MEDIA LUNCHEON BRIEFING: The winding road towards 2019 Elections

Rev Dr Frank Chikane will host a Media Luncheon Briefing under the theme: “The winding road towards NPE 2019 (2019 Elections).”

Initiated by KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), Members of the media are invited to attend the briefing scheduled to take place as follows:
Date:     Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Time:    12h00 for 12h30
Venue:  Dennis Hurley Centre (Durban)

RSVP :  Fr. Siyabulela Gidi  at sgidi@kzncc.org.za  OR Ms Xola Nkabinde at xolin@kzncc.org.za by no later than 15h00 on Monday 13 November 2017.

Theology on Violence, Abuse and Killing of Women

Introduction: The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) organised a workshop on ‘Theology on Violence, Abuse and Killing of Women’. This workshop was instigated by the spate of rape and killing of women during the months of June – July August 2017 in South Africa. It is observed that besides the current killing of women the question of abuse of women is conspicuous in South Africa. In other quotas it is said that South Africa has become the rape capital of the world.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has its share of the abuse and killing of women. In the backdrop of our discussion was the situation we are trying to describe in this introductory paragraph. This workshop was attended by students and a lecturer from the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS), a contingency of ministers from the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (SKZNCC), ministers from the Midlands Christian Council (MCC), and the staff of KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC). We had an individual from Tromp Foundation, KRCC and Life and Resurrection.

Discussion:

Women Treated as Property: Though not all participants accede to the notion that women at one stage in human and Biblical history were treated as mere property by individuals, families, male counterparts and society, some hold to the view that women had always occupied a position of significance and recognition, in some cultures and societies.

Though women’s position of significance and recognition may not have been given the acknowledgement it deserved they were important players in those societies. The majority of the participants subscribe to the idea that women were not taken seriously in both human and Biblical histories till very late in the eighteenth century enlightenment and in modern times of the introduction of human rights.  The view that culture and religious systems were instrumental in suppressing women to date seemed to be welcomed.

South Africa is a Violent Society: The participants made an observation that South Africa is a violent society. It is perceived that it is in the public arena that 1 out of 3 women in South Africa experienced some form of violence in many shades such as sexual, emotional, cultural, social, domestic, psychological, political and economic. The participants said the violence against women is systemic and structural.

That the social structures are the embodiment of violence against women, conscious or unconscious. That the societal body-politic, laws and policies are made such that  women are marginalised and made dysfunctional in a society where masculinity is the dominant form of social expression against femininity.

Women who entre this masculine society are expected and so act as if there was no gender change in the system. Women are expected to conform to the system. Those who try to transform the social system are frowned upon both openly or clandestinely.

Socialisation: The issue of socialisation came up once more. Whenever a discussion is taken on the abuse, violence and suppression of women the concern about socialisation come up. In this instant a question arises as to which generation is prepared to stop the spiral of different ways in which society raises male and female persons.

The question has long been on the table but where is the national programme of action in schools and society which seek to correct the problem of inferiority and superiority complexes engendered by society – on notions of socialisation?

One could argue that: “Both men and women of all nations are made in the image of God. According to the theology of equality and gender, women and men are co-substantial, co-equal and co-existent just as the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit are in the God-head in the Trinity. Women and men are created in the image of the same God, as one flesh and one spirit (Gen. 1: 26 – 29; 2: 7, 23). Women and men are made of the same material substance. The choice of gender and human sexuality or sexual orientation is not a human privilege – meaning humans have no privilege of choosing their gender from conception.” (Ngoetjana L M, 2017). What happens then? Since it is observed that social structures have entrenched violence against women, the patriarchal complement of it destroys the ego and the confidence of women to take on the lower position of society. This is also done with the assistance of women who have been so socialised in the patriarchal system and it happens it looks like it is a women’s thing. Women are addressing the younger ones as to how to behave and take your feminine part in this ‘particular family, or community or society’. It is told this has always been the case from time immemorial and so it will stand.

Economic and Social Power: The participants then discussed the nexus between economic and social power. It was muted out that economic power supersedes social power. That the economic and the social power do meet at the interconnection. And yet social power is negligible without economic power. The same is the case that political power is insignificant and meaningless without economic power. Ultimately economic power for women will be ‘Good News as unto the poor, the powerless, the marginalised and the oppressed as women would be in our societies.

