Search
  • 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.
Pages
Social networking

Entries in fun (39)

Thursday
Nov272014

San Diego - American Academy of Religion (AAR)

As I write this I am sitting in a rather comfy seat in the JetBlue terminal at JKF airport in New York - it is thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year! In hindsight it might not have been all that wise to travel home today! Still, as I told a friend, I have flown through Lagos airport in Nigeria, which on a normal day makes JFK on Thanksgiving look like a quiet country airport! It is 5am here and the airport is bustling with people heading all over the USA to be with family and friends.

I arrived on an overnight cross-country flight from San Diego (we left there at 9pm last night). My next flight leaves JFK at 11am for Dakar, then from Dakar I go to Johannesburg and then from Johannesburg to Cape Town and home with my darlings!

The reason for this trip was to participate in the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) which took place in beautiful San Diego this year. I participated in three 'streams' of the AAR/SBL. Primarily I was in the Wesley Studies stream - on my first day I sat next to Douglas Meeks (who I have known for some years since first meeting him at Christ Church College, Oxford University in 2007), behind Randy Maddox (from Duke Divinity School, who I have also known for some years - probably as long as Douglas Meeks), and in front of Ted Campbell who I met while he was President of Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Chicago in 2005. The Wesley Studies sessions were great and it was wonderful to be a part of them and share a bit of a perspective from South Africa. I told the group about my research on Nelson Mandela and the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and it looks like this group may consider focussing on Wesleyan Public and Political Theology around the world as a result of that. I hope to be able to participate in that group in 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. The point of interest is how John Wesley's theology in its various forms has made an impact on Public Theological discourse in different places in the world. Just this year I have seen how it has been received in Malaysia, in Brazil and of course in South Africa. I'm sure that it will make for some fascinating papers and discussion!

The other group that I participated in was Joerg Rieger's discussions on religion, economics and class (as part of the Theological Ethics stream). Joerg and I had dinner together on the 24th of November, it was great to catch up and hear of his work in Dallas and he new projects. His book 'Occupy Religion' was a point of discussion, and of course the reception of Liberation Theologies in his context and in ours.

One of the issues that I want to reflect on a lot more is the notion of class as a social differentiation. In one of the sessions there was a discussion on class, religion and economics and the point was made that in the United States (and so I guess in South Africa as well), we often collapse race and economics into one another. For example, if one were to do a demographic study of South African society it would be true to say that black South Africans are generally poorer than white South Africans because of the legacy of apartheid. Moreover, the wealthiest members of South African society are almost all white (of course that is changing rapidly with Black Economic Empowerment, but by and large it is still the case that white South Africans are among the wealthiest persons in the country, what the 'Occupy movement' have called the 1%). However, because we tend to associate and differentiate by race the middle class, or those with limited privilege tend to associate with their counterparts in the 1%. However, if we consider class, rather than race, as an economic differentiator we would very quickly see that the average white South African has more in common with his or her black South African counterparts than with the 1% (whether they be white or black). The illustration used in the sessions was that an American who earns $200 thousand per year has more in common with a poor person than with Bill Gates - simply stated they are in closer solidarity with the poor than with the 1%. This 'deep solidarity' as Joerg puts it requires a certain kind of response from the faithful Christian. When we are in solidarity with persons of our class it allows us to use our limited privilege to support people in our class and engage oppressive social and economic systems from a point of relative power (or at least more power than those who are less powerful than we are). This was an important thought for me.

I find it particularly poignant since we are launching a new movement in South African on the 2nd of December called the AHA movement (a movement of hopeful action that will facilitate creative and engaged conversation and thought around issues of poverty in South Africa).

Lastly, I participated in the Matthew studies group. It was wonderful to catch up on the most recent developments in Matthew Scholarship - even though there were no papers touching on the topic of my second PhD (Matthew 18 and forgiveness, intergroup contact theory). I had a chance to meet with my Doctoral Supervisor / Promotor, Prof Jan van der Watt from Radboud University. Ben Whiterington was also at that meeting.

