Just got the first of my two Clarence Thomson enneagram books, and had it half-read last night. It’s really excellent stuff. I love Thomson’s take on the enneagram; that it’s a strategy not a “type.” Thomson’s take on the enneagram is that it describes nine different flawed ways of seeing reality; by that measure he also asserts that Jesus’ view of reality had no flaw, thus He had no “enneagram strategy” and I tend to agree with that as well.
In fact, it’s the major idea of the book: that in the parables (and really, in the whole of His life and teachings) Jesus was trying to get people to wake up from their personal trances and see God-reality as it really is. According to Thomson, part of the freedom Jesus preached to the captives was freedom from their limited worldviews.
We act out of our core beliefs. Thomson makes the excellent point, and hammers it home numerous times, that simply preaching at people “Stop being bad. Just be good.” is not an effective way to promote change. He also makes a good case for the idea that sin is not fun. It may have some compensatory side effects, but primarily it’s painful to live in sin. (And Thomson’s take on what defines sin was interesting as well, but I have too much blood in my coffee stream currently to do it justice.) But back to the topic at hand, to change ingrained, habitual behavior, you have to change those core beliefs.
The parables don’t really make a lot of sense if you look at them too literally. But they are a literary form that sort of speaks directly to the imagination, which is where beliefs are formed. Surprise people, catch them off guard, and force them to look at the possibility that their own assumptions are flawed.
Interestingly, parables don’t tell people what the truth is.Â They show them what it isn’t.Â The book describes this as “very respectful” because it is based on the assumption that if your skewed worldview was broken or removed, you would be able to figure out the truth without it being forced on you.
The book is good so far; I got through the introduction and the chapters on each strategy from One to Four before turning in for the night.Â I will probably have more observations later.Â There are some religious ideas that are challenging in this book, but that’s mainly because the whole point of the book and it’s subject is to challenge the personal sacred cows of our worldviews.Â It’s just a different perspective on Christ, His methods and goals during his earthly life, from a person who clearly believes in Him.