purpose of the English Language Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society is to encourage critical scholarship in conversation with the theology, life, and legacy of the German pastor-theologian and Nazi resistor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While initiated in the United States, this statement expresses the concern, input, and support of our members in many countries that are demonstrating and protesting around the world. We speak noting that Dietrich Bonhoeffer himself taught the profound relatedness of all human persons and, indeed, of peoples and nations. We therefore feel called to raise our voices in support of justice and peace, and in resistance to every form of unjust discrimination and aggressive nationalism.</p><p>The United States has undergone an unusually contentious, bitter, and ugly election that has brought us to an equally contentious, bitter, and ugly beginning of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. While it is impossible to predict what lies ahead, we are gravely concerned by the rise in hateful rhetoric and violence, the deep divisions and distrust in our country, and the weakening in respectful public discourse. Some of the institutions that have traditionally protected our freedoms are under threat. In particular, this election has made the most vulnerable members of our society, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ communities, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, the poor, and the marginally employed and the unemployed, feel even more vulnerable and disempowered.</p><p>The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quoted often in such times, for he spoke eloquently to such issues. His entire theological and political journey was shaped by his conviction that the church is only truly church when it lives for all God's children in the world, and that Christians fulfill their faith as Christians only when we live for others. Members of the Bonhoeffer Society hope to make a faithful contribution to our society in this ominous time.</p><p>The best way to understand Bonhoeffer's possible message for our times is not to draw direct political analogies between his time and ours, but to understand the meaning of how he understood his faith and his responsibilities as a citizen in his own times and discern where these words might resonate for us today:</p><p>In the coming time, we will seek to live such a life of witness, not only for the sake of our country, but because our Christian faith calls us to do so.</p><ul><li>He warned that leaders become "misleaders" when they are interested only in their own power and neglect their responsibilities to serve those whom they govern. (1933)</li><li>He warned that when a government persecutes its minorities, it has ceased to govern legitimately. (1933)</li><li>He admonished Christians to "speak out for those who cannot speak" (1934) and reminded that the church has an "unconditional obligation toward the victims of any societal order, even if they do not belong to the Christian community." (1933)</li><li>In his book <em>Discipleship</em>, he wrote: "From the human point of view there are countless possibilities of understanding and interpreting the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus knows only one possibility: simply go and obey. Do not interpret or apply, but do it and obey. That is the only way Jesus' word is really heard. But again, doing something is not to be understood as an ideal possibility; instead, we are simply to begin acting."(1936)</li><li>He wrote: "I believe that in every moment of distress God will give us as much strength to resist as we need…I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are not in vain and that is not more difficult for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds. I believe that God is no timeless fate but waits for and responds to sincere prayer and responsible actions." (1942)</li><li>He wrote: "Is there a political responsibility of the <em>individual Christian? </em>Individual Christians can certainly not be held responsible for the government's actions, nor dare they make themselves responsible for them. But on the basis of their faith and love of neighbor, they are responsible for their own vocation and personal sphere of living, however large or small it is. Wherever this responsibility is faithfully exercised, it has efficacy for the polis as a whole."(1941)</li><li>He wrote: "… one only learns to have faith by living in the full this-worldliness of life….then one takes seriously no longer one's own sufferings but rather the suffering of God in the world. Then one stays awake with Christ in Gethsemane…. How should one become arrogant over successes or shaken by one's failures when one shares in God's suffering in the life of this world?" (1944)<br><br>In the coming time, we will seek to live such a life of witness, not only for the sake of our country, but because our Christian faith calls us to do so. </li></ul>
