Dion's random ramblings

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The sky is on fire!

We get some of the most amazing sunsets in Somerset West! This was
the scene behind me as I was driving home from work today - beautiful!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

'Holy leisure' in the Helderberg Mountains!

This afternoon once things had settled a bit at home and the chores were done, we'd had a lovely lunch together as a family and everyone was settling down for a rest, I decided to head up into the mountains for a good cycle!

It was an incredible ride this evening - we're having the most remarkable weather in Cape Town at the moment! I did about 30 km's on the jeep trails above Silverbook Kloof road. The forest is thick and beautiful, but there are clearly a few enthusiastic cyclists and hikers getting up there because the trails are well kept and clearly marked. Even though it is steep and technical in some places the scenery is something else. Then, there is the reward of breaking through the forest at the top of the mountain to see the whole of False Bay below you! By the time I got to the top my lungs were burning, my legs were a little numb, but my mind was clear and the view was worth it!

So, I shot this little video with my Nokia E90 cell phone on QIK (by the way you can find all of my videos here, and you can follow my regular updates on my twitter feed at the bottom right of this page or follow me on twitter @digitaldion)

Well, now I'm sitting down for the evening to go through my diary for the week. It is another busy week with some travel at the end. I always get a little nervous about everything that needs to get done in a single week - is this just me or does anyone else face a similar anxiety? But, I have found that if I take the time to think about each task and each appointment, just for a few seconds, thinking about the desired outcome, the people involved, the resources required and the steps that need to be taken - and I then take a few more seconds to pray through these pointers, I find courage and comfort to face the week.

In recent weeks I have been on something of a spiritual journey (since coming back from Hong Kong). I have experienced that in spite of not being able to get everything done, that doing what I can do well is enough. My friend Fr Bruce Botha (SJ) reminded me of the discipline of creating contentment and peace in spite of busyness and demands when we were chatting at Stellenbosch this week 'It's OK' he remarked to me. That conversation has sustained me and reminded me that God does not measure success by tasks ticked off a list, or even by success. Rather, faithfulness is a higher virtue. Relationships are important, being present to God in every situation is important, and attempting to do one's best for the sake of Christ and every person that Christ loves. That is enough.

So, this evening I feel blessed at the opportunity to have some 'Holy Leisure' in the mountains and prepare for the week ahead.

I pray that your week will be blessed!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The beautiful game! Rugby!

We're waiting at the JHB air port to board a flight back to Cape Town - we flew into Johannesburg on Friday morning for some meetings, then on Friday night we had the world Spoof championships (Mr Spangenberg from Cape Town handed to trophy over to the new world champion, a gentleman contender Mr Cherril from the Cambridgshire area in England).

Today we had tickets to watch the Springboks playing against the British Lions as Loftus Versfeld. It was an incredible atmosphere! Go to http://www.qik.com/digitaldion for a nice little video to get some of the incredible atmosphere at the stadium! It was a sea of Red! I was so impressed with the Lions supporters - fantastic guys and ladies!

Well, now we are ready to head home. I am so thankful for the many blessings that I have in life!

I am looking forward to having time with my family tomorrow!
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A recorded lecture by Professor John de Gruchy on doing theology in South Africa

I am still at the Joint conference for academic societies in theology and religion that is taking place in Stellenbosch.  It is such a joy to catch up with old friends.  And, it is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to be challenged, inspired, and stretched by the research, passion and insights of others.

Last night (22 June 2009) Prof John de Gruchy, one of the most prominent theologians of our age, and certainly a top theologian in South Africa, delivered the opening keynote address to the societies.  As always John's thoughts were clear, his insights keen, and his research meticulously done and well communicated.  John de Gruchy is best known for his work on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and also his work on deconstructing the theology of apartheid in South Africa.

This lecture is entitled 'Transforming traditions:  Doing theology in South Africa today'

It has so many exceptionally challenging insights (listen out for his very keen observation on the work of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens among others!)  Of great interest to me is the manner in which John 'deconstructs' the compounding effect of tradition on theology.  In short (if I understood it correctly) tradition has a way of enforcing itself with time.  This is good for good traditions, but it is also bad for bad traditions.  The longer something is accepted the more entrenched and unquestioned it becomes, and the more difficult it is to engage and challenge.  A lot of contemporary theology (and theological methodology) goes unquestioned because of tradition.  This is neither helpful nor wise!

