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Inspired to Think
on July 14, 2012
Quinn has an authentic approach to change by examining the philosophical views of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He does this in such a way to make the reader think for themselves. This approach was refreshing as Quinn did not take the low road of making the reader accept his premise without personal engaging thought. His method of `seed thoughts' was consistent throughout the eight major areas he examined: Envision the Productive Community, First Look Within, Embrace the Hypocritical Self, Transcend Fear, Embody a Vision of the Common Good, Disturb the System, Surrender to the Emergent Process, and Entice Through Moral Power. I would imagine that the traditional thinker would struggle with the way Quinn has framed his work to consider Gandhi and King with Jesus. At first glance it may put the conservative Christian off from further reading. I was, in fact, drawn in by the curious comparisons.
I agree with him that the human influence tends to be framed as dominant instead of transformational. In this way, any ordinary human being can be truly remarkable, and as the title suggests, extraordinary. His seed thoughts on Productive Community were Biblically sound on being inner directed other-focused. He illustrated this brilliantly in an illustration from Joseph Campbell on two kids of heroes. "It was an organization in which people were as committed to each other's success as they were to their own. Because there was trust, people could communicate their problems and get help. Because there was trust, there was cooperation."
His seed thoughts on First Looking Within slightly lost me in the sense that it read a little too meditational and contemplative. I have little difficulty with this, but looking within cries out for an objective - which must be the person of the Holy Spirit. This was not clearly portrayed in his material. Embracing the Hypocritical Self is something that was clearer than the preceding chapter. His illustration from the ninth grade helped me see several outbursts I have made in my own ministry context like `Chesty' the basketball coach. I have played the hypocrite by separating myself from those who are on my ministry team. His chapter on Transcending Fear was highly personal. "Like Gandhi, Dr. King understood that most of us, even though we might deny it, are driven by fears of what will happen to us if we fail to conform to the will of the system." Suppressing them is a complete disaster. Not discussing them can be equally disastrous.
Envisioning the Common Good was difficult for me to put into context with milking down my own beliefs from the Bible. I'm not suggesting a militant stand, but at some point the message of Jesus is going to be a stumbling block to other philosophies. On the other hand, I enjoyed Disturbing the System and the edge of chaos. Quinn explains that, firstly, a system can be chaotic, secondly, it can be stable, and thirdly, a system can move far from equilibrium but not all the way to chaos. Again, these are seed thoughts that may not sit well with conservative thinkers or traditional thinking. Surrendering to the Emergent Process was more of an invitation to `think' than an explanation of `how to think' in his subject of change and transformation. Using Coca Cola as an example Quinn convincingly explains then invites the reader to embrace what is actually happening around you rather than resisting it.
His final see thought on Enticing through Moral Power gave an `almost' conclusion to his material. I would have enjoyed it more if Quinn had taken this thought further to s defined conclusion. Although he attempts a summary in the five stages of novice, advanced beginner, competence, proficiency and expert it did not finalize the material for me. He seemed to get a little too complex finishing out the chapter with a four-step process of discover, dream, design and destiny. It got a little too John Maxwell in the end. Even his Appendix did not conclude it for me. Maybe this was his intension?
Andrew Fox author of Change Through Challenge