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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 economics (12)

Wednesday
May242017

Justice, economics and historical consciousness - on a trip to Belgium

You may have noticed that I have not been posting to my BLOG as regularly in recent months. In part this is because Squarespace no longer supports posting to version 5 sites from their iOS apps. I mostly posted to my BLOG from my iPad or iPhone. So, if anyone has a solution for this please let me know! I would love to be able to post more regularly but need to be able to do so from my iPhone or iPad.

Well, here is a post that I prepared about two weeks ago when I was in Belgium.

In today’s VLOG I travel to Leuven in Belgium for a conference with my friend Prof Kobus Kok. It is a wonderful journey, and so much fun with my Brompton bicycle (cycle, train, bus, cycle!) It is awesome. But, I notice that the demographics of the Netherlands and Belgium differ somewhat. This got me thinking about the current concerns in Europe, the USA and elsewhere about refugees, ‘closing’ one’s borders, BREXIT and of course Turkey, France and Trump’s USA.

I discuss John Rawls’ Theory of Justice as one way of viewing how we might structure our societies economically and politically if we have a concern for our past history and our future shared wellbeing.

See John Rawls’ ‘A theory of justice’ here: http://amzn.to/2qg83OI

Thanks for watching! As always, I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback and questions!

Please subscribe and like the video!

You can follow me on:
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Web: http://www.dionforster.com

Thanks

 

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, ideas!

Thursday
Apr142016

Stellenbosch - The most unequal city in the world? Economics, inequality and justice

Is Stellenbosch really the most unequal city in the world?

Today I rode my Brompton through Stellenbosch - I had 25 minutes between meetings and wanted to get something for lunch. It was the first time I had been on the bike in more than a week. I came back form Johannesburg with a rather nasty flu and still wasn't feeling great. But it was awesome to be out in the sun and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful western Cape scenery!

As I was riding my bike I reflected on Stellenbosch, which is the most unequal city in South Africa (a country which is among the most economically unequal countries in the world).

Watch the VLOG for some beautiful scenery, and think with me about a better economic system in which no one has too much while anyone has too little.

I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts! Don’t you love my old folding bike? It goes with me when I travel.

Wednesday
Oct212015

#StelliesFeesMustFall - economic justice and the importance of the voice of our students

These are important times in our nation as students across the country express their voice on issues of economic justice - here the #StelliesFeesMustFall students are visiting the Faculty of Theology.

Our colleague and comrade Thando Joka made a challenging and strong statement as a student of the faculty concerning the steep increase in university fees for 2016 and access to education for all.

Our Dean, Hendrik Bosman, responded by expressing a word welcome to the students and colleagues.

I am convinced that transformation and equality are essential to secure a better future for us all. If we cannot change the current inequality in South Africa, it is unlikely that there will be any place for me or my children in the country's future - white power and white privilege cannot continue. It will not be tolerated. We have to find ways of to make this nation a better place for us all.

I am not sure exactly what the answer is to these complex issues - but I can identify some of the problems. That is not a bad place to start. There are probably many answers, and many solutions. But there are some things that I can do, and must do.

How is it possible that some of us can live with 'too much' when others do not even have enough to survive? If you are interested in reading something that I wrote on the Christian faith and economics you can download and read this chapter that I wrote in a book some years ago.  Here is the reference:  

Forster, D.A. 2007. Upon our Lord’s sermon the mount: Discourse 8: Economic justice., in Reisman, K.D. & Shier-Jones, A. (eds.). 44 Sermons to serve the present age. London: Epworth Press. 141–150.

 

Megan, Courtney, Liam and I have been a steady journey of 'downward mobility' in the last year or so. We have sold things like cars, computers, gadgets. We have cut off unnecessary things like DSTV (cable TV) and subscription services. We have limited our household budget and tried to support more worthy and important causes.

We are attempting the 'live more simply, so that others may simply live'.

Interestingly I was teaching a class on human dignity and economics which was disrupted and ended today as the protesting students arrived.

What is certain is that we have work to do in South Africa. I am grateful for the energy and hope that I see among students and colleagues.

Friday
Jun052015

World Economic Forum 2015 - day 3

Today was the third and final day of the World Economic Forum that was held in Cape Town from 3-5 June 2015.