What is Good News to the women, the poor and marginalised? “Otherwise, what is good news to the sinners? Is it not to know that their sins are forgiven? And to the blind; that their sight is restored? And to the poor; that their spiral of poverty is broken? And to the marginalised; that there is equal opportunity for all? And to the homeless; that there is land available on which they can build their houses? Indeed, this led us to the radical reidentification of Christianity and the great commission. Formally, Christianity was identified with:  Laissez fair capitalism, individual initiative, fear of government control of the market, the power of the power of consumer in social and economic change, the upward mobility of class structures, democracy as the most suitable (biblical form of government, organisation as the key to maximum development, the inevitability of progress, the middle class as a source of class and the progress in society (Sider 1981: 64).

But, contextual theologies have made their point clear that according to their reading of the Bible, Christianity was a grassroots movement. The gospel was addressing social problems in the same strength as with all other concerns especially those that were affecting the poor and the marginalized directly. Jesus did not mince his words when it came to giving support and being in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed of his time. He set an example for us to be concerned about the plight of the poor and oppressed of our situations (In Ngoetjana L M 2014). The same Jesus was known to be on the side with of women in a very religio-patriarchal society which was excluding them in priestly religious practices in particular.

The Great Commission: It was further noted in the discussion that participants must not neglect the Great Commission. An input was made that participants must rise above the perception of the world and society in material terms only. The participants were persuaded to the direction that the issues we are discussing – of the abuse and violence against women have a spiritual dimension which calls for the application of the Great Commission and fervent preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This input was welcome and acknowledged as the very part and mission of the Church in the world as much as the church must not leave out the issues of Social Justice.

Way Forward

As a way forward the narrator as a reporter wants to bring in a caution which comes from the angle of Practical Theology. The caution says much that we have theologized we need to listen to the actual real stories of women who have suffered various form of violence and abuse. The participants must look at the specifics of every story teller in context and taking note of particular details in order to come up with a practical plan of action towards the transformation of the plight of women enduring violence from our society. It is called the narrative of social-constructionist approach.

 

“The narrative or social-constructionist approach on the contrary forces us to firstly listen to the stories of people struggling in real situations, not merely to a description of a general context, but to be confronted with a specific and concrete situation. This approach to practical theology, although also hermeneutical in nature, is more reflexive in its approach and method. It takes the circular movement of practice-theory-practice seriously and brings it into operation. Practical theology, according to this approach, indeed becomes part of “doing theology” and takes the social-constructions, within actual contexts, seriously. The practical theologian in this case, is not so much concerned with abstractions and generalisations but rather with the detail of a particular person’s story” (Muller, J).

The participants said as a way forward:

  1. We need a strong emphasis on the Gospel of repentance which is life transforming.
  2. The Councils of Churches must be the voice of influence by creating platforms of dialogue and campaign against violence towards women in the communities.
  3. The Councils of Churches must be visible in the communities were women are violated and just be in workshops.
  4. We must affirm women and encourage them to take positions of leadership.
  5. Let see and hear women liberate themselves.
  6. Stories of good men must be told.
  7. Influence media on positive stories of men.
  8. Men must be encouraged to neglect benefits of patriarchal systems and sacrifice in solidarity with women.

Collated: Dr L M Ngoetjana

Healing of Memories Year-End Reunion.

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The Healing of Memories and Reconciliation, Social Cohesion, Networking and Partnerships year-end function was a resounding success of sharing, fellowship and robust dialogue. The event was well attended by KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council’s ecumenical partners and government officials. KZNCC Deputy CEO on Theology, Dr Lucas Ngoetjana, facilitated the robust dialogue that inspired the attendees to engage vigorously. They also came up with solution-oriented responses to topical issues including social cohesion, xenophobia, homophobia and gender-based violence, among others.

Bridget Phillips, a facilitator from the Institute For Healing of Memories, explained that the bulk of her work was about creating safe and sacred spaces where people can begin the journey of acknowledging the pain and letting go of what’s destructive inside them and being willing to leave the past behind. “The Healing of Memories (HoM) methodology has been tried and tested. It’s about taking the bondage off the wound, putting it in salty water and cleaning it. There’s guaranteed confidentiality during these sessions.”

