• 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 Matt Damon (1)


A week in review! Catching up from within...

Of course the Christian week begins on Sunday. And, so it was for me. Last Sunday was the start of one of the most incredible weeks in my life.

It started very early on Sunday the 8th of March - around 4.30am. I woke up excited! Today is the Cape Argus cycle tour! It was my 8th ride and I had done a great deal of early morning cycling, careful eating, and mental preparation for a great ride. I knew there was going to be trouble the moment I heard the first gust of wind! But, off to the race I went with Graham, Dawie, Etienne, Brian, Dawie Jnr and Stefan (see the photo from the District Mail - our local Heldberberg Newspaper on the left).
Apparently it was the worst weather in the history of Cape Argus! At places the wind gusted up to 75km/h. Two examples of the strength of the wind were: First, when Dawie Jnr, a fit young guy, was blown completely off his bike just 100m from the start, injuring his arm and leg in the process that caused him to retire from the race! Second, at about 95km into the race (coming over the top of Suikerbossie, down the hill towards the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Camps Bay), I found myself in my lowest gear, standing as I peddled downhill against a ferocious wind - as I looked at my speed I was doing 9 km/h! All around me people were getting off their bikes and walking.
Well, thankfully my race went off without incident. I had hoped for, and trained for, a sub 4 hour ride (which I think may have been possible in better weather). I ended up doing the 109km (this year including Boyes Drive) in 4h58mins. A race official commented that one could take of 1h30mins for the weather... But, 4h58 it is. I am thankful for great, fun, ride! I'll be back next year God willing!
Oh, and at the start of the race I managed to meet both Francois Pienaar (whom I had met once before), the Springbok Rugby Captain from 1995's world cup winning team (see the photo below).


I also met Matt Damon, who was in South Africa to play the part of Francois Pienaar for a movie on the 1995 world cup. Mr Damon (I don't quite feel comfortable calling him 'Matt'... He's a superstar and I'm... well, just me!) was such a nice guy! He was patient and allowed us to be photographed with him. This photo below was taken by a friend. I wasn't quite ready - so that accounts for the fact that I was in mid sentence when the photo was taken. I can't remember what I was saying! But, it looks quite serious! ha ha! What an incredible day!

My final time was 4h54 mins (which I got here).

