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Dion Forster
Works at University of Stellenbosch
Attends Radboud University, Nijmegen
Lives in Cape Town
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Dion Forster

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I came back to work on the 9th of January - it is wonderful to be back. In particular, this is because I have the privilege of learning! I am on the African Doctoral Academy ATLAS.ti course. See http://www0.sun.ac.za/ada/ for more details.

ATLAST.ti is a piece of research software that helps one to work with data (transcribed interviews, literature, etc.). The software helps one to analyze your data by coding it, and making the data 'manageable' for research purposes. I used version 7 of ATLAS.ti in my PhD project - 'The (im)possibility of forgiveness? An empirical intercultural Bible reading of Matthew 18.15-35'.

In this VLOG I discuss the ADA ATLAS.ti course, the software and how I used it, and I also discuss some aspects of my project 'The (im)possibility of forgiveness?' At the end of the video I mention that I have already published an article from the research - you can find it here:

Forster, D.A. 2016. A public theological approach to the (im) possibility of forgiveness in Matthew 18.15-35: reading the text through the lens of integral theory. [Online], Available: http://scholar.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.1/99967

Thanks for watching! As always, I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback and questions!

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You can follow me on:
Academia (research profile): https://sun.academia.edu/DionForster
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/digitaldion
Web: http://www.dionforster.com
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Check out this video on YouTube: A blessed Christmas! VLOG 49 'The subversive message of Christmas'
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So, it seems official - Donald Trump seems to have won the 2016 Untied States elections. With a heavy heart I congratulate my US sisters and brothers at having elected a president. However, I am deeply concerned at the person they have chosen to lead them!

In this video I reflect on that choice - many have said to me that the choice to elect Donald Trump was not a choice for Trump, but a choice against Clinton and many of the policies she stands for (particularly so for the Christian conservatives). I call this 'consumer democracy' - it gives the rights of active citizineship to engage laws and policies over to a morally corrupt leader who they hope will stand for them. This, in my opinion, is a mistake.

Why would they choose to have someone who denies the rights of persons from certain races, that threatens to deport persons that have different faith perspectives, that steals from the common purse by not paying his taxes, that objectifies women as sexual objects, that is self obsessed and egotistical, that lacks the basic understanding of national and international policy, and that cannot remember a single verse from the Biblical text (of which he claims to know 'all the best ones'...)

I don't understand it!

The issues that people are voting 'against' are identifiable and can be engaged through existing policies, legal structures and active citizenship. The values that Trump holds, and that people have inadvertently voted for, are not as easily addressed. They have no formal way of engaging him, and his moral compass will shape American society along deeply divided and morally corrupt lines. How will a parent who voted for Trump ever tell their child not to bully others, or steal, or cheat, or belittle another child? How will boys look to this leader for an example of how to treat girls?

Sadly, when a corrupt leader is in power, the laws many have voted against (and many others), will be disregarded without any sensible way of engaging the one who holds double standards.

I think it is precisely the kind of narrow moralism, that is votes against abortion or gay marriage, but empowers sexism, racism and greed,, that stops persons from seeing the bigger picture and so undermines greater moravalues. It is tragic that so many have become so misinformed and misled.

I’d love you hear your feedback!

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You can follow me on:
Academia (research profile): https://sun.academia.edu/DionForster
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/digitaldion
Web: http://www.dionforster.com
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Here is the video of Dr Rowan Williams' lecture entitled 'Ethics, empathy and Imagination' that was delivered at the Global Network for Public Theology Conference at Stellenbosch University on 24 October 2016.

It is such a wonderful contribution to the current interest in empathy in the scholarly discourse. Can we truly enter into the experience and world of another person? Why is empathy sometimes 'used' as a tool to achieve certain aims (such as reconciliation, or social cohesion)? Are there not more theologically responsible ways to think about the mystery and complexity of one's self and another? What of deep solidarity, even when there isn't complete understanding of the experience of another?

These are some of the important questions that Dr Williams raises in this lecture.

