Original Research

‘Pastoral and ecclesial madness’ Facing the failure of ‘democratism’ within the current civil turmoil in South Africa

Daniël J. Louw
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3026 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3026 | © 2024 Daniël J. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 October 2023 | Published: 30 April 2024

About the author(s)

Daniël J. Louw, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

The Zondo Commission’s report of 2022 plays a decisive role in the motivation to write the article. Considering recent political developments in South Africa, specifically the uprising of violent protests on grassroots level in many townships, it has become paramount for research in theology, specifically, the branches of practical and pastoral theology, to give thorough attention to the following research questions: How can the discipline of pastoral care contribute to social change on grassroots level as well as promote the spiritual healing of communities exposed to constant forms of violence? How does the quest for social and community transformation impacts on theory formation in the discipline of pastoral caregiving? The article takes up the challenge posed by Desmond Tutu: Change the Rainbow Nation into a compassionate society. What will be the implication for pastoral caregiving and the ecclesial ministry? A trans-epistemological analysis of the notion of democracy has been performed. The root of democratic thinking is revisited and critically analysed by means of Plato’s radical critique on the ‘democratic type’. While taking the mad option of Desmond Tutu seriously, it becomes obvious that pastoral caregiving should shift from a problem-solving approach to a community engagement approach. This approach should explore the irrational option of an ethos of sacrifice, based on divine madness. Paul calls this spiritual option: The weakness and foolishness of God (1 Cor 1:18–25). The divine sacrificial option implies the radical engagement of a theology of pastoral madness.

Contribution: My choice for a praxis approach to human suffering within contexts of civil societal unrest and demeaning forms of social stigmatisation like xenophobia, is the transformation of ecclesial and ministerial paradigms emanating from cathedral thinking (churches as demonstration of clerical power and abstract liturgies) into xenodochia thinking: Churches as safe havens (xenodochia) for the stigmatised outsiders in civil society. In this regard, the theological notion of the folly of God, should serve as the Christian spiritual cornerstone for implementing the concept of God as Friend and Partner or Host for Life. The latter is our choice for the madness of pastoral engagements in civil society. The sacrificial grace of God illustrates sheer divine irrationality: xenophilia as xenodochia.


Keywords

civilisation state; democratic type; democratism; hospitable xenophilia; marketplace spirituality; pastoral madness; xenodochia

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

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