Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

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The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. IVP Books. 241 pages. 2016
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I’m a big proponent of personality assessments, and have utilized several in the workplace, such as Myers-Briggs, Strengthsfinder and StandOut. I always find out more about myself and others through these tools. While many in my church have been proponents of the Enneagram for years, I really didn’t know anything about it. I found this book to be an excellent introduction to the Enneagram.
The authors of this book provide a brief history of the Enneagram, which some believe dates back to the 4th century. Among other callings, Ian Morgan Cron is an Enneagram teacher. Some of the material in the book comes from the lectures of co-author Suzanne Stabile, a master teacher of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram includes nine personality types or numbers that are grouped into three triads (anger, feeling, fear). Each type has a dynamic relationship with four other types, touching the two on either side (wing numbers), as well as two on other side of arrows.
Each type has one of the seven deadly sins attached to it. No types are better than any other. All have strengths and weaknesses. Your curse is the flipside of your blessing. For each type, your gift is also your curse. Your number is not what you do, but why you do it. The Enneagram takes into account the fluid nature of our personality. It is intended to help us on the journey back to our true selves.
The book covers each of the types, not in numerical order, but within its triad. As each type is covered, healthy and unhealthy examples of that type are given. Challenges for that type are given, as well as the go-to emotion for the type, and what the type looked like as a child. They also look at the type in relationships and at work, and address how each type handles stress and security. We are told how the “wing numbers” impact each type, and that each type has a signature communication style. For each type, examples from history are listed. The Enneagram takes into account the fluid nature of our personality. It is intended to help us on the journey back to our true selves.
As I heard about each type, I tried to figure out which one I was, as well as friends, family and colleagues at work. I tested as a “3 – The Performer”. The authors state that America is a country of “3’s”. They tell us to look for the type that describes who you currently are, not what you want to be.
I enjoyed sharing information about the book and the Enneagram test with team members at work and my family. We plan to do a debrief as a family on our upcoming vacation.
The book includes helpful stories that illustrate the points. A helpful “Spiritual Transformation” section is included at the end of each chapter.
For more information about the book, check out its official site, and their podcast, which is available on iTunes.

  • From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership. I’m looking forward to this new book from Scott Sauls, to be published October 1.
  • The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review.Eric Davis reviews Ben Sasse’s new book The Vanishing America Adult. He writes “I heartily recommend the book to parents and non-parents; to democrats and republicans, and anyone who wants to think intelligently and tangibly about raising a generation better than ours.”
  • The Mythical Leader: 7 Myths of Leadership. Skip Prichard interviews Ron Edmondson (one of my favorite leadership bloggers) about his excellent new book The Mythical Leader.
  • One More Time on Game of Thrones. Kevin DeYoung writes “I cannot imagine how anyone growing closer to the God of the Bible will want to see more sex and nudity, or that anyone has found shows like Game of Thronesto be a serious blessing in seeing and savoring Christ. We become what we behold. So let’s be careful little eyes what we see.”
  • Do You Read the Bible Like a Nonbeliever? John Piper writes “The most basic prayer we can pray about reading the Bible is that God would give us the desire to read this book. Not just the will— that would be next best — but the desire.

BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2017

In this important new book, Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, draws on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, and shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices.

This week we look at Chapter 1 – Choosing Character 

  • We are living a life that even our grandparents never imagined and could not fully understand: a world in which the technological dream of easy everywhere has come true—is coming true—before our eyes.
  • Family shapes us in countless ways. But I want to focus in this book on two crucial qualities that family forms in us. Family helps form us into persons who have acquired wisdom and courage.
  • We need not just to understand our place in the world and the faithful way to proceed—we also need the conviction and character to act. And that is what courage is about.
  • Family, for almost all of us, is the setting where we are known and cared for in the fullest and longest-lasting sense.
  • The first family for everyone who wants wisdom and courage in the way of Jesus is the church—the community of disciples who are looking to Jesus to reshape their understanding and their character. And the church is, and can be, family for everyone in a way that biological families cannot.
  • The church is the place we learn to become the persons we were meant to be.
  • If our families are to be all that they are meant to be—schools of wisdom and courage—they will have to become more like the church, households where we are actively formed into something more than our culture would ask us to be. And if our churches are to be all they are meant to be, they will have to become more like a family—household-like contexts of daily life where we are all nurtured and developed into the persons we are meant to be and can become.
  • Technology, with all its gifts, poses one of the greatest threats ever conceived by human society to the formation of wise, courageous persons that real family and real community are all about.
  • Technology is only very good if it can help us become the persons we were meant to be.
  • Technology is a brilliant, praiseworthy expression of human creativity and cultivation of the world. But it is at best neutral in actually forming human beings who can create and cultivate as we were meant to.
  • Technology distracts and displaces us far too often, undermining the real work of becoming persons of wisdom and courage.
  • We will have to teach our children, from early on, that we are not here as parents to make their lives easier but to make them better.
  • Technological advances have dramatically impacted parents, kids, and the family dynamic. Yet few parents say these technologies have helped them with the character formation they so value.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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