Marthie Momberg (1958) was born in George, South Africa. Through the years her contributions in the educational, corporate, and not-for-profit sectors have received many awards. When her husband passed away in the late 1990s, she embarked on a process of reassessing her priorities. Her growing interest in different world and life views and that which link or divide people inspired her to enrol for part-time studies in the dynamic relation between culture, identity and religion. In 2011, she spent three months monitoring human rights violations in Israel and Palestine on behalf of the World Council of Churches. This experience deepened her interest in scholar-activism, as well as in how religion and the media are abused to promote ideologies and state projects.
Her articles, opinion pieces and chapters have featured in mainstream and peer-reviewed publications. She has written two memoirs, one of which became a bestseller. Marthie has presented papers on public, professional and academic platforms, including presentations to the South African Parliament and at local and international conferences on several continents. She holds a postgraduate diploma in education, two Master’s degrees (in literature, and in religion and culture) and a PhD in theology. She is a Research Fellow at both the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology and the Unit for Moral Leadership (Stellenbosch University). In 2022 she also joined South Africa’s National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Nelson Mandela University.
Marthie Momberg, “Kairos perspectives on state violence and the integrity of life”
We live in an era of shock, disillusion, despair, loss, and grief. Millions are ill, hungry, abused, and jobless – many with nothing to hold onto and nowhere to go. The planet is on the brink of an ecological collapse. Sickness and war are part of daily talks. It is also a crisis of consciousness and a crisis of faith. Millions of Christians, for example, support exclusive nationalities that merge the mission and power of Christianity with the destiny of a single nation, a ‘pure’ race, or a superior group. This ethno-phyletist religious fundamentalism goes hand in hand with a theology of violence. Others, in turn, talk of state violence as if it is an even-handed clash between peers because they do not want to ‘burn bridges,’ but this theology of neutrality leaves the door wide open for the escalation of horror.
Theology is not external to faith and identity, or a dimension that can be superimposed onto it. Practicing faith with integrity implies a deep connectedness between church teachings, beliefs, values, world views, policies and practices and requires a consciousness and a spirituality of serving God in an all-inclusive, consistent, and relational manner in the fullness of life. In this paper I shall draw on the 1985 South African Kairos Document, the Kairos Palestine Document, the Cry for Hope Call of Global Kairos for Justice and other examples from struggles against state violence, including the context of Russia and Ukraine, to discern on theological options in light of three questions:
- How does one recognise the dynamics of deceiving theologies in contexts of imperialism, systemic oppression and racism?
- What may be responsible and liberative alternatives in such contexts?
- How do we turn aspirations and projections into concrete, non-divisive expressions of embodied togetherness and what do these identities look like?