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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Monday
Jul232007

Double speak...

Frere Maternity Ward report.....

Do a google search for the words above... You'll find a remarkable example of 'double speak'. In recent months 43 babies have died in the maternity ward. Our minister of health, the notorious Manto Tshabalala Msimang, suggests that while there are severe staff shortages (at the time of a recent visit, just one nurse and one nurse's assistant on duty to care for 32 babies), and outdated and poor equipment, these DID NOT lead to the deaths of the babies... I seem to remember someone saying, I have come to proclaim healing...

Yes, and Zimababwe has plenty of food, fuel, and the healthiest economy in the world! Who the heck are you fooling!? Whilst your words may say one thing, we can see the truth. Was it not the Christ who said: I have come to preach good news to the poor.

Kliptown... As I watched the news this evening it might as well have been 30 years ago!! What I saw were scenes that reminded me of the kind of oppression we faced under the Apartheid government. Scores of police officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at civilians who are expressing their dismay at poor service delivery. How quickly the liberator is turning into an oppressor. We have much work to do, and sadly the voice of the Church is silent. Yes, that same Jesus said: I have come to proclaim freedom...

Let us never forget!

Today I also heard double speak from within the Church. A document arrived for me, sent by three of my Methodist colleagues, the document encourages Christians to sign their names in support a view that excludes persons from the hospitality and generosity of God's loving grace. This double speaking document encourages Christians to declare that the Church should choose whom the God of grace wishes to bless... It says that certain persons are not welcomed by the open arms of Christ, that they are not accepted unconditionally. This document encourages Christians to exclude people, and to withhold blessing, in the name of the Christ who died to welcome and bless all people! This is double speak. This kind of ungracious exclusion is just two steps from the hate that led to the rape, torture, and murder of Sizakele and Simone in Soweto, on a Sunday, just two weeks ago... After all, if the Church says they're an abomination, and God doesn't love them, why shouldn't we kill them? Thankfully there is a Lord who said: He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted...

Thankfully there is great hope! Today that hope came from a magnificent and challenging sermon delivered by one of the senior students at our seminary, the Rev Christian Mokone. He reminded us of God's desire for mercy, justice, grace, and our responsibility to honour God through social holiness, before we claim that God is honoured by personal piety... Let your holiness be reflected in the society in which you live. Don't say that you love God, but don't love those whom God loves - that is double speak! Jesus came to:

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor. (Isa 61:1-3)

Surely a Christ follower should actually follow the way of Christ? I pray for US! We are a sinful people, and I am a sinful person who wants to honour God both in what I say, and in what I do, and in how what I say and do helps other to passionately do what Jesus did. I pray that we would have enough love to love the people that Jesus loves... I want to belong to a Church that would much rather bless people, than bless their pets, that would much rather live the values of God's Kingdom than engage in empty words that try to draw lines, exclude, condemn, and limit God's grace.

Could God ever find glory in double speak? Hear what Amos had to say (Amos 8:4-12)

4 Hear this, you who trample the needy
and do away with the poor of the land,

5 saying,
"When will the New Moon be over
that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath be ended
that we may market wheat?"—
skimping the measure,
boosting the price
and cheating with dishonest scales,

6 buying the poor with silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

7 The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done.

8 "Will not the land tremble for this,
and all who live in it mourn?
The whole land will rise like the Nile;
it will be stirred up and then sink
like the river of Egypt.

9 "In that day," declares the Sovereign LORD,
"I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.

10 I will turn your religious feasts into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD,
"when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

12 Men will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.

Pray, work, love, and have the courage to live as Jesus did. My friends, there can be no greater passion, no greater sacrifice, no witness greater, than living as Jesus did... That's what is means to be a Christ follower!

Thursday
Jul122007

President George W Bush sings U2!

This is one of the best made, and funniest, videos that I have seen in ages!!!

Here goes - President George W Bush sings the U2 song "Sunday, bloody Sunday"

Amazing what you can do with iMovie and other important work waiting to be done! I imagine that this was done by some doctoral student who has a chapter of his / her thesis due in a day or two....

