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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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Entries in Christmas (7)

Friday
Dec222017

A year to remember! So grateful for 2017! Grateful for all of you!

This has been a year to remember! Forgive me, but this is a bit of a rambling post! Please feel free to skip it if you get bored. I have used this post as an opportunity to re-collect many of the important people, events, places and happenings in 2017.

At the outset I want to say how mindful I am that the blessing of this year comes from the many wonderful people and communities that I am priviliged to be associated with. I have received much more than I deserve, and in many instances, been recognised for work that belongs to a group of persons, not just to me. In addition to this, I am also mindful that any achievement is only worthwhile if it can lead to service. My hope is that the work of this year bears fruit for my students, for the Church I serve, for the people of the world that God so loves, and in some small way may help us to honour and protect the dignity and sanctity of humans and creation. This is about Christ, and community, and undeserved grace.

As I was reflecting on this year I was struck by this beautiful quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, 'God is in the manger':

'While we endeavor to grow out of our humanity, to leave our human nature behind us, God becomes human, and we must recognize that God wants us also to become human—really human. God raised his love for human beings above every reproach of falsehood and doubt and uncertainty by himself entering into the life of human beings as a human being, by bodily taking upon himself and bearing the nature, essence, guilt, and suffering of human beings. Out of love for human beings, God becomes a human being. This is about the birth of a child, not of the astonishing work of a strong man, not of the bold discovery of a wise man, not of the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all our understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance.' – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is In the Manger

I am truly grateful for this year! 

It included, my daughter finishing high school and getting accepted to study at Stellenbosch University! Courtney also got her drivers license this year. My wife, Megan, completed a brilliant Masters degree, and my son Liam, is going to Grade 5!

I continued so serve as the Chair of the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology and the Director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology in the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. I truly feel like I am fulfilling my calling and spending my time and energy among magnificent people, doing interesting and worthwhile things - I am in my 'sweet spot'!

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • My book was published: Forster, D.A. 2017. The (im)possibility of forgiveness? An empirical intercultural Bible reading of Matthew 18:15-35. 1st ed. Vol. XI. (Beyers Naudé Centre Series on Public Theology). Stellenbosch, South Africa: SUN Press.
  • I was awarded a 2nd PhD from Radboud University in the Netherlands.
  • The South African National Research Foundation awarded me an NRF Rating as an internationally recognised academic researcher.
  • I was blown away to be awarded a 'Distinguished Teacher' award by the University of Stellenbosch in November.
  • In January I was priviliged to attended the 'African Doctoral Academy' to do some advanced training on ATLAS.ti (a powerful software package for qualitative empirical research analysis).
  • The Wesley Works project nominated me to serve on their Board as a 'Director at Large'.
  • I was also nominated to the executive committee of the newly formed, Methodist Theological Society of South Africa.
  • I continued to serve on the executive of the Global Network for Public Theology, and was appointed to the editorial board of the International Journal for Public Theology.
  • Being appointed as an Associate of the Allan Gray Centre for Values Based Leadership at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business - thanks to my friend Prof Kurt April, he remains an inspiration, a source of encouragement, and blessing.
  • I had the rare and magnificent privilege of participant in the G20 meetings in Berlin this year (thank you Prof Peter Petkof). As with the World Economic Forum that I attended in 2015, this was a remarkable event. It was particularly interesting to see how prominent religion and ethics feature in global policy.
  • I was also appointed as a fellow of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I am so grateful for Prof Torsten Meireis, a senior academic and senior colleauge who is a great help and inspiration in my academic development. I count it a great honour to work with Torsten.
  • In September I was asked to deliver the Stellenbosch University 'Form Lecture' on the topic 'Is forgiveness really possible in South Africa?'
  • The Graduation of my first PHD student at Stellenbosch University, Dr Anna Cho! I am so pleased for Anna - she wrote a magnificent disseration in Biblical ethics. We have also published an academic article together on this theme.
  • Another highlight was meeting Prof Jürgen Moltmann and having lunch with him while on his visit to Stellenbosch! Thank you to my friends Prof Julie Claassens and Prof Robert Vosloo, for making this event happen.
  • And, as a final highlight to the year I was awarded a place at the 2018 Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies a Pembroke college Oxford. A particular honour is that I was asked to deliver the deliver the “Fernley Hartley Trust” lecture (Methodist Church of Britain) at the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies on Friday the 17th of August 2018 in Oxford. I’ll post more details in due course. I am already nervous! I am sure that Bishop Ivan Abrahams (President of the World Methodist Council) had something to do with this! Thank you Ivan.

