Scielo RSS <![CDATA[HTS Theological Studies]]> vol. 77 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Catherine of Siena's spirituality of political engagement</b>]]> Well known as a mystic, Catherine of Siena has been credited with pope Gregory XI's return to Rome from Avignon, with convincing him to pursue a crusade and with playing a major role in making peace between the Papal League and Italian City states. This narrative ascribes these accomplishments to Catherine's extraordinary gifts, a fruit of her mystical experience. Contemporary historical research, however, shows that Catherine was chosen by ecclesiastical authorities to advocate for papal policies. She was guided to causes and policies she should pursue, which were already determined by the pope and his advisors. In light of this historical research and from the perspective of Christian spirituality studies, I examined Catherine's letters to pope Gregory XI to analyse and interpret her spirituality of political engagement. Her multiple authoritative exhortations to Gregory XI telling him how her wisdom applied to the choices before him can be read as a spirituality of papal governance and as 'formation' for his critical leadership of the church. By means of this article I have shown that Catherine's advice was intended for the salvation and transformation of others and for the good of the church so that it might best mediate salvation. This goal was her interpretation of the mission entrusted to her through her spiritual advisor. Her own spirituality in daring to forcefully 'form' the pope and in espousing papal causes by preaching her creative integration of Gospel wisdom was witness to an unselfconscious courage and utter trust in God acting through her; a fruit of her own profound journey of transformation. CONTRIBUTION: This article offers a new interpretation of Catherine of Siena's engagement in papal politics and related spirituality. Catherine was chosen for this task by ecclesiastical authorities, then construed this mission as a call to 'form' the pope; thus, her letters to Gregory XI are interpreted as a spirituality of papal governance. <![CDATA[<b>Many ways to God, many ways to salvation (A conversation on Isaiah 56:1-8 with Islamic tradition)</b>]]> Salvation is the objective of every religious tradition. Christian tradition claims Jesus as the particular redeemer, as he is viewed as the only one who reveals God, truly and fully. Thus, Jesus can be seen as the only way to Salvation. The question then arises, what about other people who do not follow Jesus, instead they follow prophet Muhammad or some other religious figures whom they believe that God has sent to save them? How then, the relationship between Christianity and other religions? By the study on Isaiah, this article is an interreligious conversation on the problem of salvation both in Christianity and Islam. One of the theological points of Isaiah is salvation, and it is also the Christian message. Isaiah is analysed from a hermeneutical approach and then the Qur'anic perspective is presented in conversation with Isaiah. CONTRIBUTION: This article speaks for multidiscipline, inter-discipline and transdisciplinary approaches of religious studies in the global theological field. From a multidisciplinary theological perspective, it reflects on the textual and hermeneutical studies within the Abrahamic religions as revealed in the Judaistic scriptures, the Old and New Testament, and the Qur'an <![CDATA[<b>Celebration, preservation and promotion of struggle narratives with a focus on South African women of Indian heritage</b>]]> The relevance and value of oral history practices and principles and its impact on community history gives credence to its relationship with the liberation struggle. The liberation struggle heroines that formed the cohort of interviewees for this research were members of the South African Indian community. This interview- research process provides a platform that allows the veteran South African female of Indian Heritage to reflect almost 50 years later and be a part of the celebration, preservation and promotion of struggle narratives. The women who were interviewed for this research shed light on celebrating political achievements, whilst remembering and recalling the educational, material and economic assistance from international sources. Furthermore, these women referred to the preservation of South Africa's unique heritage as, South Africa is united in its diversity. Promoting the values of the liberation struggle by sharing her anecdotes, honouring the cadres, relating experiences, retelling tales and sometimes possibly reliving military camp days completed the oral history interview process and eventually added to the body of knowledge that already exists and partially filled the gaps that exist. CONTRIBUTION: From a multidisplinary religious perspective, this article contributes to the historical and social-cultural discourse on liberation theology within a paradigm in which the intersection of social sciences and humanities generates a transdisciplinary contested discourse <![CDATA[<b>Preaching: An initial theoretical exploration</b>]]> In this article, the event of preaching was explored by making use of both older and newer sources. Whilst taking cognisance of continuous contextual changes and developments within the discipline of homiletics, core hermeneutical, theological and homiletical aspects of preaching are revisited. The aim of this exploration was to formulate a preliminary theory of preaching that can be revisited and revised as part of a larger empirical homiletical investigation, which makes use of Grounded Theory. CONTRIBUTION: This article adhered to the journal's scope and vision by its focus on a theoretical reflection on the practice of preaching at the intersection of theology, hermeneutics and homiletics <![CDATA[<b>Catherine of Siena's crusade letters: Spirituality and political context</b>]]> Catherine of Siena has been credited with original views regarding the crusade as political policy and with influencing Gregory XI to carry this out. In this article, I argued that while Catherine of Siena did not succeed in furthering the crusade - nor did she initiate this policy - her crusade correspondence leaves us a legacy that reveals significant aspects of her spirituality. Over 40 letters to ecclesiastical authorities, Kings, Queens, leaders of city states, knights and her own followers reveal a religious intent, although addressing a policy with both religious and political consequences. The latter were important to Catherine because she considered political-cultural context vital for salvation and transformation; she advocated for the crusade because she considered that the crusade pilgrimage and holy war to recover the Holy Land would be critical for the salvation of many. Her epistles further witness to the prophetic, missionary nature of Catherine's spirituality, and we see how she crafted her own version of crusade spirituality out of the wisdom on transformation learned through her union with God, fused with early Christian martyr spirituality and early crusade spirituality preached in medieval Europe. This thematisation of Catherine's crusade letters is based on textual analysis of all crusade related letters in the 2002 critical text, on the most complete dating of Catherine's letters (finished in 2008); and in dialogue with literary and other historical advances, making it an innovative study. CONTRIBUTION: Catherine of Siena's crusade letters reveal significant aspects of her spirituality rather than contributions to crusade politics. The letters evidence her prophetic-missionary spirituality and her conviction that socio-political context is significant for a journey of transformation; as well, this analysis details the importance of early Christian martyr spirituality for Catherine's crusade spirituality <![CDATA[<b>Examining Catherine of Siena's controversial discernments about papal politics</b>]]> Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) contributed important wisdom to Christian spirituality on discernment, yet her own discernment regarding