By they way, I watched Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" last night... Whilst I'm sure we all agree that Mr Moore is not exactly what one would call an unbiased journalist who upholds the sanctity of journalistic integrity (if there is such a lofty ideal in contemporary news), the movie is challenging and thought provoking.

The question I have, is why does one of the world's richest countries make health care so inaccessible? Perhaps Capitalism, and greed, have so run through the America psyche that it is impossible to think about anyone but one's self! I fear that South Africa is only a few years behind... We are no better than the televangelists who make money from the pain and suffering of others if we allow such principles to permeate our society. I certainly see very little of the Kingdom of God present where the needy don't have enough, and the rich have more than they need!

Pray, work, there is a lot to be done. Faith is politics - we can change the world!

Tuesday
Jul102007

iHype over the iPhone...

So, the iPhone was released last week on Friday (well just over a week ago in fact). And, true to the Apple marketing strategy it was HUGE (the phone is quite small, but the release was huge). However, reviews have not been all that kind to the iPhone. It lacks some fairly important functionality (like a usable keyboard, the ability to take video clips (even though it has a camera and can take stills), marginal synchronisation with Microsoft outlook, and of course worst of all, it is locked to the American Cellular carrier AT&T! So, there's no chance that it will work here in South Africa...)

My friend Gus sent me this wonderful cartoon.... (Click on it to enlarge the picture).

I think it sums things up nicely. I guess, for now, I'll stick to my Treo 750... Sure, I need to reset it every time I want to use the Bible, it looses information, and Windows Mobile is cumbersome and slower than my late gran.... But, at least it works....

Come on Apple, help a brother.com!

Wednesday
Jul042007

Getting into the theological journey of a lifetime! You could never be the same again.

A friend of mine (zoob) emailed me this morning to ask for some advice about getting into Stanley Hauerwas. I thought I would post my response here. Once again, I would suggest that you cannot be a serious contemporary theologian without reading some Hauerwas! Come on, engage me on this!

Thanks for the mail. Wow, you are in for a spectacular ride!!! I would suggest that you simply cannot get by without getting yourself a copy of the 'Hauerwas Reader' Check out Angus' review here There is also a direct link from his post to order it from Kalahari. This book has a representative selection of his own essays and chapters from books, so it will give you a superb insight into his theology... In particular you should read the chapter in it which is entitled something like "Why gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)"... I don't have my book here with me in the office to give you the exact title. However he makes an incredibly creative argument for pacifism based on sexual orientation and US's hunger for war! Incredible!!!

Hauerwas is a MIND BEND! He will revolutionize your theology in a way you have not yet thought possible.

Another exceptional read is his Gifford lecture series called "With the grain of the Universe" (SCM Press, 2001). I would also suggest some reading for Easter, "The cross shattered Christ" (2007).

A fourth book to read is his 'festschrift' called "God truth and witness: Engaging Stanley Hauerwas" - Neville wrote a chapter in the book!!! How incredle is that!? In this chapter he relates Hauerwas ethics (and his notion of community and expression of his eclessiology) to what is happening in the Church in South Africa. An incredible read - it was the first time that I actually began to want to Barth by the way! Up to this point I had been a firm Kung and Rahner person.

If anyone else has some suggestions to make here (Wessel, Angus, Neville?) please post a comment. Blessings, D.

Tuesday
Jul032007

Two of my favourite doctorates!

On the left is my friend Wessel Bentley's Doctorate (received just a few days ago), on the right is mine (a year old now, so getting a bit stale! I need to get a new one....)


Well done Wes! I'm inspired, proud and encouraged! Have a good holiday!

Monday
Jul022007

The Pirillo effect!?

Have you ever heard of this guy Chris Pirillo? Apparently there is an effect called the 'Pirillo effect' which says that if you use Chris Pirillo's name more than three times in your blog post he will show up and post a comment. So, let's see if Chris Pirillo will do that for me!

