06/04/2014

Enneagram II (by Richard Rohr)

It's over ten years since I first learned about the Enneagram, a fascinating tool for personality exploration and spiritual growth. Rather than the more traditional four (or sixteen) types, nine deep-rooted types of person are identified, based partly on defence mechanisms and 'besetting sin'.

While there's controversy in some circles about whether or not it's appropriate for Christians (having Sufi and possibly Pagan roots) there are many who believe that God can use it to help us understand each other better, and grow in our faith and maturity by seeing ourselves as we really are. Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest who uses it extensively in positive ways.

'Enneagram II' is a book intnded for readers who have explored and understood the basics of the theory, and are looking for a deeper understanding of how they - from the point of view of their Enneagram type - can relate better to God and to other people. It is based on a series of workshops.

The book mainly focuses on the nine perspectives for looking at oneself and other people. It encourages individuals to see that there are many paths along which we can grow and develop, and to avoid judgement or criticism of those whose paths are different. The main part of the book focuses on questions asked to panels of each of the nine types, asking how they deal with stress and betrayal; this section is written in transcript form, including questions from the floor.

There are also a few chapters at the end focusing on how to grow beyond and through our Enneagram 'box' while being true to ourselves. I was particularly interested in a chapter explaining how our innate view of God is inevitably too narrow, even false. Finally there is a very brief summary of how the nine types are identified, with some traits described.

I found it quite heavy going in places and only read a few pages at a time; I would have liked the 'panels' to have been asked a few more questions; however, the answers were quite revealing and undoubtedly revealed some broad patterns. I found the early and final chapters particularly thought-provoking, and will no doubt read this again in a few years.

Recommended to anyone wanting to know how this personality tool can better be used in the Christian life. Not currently in print but sometimes available second-hand.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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