Once again I rode my trusty steed (a 2001 model BMW 650GS motorcycle) into the city for the meetings. It was surprisingly cold, although with clear blue skies as I drove into the beautiful Cape Town city bowl. I never grow tired of the beautiful view as one crests De Waal drive into the city.

Having parked just across the road from the CTICC (Cape Town Internation Convention Center) I made my way through security, now quite experienced at what beeps and what doesn't, and made my way upstairs for the first of my sessions.

I started the day with a session on agriculture, development and food security.  There were a few startling revelations in that session, notably that by 2050 the population of Africa will double, but our capacity to produce food will not.  In large measure this is because of too few commercial farmers, poor policy in agriculture and political instability and war threatens food security.  Water, of course, remains an additional challenge.  It was shocking to learn that there are 85 million malnourished persons in Africa, and that a large number of those are subsistence farmers and their families.  Again, the issue of gender inequality featured in this talk.  Women produce +- 80% of the food in Africa but only own 2% of the land.  Men tend to keep the best pockets of land for themselves and often don't utilize it fully.  What was also interesting to be reminded of is that Africa is the world's most resource laden continent - in other words, we are the richest continent on the planet when it comes to natural resources, but because of extractive injustice (where our minieral resources are extracted and sold elsewhere in the world) we are so poor that we have to import food to support our populations. Lastly, we discovered that rural women tend to be better managers of farms, food and finance (better than urban women, and better than all men).  So, what's the lesson?  Well, I think that if we had targeted projects to support and uplift rural women we could achieve a great deal for the common good in Africa.  Naturally we need to develop commercial farmers and technologies to drive efficient and healthy food production that is not destructive of the earth's resources and that can feed growing numbers of people.

Next, I attended a workshop that sought to find solutions to drive development and growth in Africa in the next 10 years.  I was fortunate to be seated at the table of Minister Naledi Pandor - what a remarkable woman!  I was bowled over by her gentleness, her amazing grasp of policy, investment, technology and the complex set of social, political and economic aspects that are necessary for development and growth.  How I wish she could be our President in South Africa!  The process of this workshop was superb using new technology where we wrote on the tables and it showed up on screens in the front of the room.  There were about 6 such tables participating around issues such as education, investment, technology, policy and governance etc.

My second to last session of the day was another remarkable one - I participated in a workshop on security in Africa.  The point of this grouping was to work out what some of the threats and opportunities were that Africa faced in terms of security in the next 10 years.  I was in a group with Minister Mohamed Beni Yonis of Somaliland - a great peace keeper on the continent and a truly remarkable and wise man! His insights into social, economic and technology opportunities and challenges were astounding.  He also appreciates the central role that religion plays in shaping societies in Africa (both negatively and positively).  The meeting agreed that we shall need to spend a great deal more time and energy working with faith based organisations and the religious groupings in our various countries to address social cohesion, service delivery, poverty alleviation and also to work against violence and extremism.  Then, the man whose name is signed on most of my South African money, Mr Tito Mboweni, was also in our group! He is such a kind (even fun!) person.  He spoke about the dangers of ambition (he reached the pinnacle of his career as governor of the Reserve Bank before he was 50 years old).  However, the group agreed that African society will need to acknowledge the place and importance of young leaders - one participant jokingly said that in Africa, presidency is something one 'retires into' at 65 after a working career!  I am attaching an image of the drawing that contains all of our discussions and thoughts on security in Africa.

The final session was about economics, investment and trade on the continent.  South Africa's finance Minister, Mr Nene, commented that "unless we deal with corruption all of our development plans will fail".  The rest of the panelists discussed the challenges of competition and distrust between neighbouring and regionally close countries in Africa, the expensive cost of travel, and the need to see much greater trade cooperation and support among African countries.

The highlight of the day, for me, was when Archbishop Tutu was invited onto the stage to close the WEF Africa meeting in prayer.  He was overwhelmingly warmly received.  He began his prayer, as I have heard him praying before, by saying that God is weeping at the way in which we treat one another and the earth.  Yet, he went on in his jovial and loving way to say how happy God was to see the participants of the WEF and all those they represented who were people of good-will whose desire it was to make this world a better place for all by working for the common good.  You can listen to his prayer (which I recorded on my phone) here.

