“Enneagram: Individualist”

July 29, 2018

Summary

Enneagram: Individualist
A sermon for University Congregational Church, Wichita, Kansas
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Rev. Paul E. Ellis Jackson

Traditional Word
Psalm 8
A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals[a] that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,[b]
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
–NRSV

Contemporary word

Lord
in this world polluted with sin and radioactivity
You won’t blame it all on a shopgirl
who, like any other shopgirl, dreamed of being a star.
Her dream just became a reality (but like Technicolor’s reality).
She only acted according to the script we gave her
—the story of our own lives. And it was an absurd script.
Forgive her, Lord, and forgive us
for our 20th Century
for this Colossal Super-Production on which we all have worked.
She hungered for love and we offered her tranquilizers.
For her despair, because we’re not saints
psychoanalysis was recommended to her.
Remember, Lord, her growing fear of the camera
and her hatred of makeup—insisting on fresh makeup for each scene—
and how the terror kept building up in her
and making her late to the studios.
–From Ernesto Cardinal’s poem Prayer for Marilyn Monroe

Poem
Lord
in this world polluted with sin and radioactivity
You won’t blame it all on a shopgirl
who, like any other shopgirl, dreamed of being a star.
Her dream just became a reality (but like Technicolor’s reality).
She only acted according to the script we gave her
—the story of our own lives. And it was an absurd script.
Forgive her, Lord, and forgive us
for our 20th Century
for this Colossal Super-Production on which we all have worked.
She hungered for love and we offered her tranquilizers.
For her despair, because we’re not saints
psychoanalysis was recommended to her.
Remember, Lord, her growing fear of the camera
and her hatred of makeup—insisting on fresh makeup for each scene—
and how the terror kept building up in her
and making her late to the studios.