her engagement in papal politics has not been studied. From the perspective of Christian spirituality studies, this article examines the critical text of her letters in relationship with historical events to offer a description of the instances where Catherine's discernment differed from that of others committed to a spiritual journey and to seeking the good of the church. Catherine's view of God's will regarding the papal interdict of Florence controverted that of several ecclesial leaders more likely to be right. Catherine's advocacy for the crusade differed from the advice Birgitta of Sweden gave Gregory XI, advice corroborated by history. Two of Catherine's spiritual mentors made decisions they discerned to be right regarding missions on which they were sent by the pope, whereas Catherine reproached them for these choices. Furthermore, Catherine was certain that the election of Urban VI had been blessed by God, whereas another saint considered Clement VII to be the true pope. The above analysis is followed by an examination of influences on Catherine's experience of seeking and implementing God's will, seeking to account for the divergence between her discernment and that of others. In conclusion, while Catherine was confident in her union with God and, therefore, God's guidance, she was also influenced by her unbending beliefs about truth and by the manner these beliefs were conditioned by her personality and sociocultural context.CONTRIBUTION: This article contributes to scholarship in Christian spirituality on the spirituality of Catherine of Siena and on discernment, studying Catherine of Siena's discernment regarding papal politics where she differed from others whose discernment can be interpreted as more likely to be congruent with God's will. The reasons for her controversial discernment are explored <![CDATA[<b>Dissent and disparagement: Dealing with conflict and the pain of rejection in John</b>]]> This article addressed the issue of how the author of the Gospel according to John portrayed dissent, in particular, how the author had his protagonists respond to the experience of rejection by those typically designated as 'the Jews'. Research thus far has usually focused on the identity of the dissenters but rarely on the way dissent was handled. This article's aim was to examine the range of responses to dissent. It employed a sequential reading of the text to identify the various responses and then brought these findings into comparison with the way dissent was handled in related documents of the time, Matthew and Hebrews. It found that responses included not only argument and blame, including threat of divine wrath but also, beyond these, ad hominem allegations that those who dissent were inherently bad or beholden to the devil or had not been predestined or chosen by God to respond. Such categories were, however, not absolute, because the author assumed that people could choose to respond positively and so move from one apparently fixed and predetermined category to another. They served a rhetorical function. A further ploy was to reduce Israel's tradition to witness and foreshadowing within the tension of asserting both continuity and discontinuity.CONTRIBUTION: The article concluded that such strategies served in part to comfort and reassure hearers engaged in the process of grief at rejection. As such they warranted critical reflection <![CDATA[<b>Sabbath-keeping in the Bible from the perspective of biblical spirituality</b>]]> This article responds to the renewed interest in the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping by investigating its nature and meaning in the Judeo-Christian traditions. After briefly analysing the reasons for the contemporary neglect of Sabbath-keeping and indications of its renaissance, this article will analyse biblical pronouncements about the Sabbath, mainly from Hebrew Scriptures, but with brief attention to Christian Scriptures that provide various insights of decisive importance to understand and explain its prominent place for faith communities, but that are vitally important for reinvigorating Sabbath-keeping in a contemporary context. It analyses pronouncements in the Bible in Genesis 2:1-3 that highlights the Sabbath as joyful resting; the need for Sabbath-keeping as commandment in Exodus 20:9-11 and in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, and, finally Sabbath-keeping as trust in God as the provider in Exodus 16:1-30. Various spiritual insights and implications of these passages will be discussed. The article assumes historical critical insights as developed in biblical studies but develops a theological analysis that explains the spiritual dynamics in these texts. These spiritual insights explain the prominence of Sabbath-keeping in the Bible and its practice in the Judeo-Christian religious discourse.CONTRIBUTION: This article contributes to scholarship on spiritual practices, by analysing the nature and meaning of Sabbath-keeping in Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:9-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and Exodus 16:1-30, stressing their spiritual dynamics in terms of joyful resting, as commandment, as trust in divine provision and as a reflection of their covenantal nature <![CDATA[<b>Guidelines for the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping</b>]]> The commandment not to work and to rest on the Sabbath became a major spiritual practice in Judeo-Christian history. This article will spell out, in a concrete manner, the key spiritual contents of Sabbath-keeping that are relevant for and that determine an authentic, liberating and joyful celebration of the Sabbath. It, thus, contributes to the debate by Christians about the shape and form of what the practice of Sabbath-keeping practice might look like today. This article firstly explains how and why the practice by times became oppressive and abusive, losing its popularity because of a legalistic moralism. It then analyses how the practice in reality is about sanctifying work that reflects its true nature and that contributes meaningfully to human existence. It will focus on how commitment is a necessary beginning to practise the Sabbath before it analyses the dynamic and inspirational nature of Sabbath-keeping as a practice about resting. The article will anchor theological and theoretic reflections concretely in the life experience of faith communities concluding with a discussion about the lightness of the practice that is enjoyed in liturgy, in community, in play and in joyful celebration. The very last part will spell out ecological implications of Sabbath-keeping as one of the latest, exciting forms of Sabbath-keeping.CONTRIBUTION: This article responds to the renewed interest in the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping. It analyses how the practice lost its popularity because of a legalistic moralism. It will then analyse the lightness of the practice as it is enjoyed in liturgy, in community, in play and in joyful celebration <![CDATA[<b>A Spirit-Word-Community hermeneutic for the 'preaching as reimagination' approach</b>]]> Walter Brueggemann offers an important approach to preaching that he describes as 'reimagining the world'. He suggests that such imagining must be Spirit-led. It is argued that this homiletic strategy requires a fuller hermeneutic description than Brueggemann offers. A Spirit-Word-Community hermeneutic is commended. The Spirit leads and inspires. 