Attending this form was a remarkable privilige.  I have learnt so many things at the WEF this week.  In particular I understand that we face a number of wicked problems that require partnership, cooperation, and even sacrifice to solve.  Water and the environment, poverty and inequality, gender imbalances, massive growth in our population and dwindling resources are huge challenges.  Yet, I am hopeful.  It was amazing to meet creative, intelligent, passionate and committed people from all sectors of society who were working for good! The investment of time, energy, resources and self into these problems is sure to make a difference, and in many cases solve the problems we discussed.

I realise that South Africa is fast falling behind.  Our political landscape and our own social context of poverty and inequality is vexing growth and cooperation.  We shall need to do a great deal more to foster trust and a willingness to give up some things (like white power and wealth) and take up some things (like hard work, good education, and uncompromising moral standards).  As I drove home I kept thinking that as Christians we must always ensure that our speech is peppered with hope, our hands are strengthened by justice and our hearts are filled with love as we work for a better future.  We do need a much higher calibre of leadership from both government and the private sector.  But what we need more than that is active citizens who are willing to be deeply involved in shaping a better world.

Wednesday
Jun032015

World Economic Forum 2015 - day 1

I have just registered for the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting that is taking place in Cape Town.

I am honoured and excited to have been selected to be one of the 150 or so persons from civil society to participate.

I am looking forward to 3 days of learning and participating in the various sessions.

I have joined sessions on ethics and governance, economic stability and poverty, and the role of civil society as my primary points of participation. It is very exciting!

Security is super tight! I had to park about 2km from the CTICC and walk down. Registration was very efficient and simple.

I will tweet on @digitaldion and post some comments and reflections here throughout the next three days. So please do check back from time to time if you are interested.

Sunday
May102015

Wow! So I will be attending the World Economic Forum on Africa next month!

I am not quite sure what 'qualified' me to be invited to participate in the World Economic Forum on Africa that is to be held in Cape Town next month (3-5 June 2015)? However, I am grateful and a little nervous to attend!

I was sent an invitation once before (about a year ago), but was not able to take up the invitation at that time. I felt then, as I do now, that there were others who could serve better in that realm and so I suggested that they invite some other South African academics and business leaders that I have worked with. Sadly the invitation is not transferable. So I thought that was it!

But recently I received another invitation to next months meetings. After checking with my HOD and our Dean if I could be released to go (which they enthusiastically agreed upon!) I completed my registration and received a confirmation of attendance on the same day!

I am not entirely sure what the 3 day meeting will entail. However, I am excited to participate and look forward to learning and bringing a perspective on economics that is shaped by the common good, informed from the ethics of my Christian faith. I have done some work in recent years on economics and justice, written a book and a number of articles on issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption and suffering, but also on faith and work and the responsible purpose of wealth.

I would appreciate your prayers.

You can read about the meetings here:

http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-africa-2015

I will post information and details here as I receive them.

Tuesday
Mar312015

The reality of South Africa's economic crisis, and what you can do about it

The most recent Institute for Futures Research report (Stellenbosch University) shows that South Africa is a nation in deep economic crisis.  Sadly, it is predicted that unless we act decisively and courageously we will continue to face economic challenges and decline.

Here are a few of the facts:

We have accepted that we will operate with a deficit budget (our expenses exceed our national income and will stay that way), we have low productivity and high labour costs (a 2% increase in productivity of labour, and an average of 10% increase in wages). We rely on foreign investment to fuel our economy since our internal economic base is too small to keep the economy growing.  However, there are too few people in South Africa to pay the bills, which means that debt is increasing (the household debt to disposable income ratio averages at 80%!) This will become worse as fuel prices increase, electricity prices increase and farming shrinks. At the same time we have become hostile to foreigners and paint a picture of a corrupt, volatile and uncompetitive economy - which means that foreign investors are fewer and fewer. The "upshot is a continuous erosion of the domestic and international competitiveness of South African produced goods and services" (Andre Roux in Strategy Insights Report: Economic, IFR, Vol 23 No 03 Mar 2015). 

It doesn't have to be this way!  

We can stand together and deal with poverty, inequality and corruption.  It takes a choice that is sustained through our collective action.

What we need in South Africa is a commitment to the common good of all, a commitment to active citizenship that holds the citizens to account, and will not allow either government or big business to steal from us.  That is part of the good news - we are a democracy that still has the right to exercise our democratic freedom.  We can, and should, use those rights to hold our political and economic leaders to account.