The video itself is a 'cleaned up' version of the original file. I streamed the event live on Facebook and then saved the file. As a result the image is not all that clear, it is a little shaky in some points, and the audio is not perfect. However, I have done my best to 'tidy' it up in Final Cut and I hope it will be useful.
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Is facebook making us dumb? Habermas and public opinion VLOG 39

What sources shape your primary identity? Be honest! How much of your opinions and ideas are shaped by social media (Facebook in particular)?

In this VLOG we talk about an idea that came to me when I listened to a podcast by two of my favourite authors, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, who wrote the series of Freakonomics books. In their podcast: Is the internet being ruined? http://freakonomics.com/podcast/internet/ they make a pretty interesting claim! They say that Facebook may be dumbing us down by not exposing us to critical information, news and media.

Today I discuss this notion, and particularly how such a platform, and its economically shaped algorithm is, shaping and enforcing identity and public opinion. I rely on the work of the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, and particularly his ‘critical theory’ and ‘discourse ethics’.

There is an excellent article by Dirkie Smit (my senior colleague at Stellenbosch University) on Habermas and the shaping of the various public opinions, and publics, of society:

Smit, Dirkie, and L. Hansen. “What Does ‘public’ Mean? Questions with a View to Public Theology.” Christian in Public: Aims, Methodologies and Issues in Public Theology, 2007, 11–46.

Here are two great books that introduce Habermas and Critical theory

Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas - http://amzn.to/2cKqH9R

The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School (Modern European Philosophy) - http://amzn.to/2cYFsaT

I'd love to hear your take on this!

Remember, it's not a lecture, just a thought…

I’d love you hear your feedback, comments, questions and ideas!

Please subscribe and like the video!

You can follow me on:
Academia (research profile): https://sun.academia.edu/DionForster
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/digitaldion
Web: http://www.dionforster.com
Beme: digitaldion

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I have a question: who and what forms your moral values? Where are the morals and values of your society formed? We are shocked by corruption, racism, violence and all manner of social and political abuse. But whose task is it to form individuals and society for justice (and just living)?

In this VLOG we discuss Moral Formation in relation to Christian Ethics, Human Rights and Human Dignity.
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I am working on a research project at Stellenbosch University today! I had to pop out to buy a last Christmas present and so rode my Brompton across the 'Rooi Plein' [Red Square] - it is absolutely deserted! Well, I look forward to a great year in 2017 with all of my my colleagues and comrades!
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'The body of Christ has AIDS' - this is a rather controversial statement! I used it in a book and some articles that I wrote a few years ago around a theology of HIV and AIDS. This VLOG was recorded on 1 December 2016 (World AIDS day). In it I reflect on why the Church has struggled theologically with the issue of HIV and AIDS in South Africa, and how that struggle among Christians and the Church has led to the suffering of millions of people. We need to develop an adequate and robust theology of sickness that is not linked to 'sin' and 'morality' in order to think about this matter without unhelpful judgement and 'ohtering'.

You can download most of the chapters from my little book 'Christian and positive' as published academic articles from my academia.edu page (see the link below).

Here is a link to the book itself, and other books in which I have published chapters or contributions on HIV and AIDS:

- Christian and Positive: Reflections on Christianity in an HIV+ world by Dion Forster https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004E9U9BI/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_sCRqybZ1S8AEJ

- Church Communities Confronting HIV and AIDS: https://www.amazon.com/ISG-44-Communities-Confronting-International-ebook/dp/B007UPDB3G/

- Alienation and connection: Suffering in a global age: https://www.amazon.com/Alienation-Connection-Suffering-Global-Age/dp/0739137050/

If you are interested to read an article in which Ideal with the topic of just health and just health care please see 'Just Health as a Public Theological Concern': https://www.academia.edu/30219899/An_appreciative_contextual_response_to_Jean-Pierre_Wils_Is_there_a_future_for_medical_ethics_Just_Health_as_a_public_theological_concern

I’d love you hear your feedback!

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You can follow me on:
Academia (research profile): https://sun.academia.edu/DionForster
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/digitaldion
Web: http://www.dionforster.com
Beme: digitaldion

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In today's VLOG I speak with Prof Dr Torsten Meireis, a Professor in Systematic Theology from the Humboldt University in Berlin, and the Director of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology.

Prof Meireis is a leader in the field of applied ethics (particularly as it relates to issues of work, labour and welfare). He has published many books and scholarly articles.

