Thursday, May 3, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 18 The Enneagram

Book 18: The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

For those of you who like to spend time figuring out what personality type you are, here’s a new perspective – the Christian perspective, as the subtitle suggests. Based on the ancient personality-type system of the Enneagram, the authors divide personalities into nine different types, based on the seven deadly sins plus two more character defects that apparently didn’t make the final cut. These are further segmented into three “centers”: heart, head and gut. 

To determine your type, you must take a test. However, although the book is over 250 pages long, the test is not included. I had to resort to my favorite spiritual leader, Father Google, to steer me in the right direction. Or the wrong direction … who knows? There were so many choices online, it was hard to determine which ones were authentic. But I figured the free ones were more authentic than the ones you had to pay for, so I selected one and started answering about 180 questions.

I took the Enneagram test on two separate occasions. The first time I discovered that I was a Type 1 (Need to be Perfect) with a Type 3 “wing” (Need to Succeed). That made total sense. Then I took it again when I was in a somewhat negative mood and the results showed me to be a Type 8 (Need to be Against) with a Type 1 “wing” (that perfectionist thing again). Since Type 1 seemed dominant to me, I took that to be the most accurate personality assessment. This was based on no scientific method whatsoever, just my own feelings, which I would imagine is its fatal flaw.

As with most attempts to pigeonhole personalities, this one hits some high points but falls short in other areas. For example: Yes, I’m a perfectionist and get angry when things don’t go right in the world, but I am not a serious person who seldom tells jokes. (Just read a few of my blogs and you should figure that out.) But I did have a few aha moments while reading the description of Type 1.

What to do with this knowledge? Well, the point of the book was to show how to enhance one’s spirituality based on the personality type. And quite honestly, I was looking for a little more in the way of specifics here. Instead, the direction was more along the lines of “learn that there isn’t just one right way” (duh) and “don’t take yourself so seriously” (remind me of that the next time I do something stupid). It all seemed like the usual rubric. I was hoping to be given more of a laundry list, kinda like old-school penance: Say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys and you’re cool for the rest of the week. But then that’s very Type 1 of me, isn’t it?

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