Dietrich Bonhoeffer for todayhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4234Dietrich Bonhoeffer for todayMarita Snyman<p>For three years now, the Bonhoeffer Consultation has brought together scholars, pastors, and students for a close reading and discussion of a portion of Bonhoeffer's writings. This year's Consultation focused on Bonhoeffer's dissertation, <em>Sanctorum Communio, </em>which he completed at age 21. In it, Bonhoeffer offers a description of the church as a social entity in which separate persons are brought into community by encountering difference in one another. Participants spent each morning reading through <em>Sanctorum Communio</em> and discussing its implications for theology, sociology, politics, personhood, and a fresh vision for the church's role in a diverse and reconciling South Africa. The discussions were supplemented by public lectures, including an address by the renowned theologian and Bonhoeffer scholar, Prof. John de Gruchy, on Bonhoeffer's prophetic example for a global Kairos theology.</p><p>Photo: Prof Robert Vosloo, Director of the Bonhoeffer Unit at the Beyers Naudé Centre with Prof John de Gruchy<br></p>
Dr Marthie Momberg awarded a top 20 Post-Doctoral Fellow prizehttps://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>
We should cultivate healthier social media habitshttps://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>
Conferences on Church and Unityhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6449Conferences on Church and UnityMarita Snyman<h3>​Conferences on Church and Unity<br></h3><p><br>The annual conferences of the Synodical Commission for Doctrine and Current Affairs of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (Cape Synod) and the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, focus upon the broader theme of Congregations and Public Life. Together we explore the potential of congregational practices for the transformation of all walks of life. <br></p><p>In 2019 the focus of the SKLAS – BNC conferences was on Church and Unity. </p><p>The following rationale for the 2019 conferences was: Biblical theology encourages unity within the Church and among the Churches. This forms part of the Church's witness to the world. It testifies to the reality that even though life is complex, and there is real diversity among persons and communities, we are one body that should coexist in humility and love. However, the reality in the South African churches at present suggests that we find it difficult to overcome our differences in language, culture, race, ethnicity, economic class, and understandings of our broken past. The 2019 SKLAS conferences will focus on a variety of perspectives on unity and disunity in society and the Church. Our aim is to equip attendees with theological insights and tools to engage the complexities of our current social reality and to help them to serve their Churches and communities in working for greater unity. </p><p> CONFERENCE DATES AND LOCATIONS: </p><p>11 February 2019 Malmesbury; 35 participants </p><p>4 March 2019 George; 30 participants: 30</p><p>8 April 2019 Port Elizabeth; 54 participants: 54​<br></p><p>​<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/_DSC8482.JPG" alt="_DSC8482.JPG" style="margin:5px;width:796px;height:528px;" /></p><p>Dr Sipho Mahokoto, Rev Rineke van Ginkel, Rev ​​Mzwandile Molo, Dr Koos Oosthuizen and Rev Janine Williams, who participated at Goedgedacht Farm, Malmesbury as speakers and facilitators</p><p><br><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/_DSC8508.JPG" alt="_DSC8508.JPG" style="margin:5px;width:800px;height:540px;" /><br></p><p>Ms Leona Loff, Rev Glenda Fredericks, Dr Koos Oosthuizen, Rev Peter Veysie, Rev Rineke van Ginkel, Dr Eugene Fortein and Prof Dion Forster (Director: BNC) all participated at Carmel, George<br></p><p><br></p><p>Note: In the photo on the title page the partipants were: Dr Koos Oosthuizen, Dr Sipho Mahokoto, Rev Rineke van Ginkel, Dr Eugene Fortein, Rev Bulelani Vete, Ms Pinky Sifuba and Rev Mzwandile Molo<br></p>
Russel Botman Memorial Lecturehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4342Russel Botman Memorial LectureHelette van der Westhuizen<p style="text-align:left;">The <span style="text-align:center;">Russel Botman Memorial Lecture, </span><span style="text-align:center;">commemorating the life of Prof Hayman Russel Botman, is </span><span style="text-align:center;">hosted annually by the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University </span><span style="text-align:center;">in conjunction with the curatoria of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa and the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology.</span></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>"Are we still of any use?"</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Situating Russel Botman's thinking on poverty, empowerment and education </strong><strong>in our contemporary times.</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Date</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at 18:15</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Venue</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Attie van Wijk Auditorium, Faculty of Theology, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Speaker</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Prof Crain Soudien, Human Sciences Research Council</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Response</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Prof Yusef Waghid, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Vote of thanks</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Mr Randall van den Heever, Russel Botman bursar, <br>Stellenbosch University</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>RSVP by 10 October 2016</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;">Helette, 021 808 9560 or hvdwest@sun.ac.za</p><p></p>