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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 secularism (2)

Thursday
Apr212016

The decline of religion and the rise of spirituality?

In today's VLOG I interview Professor Jan Jans from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He was at Stellenbosch University to teach our Master of Divinity class and my third year Public Theology class on Secularism, Secularization and the decline of formal religion and the rise of spirituality in Europe. We learnt a lot of interesting things for our own context - you may find the same.
I apologize for my poor framing of the video in the first few minutes! I either need to learn to frame my camera better, or save up to get a camera that has a flip screen to see what my shots look like! It gets better and I am learning!
The books that are mentioned in today's VLOG are:
  • Linda Woodhead, 'Religions in the modern world: Traditions and Transformations' http://amzn.to/1Nm09tu
  • Diana Butler Bass 'Christianity after religion' http://amzn.to/1VlP7qH
  • Charles Taylor 'A secular age' http://amzn.to/2436WfS (This is a very important book! I get all my PhD students to read it). You can also read the following great 'introduction' and engagement with 'A secular age', entitled 'How not to be secular' by James K Smith http://amzn.to/1Wf43FZ
  • Peter Berger 'The Sacred Canopy' http://amzn.to/1VlPh1i and 'The desecularization of the world' http://amzn.to/1T0OxbU
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Remember, it's not a lecture, just a thought…
Please subscribe and like the video!
Tuesday
Oct302007

Losing my religion... More and more people are doing the same.

If you were old enough to listen to contemporary music in the 1990's you'll remember the REM song "losing my religion".  The phrase actually comes from the American South where it is used to refer to being at the end of one's wits (usually it is associated with having lost the love of a significant person).


However, it would seem that all of America is starting to loose it's religion.  Recent research has shown that around 12% of Americans now consider themselves without any faith at all, that is up from 8% ten years ago.

The image in this post shows the changes in statistics... However, if you would notice they key points out '*Percent atheists, agnostic, or no religion'.  I am not sure that this accurately describes and emergent generations approach to faith. 

First, I think that there are many sincere Christ followers (in America in particular) who would rather have nothing to do with a religion held by it's President who sanctions war in its name, exploits the poor, plunders the environment, yet prays on Sunday.  Sadly George W Bush is a Methodist - if it were not for saintly America Methodists (among them Stanely Hauerwas), I would long have given up on United Methodism!  Sadly, the same can be said for almost every single denomination throughout the world (mine included!)  Heck, I am part of the problem!

Second, however, I think that statistics such as this do show us that we need to find news ways to SERVE people with the faith that we all need!  I think that as society changes we need to be ahead of that change, finding ways of taking ministry to where people have needs, not JUST asking people to bring their needs to where we can offer ministry!

Can you see the paradigm shift I am talking about?  One says "where do you have need, let us bring wholeness to you there".  The other says "we have wholeness here, bring your needs to us."  

Third, I think that measuring the effectiveness of any faith by numbers is dangerous business!  Just consider this for a moment - would you say that 12 people are less effective than billions today?  Well, if it was not for the effectiveness of the One (Jesus) and his remaining eleven disciples the billions would not be here today!  Churches that measure their effectiveness by seating capacity are measuring the wrong thing!  We should be measuring our depth, not our breadth.  We should be seeing what difference we are making to this world, not how many people are entertained in our services!

Last, I don't mind if people loose their religion, myself included.  In fact I quite often pray that God would release me from religion and free me to live a life of faith!  I don't want structures that bind, symbols that mislead, and communities that more concerned about sustaining themselves and their image in society!  I want to be part of something that is alive, flexible, life giving, life changing...

So, perhaps we need to embrace the loss of religion and find ways to discover and embrace faith.

Just by the way, we must not think that this will not happen in South Africa!  It has already begun.  Those of you who have children or grandchildren in primary school, just ask how many of your child or grandchild's peers go to Church...  Not many....  That means that their parents (even if they are people of faith) have lost their religion...  These will grow up thinking that Church is something strange and antiquated...

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