Tuesday, 4 December 2007

'Love bade me welcome' George Herbert

I remember being introduced to this poem, when I was at Keele University in the late 70s, by Roger Pooley, who was an English lecturer. It has stuck with me since. I used it the first time I presided at a parish communion service,  post-ordination.  It is not just about the Eucharist, Holy Communion, Lord's supper - call it what you will -  but it speaks to me of that profound sense of invitation and welcome that is found at the table. In spite of everything we are. . . . .   It is the Innkeeper offering a meal to a weary traveller, The generous host welcoming an unworthy guest. The Father welcoming back his prodigal son.

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, 
      Guilty of dust and sin. 
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 
      From my first entrance in, 
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning         5
      If I lack'd anything. 
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:' 
     Love said, 'You shall be he.' 
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, 
      I cannot look on Thee.'  10
Love took my hand and smiling did reply, 
      'Who made the eyes but I?' 
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame 
      Go where it doth deserve.' 
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'  15
      'My dear, then I will serve.' 
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.' 
      So I did sit and eat.

George Herbert. 1593–1632

for more on Geroge Herbert see his works and his life

Saturday, 1 December 2007

'Let nothing disturb thee' Teresa of Avila's prayer

St. Teresa of Avila 

Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Avila poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry, [TRADITION SUB2] poetry,  poetry

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth

for more about the icon and Teresa of Avila quotes 

Monday, 26 November 2007

Nasruddin and Alexander the Great

Another Nasruddin story

Nasruddin went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and on the way he passed through Medina. As he was walking by the main mosque there, a rather confused-looking tourist approached him.
Excuse me sir, he said, but you look like a native of these parts; can you tell me something about this mosque? It looks very old and important, but I've lost my guidebook.
Mullah Nasruddin, being too proud to admit that he, too, had no idea what it was, immediately began an enthusiastic explanation
This is indeed a very old and special mosque. he declared, It was built by Alexander the Great to commemorate his conquest of Arabia.
The tourist was suitably impressed, but presently a look of doubt crossed his face.
But how can that be? he asked, I'm sure that Alexander was a Greek or something, not a Muslim. . . Wasn't he?
I can see that you know something of these matters  replied Mullah Nasruddin with chagrin, In fact, Alexander was so impressed at his good fortune in war that he converted to Islam in order to show his gratitude to God.
Oh, wow. said the tourist, then paused. Hey, but surely there was no such thing as Islam in Alexander's time?
An excellent point! It is truly gratifying to meet an English man who understands our history so well, answered Mullah Nasruddin. As a matter of fact, he was so overwhelmed by the generosity God had shown him that as soon as the fighting was over he began a new religion, and became the founder of Islam.
The tourist looked at the mosque with new respect, but before Mullah Nasruddin could quietly slip into the passing crowd, another problem occurred to him.
But wasn't the founder of Islam named Mohammed? I mean, that's what it said in the newspaper; at least I'm sure it wasn't Alexander.
I can see that you are a scholar of some learning, said Mullah Nasruddin, I was just getting to that. Alexander felt that he could properly dedicate himself to his new life as a prophet only by adopting a new identity. So, he gave up his old name and for the rest of his life called himself Mohammed
Really? wondered the tourist, That's amazing! But...but I thought that Alexander the Great lived a long time before Mohammed? Is that right?
Certainly not! answered Mullah Nasruddin, You're thinking of a different Alexander the Great. I'm talking about the one named Mohammed

Friday, 5 October 2007

He Qi – crucifixion

I have only recently been introduced to He Qi’ s stunning art.

He is a Chinese artist, Professor at a Nanjing Union Theological Seminary He currently lives in Mineappolis

He has exhibited in Kyoto, Hong Kong, Geneve, Hamburg, London, St.Paul, San Francisco, Berkeley and Madison, NewHaven, Minneapolis, St.Paul, Madison, Washington, Princeton, Detroit, Tornoto, as well as in mainland China. Now he is adding Oxford to his list.