South Africans deserve it, and so does South Africa.  We are a nation with such great promise in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Let's hold hope high and work for the good of all.

I choose to act.  I will act for the common good.  I will work for reconciliation.  I will work for justice. I will not be silent.

Thursday
Oct062011

A reflection on being a Christian in the world economic crisis

This morning I was struck by the news on the riots, unrest, protests and unhappiness at the world economic situation.

In this video I reflect on what I believe a Christian response should be to the economic, social and political inequalities in the world.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  By the way, you can find out about the gini coefficient here. Also, in the video I made mention of the book '44 sermons to serve the present age' - I accidentally said that my friend Lisa Withrow was the editor (while she contributed it was in fact Dr Angela Shier-Jones who edited the book.  Sorry for fumbling that one Angie!  Jetlag brain!)

God bless from Malaysia!

Dion

Wednesday
May252011

Short term mission trips. Are they worth The investment?m

Steve Hayes sent out the wonderful article below on our missiology list. I have participated in, and even organized, short term mission trips with my congregation. They are costly, yet the effect that they have had on the participants directly, and on our whole congregation upon the return of the missioners has been so fruitful. Indeed, each time we have had such a trip our Church has become more involved and invested in local and foreign concerns, sending funding, resources and people to address practical needs in our local community and other places where we have established relationships. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Here is the link from which this study comes at Baylor University.
If Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” were viewed as a business, it would be booming — at least in terms of short-term mission trips. The number of United States Christians taking part in trips lasting a year or less has grown from 540 in 1965 to an estimated more than 1.5 million annually, with an estimated $2 billion per year spent on the effort, according to Missiology journal. But is the spiritual profit worth the investment? Researcher Dr. Dennis Horton — an associate professor of religion at Baylor University and principal investigator of a study on the effects that short- term mission trips have on mission team members — gives a qualified “Yes.” Some have suggested the money might be better spent giving directly to a country’s Christian partners for spreading the gospel and offering medical aid, construction assistance or other help. Some long-term missionaries even have complained that culturally insensitive short-term mission participants do more harm than good by damaging relationships that had taken years to build. But the study showed that students who participate in short-term mission trips tend to have lower levels of materialism, greater appreciation for other cultures and a better understanding of missions as a lifestyle. Two-thirds of short-term trips last two weeks or less, with a host of purposes ranging from evangelism to digging wells or teaching English as a second language. The trips would seem to benefit sending agencies, the teams and the host countries. “But I think a lot of churches and groups need more follow-up to help mission team members incorporate what they’ve learned on their trips into their daily lives,” Horton said. “Long-term involvement is where you see transformation taking place.” About 600 students, most from Texas universities, and 48 short-term mission trip leaders participated in the study conducted by Horton, former pastor of a church in Hong Kong, and four Baylor University undergraduate research assistants. For long-term effects on those who go on short-term mission trips, some studies show little difference between those who have participated short-term trips and Christians who have not when it comes to giving, materialism and believing one’s culture is superior to others. What makes a difference is pre- trip training, on-site mentoring and follow-up after the trip, Horton said. “We appreciate the zeal (of students),” he said. “They say, ‘We need to get out there and share the gospel!’ But missionaries are saying ‘Wait a minute.’ In many countries, the best way to reach others is through friendships over time, not quick presentations of the gospel that can endanger long-term missionaries and local Christians.” Short-term mission trips should be “more than spiritual tourism in which participants travel to an exotic place, take a myriad of photos and return to their relatively isolated home environments and pre-trip behavior.” Churches, campus ministries and Christian colleges can play a huge follow-up role. Many people commit at Christian youth camps to become missionaries, Horton said, but “some find out a little bit more and say, ‘Oh, that isn’t for me. I can do this for a few weeks, but I like my technology, my comforts.’ It wasn’t that they didn’t still have an interest or wanted to work with local missions.” In some countries, there are immediate responses, with hundreds of converts, Horton said. In others, “you could work for years and have only one or two converts. Students hoping to see instant results on a two-week trip may become discouraged." Dr. Rosalie Beck, an associate professor of religion at Baylor, served in Vietnam in the 1970s, providing support services to missionaries. “Even if the missionaries love having the short-term team members there, it can be disruptive as far as time and on finances that already may be troubled," she said. But short-term mission team members “will encounter the world in a way they never have before and may never again. It will deepen their commitment in the faith and open their eyes to the reality of life elsewhere in the world.” Matt Lewis, a Baylor sophomore communications major from Jacksonville, Texas, worked with youth on volunteer mission trips to the Czech Republic in 2007 and 2008. Between trips, he said, “I spent a lot of time in prayer and tried to meditate and listen to what God was saying to me. I got to reconnect with some youth there from the previous summer. It was great to see that the decisions they made were still apparent in their lives. Seeing this reinforces my belief that God is calling me into the ministry.” Of the 32 students interviewed after their trips, 29 said the trips had changed the way they see other cultures, with 17 mentioning increased respect and concern. Most said they had greater appreciation for what they have — or even disgust for American greed — but only a few mentioned concrete steps they had taken to lessen their materialism. Horton plans a future study on the effect short-term mission trips have on churches and agencies who sponsor them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights.
Wednesday
Jun112008

