02/01/2010

Knowing Me, Knowing God (by Malcolm Goldsmith)

I'd never heard of Malcolm Goldsmith; apparently he was a pastor from the UK and also a qualified Myers-Briggs practitioner. I bought this book because I'm interested in both temperament/type (particularly with respect to the MBTI) and also differences in spirituality. The book was recommended to me on Amazon, based on what I had already read, and was well reviewed.

I thought that 'Knowing me, knowing God' was generally speaking a useful book, when thinking about spirituality from the Myers-Briggs type point of view. It would be particularly interesting for someone who knows just a little about this personality indicator and wonders how it relates to the Christian life.

There's a 'spirituality questionnaire' included in the book, which I found quite thought-provoking; I wasn't sure where all the questions were going, but it did correctly give me my type (INFJ).

The different chapters explore aspects of relationship to God, looking at why some people enjoy lively church services, while others prefer solitary retreats; some need icons and candles to help them focus, others find them a distraction. There's also a chapter considering our personality shadows, one discussing Jesus' use of functions leading to a very balanced personality (which the author does not try to narrow down), and the final chapter is a meditation on the song 'When I survey the wondrous cross', from the personality point of view.

I did feel that the explanations as related to the different functions (thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition) were a bit basic; but then it's a short book (only 116 pages of text) and not intended to be a Myers-Briggs text book. However, I did find them rather lacking in that they didn't mention the significant differences between the Introverted and Extraverted uses of each function.

But that's really my only gripe with the book. The writer also didn't give much time to anecdotes or stories, which made it feel a bit dry at times, but then he's a self-confessed ENTP, so the main focus was on the theories themselves. I didn't find that a real problem, since I just read a few pages each day.

I don't think I learned anything new, although I certainly thought about some aspects of the Christian life in a slightly different light. Overall, though, it was a good reminder of how we are all created so differently, with different strengths and weaknesses, and how important it is to honour those differences in our brothers and sisters.

Recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 2nd January 2010

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