You can read more about Prof Meireis at this website:

https://www.theologie.hu-berlin.de/de/ethik/ueber-uns/lehrstuhl-ethik/torsten-meireis

You can find his books on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Torsten-Meireis/e/B001K725TG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1478514054&sr=8-5

What I found particularly helpful in Prof Meireis' discussion was the way in which he sees faith as a contributor to public discourse, and how public discourse should engage our theological reflection and faith. He is an extremely knowledgeable theologian who is respected internationally for his work - and he happens to be a wonderful guy!

He has helped me in my own work on faith and work, and to think much more deeply about the nature and content of faith and public life. I would also suggest that you check out the Berlin Institute for Public Theology here:

https://www.theologie.hu-berlin.de/de/bipt

I’d love you hear your feedback!
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VLOG 40 Why Christians should prefer a secular state

What is the best kind of state a Christian should desire for their nation? Naively some Christians believe that if you have Christians, or Christian political parties, governing the nation it would be a good thing. In my view that is a mistake!

Simply stated, we already have self professed Christians in three of the most serious positions in our political dispensation (Jacob Zuma was ordained as a Christian pastor by a Pentecostal denomination, Mr Maimane (leader of the DA, the official opposition) is also an ordained pentecostal Church pastor, and the Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng is also a pentecostal Church pastor). A recent parliamentary survey showed that 65% of parliamentarians are Methodist.

Still, South Africa is not where it should be - we are unjust and have some serious political and economic problems!

In this video I explain why a religious state is a bad idea! I developed this idea in my recent book 'Between Capital and Cathedral: Essays on Church and State Relationships' (co authored with my friend from UNISA, Dr Wessel Bentley).

Some years ago I was privileged to hear a lecture by Professor Martin Prozesky at the Joint Conferences on Religion and Theology at Stellenbosch University. The title of his lecture was the following: 'Is the secular state to blame for the decline in moral values in Southern African society'.

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 reasons, as stated above, 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 former Russian republic, or China, or North Korea). 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'd love to hear your take on this!

Remember, it's not a lecture, just a thought…

I’d love you hear your feedback, comments, questions and ideas!

Please subscribe and like the video!

You can follow me on:
Academia (research profile): https://sun.academia.edu/DionForster
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/digitaldion
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/digitaldion
Web: http://www.dionforster.com
Beme: digitaldion

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Send your questions for a Q&A VLOG on Public Theology!

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Tagline
Servant, companion and friend, PhD in Science and Theology (Cognitive Neuroscience and Identity). I'm the author of several books in spirituality, theology and business. My days are spent journeying with people who desire to live life to the full.
Introduction
Servant, companion and friend.  PhD in science and theology (cognitive neuroscience and identity). Completing a second PhD in text reception theory and reconciliation (Radboud University, Holland).

I'm the author of several books in spirituality, theology and ethics. 

I am a Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University, teaching Ethics, Systematic Theology and Public Theology.  

My most recent popular book is entitled "Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling" - you can buy your paper copy here and the kindle edition here

My most recent academic book is entitled "ˆBetween Capital and Cathedral:  Essays on Church and State relationships" - you can buy a paper copy here and the kindle edition here.

I am married to Megan and have two wonderful children, Courtney and Liam.
Education
  • Radboud University, Nijmegen
    Post Doctoral studies (New Testament), present
  • University of South Africa
    PhD cognitive neuroscience and theology
  • Rhodes University
    Theology and Spirituality
  • Stellenbosch University
    Business administration and management
  • Sunward Park High School
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Dion A Forster
Work
Occupation
Theologian, author, campaign leader
Employment
  • University of Stellenbosch
    Senior Lecturer, present
    I am a senior lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics (with a focus on Public Theology) in the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University.
  • Power Group
    Coach, consultant, 2013
  • University of Pretoria
    Research Associate, 2013
  • Unashamedly Ethical
    International Coordinator, 2013
  • Methodist Church of Southern Africa
  • University of South Africa
    Lecturer
  • Lausanne
    Social Networking coordinator
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Cape Town
Previously
Johannesburg - Somerset West - Grahamstown - Pretoria