Phillips also emphasised that healing is not an event but a lengthy-involved process of different phases. She urged everyone, especially men, to use the HoM tools as they enter their new journey in life after the workshops.

Rev Bernard Coopasamy of The Christ Tabloid newspaper shared how his Christianity had transformed him having been born into Hinduism. He believes this in itself was a healing process in his life. “Being invited to inter-faith groups changed my perspective on numerous things and this was when I embraced the healing process and social cohesion from there on,” he explained. This change inspired the concept of The Christ Tabloid newspaper which he said promotes social cohesion and seeks to “educated God’s people and bring their lives back in alignment to the Christ”.

There was a platform for people to share their stories and what moulded them into being the change-makers that they have become in society. Nomusa Shabalala, Anti-Xenophobia Community Facilitator and leader of Sisters of Faith in Action (SOFIA), a women’s movement at KZNCC, said that she was excited and proud to see women being well represented at the event. She spoke about the trip they took to Tanzania as SOFIA, learn about Village Community Banking (VICOBA) where they gained women empowerment skills including making clothes softeners, cheese paste and the VICOBA way of banking.

Keeping the enlightening conversations going, Mama Mngadi of Family Unity Organisation said strengthening family ties was important in counter-acting the societal challenges. “It’s one of the pillars that could potentially help us win against any social ills as they are a result of diminishing united and well-ground families.” Radio is another platform where these issues can be sufficiently tackled. Ps Victus Mthembu, responsible for Media and Publicity at KZNCC, said this platform had positioned the organisation in a positive light as a brand. Mthembu spoke about the Gender Justice programme in partnership with the Premier’s Office, in tackling gender-based violence, meted out against women and children.

Dr Douglas Dziva, CEO of KZNCC, concluded the proceedings as saying it was a good way to close off the year. “It was good sharing what is critical and important to us. It was well facilitated and inspiring, engaging and interesting.” Dziva also thanked the various key stakeholders and partners that KZNCC has had over the years.

 

A Theology of Strangers & Migration

Theology of Strangers

A Theology of Strangers and Migration

 

16 November 2016

Dr Mogashudi Lucas Ngoetjana

Deputy Provincial Ecumenical Secretary of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC)

Abstract: The image of God among people remain intact, only their relationship becomes distorted because of fallen-ness. Jesus crossed the divine to the human, the Jewish to the Gentile, the men to the women, and the healthy to the sick and was prepared to die for that. Giving in to the acts of xenophobia is an expression of cowardice and spinelessness.

Introduction: Examining theological reflection in an age of migration, ‘[Groody] focuses on four foundations of a theology of migration and refugees: (1) Imago Dei: Crossing the Problem–Person Divide; (2) Verbum Dei: Crossing the Divine–Human Divide; (3) Missio Dei: Crossing the Human–Human Divide; and (4) Visio Dei: Crossing the Country–Kingdom divide. As a call to cross borders and overcome barriers, migration is a way of thinking about God and human life and an expression of the Christian mission of reconciliation”. Among other contributors to the reflection of theology of strangers and migrant it is Groody (2009; 2004) and Botha (2013) who are much engaged in this presentation.

Imago Dei: Crossing the Problem–Person Divide: “The Judeo-Christian tradition,” as the U.S. Catholic bishops have noted, “is steeped in images of migration,” from the migration of Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden (Gen 3:23–24), to the vision of the New Jerusalem in the final pages of the New Testament (Rev 21:1–4). In the book of Genesis we are introduced to a central truth that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26–27; 5:1–3; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9). This is not just another label but a way of speaking profoundly about human nature. Defining all human beings in terms of imago Dei provides a very different starting point for the discourse on migration and creates a very different trajectory for the discussion. Imago Dei names the personal and relational nature of human existence and the mystery that human life cannot be understood apart from the mystery of God” (Groody 2009: 643).

Mind that the migration of Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden was because they were expelled for disobedience (Gen. 3: 20 – 24). Though expelled, they were accorded the dignity which is betrothed to humanity – the Lord God Made tunics of skin and clothed them (:20). Though from then henceforth their life outside the garden was going to be different from that inside the garden, the image of God in them was not taken away (5: 1 – 3; 9: 6).

