Author: Jaco S. Dreyer

Abstract

The relationship between the researcher and the researched is one of the fundamental methodological issues which distinguish different approaches to empirical enquiry. Methodological debates on this issues usually contrast a detached observer (outsider or subject-to-object) perspective with an engaged participant (insider or subject-to-subject) perspective. There seems to be consensus among practical theologians that the observer and participant perspectives respectively correspond to quantitative and qualitative research approaches. The aim of this article is to explore an option that goes beyond the traditional dualism of the researcher's role, namely as detached observer or engaged participant. On the basis of Ricoeur's views on the dialectic between belonging and distanciation, it is suggested that the practical theological researcher embodies the dialectics of belonging (the insider perspective) and distanciation (the outsider perspective) in every research endeavour, whether quantitative or qualitative. The article ends with some methodological implications of this view of the relationship between the researcher and the researched.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
In: Empirical Theology in Texts and Tables
In: Conundrums in Practical Theology
The Complex Relationship between Human Rights and Religion: A South African Case
This volume deals with historical, systematic and empirical questions with regard to the complex relationship between human rights and religion. It focuses on the place and function of human rights in democracies in modern society. Moreover it elaborates on the problems which are implied in the complex relationship between human rights and religion from the beginning. Lastly it investigates the positive, negative and ambivalent empirical effects of religious attitudes on human rights attitudes among some youth in South Africa.

Abstract

This article seeks to answer the following question: to what extent does the interpretation of violence as evil contribute – positively, negatively or not at all – to a human rights culture among some 2000 grade 11 students at private (Catholic and Anglican) schools and Afrikaans medium public schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region on the basis of surveys conducted in 1995/1996 and 2000/2001? The regression analyses show that on a number of population characteristics controlled hamartiological interpretations of violence as evil have a mainly positive effect, especially those couched in terms of the divine apocalypse, provided it is construed in its positive dimension ('the new Jerusalem') rather than its negative dimension ('the last judgment'); this also applies to interpretations couched in terms of the institutional transmission of evil contributing to the world of evil. The other interpretations have a predominantly or purely negative effect, especially those relating to a primordial dualistic struggle between good and evil forces, divine retribution and intergeneration transmission of evil. Some population characteristics appear to be more powerful than the hamartiological interpretations, especially gender (female students are more in favour of human rights) and political and cultural attitudes.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

Generally speaking, nature is supposed to have disappeared from theology when the natural sciences emerged after the beginning of modernity. The gap between these sciences became wider and wider, with the effect of lacking almost all contact. Several factors played a role in the rejection of theology in general of philosophical-theological attempts in which themes such as nature and creation could flourish. In practical theology it is possible to broaden our theology of communicative action in such a way that our communication with nature and about nature can also be taken into account. Then we have to take both divine gift and divine challenge in nature seriously, with 'gift' and 'challenge' being communicative terms, and make a distinction between nature's divine gift and nature's divine challenge. Theology speaks of two books where we can find knowledge about God: the book of nature and the book of the Word of God. A hermeneutically mediated experience of God happens when the revelation in nature is inscribed into the texts of the Bible, and the texts of the Bible are inscribed into the book of nature. Our traditional speaking about God should therefore be complemented by both aniconic and nonanthropomorphic speaking about him, because it implies a way to experiencing God in nature - especially for those who are unchurched, and among the unchurched especially for those who define themselves as 'enlightened' and 'modern' people inclined to free, abstract thinking and cherishing their autonomy.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In this article we examine the attitudes towards human rights of a group of 538 Grade 11 students from Anglican and Catholic church-affiliated schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region. A distinction is made between civil, political and judicial ('first generation') human rights, socio-economic ('second generation') rights, and environmental ('third generation') rights. The frame of reference is Ricoeur's theory of human rights. This forms part of his institution theory, which in its turn is embedded in his moral theory of the good life. The students displayed positive attitudes towards socio-economic and environmental rights, ambivalent attitudes towards civil and political rights, and negative attitudes towards judicial rights. The question about where one should look for more positively, more ambivalently and more negatively oriented students, what their characteristics are, and whether religion plays any role in this regard will be explored in the next article.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In the previous article we inquired into the attitudes towards human rights of a group of 538 Grade 11 students in Anglican and Catholic church-affiliated schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region. We distinguished between civil, political and judicial rights, socio-economic rights, and environmental rights. In this article we examine the social location of these attitudes. We arrived at the following profile of students who favour human rights: they are female, come from the official indigenous language groups, and have been raised by parents who have a relatively high educational and occupational level, and are not self-employed. They prefer the ANC to other political parties, and are transethnically and post-materialistically oriented. Their attitude towards work is interest-oriented, definitely not money-oriented. They participate in a political culture of communication. With regard to religious characteristics, which are particularly relevant to their attitudes towards socio-economic rights, they are religiously socialised, involved in religious praxis and have open religious communication with their parents; but they are not intensely tied to a particular denomination nor do they regularly attend church services. At the same time, those who display these last two characteristics reject civil rights. With regard to interreligious interactions, the students who favour human rights, display multireligious orientations and reject monoreligious ones.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In this article we examine the attitudes towards human rights of a group of 538 Grade 11 students from Anglican and Catholic church-affiliated schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region. A distinction is made between civil, political and judicial (first generation') human rights, socio-economic ('second generation') rights, and environmental ('thirdgeneration') rights. The frame of reference is Ricoeur's theory of human rights. This forms part of his institution theory, which in its turn is embedded in his moral theory of the good life. The students displayed positive attitudes towards socio-economic and environmental rights, ambivalent attitudes towards civil and political rights, and negative attitudes towards judicial rights. The question about where one should look for more positively, more ambivalently and more negatively oriented students, what their characteristics are, and whether religion plays any role in this regard will be explored in the next article.

In: Religion and Theology