'Word' is taken to mean the canonical witness to divine revelation. It is assumed to be normative for the belief and practice of the Christian Church. The way the world is reimagined needs to correlate with the Word. The act of checking the accuracy of the correlation, however, is not left to the individual preacher; it is the work of community.CONTRIBUTION: The article contributes to the focus and scope of the journal through providing a correlation of hermeneutic theory - especially that of Paul Ricoeur - and homiletic thought. The aim is to provide a rigorously developed hermeneutic for preaching with suggestions as to how it can be used in practice <![CDATA[<b>Defining elements and challenges of a Pentecostal hermeneutics of experience</b>]]> The article intends to describe the distinctive elements and challenges of a Pentecostal hermeneutics of experience, consisting of charismatic encounters with the Spirit that condition and determine both classical Pentecostals' spirituality and hermeneutics. The research is based on a comparative literature study and auto-ethnographical observations. The findings include that Pentecostals hold to a 'high view' of the Bible (like most conservative Protestants), but their ethos includes and emphasises the experiential. Their experiences form their pre-understanding (Vorverständnis). At the same time, they expect the Spirit to generate insights that apply the text to their context. Thus, although they accept traditional hermeneutical principles, they also interpret the text from their charismatic experiences and the affections accompanying it. The distinctive of the hermeneutics of experience is that Pentecostals rely on the Spirit's revelation in the reading process because of the expectation to experience direct divine revelations and the miraculous as in biblical times. The result is that it subjects the formulation of doctrine to the experiential because it bases its epistemology on an intimate relationship with God through Christ, and not on knowledge acquired by rational means. The challenge is that it may lead to individualist and subjectivist (and at times, far-fetched) (mis)interpretation of texts.CONTRIBUTION: The article concludes that the collectivist control of the individual interpretation of texts alone can safeguard the faith community, as in the practice of the interpretation of tongues and prophecy <![CDATA[<b>Liturgy and non-colonial thinking: Speaking to and about God beyond ideology, religion and identity politics - Towards non-religion and a unbearable freedom in Christ</b>]]> It has been argued that most countries that had been exposed to European colonialism have inherited a Western Christianity thanks to the mission societies from Europe and North America. In such colonial and post-colonial (countries where the political administration is no longer in European hands, but the effects of colonialism are still in place) contexts, together with Western contexts facing the ever-growing impact of migrants coming from the previous colonies, there is a need to reflect on the possibility of what a non-colonial liturgy, rather than a decolonial or postcolonial liturgy, would look like. For many, postcolonial or decolonial liturgies are those that specifically create spaces for the voice of a particular identified other. The other is identified and categorised as a particular voice from the margins, or a specific voice from the borders, or the voices of particular identified previously silenced voices from, for example, the indigenous backyards. A question that this context raises is as follows: Is consciously creating such social justice spaces - that is determined spaces by identifying particular voices that someone or a specific group decides to need to be heard and even making these particular voiceless (previously voiceless) voices central to any worship experience - really that different to the colonial liturgies of the past? To give voice to another voice, is maybe only a change of voice, which certainly has tremendous historical value, but is it truly a transformation? Such a determined ethical space is certainly a step towards greater multiculturalism and can therefore be interpreted as a celebration of greater diversity and inclusivity in the dominant ontology. Yet, this ontology remains policed, either by the state-maintaining police or by the moral (social justice) police.CONTRIBUTION: In this article, a non-colonial liturgy will be sought that goes beyond the binary of the dominant voice and the voice of the other, as the voice of the other too often becomes the voice of a particular identified and thus determined victim - in other words, beyond the binary of master and slave, perpetrator and victim, good and evil, and justice and injustice, as these binaries hardly ever bring about transformation, but only a change in the face of master and the face of the slave, yet remaining in the same policed ontology <![CDATA[<b>Intercultural constructions of the New Testament: Epistemological foundations</b>]]> The present study discusses epistemological foundations of intercultural constructions of the New Testament in Africa. Before embarking on this discussion, it documents the history and procedures of this interpretive tool. In Africa, the intercultural method emanates from the paradigm of inculturation coupled with reconstruction. It has already embraced biblical exegesis, translation studies, canonical criticism and ecological hermeneutics.CONTRIBUTION: The insights of the article 'Intercultural constructions of the New Testament: Epistemological foundations' pertain firstly to the description of the method of intercultural constructions, taking stock of its emergence, development, procedures, and epistemological foundations in both African and international theological circles. Secondly, the study has specifically established the following epistemological foundations of the intercultural method: interculturality as the cradle of the New Testament corpus, an existential mode, an interpretive paradigm, and interaction with a triple hexagonal dimension. The latter includes a triple pitfall (to avoid), a triple frame of reference, a triple epistemological privilege, a triple epistemological value, a triple ethical value, and a triple cultural position <![CDATA[<b>The category of the culture of work as vocation: The proposal of the Evangelical Church in Germany for the current upheavals in the world of work</b>]]> The current upheavals in the world of work become one of the central themes of the reflections in social sciences. Many authors raise questions about the results of shrinking employment, growing digitalisation, demands of new skills meeting the challenges of the oncoming economic order, to mention just a few from a broad range of processes and phenomena. It is also an essential motive of the Christian Churches' social teaching, for instance, for the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland [EKD]). The church offers a comprehensive and relevant vision of human work, linking the social and political teaching of the Protestant Reformation and contemporary theological, sociological and sociopolitical conceptions. The article aims to outline the evangelical interpretation of the transformations in human work and asks how inspirations of Reformation theology are applied to today's critical issues concerning these transformations. It also discusses the category of the culture of work as vocation and considers its potential for a broader discussion on the topic. The primary sources of the reflection are the relevant documents of the EKD (Denkschrifts), recently published.CONTRIBUTION: The theological interpretation and proposals of the Evangelical Church in Germany contribute to the global discussion on the transformations in the sphere of work, particularly when examining the sociological and political potential of the category of the culture of work as vocation. The research addresses the focus and scope of the journal for the promotion of multidisciplinary aspects of studies in the general theological area <![CDATA[<b>Mission to live: A gendered perspective on the experience of migration in Southern Africa</b>]]> Extensive work has been carried out on gender and social transformation but there is a need for more work between these intersecting trajectories and their implications for Christian mission. Drawing on data collected from one of the migrants this current study employs the postcolonial lens to analyse interview responses on a migration experience of a young female migrant in South Africa and highlights survival strategies for young migrants by demonstrating that the impact of changing global socio-economic landscapes and poverty on migrant communities presents opportunity to explore alternative missional paradigms and theologies that address conditions