Globalization - tariffs and subsidies, are they merely 'sophisticated' bribes?

One of the functions that I have in my new post is responding to questions and queries from persons across the globe who are trying to understand our particular approach to establishing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (with all that entails - including justice, mercy and equity).

Today I received an email from a person who read one of the books that we suggest on healthy and responsible principles for being a Christian business person.  The person who enquired was referring to Chapter 16 of Ed Silvoso's book called 'Transformation'.  In this Chapter (among other things) Ed discusses how Christians should work against corruption and the abuse of economics to enslave people - a reality that is contrary to the principles of God's Kingdom.  Among other things he has a brilliant discussion on bribes (something that is common in Africa), and the use of 'tariffs' and 'subsidies' (something that is more common in the Western world, and among 'superpowers').  
The person who sent the email wanted to know how one could equate tariffs and subsidies with bribes.
Here's the response that I sent.  What do you think?  Anything I've missed, or misunderstood?
The core of the matter is simply that bribes, abusive subsidies, and enslaving tariffs all have a similar foundation – unjust and undeserved financial gain (often at the expensive of the good of others).  Tariffs and subsidies are however, much subtler and less easily identifiable as destructive economic practices.  And, the matter is complicated and compounded when such tariffs and subsidies have national (or multinational) legal backing.

 

Subsidies and tariffs are somewhat complex in the global economy since what they seem to do is either hedge and protect a certain group, or create space for a group to operate where they would otherwise not have the capacity to operate.  So, for example, South Africa is very fortunate to be strong in agriculture.  If there complete free trade it is likely that we could supply maize and wheat to Europe and the US that is both cheaper and possible of a higher quality (simply because we have an abundance of natural resources, arable land, and labour is much cheaper).   However, because of subsidies in the European Union farmers in those regions have their products subsidised so that they can offer them at a much cheaper rate.  The long and the short of such subsidies (in very broad generalizations) is that they keep the poor impoverished and do not take into account the necessity to spread wealth throughout the global economy (rather for political reasons it is kept within the wealthier regions).

The question that one would ask is whether God favours any one nation more than another?  In God's economy would it be pleasing to God that some suffer while others prosper – even when they are both equally productive, faithful, and fruitful in their labours?  So, the challenge is for those who make 'global deals' to keep God's picture of the world, and the world's economy in mind.  It is quite possible that a well intended deal could have an extremely negative impact upon others elsewhere in the world.  Of course my view is awash with generalizations and assumptions.  The point is simply that one must consider the impact of one's choices, not just by economic measures, but by the measure of the standards of God's Kingdom and God's desired economy for ALL the persons on earth.

 

Wednesday
Oct242007

Rejected, not because he was missunderstood, but because they were afraid of what they understood! Having the courage to tell it like it is.

So much of the Gospel of Christ has to do with economics. I'm not talking about the thieves who appear on TV telling us that if we give to their ministry, or a particular cause, that we will be healed, or God will prosper us.

No, what I am talking about is God's economy for the world. The word economics comes from the root Greek word, oikonume which means 'the management of a household'. In short, the kind of economics that we find in the Bible is about managing the resources of the whole of God's family so that no one has too much, and no one has too little. It means, in essence, that if you wish to have the freedom to 'have more', then you also need to bear the responsibility of 'doing more' with that freedom. This economy was central to the teaching of Jesus.