I would also encourage you to give some thought to John's notion of the Christian Humanist...  I am still wrestling a little with this one and will need to read his book to get a clearer understanding.

Here's the lecture, it is a 13MB MP3 file.  If you should use it please remember to reference Prof John de Gruchy (22 June 2009, Stellenbosch) and also please offer a linkback to me here at http://www.spirituality.org.za

Oh, and I keep forgetting to mention, you can subscribe to this podcast feed on iTunes, simply search for dion's random ramblings or Dion Forster.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, feedback and insights either in the comments below or via email!

I shall upload more lectures as I record them, so please check back in when you have a chance.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Is the secular state to blame for a decline in morals and values (in South Africa)?

This afternoon I had the pleasure of listening to a most challenging lecture by Professor Martin Prozesky, a retired professor of ethics from the University of Kwazulu Natal, at the Joint Conference for Academic Societies in Religion and Theology.

The title of his lecture was 'Is the secular state to blame for the decline in moral values in Southern African society'.

I recorded the lecture using my Macbook - so the sound quality is not all that great. It is not all that bad, but there were some instances when a few desks and chairs were moved in order to get some extra persons into the venue who arrived late. So please just skip through those bits.

The gist of the lecture is this: Does a secular state contribute towards the decline of moral and ethical values? Many religious groups and faith communities would seem to suggest that this is so. Martin makes an exceptional argument that a secular state (not to be confused with secularization) makes for a high moral and ethical standard in society. The reason is quite simply that the only alternatives to a secular state (i.e., a state that his not swayed in an direction by religious beliefs) is a theocracy (such as nations in which Islamic law is applied in the name of God), a anti-faith states (such as the USSR under Karl Marx). Neither of these are desirable for truly moral and ethical development. Rather, what is necessary is the kind of freedom that allows all citizens to participate in developing ethics for the common good of the whole of society.

He makes some wonderful statements about what ethics is in its broadest terms. He also discusses the notion of a secular state and makes reference to problems with Southern African constitutional democracy.

I found it most interesting! I would love to hear your comments and feedback!

I have also recorded a wonderful lecture by Professor John de Gruchy (on Christian Humanism and revisiting tradition). I will edit and upload that as soon as I have a chance.

I am loving having the opportunity to be back in the academy! Sadly I'll have to miss tomorrow morning, Wednesday afternoon and all of Friday's lectures because of other work commitments. But, I am savoring those bits that I can attend!

Here's the lecture - it is a 10MB mp3 file.

If you do use this lecture or download and share it could I please ask that you reference it to Professor Martin Prozesky, 22 June 2009 (Stellenbosch), and also please send a linkback to me here at http://www.spirituality.org.za


PS. Wessel, we're missing you! I'm glad you're recovering from your surgery, but heck, it would have been great to be here with you my friend

Acceptance, a simple and effective means of building God's Kingdom

Last night I preached at my friend Kevin Needham's Church in Bergvliet.  It was wonderful to be with him.  I spoke about the ministry of acceptance (called 'Hospitality' in some circles).  So, today when I recorded my next program for my radio broadcast on Radio Pulpit (http://www.radiopulpit.co.za just look for 'the ministry and me') I decided to follow the same theme.


Here's a sneak preview.  In this episode we explore the notion of overcoming our struggles with people who are different form ourselves (whether that is a loved one, or even a  group of people).  I have found this to be such a powerful insight on establishing God's Kingdom in a simple and effective way.

I'd love to hear your comments and feedback!  And, if you're interested in getting the typed notes just drop me an email. It's all opensource in God's Kingdom!

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back to the Academy! This week's Joint Conference of societies in the fields of religion and theology in Stellenbosch

I am a member of three academic societies in South Africa. First there is the TSSA, the Theological Society of Southern Africa (mainly aimed at Systematic Theologians, Philosophers of religion and ethicists). Then, I am a member of SASRF (the South African Science and Religion Forum), and lastly I belong to and contribute to the Church History Society. In the past I have also belonged to the New Testament Society. But I have not made any academic contributions to that society in the past year.

