Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Bishops' Advisor and the Enneagram

The Enneagram is a device used to identify the psychological and spiritual growth potential of nine different personality types. The system is supposedly based on wisdom teachings from a variety of spiritual sources, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Sufi Islam. From my perspective, however, I rather fear that its principles were used recently to determine that I was an unsuitable candidate for ordination training in the Anglican Church. You see, I was sent to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP) by my diocese. It had already been decided that I had a vocation by three internal diocesan advisors, but the final decision in these cases is reserved to three advisors who spend two and a half days observing and interviewing candidates. The Enneagram was highlighted as an area of interest by the advisor who had to discern whether I fulfilled the three criteria of “personality and character”, “relationships” and “leadership and collaboration” and there is a degree of overlap here with the character traits that form part of the nine personality types found in the Enneagram. The advisor interviewed me for 35 minutes (the programme allows up to 50 minutes, and this was the shortest of the three) but was highly selective in the use of my comments and responses when compiling the report. Reading it, I get a distinct feeling that my replies were made to fit – even to the extent of being taken out of context in two areas. Given that BAP advisors are entrusted with a decision-making role that cannot be challenged, reviewed or appealed against, I am worried that Enneagram-influenced thought, which has been criticized for its “new age” or Gnostic-based reliance on “whole universe” connectivity to individual birth-originated personality elements, is being given credence by some in the Anglican Church, when Enneagram use has been questioned by the Roman Catholic Church.