Let me say, to others and to myself, a great deal will be expected from the wealthy!

Today in our morning devotions, Andile Sinandile led us in a reading of Luke 4:14-28 which is entitled the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth. Many of us will know the passage well, it tells of how Jesus goes to his 'home Church', the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, and there he is given the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah to read. He applies the role of the promised Messiah to himself, as one who would bring freedom, healing, deliverance, and economic empowerment. The passage leads the reader through an emotional cycle of rejection... We so often focus on the content and thrust of the ministry of Jesus, but we must remember that in Luke's narrative it aims to show that, AS WELL AS, the reasons why Jesus was rejected by the pious and religious people of his time.

What struck me as I read this text today was that there is a movement that is quite commonly observable in many honest communities:

  • It starts out with what I call the 'honeymoon phase' - I have experienced this in many relationships and communities. People are nice, they think that you're the best thing since sliced bread. Sadly, it is often because they don't know the real 'you' yet. In my case it is often because people have heard something about me from elsewhere (perhaps a radio program, an article or a book I wrote, or someone who heard me speak at a Church or gathering). They like THEIR image of who they think I am... But that is not me.
  • Next comes the point where 'truth telling' starts. Jesus reads the scriptures, that they had heard read many, many, many, times before. But, he reads them with a freshness of insight and challenge that innitially makes people say "wow, that's different..." This is the start of their discovery of the Truth. Suddenly as the truth dawns upon them, and THEIR image of Jesus (i.e., the son of Joseph) is challenged by the REAL JESUS, they begin to feel uncomfortable...
  • Last, there comes the uneasy and difficult step of managing rejection... Of course whilst there will always be people who find the truth unpalatable, there are, also, thankfully those who discover something meaningful, worthwhile, and life changing in the truth.
Don't get me wrong, not every 'prophet' who is rejected by a community is a 'prophet of honour'. Some people do need to be set right, as I have often do. However, the point here is that if like Christ you are living the truth by being in community, as Jesus was in the synagogue (and not a false sense of community that smiles while thinking and saying all sorts of false things), and you're sharing the truth of God's liberating Gospel, as Jesus did from scripture, then don't be afraid to face opposition for the sake of Christ.

Take heart! Fight for the weak, speak up for the silenced, and work for the 'household of God'. I think Jesus was rejected because of his economy, it was not popular for people to hear that they needed to make some changes so that ALL of God's children could share in the love and blessing of God... It is still not a popular message today!

Do you realise (if you read Luke 14:28) that Jesus almost lost his life that day? Way before he was crucified the religious and pious people of his home town almost threw him off a cliff... Real ministry, the kind of ministry that transforms society to reflect the will of God is dangerous! There are those who fear prophets like Jesus - there are those who hate to get to know 'the real you', and would rather throw you off a cliff than encounter the truth.

I have experienced this again today as I received a threatening, and scathing, letter from a vigilant member of our Church (I say, 'our' because we are together in our devotion to Christ). This person does not know me, but he has learned about my desire to have the Church be open, inclusive, and affirmed to all people, the poor, the rich, and what he can't stand, the straight, and the gay...

Perhaps I am misguided, but I am committed to radical Gospel, a Gospel that is life giving, a Gospel of economics, and politics, the Gospel of Christ. It's a dangerous commitment.

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Thursday
Aug162007

Bishop Ivan Abrahams' plenary paper at the Oxford Institute

Bp Ivan Abrahams, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, delivered the following challenging paper entitled "A different world is possible: Positioning the Church in the 21st century".

The paper argues that globalisation, macro economics, and neo-liberal economics are a new form of slavery for the two third's world. He presents a Wesleyan theology as a critique of these policies of enslavement and domination.

The paper is very well researched, it offers a creative and engaging perspective on the strategies of enslavement, and some clear and helpful theological suggestions on how to overcome this tyranny. I will confess that I am very proud to be a South African Methodist! Our Presiding Bishop has represented us with courage and honour.

I have a second audio file that contains comments and feedback from participants of the conference. If you would like a copy of that please drop me a line.

The Podcast is in the MP3 format and is over an hour long (30mb). Please click the title below download the MP3 file.

Bp Abrahams paper at the Oxford Institute 2007

I would love to hear your feedback and any comments.

Regards from glorious Christ Church in Oxford! Dion