This week I'll be attending, and presenting a paper, at the Joint Conference of Academic Societies in the fields of Religion and Theology in Stellenbosch! I am so looking forward to having the chance to hear of the research of friends and scholars in the academy, to cross pollinate with scholars from other disciplines, and of course to have my own ideas tested and tried by fair brighter and insightful theologians than myself.

Participating academic societies

  • Association for the Study of Religion in Southern Africa

  • Catholic Theological Society of Southern Africa

  • Church History Society

  • Church Law Society of South Africa

  • Circle for Concerned African Women Theologians

  • New Testament Society of South Africa

  • Old Testament Society of South Africa

  • Society for Practical Theology

  • South African Academy of Religion

  • South African Missiological Society

  • South African Science and Religion Forum

  • Southern African Society for Near Eastern Studies

  • Theological Society of South Africa.

The title of my paper for the conference is: Red versus green, and what matters most: Deconstructing the conflict between spirit and matter in the contemporary African Christian context.

Here's my abstract: Red (social issues) has taken greater prominence in African Christianity than green (environmental) issues. However, as changes in the global climate, as a result of inadequate care for the earth and the earth?s resources, affect the poorest citizens of the earth there is a need for the development of a responsible theology that maintains a balance between red and green issues. This paper discusses why red issues are more prominent than green issues in African Christianity. It is argued that this is because of the dominance of socio-economic problems that afflict the lives of so many South Africans, a false dualism that has been created between ?red? and ?green? issues that has resulted in a destruction of natural resources in the interest of social justice. Such a reality is foreign to the traditional African notion of harmony between people and the planet. It is argued that there is a need for a return to the notions of botho and ubuntu in African Christian theology to rectify the current theological anomaly. A balanced African Christian theology the only sustainable and responsible approach to spirit and matter in the African (and the global) context.

I'll be posting updates on the conference here (as I have time) and will also post pictures, video and commentary on my Twitter feed (you can follow me on twitter @digitaldion if you're interested). I am looking forward to being in the halls of Stellenbosch University again. I was nominated to the Theological Society there, and of course that was where I spent my first year of my doctoral study leave reading towards my PhD!

I will miss my friend, Dr Wessel Bentley, he is recovering from some serious surgery! But, we'll be together next year!

Sickness, suffering and hope

My son Liam has been very ill again this weekend. It gets quite scary. The fear comes both from the present and the past.

Of course the fact that he was born so premature and has been in hospital so many times, and has come close to dying, leaves a kind of fear in a parent's heart that is difficult to explain. This evening when I preached at my friend Kevin Needham's Church (Bergvliet in Cape Town) he prayed the most beautiful prayer of intercession - in it he mentioned something to the effect of 'God, offer comfort and hope to those who are sick, and courage and hope to those who know that their ilness will lead to their death'. I gave thanks that Liam is beyond that point! He is strong and healthy enough to not have to be rushed to the hospital every time he catches a cold, or gets an infection. It has been about 9 months since he has needed that kind of intervention - so I gave thanks that the 'fear' that I feel when he gets sick is nothing more than an irrational fear based on memory and not reality.

Then there is the fear of the present. We have built up quite a stock of useful medical equipment (stuff to help him breath, medicines of all kinds, and some equipment that helps us to monitor and diagnose his condition). This stuff is useful since it helps us to discover the truth of his condition fairly quickly, but, it can also be scary. Liam has been bordering on an infection for the last week or so (thankfully he was healthy while I was in Hong Kong and while Megie was in Korea). So yesterday when he suddenly got sick we were prepared. He woke from an afternoon nap and sad that he was very cold. When we checked his temperature he was sitting at 41.8 degrees C... such a high temperature always comes with some convulsions and that 'the shakes'. It breaks my heart to see him so sick - many parents will know the suffering of holding a very sick child. It can be quite overwhelming. But we quickly treated the fever and then got the family together to pray with him. He likes it when we pray! Tonight when I was out at Church he was telling Megie and Courts that daddy is praying to Jesus. Good lad!