Among the other persons that I met at this AAR/SBL meeting were Miroslaf Volf (I had a chat with him about the most recent research that I had been doing on faith and work. He was very kind to listen, comment and offer encouragement. Like many others who I met, however, he was most excited to know that I am from Stellenbosch University - people sure to love that beautiful place and are always keen to find an excuse to spend more time in beautiful Stellenbosch). I also met Prof Darrell Guder from Princeton who is visiting Stellenbosch in February 2015 for a missional theology conference we are hosting. It was also wonderful to spend some time with my friends Prof Wentzel van Huyssteen (also from Princeton) and Elizabeth Gerle (from Upsala, who is also a STIAS fellow and is keen to be back in Stellenbosch).

Then, it was so awesome to be in San Diego with my long time friend and colleague, Dr Wessel Bentley (and his son Matthew - such an amazing young man!) It was wonderful to have breakfast and catch up on the days events with Wes and Matt. They also seemed to have a blast. I am so encouraged by Wessel - not only is he a brilliant theologian and scholar, he has maintained great balance as a dad, bringing his son along to experience America and the AAR.

Then I attended papers by my good friends Dr Charlene van der Walt (in the feminist Biblical interpretation group - she is doing incredible work that is going to be a huge help to me in finishing this second PhD I am busy with), and Dr Retief Muller (in the African studies group). They were both fantastic. Profs Julie Claassens, Jeremy Punt, Lious Jonker and Elna Mouton were also there from Stellenbosch, as were Prof Ernst Conradie and Christo Lombaard from UWC, Jonathan Draper, Smanga Kumalo and Gerald West from UWC. It was also great to get to know Dr Jacob Meiring (from Pretoria) better. I also got to meet, for the first time, two friends that I have only known via social media - Dr Curtis Holtzen and Lisa Beth White. Curtis did his PhD at UNISA many years ago and we connected online around the institution. Lisa Beth is a United Methodist minister who has been very kind and encouraging over the years! She is completing a PhD in Mission at Boston - it was wonderful to finally meet her in person.

Another highlight was hearing former US President Jimmy Carter talking about religion, women and issues related to the environment. His basic message is that religion has an important role to play in shaping society for the better, and that two critical issues in our time that require our positive action are environmental stewardship and engaging gender inequality around the world.

So, all in all it was a wonderful opportunity to connect with old friends, make new friends, and think deeply and learn a lot!

One less good memory of the trip will be the darn cold I contracted on the flight over! My goodness, I felt poorly for most of the week and still don't feel great. However, that didn't stop me from grabbing a bicycle from the Kimpton Hotel Solamar where I was staying (a beautiful hotel!) and going for two rides around San Diego. On Sunday morning I did just over 30km's along the San Diego Harbour front from the Island to the mainland. The second ride was around 20km (on that day I was really not feeling well), where I rode up to Balboa park, it was so beautiful up there. I am impressed with the city of San Diego - beautiful people and a beautiful place.

All that being said, I cannot wait to be home with Megie, Courtney and Liam. I find that it becomes more and more difficult to travel without them! So, enough typing, time to find where my next flight boards and get home!

I have uploaded a few photographs from the trip with this post. I'm afraid they are not formatted since I am typing this post on my iPhone.

Monday
Feb242014

The Argus Cycle tour (again) on a Brompton folding bicycle!

In a week and a bit I will be riding my 12th Argus Cycle tour. If you add the 12 rides together it equals almost 1500km of riding just along that one scenic route of Cape Town. I have had a few good rides (under 3h30) and at least one horrendous ride (6h+some! That is a year I would rather forget. Simple advice, don't ever try a new supplement on race day!)

Last year's race was the most fun of all - I rode with my darling wife Megie, and I did the ride on my 3 speed folding bike. A Brompton! It causes quite a stir - so much so that I ended up in this year's official race magazine (p.39 of the 2014 Cycle magazine - see the attached picture).

