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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 contemplation (2)

Tuesday
Sep252018

Rediscovering Thomas Merton through the Paul Schrader film, 'First Reformed'

"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope." - Thomas Merton

I am dwelling in the work of Thomas Merton at the moment. Listen to this:

"Do not think that you can show your love for Christ by hating those who seem to be His enemies on earth. Suppose they really do hate Him: nevertheless He loves them, and you cannot be united with Him unless you love them too…. Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy. Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God’s love and God’s kindness and God’s patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men." - Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

And this was my post on facebook on Heritage Day in South Africa (24 Septemeber 2018):

"Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts." - Thomas Merton

A blessed heritage day to all of my South African sisters and brothers. May we engage the very worst of our past with honesty, and the very best of our future with love.

I first started reading Merton when I was a graduate student in Theology at Rhodes University in the early 1990's. I was introduced to Merton's work by my friend and professor, Larry Kaufmann and by friends Kevin Snyman, George Marchinkowski.

This weekend I watched the excellent Paul Schrader film, 'First Reformed'. I highly recommend this film. My friend Robert Vosloo was the first persons to speak to me about this remarkable film. It is well worth watching. Merton's work runs through sections of the narrative.
So, I went back to my books and notes and have found a few very meaningful and powerful quotations that I have been sharing on facebook and twitter this weekend.

 

Sunday
Apr072013

Facing the facts about failure...

Today I have the wonderful joy of preaching at 3 services at the beautiful Mosaiek Church in Johannesburg.  This is a truly remarkable contemplative, missional, community of Christ followers.  I am so deeply blessed by their desire to fully integrate the contemplative lifestyle with a missional focus.  Encounter God, encounter the world.

I'll be speaking about failure and regret today.  It is not often that one can have an 'adult' talk with a Church.  I say this because so many Churches expect the kind of input that I give to my six year old, motivational, simple and entertaining.  This community, however, has moved largely beyond that point.  I see in them a desire for authentic living which inevitably means that not everything in life will be successful, victorious or filled with acclaim.  The reality is that much of our lives revolve around how we cope with the inevitability of failure and regret.

Two quotes have been living within me as I have prepared a few words to share with them:

O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you?  You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul.  You know me through and through.  In and through you everything that is finds its origin and goal.  You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion.  Why then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you?  Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded?  Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures?  Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one?  Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires.  Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you.  I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.  Amen

- Henri Nouwen (A Cry for Mercy).

Then there is this remarkable insight from JK Rowling's commencement speech to the graduating class of Harvard University.  

At her Harvard commencement speech, "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling offered some powerful, heartening advice to dreamers and overachievers, including one hard-won lesson that she deems "worth more than any qualification I ever earned." In her speech, which I would highly recommend you google and read, she tells of how she failed catastrophically in her life –

I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.

However, she went on to say that,  

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

She had ‘fallen’ into her life’s purpose through an embarrassing, costly and heartbreaking failure.

Here are two further insights that have been a great help to me on this path - and believe me, I am something of an 'expert' at failure (and regret)!

The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. 

- Carl Jung

 First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God!

- Lady Julian of Norwich