Both men and women of all nations are made in the image of God. According to the theology of equality and gender: “Women and men are co-substantial, co-equal and co-existent just as the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit are in the God-head in the Trinity. Women and men are created in the image of the same God, as one flesh and one spirit (Gen. 1: 26 – 29; 2: 7, 23). Women and men are made of the same material substance. The choice of gender and human sexuality or sexual orientation is not a human privilege – meaning humans have no privilege of choosing their gender from conception. This applies to everyone migrant or host nationals.

 

Being human precedes what gender people are given from conception. In other words humans are human first before their given gender and sexual orientation. Gender is not essential to being human. All actions and thoughts informed by gender to define what is human are theologically baseless. All of us migrants and pilgrims are such secondary to being human made in the image of God.

Views that gender is worthy of being male against the worthlessness of being female which are informed by traditional culture and theology must be challenged. Men must wrestle with the idea that gender does not define what is human, but the principle of life or the Image of God does” (Ngoetjana 2015: 1 Unpublished).

“The expulsion from Eden of Adam and Eve, the original imago Dei, and their border-crossing into the land beyond, names the human propensity to move toward a state of sin and disorder (Gen 3:1–13). Sin disfigures the imago Dei, resulting in a fallen world that creates discord in relationships. The territory into which the Prodigal Son migrates and squanders all his worldly wealth (Lk 15:11–32) symbolizes this barren terrain; it is a place that moves people away from the original creative design into a place of estrangement from God, others, and themselves” (Groody 2009: 648).

Though Groody says sin disfigures the imago Dei, it seems it is the relationships that are disorientated. Seemingly, outside the Garden, Adam and Eve no longer relate from the perspective of innocence now that they know the difference between good and evil and are “like one of Us”  to know good and evil” – says the Lord. The image of God seems to go on unabated even in the state of the fallen-ness humanity finds itself (5: 1 – 3; 9: 6). The image of God remains unscathed in every human being but the relationship between people change because of fallen-ness.

Verbum Dei: crossing the divine–human divide

“The sojourn of the Verbum Dei into this world is riddled with political and religious controversies, many of which are connected to narratives about migration. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus enters the world amid a drama involving documentation (Lk 2:1–5). In Matthew’s account, Jesus and his family must flee a threat that endangers their lives, making them political refugees (Mt 2:13–17, a parallel to a foundational migration in biblical history, Exodus 1). In John‘s Gospel, many have trouble believing in Jesus precisely because of the place from which he emigrates (Jn. 7:41–43, 52). In a fallen world, human beings find many compelling political, legal, social, and religious reasons to exclude—and reject—the migrant Son of God” (Groody 2009: 649).

The world over humanity is subjected to counting and documentation as it happened in the book of Number and during the times of Jesus. All the laws, protocol and charters that have to do with migration are political instruments Jesus had to subject to as well. But crossing the divine to the human must have been an ordeal of humiliation and shame (Phil. 2) – of being obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross – a Kenosis experience.

Crossing the divine to the human also means being embedded into a context. The root from which the word contextualisation comes is shedding light on what it means. The word context, from which ‘contextualisation’ is derived comes from the Latin root ‘contextus’, which means, weaving together. The light which is shed shines clearly when one realises that contextualisation has to do with the whole of a given context woven together. In a single context are many people, experiences, regulations, institutions, sub-cultures, ideas, and things. All the uncountable components of a context have roles they play in shaping people, society, trends, history, culture, and ideas. Contextualisation looks at all that and brings out reasons and meanings for problems and answers. This is applicable to faith life and any other discipline of life. Jesus was in many ways a migrant who did not shy away to be embedded into a context in which he was meant to be born for the purposes of God.

How can we then discriminate against each other for our biggest context is the Universe? Our own planet and its continents are a geographical Mohorovicic discontinuity coincidence. Our national boundaries are just a convenience of political expediency and opportuneness.  For example, they are creations of the corruption of the partition of Africa colonisation, Christianisation and so called civilisation of people of the third world?       Jesus crossed the divine to the human, the Jewish to the Gentile, the men to the women, and the healthy to the sick and was prepared to die for that. Giving in to the acts of xenophobia is an expression of cowardice and spinelessness.

