The Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology
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Colloquium with Swedish colleagueshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6443Colloquium with Swedish colleaguesMarita Snyman<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Beyers Naude Centre Colloquium on 13 February 2019 at the Faculty of Theology </strong></p><p style="text-align:left;"><strong>​​​Humour, Emancipation and Reconciliation: </strong><strong style="text-align:center;">A Critical Inquiry</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong></strong><strong>Professor </strong><strong>Ola Sigurdson</strong> is professor of systematic theology at the Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion. Mainly writing in the intersection between continental theory and systematic theology, he is interested in Political Theology, Theology and the Arts, as well as traditional Dogmatics. His most recent (English) book is Heavenly Bodies: Incarnation, the Gaze, and Embodiment in Christian Theology (Eerdmans, 2016). </p><p style="text-align:left;"><strong>​Generosity and love as justice </strong><strong style="text-align:center;">on the road towards justice​</strong></p><p><strong>Dr Martin Westerholm</strong> is Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Gothenburg, and Editor of the International Journal of Systematic Theology.  His work includes books on the theology of Karl Barth and the theology of Scripture, and articles on a range of themes in theology, philosophy, and ethics.  His interests sit at the intersection of these three fields.  He is currently researching questions regarding relations between truth, justice and love.<br></p><p><br></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>
New Gender Unit at the Beyers Naudé Centre, Faculty of Theology https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4783New Gender Unit at the Beyers Naudé Centre, Faculty of Theology Marita Snyman<p> </p><p><br></p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Gender%20Unit-89.jpg" alt="Gender Unit-89.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:800px;height:541px;" /></p><p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Caption: Prof Amanda Gouws (Guest speaker); Dr Charlene van der Walt (Gender Unit); Prof Julie Claassens (Gender Unit) and Prof Sarojini Nadar (Main speaker) during the launch of the Gender Unit on 28 March 2017</span></p><p>Maternal health and infant mortality are two of the United Nations' Millennium Goals. In SA and the rest of Africa, women and children are particularly vulnerable in the face of the following:  HIV/AIDS (which can be described as a gendered pandemic); caring for the sick and the elderly; poverty and sexual violence.</p><p>The Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University, together with partners in South Africa (University of KwaZulu-Natal), in Tanzania (TUMA University) and Ethiopia (Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology) took up this challenge and each institution developed a unique Master's program in Gender, Health and Theology/Religion that sought to address the grim reality. Unique to this program is also the association with NGO's that markedly strengthens the academic program's social impact.</p><p>At Stellenbosch University, the MTh Gender and Health since 2013 has seen each year 10 diverse and very interesting Master's students from all over the country as well as beyond its borders come together in order to grapple with the complex intersection of Gender, Health and Theology.</p><p>The impact of this program is evident in the many beautiful success stories since its inception. Most of its students are church leaders in a prime position to effect change in their respective communities. Moreover, this program also draws some non-traditional students. To mention but one example: Renate van der Westhuizen is a schoolteacher at a private school that caters for children experiencing learning difficulties in traditional schools. As the Deputy Head of the school, she spends quite a bit of time counselling students and over the years has seen a great number of children who were victims of rape and sexual assault, leading her to her thesis topic "Rape as Torture: Re-reading the Rape of the Levite's Concubine in Judges 19." It was inspiring to see how this study has transformed her, and in some significant ways the school setting where she is teaching. She regularly started to address the topic of rape into her classes. Her continued commitment to educate students and colleagues on the reality of sexual violence in schools is evident in that for the first time a sexual violence workshop was held in 2016 for teachers in her school. She was invited to attend a Department of Higher Education workshop where she was asked to give a presentation on possible curricular changes with regard to addressing the reality of sexual violence in schools.