Among my highlights in teaching and learning were:

  • Teaching a group of international Doctoral Students at Wesley House, Cambridge University (as part of a joint doctoral program between Wesley House and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC).
  • Teaching two courses (Masters in New Testament and another in Leadership and Ethics) at Radboud University, Holland.
  • The University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business MBA program (Ethical Leadership).
  • A seminar (with my friend Sean Temlett) to the University of North Carolina MBA cohort who visited South Africa - this is an amazing group of people! This year was the 2nd time that I was priviliged to join Sean and this group.
  • And then of course, my own wonderful students! This year I taught courses in Human Dignity; Public Theology; Modern Theology and Contemporary Theological Trends; Faith and Public Life; Youth and Moral Formation; Apologetics (which includes issues such a faith and science, theodicy, secularism etc.).

 

Travel and conferences. I travelled a fair amount in 2017 (16 trips, of which 8 were overseas):

  • Holland in January for the ordination and commissioning of our wonderful colleague Rev Rineke van Ginkel with whom I work in the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology - I recorded two videos while on that trip here and here. And here is a great interview that Rineke recorded to highlight her work in the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology.
  • I was back in Holland in May to teach at Radboud University. While there I also spoke at a conference in Leuven (Belgium) at the invitation of my friend Prof Kobus Kok. Those were two magnificent trips! It was also wonderful to have the time in the evenings (after classes) to just work on the completion of my PHD dissertation. I sent the final full draft for examination on the 14th of May when I departed!
  • I visited Germany from 5-23 June to do four things (see these videos here and here). I participated in the Summer School of Stellenbosch University, the Humboldt University and the Universities of the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. I also participated in the G20 meetings in Berlin. Then I delivered a Public Lecture at the University of Bamberg (such an amazing medieval city)! Finally, I returned to Berlin for the launch of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology (of which I am a fellow).
  • In July I was in Cambridge to teach on the International Doctoral Program at Wesley House, Cambridge University.
  • My second last international trip for the year was back to Holland do some doctoral seminars and defend my PHD! That was an absolute blessing and joy, and all the more so since Megan travelled with me! This little fun video shows some of the preperation for the defence and a bit of riding around Radboud University's campus. And here is a video about the PHD defence and the award of the degree.
  • My final trip for 2017 was a wonderful visit to New York, and Princeton University, and then on to the American Academy of Religion in Boston where I delivered a paper and had various meetings with publishers, editorial boards and research projects.
  • Within South Africa I participated in the Methodist Theology of Southern Africa founding conference at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg, I spoke at a conference in Potchefstroom in honour of my Doctoral Supervisor, Prof Jan van der Watt, I spoke at numerous Churches and institutions around South Africa. And of course participated in many conferences at Stellenbosch University (many of which will lead to publications, such as the Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Violence conference, the Religious Freedom conference, the Historical Trauma and Healing of Memory conference etc.)

 

As I write this I am on leave. There is a great deal to look forward to in 2018! I am due for research leave in 2018 and have been invited to undertake some part of that research leave in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg's department of Religious Studies and Theology. I will also be spending some time in Oxford for the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies. And if my Humboldt Stiftung (Fellowship) is successful (please say a prayer!) I shall be spending some months in Berlin! It is my hope that Megie, Courtney and Liam will be able to join me for parts of those trips.

So, as the year ends, I want to give glory to God, express my love for my family, and give thanks to my colleagues and friends. I am truly grateful to share in this journey with each of you. May we continue to offer our selves, our resources, our passion, our training, our intellect, our creativity, and indeed our very lives, for the development of the common good, for justice, for peace, and for fullness of life.

I share my last little video for the year (recorded on the Campus of Princeton University) on the politics of forgiveness with you. May you be blessed at Christmas, revived, renewed, and replenished for what lies ahead.