of deprivation. As a contribution to United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, this study also highlights how some migrant women use situations of deprivation to promote socio-economic transformation through radical doctrines of resistance. Interrogating key themes that emerged from the interview (2) alongside Dolores William's doctrines of resistance demonstrates how one adolescent migrant embodies the radical doctrine of hope as lived reality expressed through a resilient theology of survival, which is sustained by developing and adapting to new lifestyles through cultural capital, skills, competency, new personal qualities, fashion and language or accents as means for survival strategies in the face of hostility.CONTRIBUTION: By reflecting on the complex and gendered survival strategies for migrant women in religious communities, this article represents a systematic and practical reflection within a paradigm in which the intersection of Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural Sciences generates an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and trans disciplinary contested discourse <![CDATA[<b>Daughters of Zelophehad - Quest for gender justice in land acquisition and ownership</b>]]> This article studies the resilience of five daughters of Zelophehad in requesting to be allocated the land as their father never had a son. The Mosaic law discriminates women against land allotment or ownership. However, the same law teaches that only God owns the land and the occupants are the custodians. Deuteronomic tradition presents land custodianship as a right dispensed solely at the discretion of the owner, while Leviticus presents land as a resource to be properly managed by the recipients for sustainability. Exodus presents land occupation as a social concern. The patriarchal views of marginalising women from owning the land are challenged by the spirit of the daughters of Zelophehad who challenged the ancient traditional biblical laws with their patriarchal endorsements that restricted them to land ownership.CONTRIBUTION: Many African societies are still patriarchal, marginalising women from land ownership and occupation. Women in these traditional societies are encouraged to welcome and embrace the spirit of the daughters of Zelophehad by embracing justice education that promotes equality and social justice. They should boldly appear before the authorities to define their marginalisation regarding land possession and ownership. They can enhance their participation in economic growth by taking the risks and forming the strong networks that lead to viable economic partnerships and corporations <![CDATA[<b>Construction of rape culture amongst the Shona indigenous religion and culture: Perspectives from African feminist cultural hermeneutics</b>]]> Rape culture is reportedly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Culture, patriarchy, poverty and religion continue to sustain rape culture. The notions of the objectification of women's bodies amongst the Shona people are causatives for rape culture within diverse cultural institutions. Africans reasonably uphold marriage with high esteem; unfortunately, the marriage institution is also susceptible to becoming a source of abuse, coercion, and is often used as a tool for controlling women. Some of the entrenched marital rituals embody diverse detrimental and contentious practices, which deprive girls and women their autonomous rights, particularly their sexual and reproductive rights. This research article interrogates numerous aspects within the Shona indigenous religion and culture, which precipitate the construction of rape culture. The study uses African feminism as a theoretical framework. It utilises African feminist cultural hermeneutics to interrogate rape culture amongst the Shona people. The research study is qualitative with a conceptual analysis paradigm. It concludes by proposing the need for tapping into some life-giving and gender inclusive principles within the Shona indigenous religion and culture to be utilised as tools for eradicating rape culture.CONTRIBUTION: Utilising the African feminist cultural hermeneutical framework, the article interrogated several factors precipitating rape culture amongst the Shona people. It foregrounded that women bear the brunt of burden of rape culture. It concludes by proposing the need for tapping into some positive Shona indigenous traditions as tools for curbing rape culture <![CDATA[<b>African women's theology and the re-imagining of community in Africa</b>]]> African women's theology has a commitment to the emancipation of women covering the several themes such as ecclesiology, hospitality, community, spirituality, sacrifice, ecology and missiology. African women's theology examines African culture and demonstrates an understanding of women as a distinct group with inherent varieties within this category. Furthermore, African women's theology incorporates experiences of African women in their perspectives while analysing women's subordination. This article is a re-imagining of community in African theology. African theology has traditionally promoted the need to appreciate African culture and see to it that the integrity of African culture is upheld. However, in so doing, it laid an emphasis only on the positive aspects in African community and turned a blind eye to what was inherent in African community and not worthy to be reclaimed.CONTRIBUTION: A closer look at African women's theology provides a re-imagining of community as gleaned from Mercy Oduyoye and Teresia Hinga who assert that the quality of community in Africa ought to entail relationships, which promote reciprocity, mutuality, partnership and denounce hierarchies that promote power relations between men and women <![CDATA[<b>Motherhood and biosafety measures: Negotiating a compromise between traditional funeral customs and public health needs in Zimbabwe in the wake of COVID-19</b>]]> Since the origins of humanity, motherhood has remained a central cog around which human societies revolve. With motherhood, it is not just the ability to give birth but the unbounded love, tolerance, patience and presence associated with a mother that keep motherhood unique. The onset of the ravaging coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its variants have, however, seen a painful shift from some of these widely held expectations about motherhood. In Zimbabwe, the God-ordained Edenic bond is now under threat as mothers are now barred not only from griefly cuddling the deceased fruit of their womb but also from performing the last mourning rites on them. In line with biosafety measures, they are now to keep distance from them when they are laid to rest. Faced with such competing values, the paper advocates a compromise by arguing for safe and dignified burials as well as Mariopraxis in the midst of a seemingly defenceless situation. Employing synchronic methodologies namely close-reading and feminism, the paper interrogates the God-ordained Edenic bond which provides the basis to what motherhood is all about. The paper deliberately picks on Shona women on the grounds of acquaintance. Having been born to a Shona mother and raised within a Shona cultural environment, much of my ideas about Shona women will be drawn from interaction with my mother as well as with other Shona women. Desk research will be used to augment prior knowledge.CONTRIBUTION: The research makes a unique contribution to women theology and the epidemics through proffering tangible ways to both the government and Shona mothers in dealing with emerging challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that women theology is a theology of hope, the article advocates Mariopraxis as it accords mothers the ability, through God, to face the pandemic with an assured hope that God is in control of everything <![CDATA[<b>'Thursdays in Black campaign' and the blackening of the widow's body: A hermeneutic of suspicion to blackening of the body to resist gender-based violence</b>]]> Black is used as a colour of darkness, death, evil, bad luck and mourning. Generally, most cultures around the