Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch
Entries in Stellenbosch (31)
Is care tied to gender? What is an ethics of care? What are the political implications of care?
He introduces the topic for us, suggests some wonderful reading and we also get to see a bit of Groningen in the video.
My thanks to Prof de Lange for hosting us for a wonderful conference on Compassion, and for his willingness to be interviewed on his research specialisation.
In Part 2 of the video that will be released later this week Prof de Lange speaks to us about 'Loving later life: An ethics of ageing' which is his recent book. So keep an eye out for that.
Enjoy the video - Frits is wonderful to listen to! I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and feedback on this important topic!
- Linda Woodhead, 'Religions in the modern world: Traditions and Transformations' http://amzn.to/1Nm09tu
- Diana Butler Bass 'Christianity after religion' http://amzn.to/1VlP7qH
- Charles Taylor 'A secular age' http://amzn.to/2436WfS (This is a very important book! I get all my PhD students to read it). You can also read the following great 'introduction' and engagement with 'A secular age', entitled 'How not to be secular' by James K Smith http://amzn.to/1Wf43FZ
- Peter Berger 'The Sacred Canopy' http://amzn.to/1VlPh1i and 'The desecularization of the world' http://amzn.to/1T0OxbU
Is Stellenbosch really the most unequal city in the world?
Today I rode my Brompton through Stellenbosch - I had 25 minutes between meetings and wanted to get something for lunch. It was the first time I had been on the bike in more than a week. I came back form Johannesburg with a rather nasty flu and still wasn't feeling great. But it was awesome to be out in the sun and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful western Cape scenery!
As I was riding my bike I reflected on Stellenbosch, which is the most unequal city in South Africa (a country which is among the most economically unequal countries in the world).
Watch the VLOG for some beautiful scenery, and think with me about a better economic system in which no one has too much while anyone has too little.
I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts! Don’t you love my old folding bike? It goes with me when I travel.
On Thursday at lunch time our theology and philosophy reading at Stellenbosch University group has the honour of hosting Prof Ola Sigurdson from Gothenburg University. He is a well known Systematic Theology who is known for addressing important theological issues in a creative and rigorous manner.
We will be reading his article: SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK, THE DEATH DRIVE, AND ZOMBIES: A THEOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
This evening we launched the book of my colleague and friend Prof L Juliana Claassens, "Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity" which she co-edited with Prof Bruce Birch.
Among the contributors are a foreword by Walter Brueggemann, and chapters by Charlene Van Der Walt, Esias Meyer, Gerald West, Ntozake Cezula, Douglas Lawrie, Jacqueline Lapsley, and Cheryl Anderson.
I was privileged to write a little piece on the Bible and Ethics as hospitable conversation at the end.
Julie very kindly included me in this project and has opened many doors for me since then.
I am so grateful to her and can highly recommend this important text for anyone who wishes to read about the Old Testament and engage issues of human dignity and ethics.
Read more about the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Restorative-Readings-Testament-Ethics-Dignity/dp/1625647212
These are important times in our nation as students across the country express their voice on issues of economic justice - here the #StelliesFeesMustFall students are visiting the Faculty of Theology.
Our colleague and comrade Thando Joka made a challenging and strong statement as a student of the faculty concerning the steep increase in university fees for 2016 and access to education for all.
Our Dean, Hendrik Bosman, responded by expressing a word welcome to the students and colleagues.
I am convinced that transformation and equality are essential to secure a better future for us all. If we cannot change the current inequality in South Africa, it is unlikely that there will be any place for me or my children in the country's future - white power and white privilege cannot continue. It will not be tolerated. We have to find ways of to make this nation a better place for us all.
I am not sure exactly what the answer is to these complex issues - but I can identify some of the problems. That is not a bad place to start. There are probably many answers, and many solutions. But there are some things that I can do, and must do.
How is it possible that some of us can live with 'too much' when others do not even have enough to survive? If you are interested in reading something that I wrote on the Christian faith and economics you can download and read this chapter that I wrote in a book some years ago. Here is the reference:
Megan, Courtney, Liam and I have been a steady journey of 'downward mobility' in the last year or so. We have sold things like cars, computers, gadgets. We have cut off unnecessary things like DSTV (cable TV) and subscription services. We have limited our household budget and tried to support more worthy and important causes.
