Parables and the Enneagram by Clarence Thomson
Several of you have asked me for a recommendation for a book about the Enneagram Personality Typing System from a Christian perspective. Parables and the Enneagram is my favorite; clear, grounded, and has practical suggestions for each type. The book is great for anyone whatever their spiritual background because Thomson does such a good job describing each of they personality types and fills out his descriptions with Biblical illustrations that deepen the readers’ learning.
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that describes nine ways we tend to live our lives in a waking trance, as Thomson puts it. This language connects well with me because I believe that the power of the Enneagram in anyone’s life is to wake us up from the automatic patterns we develop as strategies for survival. Thompson offers these provocative thoughts on page 6 of his introduction.
“The contribution of the Enneagram is to describe the inner geography of each other’s minds. The contribution of the Scripture is to offer alternatives to that geography…..Our Enneagram vision of the world, regardless of which of the nine it is, is in direct conflict with the vision of Jesus.” Thomson says that parables work by capturing your imagination (p.21) and that our Enneagram awareness allows us to be awake to the new possibility embedded in the parable.
I have read many wonderful books on the Enneagram, but I always reference Thomson’s book for the way he describes what each type wants and what they settle for:
ONEs: Want peace and settle for order.
TWOs: Want to be loved for their true inner selves and settle for appreciation.
THREEs: Want to be loved as they are and settle for having a good image.
FOURs: Want love in the form of a perfect relationship and settle for a vacuum of longing.
FIVEs: Want richness and abundant life and settle for whatever they can get in their heads.
SIXes: Want faith and settle for security.
SEVENs: Want the satisfaction of having enough and settle for more.
EIGHTs: Want justice and settle for revenge.
NINEs: Want harmony or unity and they settle for sleep.
I hope this functions as a teaser and not a spoiler. The book will fill out the reader’s understanding of themselves and the Enneagram. Clarence Thomson has a unique perspective that is, in my opinion, underutilized in Enneagram circles.