world use black as a colour of mourning, and widows from the African culture, in particular, are expected to wear all-black attire for a year to mourn their husbands. Although this colour is associated with death and mourning, contemporary women's movements have reintroduced black as a colour of resistance and resilience. This article applies African feminist critical hermeneutics of suspicion to the Thursdays in Black (TIB) campaign and blackening of the widow's body and attire. The aim is to explore how this campaign is contrary to the blackening of the widow's body and attire in their cause and how the campaign's wearing of black is emotionally divorced from the struggles of widows who experience distress, sadness and shame by wearing the black attire.CONTRIBUTION: The article applies an African feminist hermeneutics of suspicion to the colour black used by the TIB campaign for solidarity with victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). It questions the relevance of this campaign to a widow who puts on a black attire for mourning <![CDATA[<b>Reading a few exemplary books or texts in the Pentateuch and comparing how these books or texts portray the theme of violence and disempowerment</b>]]> This research article focuses on selected Old Testament (OT) texts that deal with the theme of violence and disempowerment. The selected texts are studied and viewed from a feminist interpretation perspective, and laid bare the violent and mistreatment of women in these texts. This research study builds on the work of Phyllis Trible (1978), and she uses the term 'texts of terror' to refer to passages where women suffer especially at the hands of men. She believes that passages, such as Deuteronomy 22:5, are regrettable and should be a cause of repentance in order to avoid them being repeated again. The way this article deals with the aforementioned exemplary books or texts in the OT is to explore a gendered feminist lens to understand the theme of disempowerment or violence against women. This approach, with the data, lays bare to the reader the nature of the problem of disempowerment and violence against women.CONTRIBUTION: This article brings a feminist understanding of the OT Bible (including its social-historical context) in order to gain a clearer insight into the problematic narratives of the disempowerment of and violence against women in a patriarchal society <![CDATA[<b>A holistic interdisciplinary approach towards environmental justice and youth empowerment</b>]]> South African youth is described as marginalised and vulnerable because of, amongst others, high unemployment rates, a lack of access to opportunities and environmental degradation that threatens their and future generations' well-being. Both social work and faith-based organisations place value on the empowerment of marginalised youth, as well as on the importance of participatory environmental initiatives. Practice guidelines to effectively empower youth in this regard are, however, lacking. This discussion was aimed at determining how environmental social work can take place in collaboration with faith-based organisations to contribute to both the empowerment of youth and environmental justice. A search of literature from 2010 onwards was conducted, focusing on the terms 'sustainable development', 'marginalised youth', 'environmental and/or green social work' and 'faith-based organisations'. Central themes were identified through a thematic analysis. Four central themes were identified for youth empowerment through an interdisciplinary approach to contribute to environmental justice, namely environmental responsibility, attitude, knowledge and concern. It was concluded that the potential of an interdisciplinary environmental approach may be based on collaboration and an openness to include a renewed change orientation where disciplines work together across boundaries in multiple spaces to support environmental change and youth empowerment simultaneously.CONTRIBUTION: The framework for collaborative initiatives may service as a guide to support marginalised youth to actively participate in social and environmental justice initiatives to contribute to their own and future generations' well-being <![CDATA[<b>African youth, African faith(s), African environment and sustainable development: A missional diaconal calling</b>]]> This article aims missional diaconate as a method of sustainable development in Africa. The focus is on the interdependence and relation between African youth, African faith(s) and African environment within the context of spirituality and religiosity. Africa is a youth continent, where 200 million of the population is between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age. Although African people are known for their religiosity and spirituality, not much attention is given to these aspects when thinking of and planning for development. Speaking about African traditional beliefs, Africans live close to nature and the environment; traditionally, they were and some still are subsistence farmers, making a living from the natural environment, while most of the youth struggle to survive in a more industrialised, modern and global world. As such, the sustainability of development, especially in the form of urbanisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution - which hit Africa as a reality with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - remains in question, where so many seemingly valuable developments have failed in the past.CONTRIBUTION: The research question this article wants to answer is: What is unique in the contribution of missional diaconate as method of sustainable development amongst African youth in their context? The question is answered when missional diaconate is applied to the five elements of faith formation as discussed by Weber. It became clear from this article that while development is designed to overcome material needs, missional diaconate motivated from the unconditional love of God is focused on identity, relations and values <![CDATA[<b>Environmental justice as an act of love: A reflection on the agency of the youth on the Cape Flats</b>]]> There has been visible evidence of youth activism regarding environmental consciousness on the global scene with some prominent voices amongst them. An increase in research on eco-theology has also been seen. Yet, it is easy to become fixated on environmentalism with regards to ozone depletion and greenhouse effects, and miss the various nuances of the movement. One such area relates to consumption and environmental justice, and that means not only for the global movement of environmentalism but more specifically in the local South African context.CONTRIBUTION: This article, therefore, will look at environmental justice as an act of love through the agency of the youth within the coloured community on the Cape Flats <![CDATA[<b>Protecting our environment: The need for South African youth with a mission and black consciousness</b>]]> Christianity has contributed to environmental degradation. In terms of their role, the church youth are ipso facto part of such a contribution. However, an eco-theological diagnostic analysis cannot interpret the role of youth, especially black youth, through the same lenses. From a Black theological perspective, black youth's role should be interpreted and discussed in terms of what Fanon and Biko describe as 'self-hatred' and the need for black consciousness. It is such self-hatred that gives rise to environmental degradation that is not articulated within various eco-theologians' strategies towards care for the environment in a neo-colonial context in South Africa. The article argues that such a deficiency in eco-theological literature needs some attention to address the future black youth's contribution to a friendlier environment. The author therefore suggests a 'missional consciousness' for one of the strategies for black youth in the quest for the black youth's participation in environmental care.CONTRIBUTION: This article contributes to the broader discourses on ecotheology. It affirms the contributions on human beings' role towards the