Today Liam is doing better. His fever is up and down, but the doctor has told us how to treat him and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. He normally bounces back quite quickly (within a few days). I am also so thankful that Megan has relative flexibility in her work schedule so that she can take care of him when he is so sick.

I would apprecaite your prayers - both prayers for his recovery, and prayers of thanks for his growth and general health!

I remember how small he was, and when I see him now I cannot help but give thanks for the miracle!

Very special indeed! We have the blessing of experience to informs our hope!

I remembered my father, Donald Ian Forster

Today is father's day. I took some time early this morning to remember my late dad. This is the second father's day since his death on the 31st of December 2009. This morning I thought a bit about how it feels to live without a father. I do miss having the security of knowing that there is someone that you can turn to for advice, understanding and a helping hand. Of course it was sad to see my dad struggle after his strokes. It was particularly sad to see him so frustrated with his arm and leg that were paralyzed as a result of the injury to his brain. I remember a time when he was a bodybuilder, strong and healthy! He was probably a year or two older than I am now.

Time sure passes quickly.

Well, I thank God that I have a wonderful 'father in law', Brian. I love Megan's dad like my own father. He is such a good friend, a wise counselor and a source of constant inspiration. I have many other 'father figures' in my life as well - I'm truly fortunate. I see my friend Graham Power as a father. He teaches me things about myself and the world that cannot be found in books... Well not with the kind of practical knowledge that I get from him.

This week I'll be meeting another one of my 'father figures' - Prof Neville Richardson. He became such a close friend and mentor in the three years we overlapped at John Wesley College while I served as Dean at John Wesley College. Neville is also a mentor. He is one of the most gentle men I know. He is humble in spite of his great learning and depth of knowledge. He is kind, affirming and patient. I saw him suffer a great deal while he was ill, and I was thankful to love him and know his fatherly love.

So, as I prayed this morning I thanked God for all of these wonderful men, and for the imprint that each of them has left on me, and on the world around them (long before I was born!) I asked God to help me to grow to be the kind of man that would look out for the interests of others above my own (Phil 2:5) since this is a quality that each of these men has in common - certainly in relation to me. I also asked God to help me to be a good father to my children, Courtney and Liam.

So, I thank God for fathers today. If your dad is alive, appreciate him!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A video of our family mountain bike ride in Jonkershoek Stellenbosch

Yup, here's a little video from our ride! I was a little out of breath... ha ha!

We live in the most incredible place! We drove 20 minutes from our home in Somerset West to go for a family ride with Malan and his family from Maverick cycles. It was a perfect day! Jonkershoek has some incredible track - although we we stuck to the jeep tracks. In this video you can see my daugther Courtney, my wife Megie is on the extreme right with the rest of the group. I was filming from the back with my son Liam in a baby seat on the back of my bike.

Good times!

Why lie?

Why lie?
Originally uploaded by merlinmann.

Yup, honesty is the best policy! Oh, and so is marketting, and healthy gearing (if you have to use the bank's money to float your business), oh and good equity before interest and tax (EBIT) makes quite a big difference as well...

Ha ha!

There's that business course coming through again...

A family cycle in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch

I know that Megie, Courts and Liam love me! They show it in so many ways. But, today they surpassed themselves by coming along with me for a cycle in the Jonkershoek nature reserve in Stellenbosch. They did 5km's with me (Megie on her bike (seen on the right in this picture... doesn't she look sporting in her blue and red riding gear!?), Courts on hers, and Liam in the infant chair on the back of my bike). While they were having some hot chocolate I went out again and did another 15 kms - it was wonderful! Also in this photo you'll see Malan (the owner of Maverick Cycles in Somerset West and his family and a friend).

Courts had an absolute ball! Megie enjoyed the exercise, and Liam... Well, he just wanted to drink water from my water bottle!

Well, thanks to my wonderful family! And, happy father's day to all the dads that read my blog! May you be loved as lavishly as my family love me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hong Kong 09: Call2All

This most recent trip to Hong Kong had two purposes, first we went to anchor the broadcast for the Global Day of Prayer from Hong Kong. We were invited to be there by the local hosting committee and so we set up the studio at the stadium and used that as the anchor point for the television feed coming in from the hundreds of thousands of prayer events that were taking place on Pentecost Sunday (31 May 2009).