Karl Barth (quoted by Groody) writes of “the way of the Son of God into the far country.” He does not explicitly use the term “migration,” but his reflections are a way of speaking of God’s crossing over into the dark territory of a sinful, broken humanity. What distinguishes the Christian God from other, false gods, Barth notes, is that they are not ready for this downward mobility, “this act of extravagance, this far journey.” Through the Verbum Dei, Jesus’ kenosis and death on the cross, God overcomes the barriers caused by sin, redraws the borders created by people who have withdrawn from God, and enters into the most remote and abandoned places of the human condition. No aspect of a theology of migration is more fundamental, nor more challenging in its implications, than the incarnation. Through Jesus, God enters into the broken and sinful territory of the human condition in order to help men and women, lost in their earthly sojourn, find their way back home to God” (Groody).

Visio Dei: crossing the country–kingdom divide

“The imago Dei, verbum Dei, and missio Dei are all based on the visio Dei. The notion of visio Dei is based in large part on the Matthean beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). This blessedness has been debated throughout history” (Groody). In addition to pledging allegiance to a particular country, the visio Dei brings out that one’s ultimate obedience is to God alone, which leads one beyond any national and political boundaries to ultimate fidelity to the kingdom of God” (Groody).

What is the point of seeing God in heaven? The poor and marginalised want to see God now transforming the world for the good of all. The beatitudes must not be used for pietistic imagination. The Lords prayer demands that The Lord give us our daily breads and forgive our debts – not our sins – but debts.

“A theology of migration seeks to articulate a renewed vision of God and human life as it is lived out between the eschatological horizon of faith and unbelief and a historical horizon of justice and injustice … throughout the tradition visio Dei holds in tension two apparently contradictory biblical claims: some texts affirm that God can be seen (Gen 32:30; Isa 6:5; Mt 5:8); others deny it (Gen 32:30; Exod 33:20; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Tm 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12). Like imago Dei, visio Dei is also much debated throughout history, particularly about how the vision of God deals with the relationship between this life and the next”.

Innocent III spoke of three kinds of vision of God: corporeal, veiled, and comprehensive. “The corporeal vision belongs to the senses; the veiled to images; the comprehensive to the understanding” (Innocent III, Sermon 31, PL 217, coll. 598–96 in Groody).

The visio Dei comes into focus in the person of Jesus Christ and the kingdom he proclaimed. The kingdom of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love, and peace brings people into a different kind of social and ethical territory. It is based not on geography or politics but on divine initiative and openness of heart, leading to a different kind of vision of the current world order, where many of the first are last and the last first (Mt 19:30; 20:16; Mk 10:31; Lk 13:29–30).

Jesus clearly taught that many of the values and metrics people employ to measure others will be inverted and that the excluded will be given priority in the kingdom. The kingdom calls people into movement, making church members exiles on earth, strangers in this world, and sojourners en route to another place. The word most frequently used for sojourner in the New Testament is paroikos, from which is derived the English word “parish” (Eph 2:19; 1 Pt 2:11). In Philippians 3:20 Paul describes Christians as living in this world but carrying the passport of another world: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The author of Hebrews speaks of the journey in hope toward a different place: “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come” (Heb 13:14).

Missio dei: crossing the human–human divide

“The missio Dei is to restore the imago Dei in every person through the redemptive work of the Verbum Dei. The universal message of the gospel is directed to all nations and all peoples, and it is concerned with all aspects of human beings and the full development of every person. The church, through the power of the Spirit, takes up the Great Commission of Jesus by migrating to all nations, proclaiming the Good News of salvation, and working against the forces of sin that disfigure the imago Dei (Mt 28:16–20). In addition to the foundational ministries of Peter and Paul, tradition holds that such missionary endeavours led James to migrate to Spain, Phillip to Asia, and Thomas to India” (Groody).

Bibliography/ References/ Sources

Botha, N A. 2013. A theological perspective on migrants and migration focussing on the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Missionalia (Online) vol.41 n.2 Pretoria Aug. 2013.

Groody,  Daniel, CSC, ’86, 2004. A Theology of Immigration

Groody, D G, C.S.C 2009. Crossing the divide: foundations of a theology of migration and refugees. Theological Studies.

Ngoetjana M L. 2015. The Economics of Jesus. Unpublished.

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