We are attempting the 'live more simply, so that others may simply live'.
Interestingly I was teaching a class on human dignity and economics which was disrupted and ended today as the protesting students arrived.
What is certain is that we have work to do in South Africa. I am grateful for the energy and hope that I see among students and colleagues.
Today was the third and final day of the World Economic Forum that was held in Cape Town from 3-5 June 2015.
Once again I rode my trusty steed (a 2001 model BMW 650GS motorcycle) into the city for the meetings. It was surprisingly cold, although with clear blue skies as I drove into the beautiful Cape Town city bowl. I never grow tired of the beautiful view as one crests De Waal drive into the city.
Having parked just across the road from the CTICC (Cape Town Internation Convention Center) I made my way through security, now quite experienced at what beeps and what doesn't, and made my way upstairs for the first of my sessions.
I started the day with a session on agriculture, development and food security. There were a few startling revelations in that session, notably that by 2050 the population of Africa will double, but our capacity to produce food will not. In large measure this is because of too few commercial farmers, poor policy in agriculture and political instability and war threatens food security. Water, of course, remains an additional challenge. It was shocking to learn that there are 85 million malnourished persons in Africa, and that a large number of those are subsistence farmers and their families. Again, the issue of gender inequality featured in this talk. Women produce +- 80% of the food in Africa but only own 2% of the land. Men tend to keep the best pockets of land for themselves and often don't utilize it fully. What was also interesting to be reminded of is that Africa is the world's most resource laden continent - in other words, we are the richest continent on the planet when it comes to natural resources, but because of extractive injustice (where our minieral resources are extracted and sold elsewhere in the world) we are so poor that we have to import food to support our populations. Lastly, we discovered that rural women tend to be better managers of farms, food and finance (better than urban women, and better than all men). So, what's the lesson? Well, I think that if we had targeted projects to support and uplift rural women we could achieve a great deal for the common good in Africa. Naturally we need to develop commercial farmers and technologies to drive efficient and healthy food production that is not destructive of the earth's resources and that can feed growing numbers of people.
Next, I attended a workshop that sought to find solutions to drive development and growth in Africa in the next 10 years. I was fortunate to be seated at the table of Minister Naledi Pandor - what a remarkable woman! I was bowled over by her gentleness, her amazing grasp of policy, investment, technology and the complex set of social, political and economic aspects that are necessary for development and growth. How I wish she could be our President in South Africa! The process of this workshop was superb using new technology where we wrote on the tables and it showed up on screens in the front of the room. There were about 6 such tables participating around issues such as education, investment, technology, policy and governance etc.
My second to last session of the day was another remarkable one - I participated in a workshop on security in Africa. The point of this grouping was to work out what some of the threats and opportunities were that Africa faced in terms of security in the next 10 years. I was in a group with Minister Mohamed Beni Yonis of Somaliland - a great peace keeper on the continent and a truly remarkable and wise man! His insights into social, economic and technology opportunities and challenges were astounding. He also appreciates the central role that religion plays in shaping societies in Africa (both negatively and positively). The meeting agreed that we shall need to spend a great deal more time and energy working with faith based organisations and the religious groupings in our various countries to address social cohesion, service delivery, poverty alleviation and also to work against violence and extremism. Then, the man whose name is signed on most of my South African money, Mr Tito Mboweni, was also in our group! He is such a kind (even fun!) person. He spoke about the dangers of ambition (he reached the pinnacle of his career as governor of the Reserve Bank before he was 50 years old). However, the group agreed that African society will need to acknowledge the place and importance of young leaders - one participant jokingly said that in Africa, presidency is something one 'retires into' at 65 after a working career! I am attaching an image of the drawing that contains all of our discussions and thoughts on security in Africa.
The final session was about economics, investment and trade on the continent. South Africa's finance Minister, Mr Nene, commented that "unless we deal with corruption all of our development plans will fail". The rest of the panelists discussed the challenges of competition and distrust between neighbouring and regionally close countries in Africa, the expensive cost of travel, and the need to see much greater trade cooperation and support among African countries.