I will be riding on Darth the Brompton again this year, and will be joined by at least two other Brompton Brothers from the UK! Three of us among the 40 thousand - not a bad ratio! At this rate we will take over the race by.... Well a very long time!

Last year I had a fall on my mountainbike a broke my right hand, and three weeks ago I fell off my Vespa and got a grade two dislocation of my shoulder (AC joint) and a cracked shoulder blade. I did some training with my arm in the sling. It is almost 4 weeks later and I'd say it is 90% healed.

This Sunday I'll ride the Argus Mountainbike race on my 'bigger' bike (a Cannondale Scalpel 3, 29er).

Next Sunday Megie and I will once again hit the road for the Argus road ride. I'll be riding in a jacket and tie with my Brompton. If you see us along the way wave and say hi!

PS., if you click on the 'Argus' tag on this post you will see some previous posts with Argus tips, a picture with Francois Pienaar and Matt Damon and a few other things.

Saturday
Aug172013

A ride to Oakley and Worminghall on my Brompton

I took a lovely 40km cycle from Christ Church at Oxford University to Oakley and Worminghall today.

The countryside is just amazing!

I am so glad that I brought my Brompton with me to London and Oxford.

Doris has been a great means of transport and a super form or 'otium sanctum' (Holy leisure). As I have ridden this week I have relaxed, reflected, prayed and of course exercised!

Tomorrow I head back to Cape Town from - I will miss Oxford University. But I'll be back. I can't wait to be home with my family again!

Sunday
Jun162013

A wonderful Father's Day!

I have travelled a little less this year than last year. It is just awesome to be home for Father's Day!

I got breakfast in bed. At Church they had a special focus on dads - Liam said he loves me because I take him to school on my Vespa sometimes! Ha ha!

After Church we came to the Strand beach for some lunch and enjoyed a rare day of perfect winter weather!

A perfect day! I am so thankful for my wonderful children. They are an immeasurable gift. I am equally thankful for my wonderful wife, Megan.

Thursday
Mar212013

A beautiful day in Cape Town!

Today is Human Rights day in South Africa - a bank holiday! After the pressure, long days, early mornings, late nights, back to back flights, and many meetings, we took the day to do some sight seeing around our city. It is awesome to live here! I feel so blessed!

The day started by taking a friend to the airport, then a lovely Mountainbike ride (I did a radio interview for EXPOSED from up in the mountains), and then around to Cape Point, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and finally home.

Saturday
Feb092013

A great 70km ride with my wife! 

So my wife Megan and I went for our 70km ride this morning.  It was pouring with rain, but since we get so few opportunities to ride together we decided that we would ride regardless.  It was wonderful! I am so proud of Megan - she rode very strong for the whole 70km!  I think she is going to have a very comfortable 110km Argus ride in a few weeks time.

Today I decided to ride with her on Darth (Vader!) my Black M6L Brompton.  It was great to have 6 gears instead of just the 3 gears on Doris.  The bike was so comfortable.  I realise that I am a little fitter than some riders and accustomed to doing longer rides in tougher terrain (sometimes more than a hundred km on dirt on my mountainbike), but this bike is just so easy to ride! It rolled up (and down) the hills around Cape Town.  Shifting the gears does take a little getting used to.  On my old Brompton I have to pedal backwards to change gears on the 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub.  On this bike it seems that I don't need to pedal backwards, I just need to freewheel in order to change the 3 gears in the internal hub.  Then, (for those who don't know) there are two sprokets externally mounted on the hub (as opossed to 1 on the M3L).  The larger (upper) cog is naturally for higher cadence (easier gearing) while the smaller (lower) cog is for lower cadence and harder gears.

