Dion's random ramblings

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Meetings, musings, and much less important things...

Today we ended the June General Committee meeting of the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit. These are always incredibly stressful meetings since we have the responsibility of making some very tough and conflicted decisions about the lives of our student ministers.

Thank God the meetings are done, the Theological Society is finished (week before), now I look forward to hosting some visitors from Cambridge in the UK, Garret in Chicago (US), and a Colleague from Detroit! Visitors are always a wonderful blessing. They bring new insights, energy, and a great sense of connectedness with this great wide world, and God's great church all over the world.

Just to mention three books that I am currently reading that are SO worthwhile (each for different reasons).

Firstly, I would strongly encourage all of you who are seeking a fresh and novel approach to orthodox Christian Theology to read Brian Mclaren's 2004 book "A generous orthodoxy". This has truly been the most encouraging, and gently presented, approach to Christian truth and the cause of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that I have read in a long while. It is set to be my book of the year!

Secondly, I have been reading (for a book review in the Journal 'Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae') a centenary festschrift on Cardinal Yves Congar edited by Gabriel Flynn, entitled "Yves Congar: Theologian of the Church" (2005). It has reminded me again of the discipline of working for the reform and renewal of the Church from within its fellowship. Congar was a leading light in Vatican II, a contemporary of Bernard Longeran, Karl Rahner, and Courtney Murray. His ecclesiology has lead in large part to the Catholic church's renewed ecclesiology and role for an 'educated laity' in the formulation and renewal of the evangelisation of the world.

Lastly, I have been reading a book by my favourite author, Bill Bryson, entitled "The life and times of the thunderbolt kid" (2006). This has to be one of the funniest, and most poignant, books I have read in a very long time. I have laughed so hard that I have almost bust a stitch!

Oh, and for the gadget freaks, take a look at this GREAT video review of the iPhone that gets released tomorrow evening in the US!

It was put together by David Pogue, a Mac fanatic with a great sense of humour.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

The paper I presented at the Theological Society of South Africa.

There are few things quite as boring as sitting through some strange man telling you all about neurons, dendrites, objective and subjective reality, quadrants, hierarchies and a host of things that would normally put the average person to sleep...

However, whilst there are few things as boring as being PRESENT to hear a paper, the one SURE FIRE thing that IS MORE BORING is reading someone else's BORING paper.... Ha ha!

So, I just wanted to announce that there will be a test for all my friends (particularly for those of you on facebook that keep poking me!) So you had better start reading the paper (all 31 pages of it) or else you may not go to heaven! What do you think Wessel, is that a fair soteriology!?

So, click here to download the BORING paper!

Do South Africans exist.doc

Here's the Abstract (hint - study this and you should be able to pass the test ;-)

A generous ontology: Identity as a process of intersubjective discovery - An African theological contribution.

The answer to the question "who am I?" is of fundamental importance to being human. Answers to this question have traditionally been sought from various disciplines and sources, these include empirical sources such as biology and sociology, and phenomenological sources such as psychology and religion. Although the approaches are varied they have the notion of foundational truth, whether from an objective, or subjective, perspective in common. The question in the title of this paper comes from the title of a book by WITS academic, Ivor Chipkin, entitled, "Do South Africans Exist? Nationalism, Democracy and the Identity of 'the People'" (2007). This paper will not discuss Chipkin?s thoughts on nationalism and democracy in any detail, however it will consider the matter of human identity that is raised by his question. The approach that this papers takes on the notion of identity is significantly influenced by Brian McLaren?s postmodernist approach to Christian doctrine as outlined in his book "A generous orthodoxy" (2004) - a term coined by Yale Theologian Hans Frei. The inadequacies of traditional approaches to human identity and consciousness that are based upon 'foundational knowledge' will thus be considered. Both subjective and objective approaches will be touched upon, showing the weaknesses of these approaches in dealing with the complex nature of true human identity. The paper will then go on to present an integrative framework for individual consciousness that is not static or ultimately quantifiable, rather it is formulated in the process of mutual discover that arises from a shared journey. The approach presented here draws strongly upon the groundbreaking work of Ken Wilber and Eugene de Quincey and relates their ontlogical systems to the intersubjective approach to identity that can be found in the African philosophy of ubuntu. This paper will show how the ethics and theology of this indigenous knowledge system can contribute toward overcoming the impasse of validating individual identity and consciousness.

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Take a look at this....

This book arrived in my post on Friday... What's so special about it!? Well, isn't it a nice cover?