</p><p>The success of the MTh Gender and Health program has led the personnel to explore new opportunities for teaching and research on the intersection of Gender, Health and Theology that already has exhibited a definite social impact in faith communities as well as in the society at large. Stellenbosch University Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Eugene Cloete, initiated the Gender Unit at the Faculty of Theology. The Head, Prof Juliana Claassens, as well as the Research and Program Coordinator, Dr Charlene van der Walt hope to contribute to the formation of a world where racism, sexism, homophobia and the dehumanizing reality of poverty is no more by amongst others:</p><ul><li>Raising funds for PhD scholarships for research on Gender, Health and Theology and so helping to cultivate thought leaders who can go back to their respective communities in order to serve as agents of change.</li><li>Creating a community of scholars who, through their research, contribute to the establishment of a centre of excellence that contextually explains the intersection of Gender, Health and the various sub-disciplines of Theology. Courtesy of Prof Eugene Cloete, the Gender Unit was able to appoint its first postdoctoral fellow, the very talented and experienced Dr Funlola Olojede, born in Nigeria.</li><li>Building networks on campus, with FBO's, NGO's and faith communities, and with scholars nationally as well as internationally in order to stimulate discourse on various aspects of the intersection of Gender, Health and Theology with the goal of cultivating an ethos that affirms the dignity of all people and resist all forms of discrimination</li></ul><div><br></div><div><br></div>
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>
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>
From Stellenbosch to Bamberg - handing over leadership of the Global Network for Public Theology https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4988From Stellenbosch to Bamberg - handing over leadership of the Global Network for Public Theology Marita Snyman<p>​<span style="font-size:11pt;line-height:107%;font-family:calibri, sans-serif;color:black;">Prof Wabel will serve as the hosting chair of the next Global Network for Public Theology Consultation that will take place in Bamberg in 2019. Dr Dion Forster who served as the acting host Chair, on behalf of Prof Dr Nico Koopman, received the Indonesian batik cloth, a symbol of the GNPT since the inception of the network in 2007, from Prof Koopman in March 2017. At a Public Lecture, where Dr Forster presented a paper entitled 'The (im)possibility of forgiveness? Nelson Mandela and the politics of forgiveness in South Africa', the cloth was ceremonially handed to Prof Wabel. It marked a symbolic 'passing of the baton' of service from the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology to the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute for Public Theology. Numerous academics and interested parties, as well as the President of the Otto Friedrich Universität, Prof Ruppert, attended the event. Prof Ruppert pledged his support to the work of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute for Public Theology, and expressed how pleased he was that the GNPT would be hosted in Bamberg. Prof Wabel spoke of the importance of this next meeting, and how the contextual location in Europe, would inform some of the planning and thinking about Public Theologies from various global contexts. He expressed thanks to the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology (BNC), Prof Koopman and Dr Forster, for their work in hosting the GNPT Consultation in Stellenbosch in 2016. As soon as specific details about the dates for the next GNPT meeting in Bamberg are finalised it shall be posted on the BNC website.</span> <br></p><p>Main photo: Dr Dion Forster and Prof Thomas Wabel</p><p>Photo below: Dr Dion Forster and Prof Nico Koopman<br></p><p><img src="/english/faculty/theology/bnc/PublishingImages/news-archive/Nico%20Koopman%20and%20Dion%20Forster%20Batik%20GNPT.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:400px;height:305px;" /> <br></p>
We’ve stopped caring because of compassion fatiguehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7706We’ve stopped caring because of compassion fatigueDion Forster<p>Compassion fatigue during abnormal times such as the COVID-19 pandemic can cause people to care less for others, writes Prof Dion Forster from the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology in an opinion piece for Mail & Guardian (26 Sept).<br></p><ul><li>Read the article below or click <a href="https://mg.co.za/subscribe-and-support-independent-media/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for the piece as published.</li></ul><p><strong>​Dion Forster*</strong><br></p><p>In recent weeks I have noticed that even the most cautious members of my family, circle of friends and colleagues, have started to relax their stringent adherence to COVID-19 safety measures. They are arranging social gatherings, travelling across the country, returning to work, shopping with greater freedom, washing their hands less frequently, and even leaving their homes without wearing a mask. </p><p>This is a stark contrast to the vigilance we exercised in the early days of our national lockdown. Remember when you would wash every item you brought back from the grocery store? Or when no more than two persons could travel in a vehicle, and the passenger sat in the back seat? Or, when we <a href="https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/2020-03-27-a-marathon-during-lockdown-yes-its-possible--you-dont-have-to-leave-your-house/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">ran circles</strong></a> on our balconies and backyards to get our exercise? Being careful seemed so important and necessary! After all, we were protecting ourselves, and others, from being infected with a possibly deadly virus.