By the way, for anyone who has iPhone lust and is looking for a few good reasons NOT to buy one then watch this video of Christ Pirillo 'ranting' about the iphone...(the best reason I have so far is that they are not sold in South Africa, and even if they were, they only run on AT&T, so there is no way we could use them here)

If you watch the video let me know what you think. Doesn't he remind you of a young Woody Allen!? Thanks Chris! Now post a comment on my blog please!

Sunday
Jul012007

the eternal question


I love this photo! Good question. What do you think?

Sunday
Jul012007

Good times!

I have had three of the busiest weeks that I can remember in a while.

In these three weeks I have arranged a Conference, written and delivered an academic paper, arranged, and attended, our denomination's education meetings, written numerous reports, attended more 'regular' meetings than I remember, planned for the new term, been for surgery, preached and spoken on more than 10 occasions, marked (graded) over 100 papers, written a book review (Wes, you know how I do it ;-), taught regular classes, traveled to two other provinces, watched 'Amazing Grace' (it was great! I cried), and managed to eat, sleep, and still fetch Courtney from school when I was in town...

The pace has meant that I have not had even half a day, let alone a whole day, off in over a month. Today, however, I was free! It felt great, I lay in bed until after 8am, got up, watched a bit of TV, read a little, and then hopped on my Vespa for a ride! The weather was great, the Vespa is orange, and so is my leather jacket. What could possibly be better!?


Isn't she a beauty!? I always feel SO ALIVE when I am on this bike (perhaps that is because her breaks are so bad that I am constantly close to death!)

Megie, Courts, her friend Tamika, Liam and I went to Menlyn Park to play tenpin bowls! It was great!!! I am blessed with an incredibly patient and loving family! Thank you guys, I love you! They understand that I love to work, that I love God and want to make a difference, they understand that I don't sleep, and that not sleeping makes me grumpy, but they love me anyway.


Then we went and had some lunch at Mug and Bean.... This is what Liam thought of my conversation with him over lunch (we discussed Boethius' amendments to Augustine's traditional 'just war theory'):


Ha ha! Dad, you're a scream Dad! Don't make me laugh I may just... Ooopps too late. Have you got a clean nappy!?


Tonight we will be showing the Bono (from U2) interview with Bill Hybels in our evening service at Bryanston Methodist Church. It is set to be an incredible evening. I am looking forward to being there with my new friends from Cambridge who are visiting us for a while, Michael and Barry.

Thursday
Jun282007

Meetings, musings, and much less important things...

Today we ended the June General Committee meeting of the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit. These are always incredibly stressful meetings since we have the responsibility of making some very tough and conflicted decisions about the lives of our student ministers.

Thank God the meetings are done, the Theological Society is finished (week before), now I look forward to hosting some visitors from Cambridge in the UK, Garret in Chicago (US), and a Colleague from Detroit! Visitors are always a wonderful blessing. They bring new insights, energy, and a great sense of connectedness with this great wide world, and God's great church all over the world.

Just to mention three books that I am currently reading that are SO worthwhile (each for different reasons).

Firstly, I would strongly encourage all of you who are seeking a fresh and novel approach to orthodox Christian Theology to read Brian Mclaren's 2004 book "A generous orthodoxy". This has truly been the most encouraging, and gently presented, approach to Christian truth and the cause of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that I have read in a long while. It is set to be my book of the year!

Secondly, I have been reading (for a book review in the Journal 'Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae') a centenary festschrift on Cardinal Yves Congar edited by Gabriel Flynn, entitled "Yves Congar: Theologian of the Church" (2005). It has reminded me again of the discipline of working for the reform and renewal of the Church from within its fellowship. Congar was a leading light in Vatican II, a contemporary of Bernard Longeran, Karl Rahner, and Courtney Murray. His ecclesiology has lead in large part to the Catholic church's renewed ecclesiology and role for an 'educated laity' in the formulation and renewal of the evangelisation of the world.

Lastly, I have been reading a book by my favourite author, Bill Bryson, entitled "The life and times of the thunderbolt kid" (2006). This has to be one of the funniest, and most poignant, books I have read in a very long time. I have laughed so hard that I have almost bust a stitch!