environment, but further highlights the inequality among human beings in neo-colonial context and how ecotheology should approach the ecological crisis with consideration to such a context. Therefore, the contribution brings into dialogue the post-colonial discourse, specifically the discourse of black consciousness, in relation to a missional consciousness in resolving the ecological crisis through the participation of church youth. Ecotheology has not specifically considered the notions of 'missional consciousness' and 'black consciousness' in its discourse on protection of the environment. The author relates this discussion specifically to church youth <![CDATA[<b>Environmental awareness of Protestant youth in Germany: Perspectives from an empirical exploration</b>]]> Climate change and environmental degradation are pressing issues in the 21st century, which have also been addressed by Christian churches. Christian congregations are expected to provide an important impetus towards a more sustainable way of life. However, in Germany, empirical data on how Christian congregations and their members relate to this issue are scarce. This article presents the first results of a quantitative study on this topic, in particular, with regard to the differences between age groups. The focus is on the perceived importance of environmental conservation, environmental awareness, and the opportunities and obstacles for the engagement of Christians in creation care. An online survey which was conducted in 2020 yielded 736 complete responses from members of the Protestant churches, 19.7% of which were from young people under 30 years. Regarding the perceived importance of environmental conservation and environmental awareness, the results were largely consistent with the data of a representative study on environmental awareness in Germany. The young generation showed slightly lower values than the older ones. Members of Protestant church seem to be more willing to behave sustainably than the general public, with the under 30 years old being in particular concerned about food consumption. Motivational and subcultural opportunities for Christian conservation efforts were identified. Obstacles were based primarily on eschatological views and the fear that other mandates of the church may be neglected. Regarding obstacles, young respondents showed a stronger approval than the older generations.CONTRIBUTION: The article presents empirical evidence on the environmental awareness of Protestant Christians in Germany and identifies the opportunities and obstacles for their engagement in creation care <![CDATA[<b>The gendered impact of pandemics on poor women: The case of COVID-19 in South Africa</b>]]> This article provides a reflection on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its effect on poor women in South Africa. The article provides a unique insight into the gendered impact of COVID-19, specifically assessing women in informal settlements and townships. The article interrogates poor women who are unable to implement the suggested measures to reduce the spread of the virus. The focus is on poor women as this group was considered most vulnerable, notably because of the dependency on the salaries of poor women. The article enlists how this pandemic is different from others in the sense that there is a differentiated impact on poor women. The differentiated impact is discussed under various themes, including ability to social distance, transportation implications, access to food and access to the COVID-19 relief grant. Access to COVID-19 grants and subsequent relief measures are assessed for their accessibility to poor women. The discussion engages the latest statistics available in 2020 during the pandemic and also reflects on what this means for the future. The article broadly explores the poverty gap and how this impacts poor women and looks at inequality in terms of labour demands on poor women during the pandemic. Finally, the article suggests some reforms that could be implemented going forward for poor women by government and other stakeholders, given that many cannot access their employment in a safe manner, and also looks at social reforms in terms of access to relief efforts for poor communities.CONTRIBUTION: This article focuses on the most marginalised group of people in South African society affected by COVID-19, namely, poor women. The article provides a unique contribution by assessing the consequences of the pandemic and looks at possible recommendations for addressing the plight of poor women in South Africa post-COVID-19 <![CDATA[<b>The story of Nana Sita and the Group Areas Act</b>]]> Nana Sita (1898-1969) is best known for being the secretary of the Transvaal Indian Congress and for his leadership in the passive resistance movement for which he was incarcerated three times. This article focusses specifically on three more times he was sentenced to hard labour for refusing to submit to the Group Areas Act and to leave his (business and) house at 382 Van Der Hoff Street in Hercules, Pretoria. The main sources for telling the story of Nana Sita's resistance are interviews with his 93-year-old daughter, a chapter written on him by E.S. Reddy and other unpublished material placed at the author's disposal by Maniben Sita herself. The focus of the article will be on the religious arguments against the Group Areas Act put forward by Nana Sita himself in his defense during his final trial in 1967.CONTRIBUTION: Historical thought and source interpretation are not limited to historic texts but include social memory in the endeavour of faith seeking understanding. People of faith in South Africa can only come to grips with reality by engaging with the stories of the past, like that of Nana Sita <![CDATA[<b>'The farm that became a great problem': Epworth Mission Station and the manifestation of mission in crisis in post-independence Zimbabwe</b>]]> Mission stations were created to radiate the light of Christianity to the surrounding communities. However, as time passed, what was meant to be the light became an eyesore to the noble intentions of the initial founders. Epworth Mission Station brings together the manifestation of a failed mission vision, as exemplified by the challenges and the squalid conditions of what was once a promising mission. This study explores the origins and challenges faced at a mission station and in particular Epworth of the Methodist Church in Harare. It looks at the challenges of the 19th-century mission approach in a post-colonial era. With the changes in political and religious terrain in Africa, mission work has suffered.CONTRIBUTION: Using qualitative methods, which included desk research, archival and ethnographic approaches, the researcher sought to uncover the latent sources and nature of the mission problems and ended by suggesting what new approaches can be used to salvage respectability of mission in a post-colonial era. These include missional orientation and decolonisation of the African mind <![CDATA[<b>Memory and history: Oral techniques in the East African context</b>]]> Some historians have always erred in ignoring oral history methods, as it is always assumed wrongly that the only reliable and trustworthy source of history is the written word. The aim of this article is to underscore the nature and significance of oral histories, which rely on the memory of the narrators. In the case of both Ngugi wa Thiong'o's and Wole Soyinka's literary works, their respective childhood experiences are well captured, as they employ both the use of postcolonial and autobiography theories in their theoretical frameworks. In its methodology, this article relied heavily on extensive literature review, oral interviews and archival sources. In seeking to demonstrate the significance of oral history for the preservation of memory and for the writing of history in Africa, the author intends to build from both the above literary works and other theohistorical materials so as to convey the message that the methodology used in chronicling East African oral history, the history of Christian doctrines, Church history or social histories will require us