</p><p>When South Africa went into <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-52055161"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">lockdown</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>on the 26<sup>th</sup> of March, we had only 218 reported cases of coronavirus infection. The first two COVID-19-related deaths were <a href="https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2020/03/27/latest-confirmed-cases-of-covid-19-27th-march-2020/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">reported</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>a day later. Understandably, we were shocked and afraid. I am sure that all of us can remember the first time that we heard of a close relative, friend, or co-worker who was infected with the coronavirus? Some of us have also had to suffer the loss of family and friends who succumbed to COVID-19. And of course, some of us are among the nearly 585 000 persons who were infected with the virus and have recovered (approx. 655 000 people were infected).</p><p>The pandemic is not only a health tragedy in South Africa. It is also an economic disaster, putting further strain on an already faltering economy. The media have reported  <a href="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-04-17-the-biggest-lockdown-threat-hunger-hunger-everywhere/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">large scale suffering</strong></a> from hunger, the brutality of increased gender-based violence, the loss of job security for many South Africans, and the failure of our education system that has left teachers vulnerable, and learners even further behind in their schooling. It is likely to take decades to address some of these problems. This will almost certainly be hampered by ongoing corruption in both the government and the private sector.</p><p>Yet, for the majority of South Africans life seems to be 'returning to normal'. We have numbed ourselves to the images of frontline workers dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) caring for desperately sick persons in hospitals. We hardly seem to notice when the daily news reports that another 100 or so persons have died as a result of COVID-19 overnight, and that the death toll now sits at around 16 000 persons. These are no longer the faces of persons – they are just a number.<br></p><p><strong>Why have we stopped caring?</strong></p><p>The short answer is that we are suffering from a condition known as '<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328049042_Affect_Empathy_and_Human_Dignity_Considering_Compassion_at_the_Intersection_of_Theology_and_Science"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">compassion fatigue</strong></a>'. Compassion fatigue is common among persons who are constantly exposed to unresolvable suffering. It is most often reported in the so-called 'caring professions' (e.g., nurses, doctors, social workers, religious leaders). Research has shown that when a person is constantly confronted by suffering, their response to the suffering becomes <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1049909109354096"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">less pronounced</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>over time. This is the body's way of coping with the pain and trauma of witnessing and experiencing the suffering of others. </p><p>When we see someone suffer, or hear about someone suffering, a part of our brain is activated that causes us to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328049042_Affect_Empathy_and_Human_Dignity_Considering_Compassion_at_the_Intersection_of_Theology_and_Science"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">recreate the experience</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>of the other person in our own imagination. We feel something of their pain. This is a pre-cognate reaction – in other words, it happens in that deep part of our brain that responds to pain without thinking. This capacity is believed to have evolved in all mammal brains (to different degrees) in order to evoke the responses of care and the avoidance of danger. </p><p>When we imagine the suffering of another, we are instinctually motivated to avoid it ourselves. We also tend to shield those that we care for from facing harm. Similarly, when we see someone suffering, we are also instinctually prompted to help them ease their pain. The offering of care and the avoidance of pain have served to preserve life and so they have become 'hard-wired' into the functioning of our brains.