The highlight of the day, for me, was when Archbishop Tutu was invited onto the stage to close the WEF Africa meeting in prayer. He was overwhelmingly warmly received. He began his prayer, as I have heard him praying before, by saying that God is weeping at the way in which we treat one another and the earth. Yet, he went on in his jovial and loving way to say how happy God was to see the participants of the WEF and all those they represented who were people of good-will whose desire it was to make this world a better place for all by working for the common good. You can listen to his prayer (which I recorded on my phone) here.
Attending this form was a remarkable privilige. I have learnt so many things at the WEF this week. In particular I understand that we face a number of wicked problems that require partnership, cooperation, and even sacrifice to solve. Water and the environment, poverty and inequality, gender imbalances, massive growth in our population and dwindling resources are huge challenges. Yet, I am hopeful. It was amazing to meet creative, intelligent, passionate and committed people from all sectors of society who were working for good! The investment of time, energy, resources and self into these problems is sure to make a difference, and in many cases solve the problems we discussed.
I realise that South Africa is fast falling behind. Our political landscape and our own social context of poverty and inequality is vexing growth and cooperation. We shall need to do a great deal more to foster trust and a willingness to give up some things (like white power and wealth) and take up some things (like hard work, good education, and uncompromising moral standards). As I drove home I kept thinking that as Christians we must always ensure that our speech is peppered with hope, our hands are strengthened by justice and our hearts are filled with love as we work for a better future. We do need a much higher calibre of leadership from both government and the private sector. But what we need more than that is active citizens who are willing to be deeply involved in shaping a better world.
I have just registered for the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting that is taking place in Cape Town.
I am honoured and excited to have been selected to be one of the 150 or so persons from civil society to participate.
I am looking forward to 3 days of learning and participating in the various sessions.
I have joined sessions on ethics and governance, economic stability and poverty, and the role of civil society as my primary points of participation. It is very exciting!
Security is super tight! I had to park about 2km from the CTICC and walk down. Registration was very efficient and simple.
I will tweet on @digitaldion and post some comments and reflections here throughout the next three days. So please do check back from time to time if you are interested.
You can download Prof Barney Pityana's opening Keynote on Discipleship Active Citizenship which was delivered on 2 June 2015 at the Winter School of the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University from this link [mp3 file, 50MB]
The Winter School is hosted by Ekklesia and the Beyers Naude Center for Public Theology in the first week of June each year. This year's theme is 'Changing the world? An invitation to faithful discipleship and responsible citizineship'.
I apologize for the poor sound quality of the recording. I recorded it using my cellphone and so there is some ambient and room noise in the recording. However, it is well worth the inconvenience to hear Prof Pityana's lecture.
I was deeply struck by a few comments that Prof Pityana made. Among them was the observation that the three most prominent public persons in SA at present (President Jacob Zuma, Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and the leader of the official opposition, DA leader Musi Miamani) are all ordained pastors of independent Christian Churches. Prof Pityana discusses this phenomenon and asks some questions of the type of Christianity that is represented by these persons, and also how this reflects on us a nation.
I'd love to hear your comments, thoughts and feedback!
A new book for which I wrote a section has been published! The book is called ‘Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity’. It was edited by two wonderful friends, Professors Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch. This is a magnificent collection of chapters on issues related to reading the Old Testament text within the context of issues related to Christian Ethics and the Human Dignity discourse.
Congratulations Juile and Bruce! This is such an important book! I have read the chapters a number of times and am so excited about the voices that will be added to the discourse.
The foreword was written by Walter Brueggemann.
Here is some additional information about the book:
The Bible has the unfortunate legacy of being associated with gross human rights violations as evident in the scriptural justification of apartheid in South Africa as well as slavery in the American South. What is more, the Hebrew Bible also contains numerous instances in which the worth or dignity of the female characters are threatened, violated or potentially violated, creating a situation of dehumanization in which women are viewed as less than fully human.
And yet the Bible continues to serve as a source of inspiration for readers committed to justice and liberation for all. But in order for the Bible to speak a liberative word, what is necessary is to cultivate liberating Bible reading practices rooted in justice and compassion. Restorative Readings seeks to do exactly this when the authors in their respective readings seek to cultivate Bible reading practices that are committed to restoring the dignity of those whose dignity has been violated by means of racial, gender, and sexual discrimination, by the atrocities of apartheid, by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and by the dehumanizing reality of unemployment and poverty.