The image of the Crucified Christ surrounded by those from the margins is, for me, the most moving - the prisoner behind bars; the Person-with-Aids; the prostitute; the poor man lying on the pavement; the parent mourning her dead child. It is controversial because of the nude woman clinging to Christ, but then Christ's ministry to those on the margins has always been controversial. And it certainly acknowledges and highlights the pressing social issues we face today.

HE QI Chinese Artist

It has been a privilege to meet He Qi (pronounced Hershee like the American chocolate bar) the other day. He has joined us in Oxford as artist in residence for a couple of months. During this period he is painting a mural for our reception wall.

He uses bold colours unlike much 'mountain and water' Chinese painting, to convey a message of Peace, with a universal appeal. 'Artwork has no national boundary, but an artist always has his nationality.' His art is both genuinely Chinese and genuinely Christian. His faith is the passion behind his message. Forged in the cultural revolution, partly as a reaction to the strictess of the Maoist regime, which took its toll on his family. His art embodies his vision of hope.

I like the picture of Noah's ark, which he introduced us to:

He Qi described it as his version of 'Titanic' with the Iceberg safely in the past and the rainbow symbolic of hope and promise for the future.

More of his art can be viewd on http://www.heqigallery.com/

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Starfish and Spider Oct 2007

The Starfish and the Spider: The unstoppable power of leaderless organisations
Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom

I’ve been reading The Starfish and the Spider. and it is really very helpful indeed. From the book description:
If you cut off a spider’s leg, it’s crippled; if you cut off its head, it dies. But if you cut off a starfish’s leg it grows a new one, and the old leg can grow into an entirely new starfish.
What’s the hidden power behind the success of Wikipedia, craigslist, and Skype? What do eBay and General Electric have in common with the abolitionist and women’s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths? How could winning a Supreme Court case be the biggest mistake MGM could have made?
After five years of ground-breaking research, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom share some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider argues that organizations fall into two categories: traditional “spiders,” which have a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership, and revolutionary “starfish,” which rely on the power of peer relationships.

This book has had a profound effect on my thinking. It has made me think about decentralisation in new ways and gave me hope for the process we have embarked on in CMS.

The authors break down the 5 legs of a “Starfish-type” organization:


 • Circles of Participants – Starfish organizations are made up of various circles of participants. (Communities of Practice')
 • Catalyst – All organizations need a “Craig” or other instigator, even if they don’t opt for the spotlight.
 • Core Ideology – Note that they use this word and not “mandate” or “mission statement.”
 • Connections  - Preexisting Network – Sometimes the network forms before the idea for the company.
 • Champions – Every great idea needs someone to relentlessly promote it.

And essential to the whole process is CATALYTIC LEADERSHIP
The authors list several abilities and behaviors (called "The Catalyst's Tools") that "catalysts" have in common, including:
1. Genuine interest in others.
2. Numerous loose connections, rather than a small number of close connections.
3. Skill at social mapping.
4. Desire to help everyone they meet.
5. The ability to help people help themselves by listening and understanding, rather than giving advice ("Meet people where they are").
6. Emotional Intelligence.7. Trust in others and in the decentralized network.
8. Inspiration (to others).
9. Tolerance for ambiguity.
10. A hands-off approach. Catalysts do not interfere with, or try to control the behavior of the contributing members of the decentralized organization.
11. Ability to let go. After building up a decentralized organization, catalysts move on, rather than trying to take control.

It seems to me that this style of leadership and the decentralised nature of organisations - more organic and dynamic  - is what the Church is, or rather should be, all about.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Let me out of here

I have not been blogging for quite a while.

I have been trapped behind bars of uncommunication!

My feeble excuse is that I had problems transitioning to Googlemail and lost my link to my 'Wandering for the love of God' blog. Still a bit of a Luddite. But now I have relaunched it and will make a link ot the old blog.

I was recently inspired by stuff I read about Web2.0 and that has got me back into social networking. So I have signed up to Facebook as well as resolving to get the the blog up and running again. Reading the Starfish and the Spider got me up and going again. More of that next time.

My intention is that the Blog will contain travel stories as I wander the world on behalf of CMS, my refections and thoughts, quotes and links. I remain inspired by Mullah Nasruddin so there will also be some of his stories as well.