I changed gears in this way - imagine that you are riding up a steep hill (from the Lord Charles Hotel on the R44 up towards Steynsrust on the Stellenbosch road).  You start in your hardest gear (i.e., lower cadence and highest speed) = 3rd gear in the hub, smaller cog at the back.  I would call this 6th gear.  As the hill gets steeper you change from the small external cog to the large external cog (left hand shifter).  You are still in 3rd gear in the hub.  This is 5th gear.  Then to shift down you drop the internal gear from 3rd to 2nd in the hub using the right hand shifter (freewheeling), and shift from the large cog to the small cog using the left shifter (this is 4th gear)... 

The challenge is that since you have to freewheel to shift the internal hub gears, but need to pedal forward to change the external cog gears, there is always a little space between your current gear and the gear you want to be in (e.g., 6th and 5th) where you are in the wrong gear. 

Still, I got used to it quite quickly and was shifting up and down without any hassles.  The gears are wonderfully spaced! My lowest gear (1st) is fine for the hills and climbs around Cape Town, and the highest gear (6th) is OK for most descents.  If I was riding on my own I think I would have run out of top gears on my descents.

A few other things I noticed with the M6L is that the Brompton Green tires are very nice.  They roll very smoothly, and as any seasoned cyclist will know - riding in the rain most frequently results in punctures (since you cannot see glass, nails, stones and other things that can cause punctures).  These tires were bullet proof!  Super!

So, all in all a great ride with my wife! A great ride on my Brompton.

If you're interested in seeing the Garmin data from this morning's ride take a look below.

Saturday
Jan262013

Training for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay cycle tour on a Brompton Folding Bicycle!

If you want to follow my progress towards this year's Cape Argus cycle tour on my Brompton then please see my Brompton tumblr blog for more pictures and details about my training and my gear at http://capetownbrompton.tumblr.com

I planned to join some friends for a long road ride this morning on my 'full size' steel frame bike (we planned to do 75km).  I put the new slicks onto the bike yesterday evening and got my gear ready last night.

This morning I woke at 5.30 as planned and went out to my garage to get the Diamondback only to find that I must have pinched the tube on the front wheel when I put the new tires on!  So, the front wheel was flat.

So, even though I had not intended to ride Doris my Brompton folding bike on this ride I quickly popped back inside and fetched her! 

It was a beautiful ride this morning.  I only did 60 km because I needed to be home by 8.45am so that I could take care of my kids while my wife went out to run a course with some young folks from our Church.

I rode from my home near Beaumont Primary school in Somerset West up Old Stellenbosch road (it is not quite as steep as Irene, and only have 3 gears is a bit of a handicap on the Cape Town hills!) I met the other guys, Graham Power and Graham Vermooten, at the Steynsrust bridge.  Both of them have beautiful full carbon road bikes. We then went on to the R44.  It quickly became clear that my gearing and little wheels simply would not match their gears and super light bikes!  I couldn't get low enough gears on the hills to climb comfortably, and ran out of gears on the downhills.

Along the way to Stellenbosch the Wannabees road group caught us.  You should have heard the comments from the seriously kitted out, and seriously fit riders! "Hey, you've lost half your bike", "Is that a toy?", "Did you loose a bet or something?"

Still, I managed to stick with the group up to the Stellenbosch airfield.  When we got to De Kleine Zalze I said to Graham P and Graham V that they should go ahead and not hang about for me.  I think they went out to Klapmuts.  I would have loved to stay with them but knew I couldn't keep up!

So, I turned at Dorp Street and headed out towards Polkadraai, and then turned towards Spier Wine Estate (this photo was taken at that turn).  From there I rode to Zetler road past the Strawberry farm, back onto the R44, over the top of Steynsrust to the beach and back home to Somerset West.  The climb up towards Bredell road on the R44 was not too bad at all.  I dropped to my lowest gear and just turned the pedals.  It did mean that I passed quite a few less fit riders (I'm sure seeing a Brompton pass you is not all that much fun!)  But, I have to keep my cadence up to keep moving forward!  The ride past the beach was beautiful, but very windy! 

