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

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.