 

Monday
Dec242012

An advent prayer - The house of my soul is narrow

I prayed this prayer in my devotions this morning. It was most meaningful and powerful.

O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter it. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Thy sight; I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto thee? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare they servant from strange sins.

- St. Augustine

May you be truly blessed and renewed by the coming of Jesus Christ this Christmas.

With much love.

Dion

Thursday
Apr072011

Lent - the importance of Easter in the Christian faith

As I'm going through Lent, and preparing for Easter, I have been reflecting on the importance of this feast in the Christian tradition. Somehow in the West we place more emphasis on Christmas - perhaps it is because we're so self centered and are caught up in the reward and response of giving and receiving gifts!

This quote reminded me how important Easter has been for all of Christian history:

Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins. We shouldn’t allow the secular world, with its schedules and habits and parareligious events, its cute Easter bunnies, to blow us off course. This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out.

- N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope (via @invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog)

May the Lord richly bless us as we prepare to celebrate the significance of God's generous gift in Christ.

Friday
Dec242010

A blessed Christmas to all Uncommon readers!

Christmas in Africa is pretty uncommon! We have sun instead of snow, white sandy beaches and sunshine - in fact the only thing that is freezing in Cape Town is the ocean!

Megan, Courtney, Liam and I want to wish all of our 'uncommon' readers a truly blessed Christmas!

May the God who encounters workers in a field (boy where those shepherds surprised), and offers shelter in a barn (the best shelter you can find is the shelter you need - just ask Mary and Joseph), and renews the minds of the wise (I wonder what the 'three Kings' had to share upon their return to the east?) bless you with amazement, the provision of your needs and the renewal of your life this Christmas. The scriptures remind us that Christ came into the world as a wonderful expression of God's love! God shows up, and will continue to show up in unexpected and blessed ways throughout this coming year!

Thanks for your prayers, love and support throughout 2010! It had it's fair share if triumph and tragedy - but we end it with a wonderful sense of peace!

We look forward to sharing the journey with you in 2011!

May Christ be glorified and world healed and renewed your your efforts and mine!

Tuesday
Nov232010

Your life's project...

Christmas, at least as most of us experience it from year to year; is a season of consumption, when waists grow wider and wallets thinner. One of the most powerful biblical texts on the subject of consumption is Isaiah 55:1-5.  However, as we shall see it presents a very different perspective on consumption, wealth, and the identity that we, far to frequently, find in what we possess... Or at least in what possess us:

 

 

“Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor”

These words from Isaiah are profoundly revealing and, and in what they reveal they are deeply challenging. "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" Let me try to deal with the prophet's questions by asking one of my own.

 

Beyond mere survival, to what goal are you most directed? With what do you most concern yourself during the course of your waking hours?

Certainly, a variety of things require our attention: what we'll eat, what we'll wear, how we'll accomplish the tasks before us, what we think of ourselves, what others think about us...

These all concern us, but none of them dominates our lives in quite the way that something else does. That thing is so central that it has been called "The Project."

 

This is a challenging thought! It is impossible to find satisfaction and peace in transient and insubstantial aspects of life - at least this has been my personal experience.

 

In this message, which was broadcast on Radio Pulpit this week, I consider the topic of your 'life's project' and some encouragements for finding peace and sufficiency as we approach Christmas.

 

This may well form part of a resource that you can use as you prepare for Advent and Christmas. Christmas and advent resources that get beyond the superficial elements of the season are quite rare! If you have any suggestions of where to get resources for myself or the other readers of this blog please leave a comment in the comments below!

 

I can certainly suggest that you take a look at John van de Laar's resources - he is one of the most creative and theologically responsible worship resource developers I have come across. His liturgies, prayers, dramas and songs are exceptional. Please see http://www.sacredise.com.

 

Download the episode of 'The Ministry and Me' here (16MB MP3). I'd love to hear your comments, thought and feedback!

Sunday
Nov072010

A perfect gift for Christmas!

Well, Christmas is just 58 days away!  I hope that you've started some of your Christmas shopping already!

I'd like to encourage you to give a truly significant gift that could better the life of your family member or friend. Our book, 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' is selling at a special price for Christmas.