to go beyond postcolonial theory and the theory of autobiography in order to harvest the rich and forward-moving historiographies that remain unexplored and/or unpublished altogether.CONTRIBUTION: Memory as a critical tool that moves humanity forward is the main subject of this article. The article is relevant to the journal HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies and the world of scholarship as it undertakes a multidisciplinary approach in engaging literary works with theo-historical works in order to build the case for oral techniques in modern scholarship <![CDATA[<b>An investigation into the commercialisation of initiation schools: A case of Eastern Cape, South Africa</b>]]> This study investigated the commercialisation of initiation schools. It is argued that the economic hardships and lack of employment have led to some people resorting to any way of living merely for financial gain. The specific objectives were to determine and assess the regulations that govern the opening and running of initiation schools and to determine the palliatives that can curb commercialisation of initiation schools. The research was based on sociocultural theory and used a qualitative research design. The data collection methods used included secondary sources, focus group discussions and face-to-face interviews. The outcomes were that initiation schools are open to abuse by opportunistic unemployed people and some who are employed who want to add to their meagre wages so as to make a living, thereby crippling and undermining a cultural practice that is highly esteemed. The study recommends effective indigenous knowledge management to curb the unethical practices of commercialisation of initiation schools. Furthermore, strategies should be adopted to document this knowledge and formulate policies that will govern it.CONTRIBUTION: In line with the journal scope, this article focuses on the African Tradition Religion practice of initiation schools. This subject matter is multi-disciplinary and it covers how the sacred practice has been defiled through commersialisation and deviation from its original intent <![CDATA[<b>The significance of African oral tradition in the making of African Christianity</b>]]> As religious systems are intertwined with social systems, change and continuity in thought and practice constitute a significant feature of Christianity. Thus, African Christianity embodies a distinct socio-cultural stamp of the continent. Considering the historical phases of Christianity, this socio-cultural stamp distinguishes African Christianity within global Christianity. One of the cultural vehicles of this imprint on Africa Christianity is the African oral tradition. Oral tradition is a necessary social antecedent and cultural heritage of Africans. African oral tradition is visible primarily through proverbs, folktales, songs, dances, customs, traditional medicines, religious practices and ancestral utterances. Through a substantial range of literature research on the subject matter, this article contends that African oral tradition is a relevant socio-cultural element in the constitution of African Christianity and its influence cannot be ignored. It sets out to pinpoint certain incontestable contours and marks of African oral tradition on African Christianity. In other words, it seeks to highlight what could possibly be described as the defining or peculiar hues of Christianity in Africa as impressed upon it by African culture and tradition especially in the oral form. By means of qualitative methodology and a multidisciplinary approach in the assemblage of materials and sources, the article argues that African oral tradition, even if not openly acknowledged, has been both essential and instrumental in the making and shaping of Christianity particularly in the sub-Saharan part of the continent.CONTRIBUTION: As an observational research, this article painstakingly pinpoints the remarkable imprints of African oral tradition on the evolution and practice of Christianity in Africa. Situated within the confines of theology and history of religion, its major contribution lies in the drawing of attention to the remaking of Christianity on the continent with some obvious African trademarks <![CDATA[<b>On the border between religion and superstition: Schleiermacher on religion</b>]]> The ideas of Friedrich Schleiermacher contributes hugely to the understanding of the concept of religion. Many scholars have published on the significance of Schleiermacher for theology, philosophy and hermeneutics. In response to the Enlightenment thought, Schleiermacher constructed a reappraisal of what religion is. His emphasis on intuition and feeling, steered away from the rational interpretation of religion which placed human cognition at the centre of religion. For Schleiermacher religion should indicate a self-transcendence and a feeling of dependence. In the current era of technocracy, human knowledge and experience is reduced to that which is accessible via technology. Whether technology becomes the medium or object of veneration, surely vary from context to context. Schleiermacher provides direction under the current paradigm, to search for meaning where the human spirit connects with a meaningful other. In order to address this endeavour, this research makes use of a literature study. The goal of this article is to identify the border between superstition and religion by attempting to illuminate the boundaries of religion. It is, according to David Chidester, precisely at the boundaries where religion is best understood.CONTRIBUTION: The article highlights the importance of the theories created by Schleiermacher and how it applies within a current context where a distinction between religion and superstition is necessary. The research addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, numbers 10 (reducing inequalities), 11 (sustainable communities) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 as archetype rather than event: Thinking COVID-19 in the light of Eliade's 'terror of history'</b>]]> For Eliade, linear time constitutes the metaphysical substrate of modernity. Consequently, the modern subject experiences time as an irreversible series of events occurring within an absolutised history. It is this subject that 'makes' that history. By extension, this time, and the history it valorises, cannot be transcended. This sets up the modern view against a premodern one where temporality is seen in multiple ways, allowing history to be transcended by archetypes. Eliade mourns the alternative ways of being and meaning cultivated by the premodern self that have been lost to hegemonic modernity and its associated, often precarious, subjectivity. He believes that these archetypal modes need to be recovered to counter the damage caused by modernity's desire to 'make history'. I reflect on this Eliadean thesis in the light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, drawing on an example from the Islamic tradition to show what an archetypal, rather than event-centred, approach to the crisis might look like. Specifically, I examine the thoughts of British Muslim theologian, Abdal Hakim Murad, on COVID-19, who reflects on the phenomenon both in the light of the archetypal Islamic concept of the divine names and the event-centred capitalism of late modernity.CONTRIBUTION: Through an examination of Eliade's important text, the article continues the decolonial interrogation of modernity's foundations and its implications for being and acting in the world as distinct from premodern approaches. By highlighting time in both approaches, Eliade shows modernity's foundations to be just as 'theological' as those of religion <![CDATA[<b>The self is as a lens through which to study religion: Keiji Nishitani's <i>Religion and Nothingness</i> revisited</b>]]> This article offers an analysis of Keiji Nishitani's understanding of the religious self as a window into his wider understanding of religion. It serves two purposes: to motivate for a revisiting of Nishitani's book Religion and Nothingness (1983) and to argue that his ideas offer innovative approaches to contemporary