My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The reactions to Xingwana’s utterance (eg it is “an extreme verbal attack on the integrity of Afrikaners” and “a sign of religious intolerance”) suggest that Afrikaner men and religious doctrine are both above criticism. Given the widely promoted predilection for forgetting, we have forgotten that a particular interpretation of Calvinism underpinned the Christian nationalism that drove the project of apartheid. Moreover, as theologian Christina Landman has written, “local Calvinism was as sexist as it was racist” (see an excerpt from the article here). This local form of Calvinism, which still grips gender relations in Afrikaner families, dictates that “part of the salvation of the soul was the subordination of the female body to male rule, both in intimate spaces and the church”, as Landman finds. This explains resurgent collaborations between Afrikaner women and men to reinstall “the Afrikaner man” as “king and priest” of the household, as currently promoted in congregations such as Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church. While Xingwana is condemned, the same critics fall over their feet to defend white Afrikaner men — the group that benefited most from apartheid. Their manoeuvres dovetail nicely with Time’s efforts at deflecting culpability in the Pistorius case away from masculinity and onto blackness. Thus it is ensured that the hard questions are shut out: the questions about an entitled, damaged and damaging masculinity that seeks to claw back power through violence. – Christi van der Westhuizen on Thought LeaderBACK TO TOP