The profits from the sale of the book go entirely to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign (so there is no personal gain for me or Graham in this!) Although I will confess that I am convinced that the message of this book will inspire, encourage, and bless your husband or wife, your child, parent, sibling or friend. I am passionate about finding more and more women and men who are willing to be inspired to use their existing skills, and sphere of influence to do some of the most amazing things they could ever imagine!

You can download and read the first few chapters of the book here.

The book is for sale online (shipping all over the world) from Christian Republic and Kalahari.net

It costs just R88 (about US$12).

Here's what a few friends have said about this book.

 


Graham Power and Dion Forster have finally brought the role of the marketplace into the prominence it deserves! When you read the Bible, it soon becomes obvious that the focus of the ministry and outreach of Christ was nearly exclusively on the marketplace. If you are looking for the secrets of how to succeed with your faith in your workplace, then ‘Transform your Work Life’ is for you.
– Dr Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez
We can never pay enough pastors and missionaries to evangelise the world! It will happen when the rest of us realise the church is not a building to go to, but a vast multitude of people called and commis- sioned by God to take the good news where we ‘spend most of our time and energy’. This book will turn your world upside down and inspire you to believe God for church to happen where you are! You are about to go on a great adventure!
– Floyd McClung, All Nations (Cape Town)
At long last we have a book that affirms our daily workplace as a primary place for us to live out our faith. Few people are better placed and more equipped to show us the way than Dion Forster and Graham Power. I pray that this book will enable many individuals the world over to see their work as a means of dignity, love and provision, both for themselves and their neighbour.
– Rev Trevor Hudson, South African Pastor and Author.
People often ask, “What is my calling?”. The answer is partly simple: the majority of us are calledto the marketplace. The interwoven stories of Graham and Dion will encourage you to make your occupation your vocation, your job a ‘beroep’, in the true sense of the word. I highly commend these good friends to you; read their story so that your heart will be en- couraged, your mind renewed, and your spirit emboldened. God, being a lawyer, understands legal precedent, so what he has done for them he can do for you and me if we walk in similar obedience. Make their story a springboard for your story. ‘But, he is successful and if I had his money I could also serve God,’ you may say. Don’t ask for money like Graham – ask for humility like Graham. Don’t ask for a ministry like Dion’s, but minister with all that you have, right where you are. Don’t wait for one great thing to do, but take the next step of obedience. I am delighted that Graham and Dion are challenging us to integrate our work and faith so that we can be a part of the extraordinary company of ordinary marketplace people who are extending the kingdom through daily business.
– Brett Johnson – President, The Institute for Innovation, Integration & Impact, Saratoga, California

I'd love to hear any feedback or thoughts!  Also, if you'd like a signed copy of the book please drop me a note and I'll make sure that Graham Power and I both sign it and get it sent along to you.

 

Tuesday
Dec262006

The greatest Christmas ever!

Three posts in one day!? It's little wonder that it has been raining here over Christmas! However, we have so much to share and give thanks for.

Here's a picture of little Liam and I on Christmas eve (can you tell from the decorations in the background?) Here you can see how Liam has grown. He is still a little thin, but at least he looks like a baby (and not like an old man!) He is growing up so quickly! He now weighs 1.68kg's and is saturating naturally. In fact if he continues to grow so well we may have him home in the next two or three weeks!


Megie, Courtney and I spent Christmas with our little lad Liam in the neonatal ICU. He is the greatest gift ever!! We are so grateful for the nurses and doctors who spent Christmas day at the hospital. Their dedication is inspiritational. Courtney got to visit with us since it is Christmas. We scrubbed her down, and then she got to hold her little brother Liam for almost an hour. It was bliss for her! This is only the third time that she has seen him in 6 weeks, and the very first time that she has been allowed to touch him. We are so thankful to God for the care and mercy that God has shown us in Liam's growth and good health.


Hey Pete, notice that I'm wearing my favourite T Shirt! Thanks for the gift friend! I could hardly believe it when the package arrived and there was a Vespa T Shirt from Pete in there. I have been looking for one for years now!!!!

A blessed Christmas to all our friends and family. Thank you so much for your prayers, good wishes, and kind support. We pray that your experience of the gifts of being in Christ will be as rich and deep as ours has been over the last two months. It is wonderful to be in Christ, and a member of Christ's body.