It was estimated that more than 400 million people across the world parcipated in GDOP events.

After GDOP we stayed on for a conference with one of our partner organisations, the Call2All. This is a very interesting strategic network of mission organisations - their intention is to ensure that the Gospel of Christ os brought to every region of the earth in contextually relevant ways through strategic partnerships and the use of technology.

The partnership element aims to ensure that mission organisations position themselves strategically across the globe so that their particular emphasis can best be applied in the most necessary region. So, for example, if a particular organisation has a strong emphasis on mission as social transformation they will seek out those areas that need their skills as a priority. In doing so it is hoped that we will avoid having a saturation of mission agencies and missionaries in certain areas and none in others. And, that the Gospel will be brought to bear in a particular context in a manner that is transformative and socially and culturally effective.

The use of technology is a second emphasis - the Call2All movement has enlisted the skills of computer experts, theologians, sociologists and a host of other experts to plot the work of mission agencies and missionaries all over the world. This done using GIS mapping. Then they have also plotted the presence of Christian communities on the map (and places where there is very little effective Christian witness and work). Such a tool is invaluable for strategically planning mission work.

The intention behind the Call2All is the completion of the great commission (Matthew 28:19 forward). Now this is one area that I am still working my way through. I am a little concerned that there are some persons (particularly evangelical groups from North America) that assume when the Gospel has been proclaimed in every language and every region then the work of evangelism is done.... I am not so sure about that.

I have a different view on the purpose and intention of mission and evangelism. My perspective is that mission and evangelism are supposed to bring about the kind of change that makes the values and principles of God's Kingdom a reality across the world - persons are reconciled with God and one another, there is peace and blessing, the community is stable, there is a just and fair political system, there is food, work and adequite health care for all persons etc., In short the presence of God's wholes and peace, the eternal Shalom, is a reality.

Mission that doesn't transform individuals and society in accordance with the will of God is not truly 'effective' in my view. Steve Hayes, what is your perspective? Wessel, what do you think? Pete, I'd love to hear your ideas on social justice!

Thankfully it is only a small portion of the group that has the 'completion by proclaiming' mindset. And, thankfully we (GDOP and our team) have direct input into the theology and structure of the network. I do believe that it will make some significant strides for God's Kingdom! Do take a look at the Call2All website http://www.call2all.org - by the way also check out how quick some Muslim person have been... They got the domain call2all.com and set it up as an Islamic information site (even the style, fonts and graphics are similar). I had quite a laugh when I saw it!

So, the picture in this post is of the HUGE world map that they used at the Call2All conference in Hong Kong. It was used to give some perspective on the world (population density, presence of the Church, presence of missionaries and mission organisations, and where persons need to be sent or go for the sake of the Gospel of Christ reaching people and bringing healing and transformation). To give an idea of the size of the map (about the size of a football field) you can see some of the thousands of Chinese delegates in the background.
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Hong Kong 09: A television interview

Here Graham Power is interviewing Jason Mae a while before the start of the Global Day of Prayer event at the Hong Kong international stadium. It was a fantastic day with about 25 000 people attending this stadium event and about 400 million participating worldwide.

Next year we'll be hosting the GDOP from Cape Town where it all began 10 years ago. See http://www.gdop2010.com for more details.
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Hong Kong 09: The Apex Church

I've been going through the pictures on my phone and found this one. We visited 'The Apex' Church on the 30th of May 09 in Hong Kong. The Church is on the 75th floor of one of the Kwok buildings just above the Hong Kong convention centre. The views from up here are amazing! The whole floor has huge glass windows.

We joined a number of local Christians to pray for the city. An experience of a lifetime, that's for sure!
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A beautiful old Vespa

I came across the lovely old Vespa in a mall that was fatefully named 'The Twin Towers' in Hong Kong.