The Southeaster pumps in Strand at this time of the year - good training for the Argus.  A few years ago I rode in the 'Cape of Storms' Argus (that was the year I met Matt Damon (him on the right and me on the left of this picture - he was in South Africa for the filming of the movie Invictus and rode the Cape Argus Cycle tour for the MAD (Make A Difference) charity).  The wind was so strong that many people never completed the ride that year.  So a bit of headwind training is always welcome!

I am constantly amazed at how well this little bike handles the long distances and the steep climbs!

But, if the truth be told, I will probably ride my mountainbike or my old steel frame Diamondback with slicks if I am going to ride in a group.  No matter how fit you are you will struggle to keep up with other strong riders on their full carbon, super light, 20 plus speed road bikes!

digitaldion:

An early morning ride. Such beauty! Such fun! #brompton #brooks #cows #Stellenbosch - (at Vredenheim Wine Farm)

Sunday
Mar112012

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle tour 2012 - done and dusted!

The weather today was almost perfect! Except for a slight bit of wind out towards Simonstown (mainly on the blue route), and the extreme heat a little later in the day, it was perfect cycling weather!

I was fortunate to head out in Group J at 6.51AM and managed to complete the 110 km ride in 3h35mins (according to my Garmin 705 - official times are available tomorrow).

As always the scenery along the route was a real highlight.  Even though I live in Cape Town we seldom take the time to spend a few hours cruising around the coast.  What better way to do it than with 40 000 other cyclists!?

It was a fairly uneventful ride for me.  I was a little less fit this year compared to last year (I was in England the week before the race).  And it showed in my time which was a few minutes slower than last year.  I had put in some distances in my training rides.  Yet, I still cramped going up Suikerbossie.  As I was climbing I decided to get out of the saddle and stand... That was when I felt my quadriceps twinge.  I made the top of the hill within the 3h30 split, but I just didn't have the legs to push it home for the last 15km's or so.  So, I ended up in a slightly slower bunch watching my right quad and enjoying the crowds into Sea Point and the finish.

The lead ladies (about 30 minutes ahead of me) had a serious crash in the final sprint! Wow, I watched it on television.  I believe someone shattered a pelvis and there was a person with a broken colarbone, and some very bad scrapes and cuts.  That is always the danger of high speed, super dense bunches, in the final sprint.

I was fortunate to be back at the finish, safe and sound, by about 10.20 (about 20 minutes after the last group of riders started the race! Yikes!) so I missed the heat of the day. When I got to my car about an hour and a bit later it was 35 degrees!  I can imagine that it got even hotter past 1 and 2pm.

I got my special green number for my 10th Argus, and also received a special medal at the end.  Super!

So, tomorrow it is back to work.  I'll take the day off cycling.  But on Tuesday morning I'll be back on my mountainbike!!!

I've added a few pictures from the race in this post.  They were taken with my GoPro HD camera mounted to my handlebars in 30 second stop motion throughout the race.

Saturday
Nov192011

The first day of summer in Cape Town!

Today was the first summer's day that we've had in Cape Town! It is amazing that summer has come so late - last weekend the last day of the Wines2Whales ride was cancelled (much to my disappointment) because we had snow in Grabouw and they couldn't get the emergency personnel onto to the route from Grabouw to Hermanus!

However, I woke up at 5.30 this morning to glorious sunshine and joined some friends for an awesome ride on Lourensford farm. As I left my gate and rode up Lourensford road towards Erinvale it was quiet, cool and clear!

We only did about 25km - I'll confess it hardly felt like a worthwhile ride. But it was great to be on the trails, climbing the jeep tracks an whizzing down the single track. I didn't have a single fall in last week's race. Today, I took a gentle little tumble rounding a hairpin bend.

The picture a above was taken with my iPhone as we were climbing towards the first piece of single track (I think it is called Eagles View).