Oh, and for the gadget freaks, take a look at this GREAT video review of the iPhone that gets released tomorrow evening in the US!

It was put together by David Pogue, a Mac fanatic with a great sense of humour.

Monday
Jun252007

The paper I presented at the Theological Society of South Africa.

There are few things quite as boring as sitting through some strange man telling you all about neurons, dendrites, objective and subjective reality, quadrants, hierarchies and a host of things that would normally put the average person to sleep...

However, whilst there are few things as boring as being PRESENT to hear a paper, the one SURE FIRE thing that IS MORE BORING is reading someone else's BORING paper.... Ha ha!

So, I just wanted to announce that there will be a test for all my friends (particularly for those of you on facebook that keep poking me!) So you had better start reading the paper (all 31 pages of it) or else you may not go to heaven! What do you think Wessel, is that a fair soteriology!?

So, click here to download the BORING paper!

Do South Africans exist.doc

Here's the Abstract (hint - study this and you should be able to pass the test ;-)

A generous ontology: Identity as a process of intersubjective discovery - An African theological contribution.

The answer to the question "who am I?" is of fundamental importance to being human. Answers to this question have traditionally been sought from various disciplines and sources, these include empirical sources such as biology and sociology, and phenomenological sources such as psychology and religion. Although the approaches are varied they have the notion of foundational truth, whether from an objective, or subjective, perspective in common. The question in the title of this paper comes from the title of a book by WITS academic, Ivor Chipkin, entitled, "Do South Africans Exist? Nationalism, Democracy and the Identity of 'the People'" (2007). This paper will not discuss Chipkin’s thoughts on nationalism and democracy in any detail, however it will consider the matter of human identity that is raised by his question. The approach that this papers takes on the notion of identity is significantly influenced by Brian McLaren’s postmodernist approach to Christian doctrine as outlined in his book "A generous orthodoxy" (2004) - a term coined by Yale Theologian Hans Frei. The inadequacies of traditional approaches to human identity and consciousness that are based upon 'foundational knowledge' will thus be considered. Both subjective and objective approaches will be touched upon, showing the weaknesses of these approaches in dealing with the complex nature of true human identity. The paper will then go on to present an integrative framework for individual consciousness that is not static or ultimately quantifiable, rather it is formulated in the process of mutual discover that arises from a shared journey. The approach presented here draws strongly upon the groundbreaking work of Ken Wilber and Eugene de Quincey and relates their ontlogical systems to the intersubjective approach to identity that can be found in the African philosophy of ubuntu. This paper will show how the ethics and theology of this indigenous knowledge system can contribute toward overcoming the impasse of validating individual identity and consciousness.

Monday
Jun252007

Take a look at this....

This book arrived in my post on Friday... What's so special about it!? Well, isn't it a nice cover?


Check out the last name and title of the chapter on the left hand side page (you may have to click on the image to enlarge it), and the fourth name and description on the right hand side page! ha ha, that's the great thing about this book with the rather 'generic' cover... I have a chapter published in it! I presented a paper on consciousness, identity, and Africa Theology (particularly the ethics of ubuntu) and it was published in the book. It is wonderful (and vain - Lord forgive me) to see one's name in print!

So, there we go! Have a blessed week!

Tuesday
Jun192007

I am a very fortunate person!

Many of you know that I went to high school in Boksburg. In fact, I went to Sunward Park high school. It was a wonderful middle class South African place to grow up!

Back in the late 80's I never imagined that I would ever leave the African continent (let alone South Africa... Except of course during my Army conscription when I went to places that I could tell you about... But then I would have to kill you....)!

My friend Pete Kropman (congrats on the birth of littley Kyle Matthew, we are still rejoicing with you and Carla!!!) has a travelbuddy map on his facebook profile. Heck, he has travelled! So, I thought I would add one to my profile - I was suprised at how many places I have visited in my short little life!!! Most of them have been in the last 10 years.

My first overseas trip was to Israel and Turkey! However, there have been many other trips to wonerful destinations since. Who would have thought?

Here's my map:










Why not get one of your own? I'd love to see where others have been, or currently are!