Isn't this bike lovely? I think it is a VBL 150 Sprint.
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

The importance of the Christian calendar: the significance of All Saints day

I spend a great deal of my time engaging with people of very diverse theological and faith perspectives. From the most social justice oriented (activists for justice and social transformation) to some of the most mystical and spiritual (these include monks such as the Benedictine brothers and sisters, and the 24/7 prayer houses and 'boiler rooms' that are springing up across the world). Then there are the wonderful sisters and brothers whose approach to the scriptures and doctrine of the Christian faith are as varied as their spiritual practices - orthodox Christians in Africa, Europe and Asia, Catholics, Pentecostals, Evangelicals and members of the so called 'mainline' denominations.

This diversity is both refreshing and sobering! It is refreshing to see that people are finding creative and contextual ways in which to appropriate their faith and apply it courageously and effectively in their lives. However, it is also sobering since there seems to be such a lot of resentment, ignorance, and prejudice among many of these groupings.

One of the disciplines I practice is an attempt to find something good in every person or group that I have the privilege to spend time with, and believe me I meet many people and find many worthy things to celebrate and learn from their faith.

I guess that being a Wesleyan does allow me some measure of spiritual pragmatism - find what works and then integrate it! However, being a systematic theologian does also make me aware of the dangers of syncretism and the shallowness that can arise when we divorce our pragmatic faith from our doctrinal and historical heritage!

I have been so blessed to find many 'emerging' Christians rediscovering the depth and value of ancient spiritual traditions (such as my friend Aaron Walsh's Benedictine rule in their community of young adults in New Zealand, or the appreciation of liturgy among a group of charismatic Christians in Durban (their pastor even wears a prayer ring to give him discipline in saying his daily prayers!), then there are those Christians here in Stellenbosch who are making use of iconography, art and music to help them find new perspectives on the scriptures, their lives and God's will for their communities...)

One of the persons that I have been following for a while is Fr James Coles - I discovered him on Twitter (you can follow me on twitter @digitaldion and frequently read his great blog!

He posted this wonderful reminder of richness of one particular season in the Christian calendar, All Saints Day. Following the Christian Calendar is a great discipline for Christian individuals and Christian communities. Of course there is great freedom in preaching a series of topical messages, but there is nothing quite like following the lectionary together for a full year, sitting under the weight of scripture, each week listening for what God may want to say through the collection of scriptures from the Old Testament and New Testament... I don't know about you, but I have frequently found that when I do not submit myself to this kind of discipline I end up repeating my 'hobby horse' topics again and again in my preaching.

Well, here's Fr James' post. I'd love to hear your insights on All Saints day - do you agree with the commemoration of the saints? Is it consistent with Christian doctrine and the Scriptures? Is there anything that we can learn from this event in the Christian calendar in cultures such as those in certain parts of Africa and Asia where the ancestors are venerated?

All SaintsFlannery O'Conner said, "What people don?t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is a cross."

The first Sunday after Pentecost is dedicated to the commemoration of all the saints. The writer to the Hebrews lists all that the saints have gone through and the blood they shed and then says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Our commemoration of All Saints teaches us at least two things:

1. We are called to be saints. Saintliness is not an abnormal or exceptional state: it is, on the contrary, the normal flowering of every Christian life. This call to holiness is address to each of us. Saint Paul addressed his letters to the faithful in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Phillipi and Collosae as saints. Do we have the will to follow Christ when it is costly? That?s why the Flannery O'Conner quote hits me. I want the electric blanket of doing what I want, when I want, with who I want. I read today (Matthew 5:42) "Give to him who begs from you..." I can almost 100% guarantee the Lord is bringing me my homeless today. Will I respond like a man who thinks faith is an electric blanket or like a man who believes that faith is a cross?

2. We don't believe that we are the Church without those who have gone before us. If those who have died are non-existent (as many describe death) than how is it that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus on the mountain of transformation? Jesus has trampled down death by death and bestowed life to those in the tombs. Those who have died are alive in Christ. We remember the departed and they remember us.

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the Church of God, which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why remember all the saints? Because they are us, we are them.

All Saints Sunday readings in the Orthodox Church: Hebrews 11:33-12:2 and St. Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30

Bureau of communication: Observance of weekend!

In about 15 minutes we'll be leaving to fetch Megie from the airport. She left Korea 20 hours ago (stopping in Hong Kong and Johannesburg)... Then, the weekend begins!

Here's the 'official communication' to that fact... (filled in triplicate of course ;-)

I got this great form and many others from the Bureau of Communication!