I love this place! I give thanks to God for the beauty, safety and opportunity to ride!

Bring on summer! Let the South Easter begin to blow... And it will!

Thursday
Sep292011

The Karoo to Coast 2011 Mountainbike race - an amazing ride!

Last Sunday we set out from Knynsa at just before 4am to drive to the small Karoo town of Uniondale for the Pennypinchers Karoo to Coast 100km mountainbike race.  My friend Greg and I have been looking forward to this race for the whole year!  Last year I couldn't ride since my daughter, Courtney, had just come out of hospital after her brain surgery.  Praise God that it was a year later and all is well!

Greg and I have not been doing as much training as we should.  I have had quite a bit of travel with work, and Greg is commuting between Somerset West and Johannesburg every week with work.  So, 'team telletubbies' was ready for the ride.

By some amazing accident I was seeded with the Elite Men's group (rider number 198!)  When I got into the shute I realised just what a mistake that was! I was the only guy with a body mass index over 4% and unshaved legs!  Ha ha! It soon became apparent that I was out of my league.

Still, I was donning my Power Group, Unashamedly Ethical kit and wanted a good day in the saddle.

It was a great ride - one of the best, most fun, rides that I have done in a very long time. I must confess that I was not well prepared at all.  In fact my legs reminded me of it when they decided to both start cramping at 75km into the race! At that stage I was poised for a fair ride - I had an hour to do the last 25 km's.  However, with cramps I ended up doing another 2 hours and 9 minutes for the last 25km! It has tough!  The heat was also a bit of a challenge.  But, as I say, it was a heck of a lot of fun.  Lots of climbing (1800 m in total), some of the most amazing scenery as you ride along farm roads and trails from Uniondale to Knysna.

Here's a picture of Greg and I at the finish line. It was a hot, dusty day in the saddle for both of us.  Greg has incredible technical skill.  He's the kind of guy that flies down those hills at over 60km an hour!  My fastest speed on the day was 64km an hour - frightening to think that one would go that fast on dirt!  But this ride is suited for fast riding.  Be warned, there are some dangerous corners, so pay close attention to the marshals and warning signs that are posted.

The race was exceptionally well organised.  There were plenty of water points, and even a food point along the road.  There was a lot of medical support and motorcyclists along the route to help anyone that got into trouble.

If you're interested in seeing the route you can download the *.kml file (for Google Earth) from here. I have a Garmin 705 cycling computer - it is great to keep track of all my rides and routes.

And then, just to prove that I wasn't going slow ALL the way here's one of the ActionPhoto pictures of me heading down a pass somewhere along the ride... At least I look fast (ish)!  ha ha.

I'm looking forward to a better ride next week!  This weekend I'll be riding the Spur Lourensford Classic 60km ride.  One of my favorite rides of the year, right in my back yard!

I have to keep my riding up for the Wines2Whales - Greg and I are riding that in the second week of November.  However, I leave for Malaysia and Hong Kong on Tuesday and will be away for 2 weeks without any riding (I'll take some kit along to ride in the gym or go for a few runs).

Saturday
Dec042010

An institution - The Noddy Party at Vergelegen Somerset West

The Noddy Party (Noddy's Party) is a real institution in Somerset West. It is arranged by the Round Table 31 of Somerset West and takes place on the historic Vergelegen wine farm.

Such a lovely family event at an incredible venue.

We've been attending for years now! Our kids love it. And the picnic is great for the adults. Best of all it is a great cause for charity!  The proceeds from the party (which runs every night for a week or two) go to the Masikule Child care project that caters for disabled children from dissadvanted backgrounds.

Does your city or town have any annual events that have become a local institution?  I'd love to hear about them, and please post a link or two, so that I can check them out.

Thanks!

Dion

Friday
Nov262010

Moo! I'm a legend in Japan and my beard tastes great...

My beard is delicious and I'm a legend in Japan

My new personal moo cards! Love them!