<br></p><p>However, my research, and that of others shows, that while our brains are 'wired' for survival and the avoidance of pain and threat, they also <a href="https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2015/07000/Compassion_fatigue__The_cost_of_caring.15.aspx?casa_token=YjKnyScHBx8AAAAA:uQryqaM_I0rBCKSAeviSUrlXfoZiSPSRMNq3TMFVA5DXE4rpISQk2OAC6v412oRb-siXd6IVdpcS2sao243dKiLa9PZ1l6Tb5Q9_"><strong>a</strong><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>d</strong>apt to avoid emotional pain</strong></a> and psychological threats. Over time, as we are exposed to ongoing pain and suffering of others, we become less and less sensitive to it. Our emotional reaction to their pain is less severe. We rationalize what we hear and see, moving from the emotional center of the brain to the cognitive and rational functions. Over time we are no longer shocked to hear that 100 persons died in the last 24 hours from a virus that each one of us could be infected with. We are no longer thinking about 15 000 individuals – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters – who have died; we are thinking about a number, a statistic.<br></p><p>Research further shows that compassion fatigue can also occur in groups – such as communities, or nations. For example, a community may become accustomed to certain forms of suffering, or abuse, and normalize them. Gender activists frequently <a href="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-06-18-gender-based-violence-is-south-africas-second-pandemic-says-ramaphosa/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">point out</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>the abnormally high rates of rape, femicide and gender-based violence in South Africa. In <a href="https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.lib.gla.ac.uk/stable/10.5749/jcritethnstud.2.1.0073"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">America</strong></a>, for example, the frequent mass shootings, or the killing of black persons by the police, are rationalized and diverted from painful experiences into political debates. </p><p>Compassion fatigue on a personal and a structural level can lead to a loss of perspective. It may cause us to miss-recognize the humanity of others, hindering us from adequately and effectively responding to suffering and pain. Just as we would not want to be treated by an uncaring doctor or nurse, we also should not want to live in a society which does not care about the suffering of its fellow citizens.<br></p><p>In his 1947 novel <a href="https://books.google.co.za/books?id=3qCOmB8EYigC&dq=editions:G--JUyAmT1oC&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjp54HkvO3rAhWNN8AKHWnDD3sQ6AEwBXoECAAQAg"><em class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>The plague</strong></em></a>, Albert Camus tells the story of the arrival of a plague in the Algerian city of Oran. After facing great tragedy and hardship, the citizens of Oran start to normalize their lives. Camus, however, uses his novel to illustrate how <a href="https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/when-a-pandemic-makes-the-impossible-possible/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">abnormal</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>some aspects of their normal lives actually are.</p><p>It is important that we recognize when compassion fatigue starts to set in. We must guard against it in our closest relationships, and also name it when we see it in our communities and social systems. To show compassion requires an ongoing choice to recognize the humanity of those who suffer. It requires the courage to face pain and discomfort. To create a more compassionate society, we will have to face the reality of our shared humanity, our shared frailty, and our need for one another. We will have to avoid the instinct to escape or simply ignore what causes pain and suffering. In these difficult times, we could all do with a little more care, a more humane and compassionate society.   <br></p><p><em>*Prof </em><em>Dion A. Forster is an Associate Professor in Systematic Theology and Ethics and the Chair of the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology at Stellenbosch</em> <em>University (SU). He also serves as the director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology at SU. </em><br></p><p><br></p>
Beyers Naudé birthday celebrated with a message from Prof Nico Koopmanhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7333Beyers Naudé birthday celebrated with a message from Prof Nico KoopmanMarita Snyman<p>​Each year on the 10th of May the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology at Stellenbosch University gathers to remember the person and work of Dr. Beyers Naudé. We normally do this in person and invite a speaker to present a lecture on an aspect of Dr. Naudé's legacy and witness. However, since we are currently in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa we cannot meet in person. </p><p>So, we asked Prof Nico Koopman, the Chair of the Management Committee of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology to share a message with us on this 105th Anniversary of the Birth of Beyers Naudé.<br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="875" height="492" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HmVyn4n-9eQ" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br><br></p>
Engaging "radical economic transformation" and land ownership in South Africahttps://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>
Launch of Gender Unit at the Faculty of Theologyhttps://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>