Check out the last name and title of the chapter on the left hand side page (you may have to click on the image to enlarge it), and the fourth name and description on the right hand side page! ha ha, that's the great thing about this book with the rather 'generic' cover... I have a chapter published in it! I presented a paper on consciousness, identity, and Africa Theology (particularly the ethics of ubuntu) and it was published in the book. It is wonderful (and vain - Lord forgive me) to see one's name in print!

So, there we go! Have a blessed week!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I am a very fortunate person!

Many of you know that I went to high school in Boksburg. In fact, I went to Sunward Park high school. It was a wonderful middle class South African place to grow up!

Back in the late 80's I never imagined that I would ever leave the African continent (let alone South Africa... Except of course during my Army conscription when I went to places that I could tell you about... But then I would have to kill you....)!

My friend Pete Kropman (congrats on the birth of littley Kyle Matthew, we are still rejoicing with you and Carla!!!) has a travelbuddy map on his facebook profile. Heck, he has travelled! So, I thought I would add one to my profile - I was suprised at how many places I have visited in my short little life!!! Most of them have been in the last 10 years.

My first overseas trip was to Israel and Turkey! However, there have been many other trips to wonerful destinations since. Who would have thought?

Here's my map:

Why not get one of your own? I'd love to see where others have been, or currently are!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The future of worship... Just realised that I never posted my presentation.

I have been contacted by a few persons to ask for copies of the closing plenary presentation I made on the future of worship. I just realised that I never posted that little talk to my blog.

Here's a reminder about when, where, and what, took place at the Jubilee worship seminar at Alberton.

I was asked to do a workshop on an approach to a theology of worship. You can download the powerpoint slides for that workshop here. The handout for the workshop can be downloaded here. The theological reflection document (used with a clip from the movie 'Yesterday' 1h09 mins to 1h20 mins) can be downloaded here.

I was also asked to do the closing plenary slot for the workshop, it was an incredible honour! However, I was exhausted by the end of the day, and certainly was not on form. Regardless, it went OK (by that I mean, it could have gone better).

This is not intended to be scholarly work. Rather, it was an attempt to think what worship may be for the generation after mine, those young people who are in school now. You can download the text for the closing plenary session here - in some ways I repeated quite a lot of the 'theology of worship' session in this presentation.

I would strongly recommend that you make contact with Rev Barry Marshall for a copy of his opening plenary address. It was an incredible challenge, setting the scene for a remarkable day.

Thanks to Rev Rowan Rogers for arranging the day and taking such good care of us.

Here is the

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Liam's Baptism 10 June 2007

Sunday the 10th of June was an evening of wonderful celebration for the Forster and Seviour families! It was an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for the miracle of little Liam's life, and to commit ourselves to caring for him, and raising him, in a manner that is fitting of a Christian household.

Christopher Harrison, the senior minister of the Bryanston Methodist Church, where Megie, Courts, Liam and I are members, did the baptism. He was wonderful! After leading us through the liturgy of commitment he baptised Liam and said a beautiful prayer. I need to get the exact words from him since I would love to use it myself in years to come.

However, it went something like:

I touch your heart so that it may be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ.
I touch your eyes that they may see the beauty and glory of God's creation.
I touch your lips that they may come to speak of the majesty of your creator.
I touch your hands that they may loving do God's will.
I touch your feet that they may walk in the path of God's grace and mercy. Amen.
We did not take any photographs during the service. However, we did take a few photos at Gwen and Rhys' house (Megie's sister).

So, here they are. Isn't our boy looking great! I rejoice at God's goodness, mercy, and care for us as a family! I pray that out of the abundance of that grace we may be able to bless, support, and care for others who are in need of that same gracious love!

Liam and Mom giving each other a kiss!

And here's a picture of Courts holding her little brother. Courtney is such a wonderful blessing to us. She stood up front in the Church as we made our promises. It was not only an opportunity to baptise Liam, but also to remember the promises that we made when Courtney was baptised in 2000.

So, once again, thank you to everyone who prays for us as a family. Your prayer, support, and care is a great encouragement and blessing! We cherish and value the wonder of being part of a loving, caring, Christian community. It was for that reason that we requested that Liam should be baptised in the evening service, since this is the service at which I preach, and the service at which we feel most at home as a family.

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Pen blog from Sony UX 180 and Microsoft OneNote 2007... the results of my surgery.

I'm still in

And yes, my handwriting is this bad! I think it is simply because I am part of that generation that finds it much easier to type than to write (my daughter of 7 could type long before she could write!) I have been typing and txtng for so many years that I have forgotten how to hold a quill and ink!

As to the surgery... Nothing spectacular... The operation went well. I had two cancerous growths removed (and was converted to a 'sports model' at the same time - you're next Wes!). The doctor (a real one!) was happy with the outcome of the surgery. He is confident that the cancer had not spread, and that he has removed all of the offending bits - getting older is a real bugger! I am still waiting for the results from some tests, but all seems fine. It has left me somewhat tender, as you can well imagine, with quite a few stitches in places that shouldn't have them! However, I am relieved that it all went well.

