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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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer (7)

Tuesday
Dec042018

Call for Papers: Global Network for Public Theology, 23-26 September 2019, Bamberg Germany

The next meeting of the Global Network for Public Theology will take place form 23-26 September 2019 in the beautiful city of Bamberg in Germany. This event will be hosted by the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Centre for Public Theology at the University of Bamberg. 

I had the joy of visiting the centre, and doing a public lecture there, in May 2017.

You can download a PDF copy of the call for papers here.

The call for papers for the next meeting is now open. The closing date for abstracts is 31 December 2018. The title of the conference is:

“Place and Space: Theological perspectives on living in the world”

Here are some further details on the theme.

Public theologies reflect on the contextuality of the Christian religion. Much of this contextuality is dependent on place: place as the culture and the society in which religions are situated, place as the position from where a theologian speaks, place as the biographical contingencies that shape people’s lives. Moreover, public theologies ask for the contribution of Christian ethics to society, thereby shaping the social, cultural, and religious space to which they belong. The consultation analyses the categories of space and place to deepen the understanding of contextuality as well as to explore glocal problems.

Proposals addressing one of the following dimensions are welcomed:

  •  place to live
Who belongs to a nation, society, or community? Who may belong? How does migration influence societies? What are the possibilities – globally and locally – to alleviate the drawbacks that may result from the chances of birthplace?
– keywords: migration, homelessness, new concepts of housing; trading citizenships; colonised and invaded space, work in a globalised world

  •  space to live
How is public space shaped and used? How do forms of aesthetic expression change the self-awareness of a society? How can public space be prevented from eroding? How do we deal with spaces of exclusion from society?
– keywords: civil society, urban development, architecture and aesthetics, memorials and monuments, perception of and public support for public space, private and public space

  •  sacred space
How is the distinction between “sacred” and “profane” drawn in different contexts? What is the public function of sacred places in religiously plural societies? Can spirituality encourage to move beyond existing borders? Which heterotopias, sacred and secular, can we discover?
– keywords: churches as space within space: encounter with God, space for retreat, place of commemoration, platform for intercultural exchange; church buildings and their secular use; the church within society: mechanisms of exclusion and paternalism of inclusion;

  •  space and speech
From where do we speak? How does religion affirm or challenge mechanisms of segregation?
– keywords: theologies of positionality and their limits: nationalism, theology of the land; populist movements;
lebensraum; space and perspective

The conference language will be English.
Accepted papers might be published in the conference proceedings.

  •  politics of space

Which borders regulate access to the public in a given society? Is there a hierarchy of spaces within society?

– keywords: the public and civil society; gender, race, and other ways of coding public space; othering and asymmetries of social construction, zones and milieus, criteria of access and marginalisation, permeability of social space(s); space and stage: self- presentation in public

  • God and space

How does the spatial turn influence our image of God? How to deal with God's presence and absence in biblical theology and contextual perception? How is our perception of God shaped by its context?

– keywords: contextual theology and the doctrine of God; instances of kenotic theology: creation theology, theology of liberation; divided obligations: to the state, to God

  • Deadline for proposals and submission guidelines

We invite theologians and scholars of neighbouring research areas to submit proposals of no more than 300 words by December 31st, 2018. These can be submitted electronically to dbfoet.fs-oet@uni-bamberg.de. Please add a (provisional) title to your proposal and send us your contact details.

Thursday
Nov152018

The anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's ordination - Christians and power relations

Today is the anniversary of the Ordination of German pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (15 November 1931).

I spoke to Bradley Kirsten on 729 Cape Pulpit this morning about how Christians engage with 'power' - power in our nations, power in our communities, power in our families, power in our workplaces.

I chose this theme in reflection upon the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And then, in my morning devotional reading, this reflection by the South African theologian John Van De Laar challenged me deeply! It is well worth reading. I will place a link to John's daily devotions at the end of this post.

How do we respond to the ways of power and dominance in our world? The most natural response is to retaliate, using force to overcome force and violence to deal with violence. It’s tempting to place our faith in bigger guns, more money, and better power plays, but there is no peace or security to be found in that course. It doesn’t matter whether it’s conflict between nations or conflict between individuals, when we allow violence to beget more violence, we bring nothing but greater destruction, pain, and death into our world. It may feel good to dominate another, or to get revenge on an antagonist, but ultimately, when we make the quest for power the guiding force in our lives, we lose our souls.

Jesus had a very different way of living. When his disciples admired the grandeur of the temple, which had come to represent both political and spiritual power and wealth, Jesus warned them that such human power systems would not survive. The temple, and those who enjoyed power because of it, would be destroyed. Human attempts to claim power – whether through war or pretending to be great spiritual leaders (messiahs) – would ultimately bring nothing but destruction. What lasts is the way of powerless peace that Jesus lived and preached. As powerful as the Roman Empire was when it destroyed the temple (as Jesus had predicted), it could not withstand the power of the Gospel. It took a few hundred years, but ultimately love and peace remained and the Empire collapsed.

Most of us will have little to do with the power plays of governments and nations, except as we use our vote or our voice to engage in political processes. But, we all have to face power dynamics in our lives, our families, and our communities every day. Here is where we need to make the choice either to embrace the power games of the world, or to embody the “powerless” peace of Jesus, refusing to retaliate, being quick to forgive, and quick to share whatever power we have with others. This is the theme we will explore this week.