Long live corporate oppression by 'the man' (or maybe not!!!)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Evolution, religion, schizophrenia and the schizotypal personality

This evening after I had put the kids to bed and done the dishes I sat down to scan through my the RSS feeds of my favourite blogs. I came across this very interesting post.

The lecture (which you will need broadband to watch) is quite superb! I don't agree entirely with everything that Dr Sapolsky says about the relationship between cognitive and social evolution, the biological functioning (and pathology) of certain brains and the relationship of these factors to religion. However, it is fascinating to see these concepts tied together in this manner. There is little doubt that persons with schizotypal personalities are more open to religious stimuli (whether they internally created or triggered by external factors). However, that such stimuli are indicators of a form of abnormality or pathology is a matter of some debate!

I find many things that are regarded as fairly normal to be quite absurd - and in many cases quite unhealthy and even indicative of some form of pathology... The general propensity towards transcendent belief is not one of these.

Anyway, here's the lecture. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Stanford's Robert Sapolsky, one of the most interesting anthropologists I've heard lecture, gives us 90 minutes on the evolutionary basis for literal religious belief, "metamagical thinking," schizotypal personality and so on, explaining how evolutionarily, the mild schizophrenic expression we called "schizotypal personality" have enjoyed increased reproductive opportunities.

Sapolsky on Religion (Thanks, Avi!)

Constructing memories...

I am frequently bemused at what I remember from my childhood. There are many things I have forgotten! But, there are a few strange things that I remember because they are so vivid (sometimes because they were very good experiences, at other times because they were bad experiences).

One thing I remember is my late dad teaching me to ride a bicycle. My mom and dad were divorced when I was 2 years old. We would visit my dad on certain holidays - this particular holiday must have been around Christmas and it was in Zimbabwe. I can remember that I got a bicycle for Christmas, one of those really little ones that small children get that you can remove the training wheels from. Since I had already been riding a cousin's bike for a week or two with training wheels my dad decided to teach me how to ride my new bike without training wheels. This was quite a feat! So, he first got on the bike and showed me how to do it. I can remember that he was large on the little bike, and that has he peddled his knees knocked against the handlebars and brakes. It was a good day.

Today Courtney, Liam and I put a swing in the tree in our back yard. I think it is important to build memories with your children. We bought the swing on the way back from dropping Megie at the airport - she is currently on a 20 hour flight to Korea.

The swing itself is quite simple, yet very effective for its purpose. It is simply two pieces of very strong rope (nylon if I am not mistaken), and a car tyre that has been cut so that it makes a seat.

We climbed into the tree, fastened the ropes and started swinging straight away (even though it was very cold and wet in Cape Town today!)

I love my kids, I give thanks to God for them each and every day! I'm sure we'll look back on this photo in years to come and laugh at the silly clothes we wore, but remember that swing with fondness.

By the skin of my teeth! More to follow...

I got back from Hong Kong yesterday (5 June). It was such an amazing trip to be at the international broadcast for the Global Day of Prayer and then to move on to the Call2All conference.

We flew back from Hong Kong at midnight and arrived in South Africa yesterday just before noon. Then it was a quick shower and off to a short meeting (Megie was at work and the kids were at school, so I thought I'd make the most of the spare time).

Today Megie left for Korea where she is attending the arrangements committee meetings for the Lausanne Congress on World evangelisation - we were almost there together, but I am here with the kids and have also got some other meetings here in Cape Town this week. I rejoice that she has the opportunity to travel (I frequently feel guilty that I get to see so much of the world while she keeps the home fires burning).

So, I am feeling a little bit pressed, having returned from just short of two weeks away, with quite a lot on my plate for this week, and missing Megie already! Courts and Liam are a great source of blessing and joy! However, I do pray that I am able to give them as much time and attention as they require this week!

So, the long and the short of it is that I will write some news on the Call2All and Global Day of Prayer trip as soon as I have some time - it may well be that I fit some time in tonight once the kids get to bed, but it may only be later in the week.

Family first!

As a little teaser here's a photo I took of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak with my little 'point and shoot' Sony Camera. Isn't it a lovely city?