On Monday I spent the day doing two things (primarily). First, I had to pack my bags in order to be ready to go to the airport in the afternoon to catch a flight to London - but more about that later. Second, I spent most of the day trying to complete my lecture for the Hugh Price Hughes lecture series that I would give on Tuesday evening. I had written up a great deal of the lecture, but needed to spend some further time refining the argument, developing some of the thoughts, and bringing together the questions and research assumptions. It was wonderful to be 'back in the books' for a day! I enjoyed carefully crafting my text, shaping and sharpening my thoughts, and putting this all down in text.
Not yet having completed the lecture I had to leave for the airport. I knew when I left that I this trip was going to be a busy one! So, here's a rough overview of the week:
Meet the staff of the Hinde Street Methodist Church, do the Hugh Price Hughes lecture (see follow the links to the lecture and you can download an audio copy as soon as they've edited and uploaded it). It was wonderful to see my Brazilian brother Leao Neto again! He and I met at the Oxford Institute in 2007 and hit it off imediately. Leao has been such a great support and encouragement. He has such a significant ministry with the poor and marginalised on the streets of London. Leao is a 'minister in exile' from the Methodist Church in Brazil (which to my amazement refuses to have anything to do with the Catholic Church - if I understand it correctly, and Leao faced some persecution for his stance on various issues and so ended up moving to London with his family in order to continue his ministry). I stayed with Sue Keegan von Almen and her husband Daniel. Sue is the Superintendent of the London West City Mission - she is a remarkable woman who carries a great deal of responsibility. I am certain that it will not be long before she is the chair of the District and the President of the Methodist Conference! Her husband Daniel is a Retired Reformed Professor and minister. He taught both mission and New Testament in Switzerland and Germany for many years. He was a fount of knowledge! What a remarkable Christian. These encounters reminded me that the Christian world is rich in its diversity, and deep in its gifting!
The HPH lecture was incredible! A veritable who's who of British Methodism and Theology were in attendance. It was daunting and I felt both ill prepared and unworthy. However, I delivered my paper entitled 'Revolution of evolution: Considering the impact of 'emerging conversations' on the mission and ecclesiology of established Churches'. The questions that were raised after the lecture were good, and I left having learnt a great deal more than I shared. In the European Tradition I was given a magnificent Pen to mark the occasion (an honour which is bestowed upon visiting scholars). I felt humbled and will cherish this precious object. Sometimes I fear that my current post is 'taking the edge off' my scholarly mind - it was great to have this opportunity!
I spent the day with the LEAT team at Elephant and Castle. I had three meetings here. One to meet the team and see what the Methodist Church are doing in relation to dealing with prejudice and stigma relating to HIV+ persons in England, and also how the Church is working to break down prejudice against gay persons in the Church. Second a chance to meet with the Chaplain and staff of LEAT seeing some of the work they do with the community around HIV, particularly helping the Church and massive immigrant population to cope with this difficult issue. Third, I met with my friend Rev. Dr. Angie Shier-Jones (with whom I've worked on a number of book projects in the past) to go through the concept of the next book she has asked me to participate in which deals with a theology of HIV and AIDS. My chapter will be entitled 'The Church has AIDS' and it will consider how the Methodist Church of Southern Africa's mission and ministry has been shaped by this pandemic. It will consider both the deep theology that informs the Church's perspective and the pragmatic and necessary changes in our structures and ministry agents in order to respond appropriately. On Wednesday after these meetings I loaded up my luggage (a daily task!) and made my way via the tubes and overland trains to Wimbledon station. Here I met my brother in law Craig and his partner Kath. I try to spend at least one night with this part of my family whenever I am in London. It was wonderful to see them and enjoy their hospitality and kindness again! We had some good beer (Indian beer!) and talked until late in the night.
The impact of the world economic crisis can be seen and felt by ordinary working class persons in the UK. This was evident in the streets and in the conversations with friends and family. I am worried that we shall soon be feeling the impact of this crisis in South Africa in greater measure.
On Thursday I once again packed up my bags (two of them - both on wheels, one with my computer and other daily goods, and one with my clothes and a ton of books (my books) which I was asked to bring over to give away and sell at the various lectures and speaking engagements). I made my way along the Northern Line from the Wimbledon North tube station to Kings Cross St Pancrass station, and then from there along the Circle line to Westminster. At Westminster I was going to the 'Mecca of Methodism' - Methodist Central hall. It is a formidable structure across the road from Westminster Abbey. Thursday was a day in which I experienced a great deal of blessing and joy. You see I had been invited by the District Chairs of the London Districts to do two workshops with their clergy at Westminster Hall. What a joy it was to see two South African Methodist ministers (now living and working in the London area) among them - Jongikhaya Zihle and Jenny Sweet. The workshops were 2 hours each, they were very well attended and I got a great deal of positive feedback. My task was quite simple. I was using the 'action / reflection' method of contextual theology to help these ministers gain a new perspective on the possibilities of ministry in their contexts. Having completed the lectures I was treated to a most amazing tour of Methodist Central Hall by the curator, Rev Mervyn Appleby. The most knowledgeable Methodist historian I have ever had a chance to meet! From there I collected my bags at Kings Cross and caught the train to Cambridge! I arrived at Wesley House Cambridge where I have stayed a few times before just in time to do some work with the Methodist students for ministry and the Methodist students who are studying other various disciplines at the University. It was a wonderful evening of theological engagement and questioning with a group of about 30 young people at various stages in their theological (and other) education.
After this I went to evening prayers in the Chapel at 9pm, and then spent some time with my close friend Madika Sibeko and later with Jane Leach (a lecturer at Wesley House who had previously come to spend two weeks with us at John Wesley college). Jane, her partner Una and I talked until late. It was great to catch up on all the news and developments in their lives.
I went to bed and slept the sleep of the dead! I fasted today.
Friday: I woke very early this morning - before 5am. Today is my regular fast day and I shall take extra time to pray for sick children, for parents of sick children, pregnant women, and those who have lost children to illness.
As I write this I am sitting in the guest suite at Wesley House College, Cambridge, looking out over the gardens of 'Jesus College' as they stretch towards the River Cam. Cambridge is a remarkable place. I could have worked here twice before, and once was accepted to study here (in fact to do my PhD). But I made other choices, for which I am grateful. But, being back here does fill me with a sense of immense gratitude for the friends that I have made over the years. I feel quite at home among them. This is a very different world to the one in which I spend most of my time back home. I love and appreciate both contexts tremendously! Today is the last day of the first term and I shall spend some time working with the students and staff here at Cambridge. I am not entirely sure how the rest of this day will be shaped. My presentations and notes are in order, and as always I am thankful to teach. I frequently have to pinch myself when I realise the incredible privilege of my life! I thank God for God's unmerited favor and grace which is so lavishly and extravagantly placed upon me and my family.
When this day is done I'll make my way to Stansted by train to meet my friend Bryan and his wife Alix with whom I shall spend the evening before they take me back to Heathrow to fly back home on Saturday evening.
This has been a very short and packed trip! The reason for this was because I had to get back to South Africa in order to prepare for a trip to West and North Africa (Ivory Coast, Ghana and Liberia). Thankfully that trip has now been placed on hold for a few reasons. So, I shall have an extra week at home with Megie, Courtney and Liam whom I miss with every fibre of my being.
Here's what I think I have learnt from this trip:
1. I am still a scholar. I have appreciated the rigor and blessing of deep thoughts and the ability to hold them, shape them and share them with others.
2. My life is somehow deeply linked to the Methodist Church worldwide. No matter where I go in the world I tend to encounter wonderful Methodists of various theological persuasions that have those some deep roots of personal holiness and social holiness which are the backbone of Christian perfection.
3. I have particularly special connection with the Methodist Church of Britain. I would not be surprised if we spend some time here in the years to come.
4. I am humbled by the grace and support of others. It is truly wonderful to be able to bring some fresh insight and challenge, and to have it enthusiastically received!
5. I can't wait to get home!!! I want to be with Megie, Courtney and Liam!
6. My leg is all but better (99% there). On my last trip to the UK in September 2008 I picked up a mild thrombosis from the flight and walking. On this trip my leg was absolutely fine (even after cycling the Argus the day before I left)! I thank God for that mercy.
Well, I'm not sure if this post has been anything more than a personal reflection and an incredible week! I'm fairly certain that it will have no value for anyone other than myself. But, thank you for stopping by. My regular blogging, videos and thoughts will resume next week.
Be blessed and be a blessing!