7 Takes on a Friday: Books, the Enneagram, and a Wombat

7 Takes on a Friday: Books, the Enneagram, and a Wombat September 18, 2020

Well, it’s Friday, and I’ve already totally ruined my day by waking up at four in the morning and reading the rest of Miss Pym Disposes to see what happens…


I can’t tell you, obviously, because that would spoil it for you. But it got to be pretty exciting toward the end. I won’t lie, for the first half, I had no idea where the thing was going, or even what kind of book it was. Turns out it was a mystery, so that’s pretty great. Didn’t finish it till 7:30 and I’ve had to lie here, recovering, for the last hour and a half.


Let me see, what else have I been reading? I’m at one of those moments where I’ve arrived at the end of six or eleven books. So it will look, in September, like I am an Amazing Reader, but that’s only because I finished all the ones I’ve been toiling through for the last many months.


I keep a list, see—in two places. To admit this makes me feel a bit, can’t think of the word, obsessive? It’s just that two or three years ago, I was tired of the internet, and wanted to try to read a whole book again, and thought it would be useful to have a goal, and so I decided to read 40 books in a year (or was it 50?), but to do that I had to write them down as I read them. But I’m sort of forgetful, and kept losing the list, so now I have two lists, and whenever I find either of them, I try to make them agree. Actually, keeping the lists is almost as difficult as reading the books—and at least as timeful…that’s not a word. I can’t remember the word I’m trying to think of.


Finished the Emily Wilson Odyssey translation read by Claire Danes on Audible. It was, well, it was brilliant. So moving. I wish there was something like that of the Divine Comedy. Does anyone know of anything? Gosh, I wept, like Odysseus, when it came to an end.


And I’m nearing the end of Ian Cron’s book, The Road Back To You. It’s a lot more breezy of a read than the Richard Rohr thing, which made me feel like I was really suffering. I’m wavering between thinking I’m a nine and a one—but don’t worry, I still hate the Enneagram with all the hatred I have within me. And my reason for hating it is the same as before. You don’t need to go into the origin of the thing, or it’s “spiritual” questing nature. The reason it’s so awful is that, like everything at this cultural moment, it rests on the underlying assumption that there is a special, hidden gem at the core of the human person that must be discovered and burnished into its sparkly self.


Reading the book puts me in mind of my own brilliance in that excellent post, “Rachel Hollis and the Geico Jesus.” Just to quote myself:

What is it about potential? Our potential, my potential, your potential. I don’t have potential. I am not sitting on some goldmine of untapped earning opportunity, or a lot of fancy special thoughts that if I could just get them out onto the internet the whole world would be amazed. I am a sinner. I am tired. I need help. I need saving.

Really, the thing about the Enneagram, and Rachel Hollis and Jen Hatmaker and the Cheetah Glennon,* is that they’re all saying the same wretched thing—that you, at your unrealized core, are good all the way down there. It’s only when you’re not enacting your true self that you “sin” or are “bad.” That’s just not Christian. Nothing about that idea is Christian. So when you hear it—especially from Christians—a cowbell should go off in the back of your mind alerting you to the absurdity of the moment and you should take that thought and fling it along with your actual sins at the foot of the cross, where Jesus saves you.


I mean, imagine the cruel, unmercy of a God who would hold you up against an “ideal” and when you failed to reach it, shake his sad head and murmur that he wished you had done better, he gave you all the help he could. That is essentially what all these people are offering. If you don’t “find” the “true” “you,” you will be in some kind of terrible darkness. And how would you do that? Except by paying all these smiling people a lot of money for their special secrets. No, Jesus made you and he knows you even though you do not know yourself. And he is not waiting for you to pull it together. He only wants you to trust him, to put yourself in his hands breath by breath, for the whole course of your life. He has the power to keep you today, and tomorrow, and every day, from the ruin of your “true, essential self.” Don’t fall for this paltry, self-enacted “salvation.” And also go check out more Takes. I guess I will go try to cope with reality in some fashion or another.


*I spent some time yesterday thinking about what kind of animal I would be if you peeled all the layers back, and it isn’t a cheetah, it’s a wombat. Look how adorable! All out there in nature and stuff.

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