Religious Studies. The self is the focus of Nishitani's understanding of religion. Nishitani argues that the self is in crisis, rooted in the following question: 'For what purpose do I exist?' At the point of our deepest doubt (what he terms 'the Great Doubt') emerges an awareness of nothingness. That paradoxically leads to the potential for conversion: a uniquely religious experience. Nishitani's analysis of religion and the self in crisis is valuable for the study of the religion more broadly because it locates the self as an important focus in the study of religion. Nishitani's argument for the importance of religion and conversion in peoples' lives foreshadowed two contemporary theoretical topics in the study of religion, namely posthumanism and postsecularism. To be human, to be aware of one's death as a human being and the absolute doubt it causes, drives us to understand that we share the same fate as all life in the wider ecology and forces us to recognise that we share our creatureliness with all other life forms. Postsecularism is based on the prevalence of religion globally, despite predictions of its demise by secularists. This article reads the later writings of Derrida in the frame of postsecularism.CONTRIBUTION: This article contributes to the current research into religious experience in the field of Religious Studies. It also suggests that the current sociological research of religious expression concentrates on identity advocacy but does not acknowledge the opposite issue of identities in crisis. This article addresses the dearth of research on the latter <![CDATA[<b>Durkheim's totemic principle, shamanism and Southern African San religions</b>]]> The study reappraised Emile Durkheim's totemic principle in relation to the origins of religion and culture, using, amongst others, speech act theory and recent southern African epistemologies, especially David Lewis-Williams' theory of shamanism, potency and altered states of consciousness. The study was text-based, qualitative and interpretive, and used key texts from anthropology, archaeology, history of religion, sociology and philosophy. It outlined Durkheim's theory of the totemic principle and critiqued it, using performativity, cognitive neuroscience and southern African ethnography. Durkheim's sociological reduction of God and religion to society and his dismissal of individual psychological experience were criticised. Lewis-Williams' shamanism, both as a general theory and with particular reference to the San, was explored as an alternative to Durkheim's totemism, animals playing a central but different function in each system. Although his understanding of performativity and sociopolitical relations in religion was inchoate, Durkheim helped demystify religion and establish social constructionism. He overestimated collective affect and sentiments and underestimated the role played by individual altered states of consciousness in the origin of religion.CONTRIBUTION: The study critically evaluates Durkheim's reduction of religion to society using current concepts of performativity, Matthias Guenther's New Animism and David Lewis-Williams' revised shamanism, particularly its ideas of trance dance, potency and altered states of consciousness, and posits shamanism rather than totemism as the probable origin of religion <![CDATA[<b>Animism: Comparing Durkheim and Chidester's analyses of EB Tylor's theory of religion</b>]]> The purpose of this research study was to compare the analyses of the anthropologist Edward Tylor's animist theory of religion in the work of two major scholars of religion. At the beginning of the 20th century, Durkheim refuted Tylor's classical explanation of the origin of religion, before he would proceed to develop his own sociological explanation. At the turn of the 21st century, from a postcolonial South African location, David Chidester offered a critical analysis of the triple mediation under colonial and imperial conditions that made Tylor's evolutionary theory possible. By foregrounding definitions, making arguments explicit and comparing these two assessments, the two analyses shed light on each other as well as allowed us to view the issue of animism in a new light. This article concluded by highlighting points that emerged and need continuing attention in the academic study of religion.CONTRIBUTION: This article, as part of a collection on re-readings of major theorists of religion, offers a comparison of Durkheim and Chidester's analyses of Tylor's classical animist theory of religion. By comparison, the analyses shed light on each other and on the theory of animism itself, highlighting critical issues that deserve the continuing focus of students of religion <![CDATA[<b>How not to become a founding figure</b>]]> The views recently put forward by Fukuyama and Huntington showed that the academic world may once again be ready to think in large patterns of the rise and fall of civilisations. However, long before that, the Buddhologist Trevor Ling put forward a theoretical position regarding the rise and fall of civilisations and the vestigial survival of dead civilisations as 'religions'. More recently, Naomi Goldenberg put forward a superficially similar, but, on deeper inspection, quite a different point of view on the power relationship between state institutions and the 'vestigial states' that contest the state's monopoly on power and are known to us as religions. This article explored the differences and possible synergies between these two standpoints.CONTRIBUTION: This article pleads for much attention to be paid to less well-known theories of religion and demonstrates with reference to the theories of Trevor Ling and Naomi Goldenberg how a virtual conversation between older and more contemporary theorists can open up new theoretical and methodological avenues for understanding religion <![CDATA[<b>Religion as 'universal obsessional neurosis of humanity'? Re-reading Freud on religion</b>]]> In his writings on culture, Freud stipulates a close relation between religion and psychopathology, and obsessional neurosis in particular. In this article, I would like to explore the nature of that relation. How is it articulated, and how is it transformed in the course of Freud's work over four decades, between 1894 and 1939? (How) can cultural (i.e. by definition, collective) phenomena be understood on the basis of symptoms described for individual psychology? On what basis can categories of individual psychology be extended to the analysis and history of cultural and societal formations? What perspectives can psychopathology open up for the analysis of culture? Is religion 'the cure', or 'the symptom'? Or are there grounds for breaking open the relation between psychopathology and religion as it has increasingly solidified in the course of Freud's work, and has been hotly contested ever since? This article works its way through these questions, and proposes to open some paths of investigation on the subject that are inherent in psychoanalytic theory, but have been prematurely closed off by Freud himself, as well as his adepts and critics.CONTRIBUTION: This article critically engages with Freud's most (in)famous statements on the relation between psychopathology and religion through an exposition of the articulations of this relation, as they change with the introduction of particular concepts and theories <![CDATA[<b>Max Müller, Charles Darwin and the science of religion</b>]]> The science of religion, as a discipline distinct from theology emerging in the 19th century, from the beginning was closely related to the discourse on Darwinism. This article focusses on Max Müller, known as 'The father of Comparative Religion', who was involved in the Darwinian discourse, compared with Jane Ellen Harrison who emphasised the impact of the theory of evolution, approaching, however, the 'scientific study of religion' from a different viewpoint.CONTRIBUTION: From a historical point of view, this article discusses the relationship between different strands in Religious Studies (Religionswissenschaft), and, also, touches upon the relationship between Religious Studies and Theology