See John's daily worship resources at: http://sacredise.com/category/daily-worship/

 

Wednesday
Feb262014

Traveling along God's path

I came across this beautiful quote:

God travels wonderful paths with human beings; God does not arrange matters to suit our opinions and views, does not follow the path that humans would like to prescribe for God. God’s path is free and original beyond all our ability to understand or to prove.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Indeed, my experience is that I am truly free when I travel along the path of the source of all life. When I divert my course and go my own way I often find myself lost, alone, and unsure.

It is a great blessing and gift to be loved by God in Christ, and to receive the gift of life by living in that love.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Give thanks for the life and witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 4 February 1906

Today is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's birthday (4 February 1906).  His deep commitment to faith and justice is a source of constant inspiration and challenge.  I give thanks for his life and witness.

…when evil meets no opposition and encounters no obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match. Of course this can only happen when the last ounce of resistance is abandoned, and the renunciation of revenge is complete. Then evil cannot find its mark, it can breed no further evil, and is left barren.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (via a-pilgrims-diary)

Thursday
May162013

Solitude and community

In my devotional reading this morning I came across this remarkable quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer about solitude and the Christian community.  Of course Bonhoeffer's context was that of Finkenwalde (the roque seminary he set up for pastors who were not willing to serve the Nazi controlled Church).  

Our Master of Theology students at Stellenbosch University have been studying what it means to have a spirituality that is missional - i.e., to have a spirituality that is alive in God's presence and discerns and acts upon the will of God in the world.  This is a world engaging spirituality, rather than a world-negating spirituality.

This is part of my current journey.

 

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called... 
"The challenge of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death himself, alone... I will not be with you then, nor you with me" (Luther)
Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called—the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.  If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.
"If I die, then I am not alone in death; if I suffer they [the fellowship] suffer with me" (Luther)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together.

 

Wednesday
Feb082012

By prayer and doing justice...

I am yet to find a quote that more clearly expresses my understanding of one of the critical tasks of the Church than the quote below.

Our church has been fighting during these years only for its self-preservation, as if that were an end in itself. It has become incapable of bringing the word of reconciliation and redemption to humankind and to the world. So the words we used before must lose their power, be silenced, and we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Of course the one element that I would have loved to see more clearly expressed in this quote is the act of worship. However, as I think about it, both prayer and acts of justice are expressions of God's worth. What do you think?

Thursday
Nov032011

Created in Joy! Created for Joy!

I am an avid reader.  I tend to devour everything that peaks my interest - just at the moment I am reading Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs.  It has been of the most engaging, and saddening, books I have read in a long time.

Steve Jobs seems to have been a person who had a few very 'rough edges'.  Whilst I can certainly see elements of enlightenment in his character and desire, there are some very aspects of his person (most frequently expressed in his fears and his behaviour) that show that in spite of enlightenment he was a rather tormented and unhappy person.

I suppose that in some senses success comes at a cost - in this case the cost is real closeness to other people.  While there is little doubt that many people admired (and still admire) Steve Jobs for his vision and drive, there is also little doubt that there are many who have been left in the wake of an unrelenting and even destructive personality.

In contrast to what I am reading in the Isaacson biography I came across this beautiful quote from Frederick Buechner, the American born writer and theologian:

God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world and in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in his image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by him, his mark is deep within us. We have God’s joy in our blood. Frederick Buechner.

Indeed, I can see aspects of 'driveness' in my own life.  Those who know me will testify to the fact that I am quite a driven person.  Once I have a particular goal in mind, or an aspiration toward which I am striving, it tends to occupy my mind and direct both my actions and my thoughts.  

For example, I had been working on my doctoral research for about two and a half years when one day a catastrophe occurred - in an attempt to keep up to date copies of my working file (the actual text of my dissertation) I accidentally copied an old version of my work over the latest versions.  Of the 4 completed chapters (out of 6) in my doctoral thesis I lost 3. Basically all I had left was my research proposal, which would later become the first chapter of my thesis.

As you can imagine I was devistated! After much anger, dissapointment, disbelief and more anger, I made a choice:  I said to myself that I would give this project one last effort.  I decided to wake up each morning and work from 4am to 6.30am every day of the week (7 days) until I could not do it anymore.  

I kept to that discipline and ended up completing my dissertation in just over a year.  I was consumed by the desire to complete it. 

However, I have been working very hard in recent years to be transformed from being driven to being called.  It is a subtle, but significant distinction.  Driven people do things for themselves.  Called persons respond to an invitation from another.  I am attempting to live far more as a person of calling, on who is dedicating his life to a vocation rather than a career.

This reminds me a great deal of this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (whose biography 'Bonhoeffer, Pastor Martyr, Prophet, Spy', I read last month):

Vocation is responsibility and responsibility is a total response of the whole man to the whole of reality. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As I have taken this delicate and often painful journey of living in spite of my weaknesses and brokenness I have discovered a great deal of blessing and joy. I am beginning to become much more accepting of the truth that I was created in joy, and created by God for joy!