Friday, November 17, 2006

The Enneagram

New Age Spirituality
-continuing to sneak through some cracks in the Church.

Do you even know what the enneagram is? It emanates from Sufiism, a mystical branch of Islam. It has been assilmilated by New Age Christians and passed off as a form of mysticism. It's sort of like astrology, I know a couple of priests who are more or less influenced by the enneagram and who use it's principles in their homilies, spiritual advice and confessions. I was always a little dubious about their orthodoxy after learning this.

The mandorla pictured is not an enneagram, yet many Christian enneagram enthusiasts would like to say it is. Read the following section from EWTN's library to discover what the ennegram consists of.

"In promoting the Enneagram, an effort is made to take Sufi objectives, their kind of self- knowledge and knowledge of others, for the sake of promoting Christian objectives. But it's the opposite that happens: Christian goals are used for the sake of promoting the aims of the Sufi religion: the Catholic religion is assimilated into the Enneagram and the Sufi religion.
Catholics using the Enneagram talk about things like saints and sin and faith and "fruits of the spirit". Using these words makes it sound legitimate. But they are only adapting these terms to the Enneagram, by giving them different definitions."
- EWTN Library

Richard Rohr is an enneagram enthusiast, having written extensively on it. It seems to be attractive to more progressive contemplative communities as well as priests and lay people interested in new age spirituality. I have re-printed some excerpts from a recent Stephen Crittenden interview with Fr. Richard Rohr found on The Religion Report, ABC National Radio.

"Richard Rohr is a well-known figure in American Catholic circles, very much in the tradition of the famous post-war Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. He was born in Kansas, has been active in the civil rights movement, and writes for the American magazine Sojourners, and for the National Catholic Reporter.

He founded a famous retreat centre in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Centre for Action and Contemplation, and he's on a speaking tour of Australia at the moment.

Stephen Crittenden: It seems to me that centres like yours have picked up a lot on Buddhist New Age retreat centres that we associate with California for example; that they're offering people something that they seem to want that comes out of monasteries, that involves retreats and something temporary.

Richard Rohr: Yes, I think that's true. You know that what's been called Buddhism, I as a Franciscan though, was taught by my own 13th, 14th century Franciscan mystics. But here's the difference: is we didn't have the sophisticated, refined psychological vocabulary in the 13th and 14th century, that Buddhists have now. So very often, Christians will find themselves drawing from Buddhist sources simply, in my opinion, because the refined vocabulary of what is happening to the ego, to the self. How does transformation happen? Their vocabulary is very often very helpful. Even though I know it's identical in substance to what our own Christian mystics taught. So it's a coming together that is, I think to the advantage of all.

Stephen Crittenden: You're part of the 800-year tradition of St Francis and St Bonaventure, but are you also in the sort of American 'feel good' New Age guru tradition? Is there part of the Oprah Winfrey and Dr Phil in what you're doing?

Richard Rohr: Well in the sense that I'm trying to find a language and metaphors that make sense to the present consciousness. If you want to call that New Age, I don't think it is, I think it's the Gospel of Paul himself, took upon himself to be all things to all people, and I think that's our task too. But whenever you do that, even John's Gospel that uses a philosophical word like logos, are we going to accuse him of being overly trendy because he found a language that contemporary people could hear? I don't think so. But that's an umbrella word like New Age is an umbrella word that Christians apply today to almost anything they don't understand. And they don't realise that some of the things they don't understand are their own tradition." - The Religion Report

"Richard Rohr is a well-known figure in American Catholic circles, very much in the tradition of the famous post-war Catholic monk, Thomas Merton." I like that quote. I think both guys are capable of misleading Christians away from authentic Catholic prayer, as well as doctrine. Merton started out great, but got a bit confused towards the end. Rohr may indeed be following suit.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.

    For not calling himself "New Agey" he sure is throwing a lot of new agey terms around, like "consciousness". Quite honestly, the only valid usage of the word "consciousness" has to do with level of consciousness in reference to an injured or sick person. Alert, Verbal, Pain, Unresponsive are the categories. I'd say any New Ager actually falls into the latter category, metaphorically speaking.

    And I'm insulted. I've been around the New Age wheel, and it just made me get sick, just like it's doing to all the people on that same merry-go-round. They can't tell up from down, and it's because no answers are to be found in Buddhism. For this guy to suggest that we refer to things we don't understand, thus fear, as "New Age", is an insult to our intelligence. I've been there, I realize where I was and it was a confused time in my life. This guy is too clueless to understand that he's lost in the dark, blindly insisting that he can find his way out while demanding to lead others thorugh the same maze he's worked himself into.

    I could go on and on...but I won't...


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