There we go... Now we say no more about it!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A fun little Bible Quiz!

Think you've got more brains than Homer!? I was sent the little Bible Quiz below by my good wife Megan!

It is a tiny little Java application, so simply click on the link below, it will open in a new page, follow the instructions, then come back to let us all know how well you know the Bible!

If you ask REALLY nicely I'll tell you how I scored (let's just say for the more Theologically astute among us, my Marcionite leanings were exposed).

Click HERE to start the Quiz.



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A resource for Society Stewards and Circuit Stewards (sometimes called Elders) in Methodist Churches

I have just completed writing up a little resource for Society Stewards and Circuit Stewards (sometimes called Elders) in Methodist Churches.

This document is an attempt at laying a foundational theology for the ministry of these important lay persons in our Methodist Churches. My document draws on four primary sources (all listed of course):

1. Tim Attwell's ecclesiology paper for DEWCOM.

2. My document that discusses orders of ministry (with particular reference to Ordained Deacons in the MCSA), also prepared for DEWCOM.

3. A superb little booklet written by Ken Leverton (from which almost the entire last point comes) - "Your ministry as a Steward" Leverton, K, 1996:21. Methodist Publishing House. Cape Town. Sadly this little booklet is currently out of print (hence the need for my little document).

4. The Laws and Discipline of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (10th Edition! Note the edition number please, I did not have the 11th edition at the time of writing. As soon as I get a copy, I'll update the references).

So, here's the document entitled:

Your ministry as a Steward in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.doc

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The Theological Society of South Africa

For those who are budding theologians, and those who have already blossomed, the Theological Society of South Africa (this is the South African society for professional theologians, much like the board of chartered accountants is for accountants, in South Africa) will be meeting at our humble seminary from Wednesday to Friday next week. One can be nominated to membership of the society once you have a Masters degree in Theology, and then once a member, one is expected to conduct research and present it at future gatherings.

The theme for this year's conference is:

Saints, martyrs and ancestors: Theological reflections on prophetic witness

Clearly, this is a very topical issue for consideration among African theologians! I am very proud to say that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is extremely well represented on the program. And, that we have four scholars from our faculty at John Wesley College presenting papers (Dr Joan Jackson (formerly Millard)- who teaches Church history, Dr Neville Richardson -our principal and lecturer in theological ethics and Wesley studies, the ALMOST Dr Wessel Bentley (his doctorate is in, being marked as we breath!) - who teaches Systematic Theology, and yours truly, uQira Mfundisi uDokotela Dion Forster - lecturer in Systematic Theology and New Testament).

I have included, for anyone who is interested, the program with the list of sessions, and a document that contains the abstracts for each of the papers that will be presented. I, personally, cannot wait to hear Wessel, Neville, Joan, and of course Klaus Nurnberger (on Richard Dawkins' God delusion).

TSSA07 Final Programme.doc


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iPhone.... STILL want one! Why?! Because iLike!

Yesterday Pete Kropman poked me on facebook (no, that's not rude... If you don't understand it you're starting to get old!) and wrote on my wall (no that's not illegal in facebook) to ask if I had been watching the Apple WWDC (that's the Apple World Wide Developers Conference) keynote.

I had not... I have been marking (that's 'grading' for the yanks) first year ethics scripts... About 200 of them.

However, this morning my friend Arthur sent me a link to this youtube video about the iPhone....

Art! Impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery!!!! I still want an iPhone... Mainly to use as sideburns and a cheese grater (watch . Heck if I wanted to make phone calls I would use a land line... Remember those!?

So, the moral of the story is: Save your shekels for an iPhone, Oh, and look me up on facebook. Surprisingly, my name is Dion Forster... And I'm too old to be on facebook....

NOW, just a quick note to say that I am preparing a post on little Liam's baptism that took place this last Sunday. It was a truly special evening. We were able to give thanks to God for his miraculous life, and dedicate ourselves to caring for him and raising him in a manner fitting of a Christian family.

I'll post some thoughts, photos, and a reflection in the next couple of days.

Some of you already know that I am facing a bit of uncertainty this week. I go under the knife, so to speak, on Thursday for surgery and a few tests. Please pray for me even if you don't know what it is about. News will follow.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

So, Wessel, when is yours happening!?

Can anyone figure out what the image in this picture is saying!? It is something that my friend Wessel will have to do in the next month or so... It is an integral part of getting one's doctorate!

So, come on, who's going to get it right? What are they saying?