Enneagram: Individualist

I’m really enjoying our study of the enneagram and I hope you all are as well… I spent a previous lifetime in higher education and we often used a variety of personality tests for our students to perhaps learn a bit more about their personalities and how they might better interact with someone they didn’t like. We used the Myers-Briggs test and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and a fun one called True Colors. All of these were aimed at helping our students gain a better understanding of what made them tick and how they could work more harmoniously with their peers. I always, always made sure that they understood that these tests are never to be used as a weapon. Such as, oh…you’re one of those…you’re a type 2…or you’re an INFP…I know what’s wrong with you! Or…that explains why you’re such a mess. No, we use these tools in a positive manner—as a means to better live together. It’s a tool to help us perhaps be better neighbors.
We’ve been studying the enneagram, an ancient tool that sorts human personalities into nine basic types. I believe that we all have aspects of each of these “types” in our personalities and certain ones rise to the surface during different times in our lives. We might have one attribute that is more prominent when we’re sick and another that pushes forth in times of crisis. But the belief is that we can be sorted into one or two main “types”—our default personality– and we can better understand ourselves by understanding the traits of our type…but more importantly how those traits of ours interact with the other humans in our lives. How many of you have taken the test and know your enneagram number? Great! I hope everyone gets an opportunity to do so—the test is available from a link on our website and takes just a few minutes to complete. If you need any help please reach out to us in the office and we’ll get you going.
Today we’re looking at enneagram type 4—the individualist—and what their potential strengths and challenges might be. As Robin and I were discussing today’s worship service she reminded me that Richard Rohr, whose book on the enneagram is our primary resource for this series, never linked a name with a number on the enneagram. He didn’t want us to bias ourselves with a title because then we’ve potentially tainted the entire personality type. Today’s number and name is a good example of why Rohr didn’t want to name the types. One of our main sources names type 4 as the individualist, but another calls type 4’s the romantics and yet one more calls them the melancholics and even the Enneagram Institute says this about fours: The Sensitive, Introspective Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental. Let’s look at some of the attributes of a type four and see if any of those labels fit.
Type four humans have a basic need to be special—to stand out from the crowd—to be unique and noticeable. That’s where we get one label attached—the individualist. Because these folks have never met an emotion they didn’t need to explore to all of its extremes, we find in them the positive attributes of harmony and “even-souledness” That is–at 25 years of age, this enneagram type has already lived through all emotional spaces and experiences from agony to ecstasy. They’re accomplished at dealing with the human emotional landscape. A healthy four is capable of a depth of feeling that the rest of have little or no access to. They experience the emotions of life deeply and profoundly. It seems that the eyes of most fours reflect an undefined sadness which even they themselves are not usually aware of. Hence the other potential label of melancholic. As Victor Hugo wrote “melancholy is the happiness of being sad.” This is also why type Fours might seem counter-intuitive to want to become people who strive to embrace the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth—because they resist conformity. In fact, in the past, many fours were thrown out of religious communities because their intense desire for individualism made them non-conformists—so much so that they couldn’t be tolerated in communities that required strict adherence to very uniform beliefs and practices.
Another key dilemma in the lives of fours is their temptation to strive frantically for authenticity. When you live your live not directly expressing your feelings–because it hurts so good, remember– Fours instead do so indirectly through symbols (such a clothing) and rituals (shopping sprees, grand entrances) and through drama—Fours are rarely boring—because to a four anything ordinary and routine is to be avoided at all costs.
One of the most famous fours in history was Marilyn Monroe and I believe her life can show us the huge potential gifts of this enneagram type and then the terrible potential pitfalls and challenges associated with it. She became one of the most iconic women in Hollywood and her story continues to allure us to this day. Yet, I don’t know if she was ever really, truly happy. She was once quoted as saying this: “When you’re famous you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way. It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, of any kind of nature — and it won’t hurt your feelings — like it’s happening to your clothes not you.”
She had famous marriages to Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller and she is suspected of having numerous affairs with many famous men. In the late 1950s, and early 1960, her health began to deteriorate. She suffered from a Barbiturate addiction and experienced periods of depression. During the early 1960s, her ill health made shooting films challenging, and production was often delayed. She was still in great demand and often appeared on the front cover of glossy magazines. In 1962, she was invited to the White House to sing for J.F. Kennedy’s birthday.
Tragically, she died early from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 aged just 36. Unable to reconcile her desire to simply be loved with her equal desire to achieve fame her life ended tragically and way too early. In one sense, Monroe lived the American dream – rising from anonymity to become a famous actress, but it was a dream tinged with sadness– for that fame did not bring peace of mind or happiness. She once said, regarding her fame and reputation: “I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”
Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardinal’s wrote in his poem Prayer for Marilyn Monroe, about the contradictions that often face fours:
“Lord–in this world polluted with sin and radioactivity
You won’t blame it all on a shopgirl
who, like any other shopgirl, dreamed of being a star.
Her dream just became a reality (but like Technicolor’s reality).
She only acted according to the script we gave her
—the story of our own lives. And it was an absurd script.
Forgive her, Lord, and forgive us for our 20th Century
for this Colossal Super-Production on which we all have worked.
She hungered for love and we offered her tranquilizers.
For her despair, because we’re not saints– psychoanalysis was recommended to her.
Remember, Lord, her growing fear of the camera
and her hatred of makeup—insisting on fresh makeup for each scene—
and how the terror kept building up in her
and making her late to the studios.”
Other famous fours include: James Dean, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, and Sylvia Plath …do you see a trend here? The depth of emotions Four’s sometimes feel and the despair associated with it sometimes means that they see death as the only way to ease their pain.
Another famous four was King David. If you’re a four, David could be your enneagram doppelganger—a man after God’s heart who expressed his feelings openly and wholeheartedly to God. David led a superlative life. He was Israel’s greatest king, uniting the nation under his leadership, defeating and subduing the pagan nations in the region, and establishing Jerusalem as both the religious and political capital. David was also Israel’s greatest bard, writing psalms that went to the heart of the Jewish religion and that still express the faith and longings of Jews and Christians today. Although David was nearly as great a sinner as he was a leader, he inaugurated a brief golden age in Israel that provided the pattern for messianic expectations for Christians and Jews.
Let me remind you of a time when David was in turmoil, trying to wrestle with his natural type Four tendencies and failing: It happened sometime after David was proclaimed king that he was taking a stroll on the rooftops, and he beheld the beauty of a woman named Bathsheba. David inquired about the woman and was informed that she was married to a soldier named Uriah. Now David’s passion for Bathsheba was strong, and he wished to marry her. He sent Uriah to the front lines of battle, knowing full well that he was giving him a death sentence. When news of Uriah’s death reached David, he took Bathsheba as his wife. We’re told that G-d was displeased with David’s actions and sent a prophet, like God has a tendency to do, a prophet named Nathan to rebuke the king. Being reminded that he sinned, David sat in penance until G-d eventually forgave him.
According to the Talmud, the reason King David sought to marry Bathsheba and was willing to go to great lengths to do so was because he saw by Divine inspiration that he was destined to marry her and bear the next king of Israel—he believed God had in store for him to be the father of the next great leader of the nation. Always a dangerous proposition—to believe God has given us instructions. Here’s an interesting insight into this story: before sending Uriah off to battle, David had a quick discussion with him regarding the war; in the midst of which King David gave Uriah a command to go home, a command that Uriah did not obey. He told the king, “The ark and Israel and Judah are located at the site of battle, and my master Joab and Your Majesty’s men are camped in the open; how can I go home?” David was caught in the tensions of his desire and his responsibilities. Imagine the inner pain when Uriah said to him “How can I go home?” With David knowing full well that he was condemning the man.
Indeed, how can any of us go home? How do we reconcile our responsibilities with our desires? How do we return to our boring, conventional state of home when we’ve been to the mountain and touched the stars and experienced the awe-inspiring sensations that we often sense during those profound moments of our lives….when we look up at the stars, as David did and wrote about in his psalm “Oh God, our God, how magnificent is your name in all the earth. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” How do we come back to mundane after words like that?
I think God created Fours to protect the rest of us. They feel the highest highs and the lowest lows and then report that to us in words and music and dramatic acts, so that non-Fours might at least have some access to these emotions. The intense gifts that Fours have can show us some of the great beauty of human potential—and also some of the immense pain and the depths of agonizing empathy that we might glimpse as well. I’m grateful for Fours so that I don’t have to go to the extremes myself. I can experience them vicariously through the lives of the Fours in my life.
I think that is the challenge for all of us and our four traits—we all have these moments—to reach to the heavens while keeping our feet planted firmly here on the earth. To remember the vigor of youth while living our lives with dignity and integrity. To take our rich, vibrant dreams of how we want our lives to be and realistically enmeshing them with the reality of how our lives actually are. How do we, like Marilyn Monroe, yearn to be loved and yet recognize that the love we seek is a close to us as drop of morning dew? This is the perineal question posed by our Four-ness: How do we anchor ourselves in a world of change and chaos? How do we express our authentic self to a world that wants conformity? How do we resist the need to “fit-in” and instead be people of integrity? May the struggles and gifts of the Enneagram type Four show us that in these tensions there is great beauty—that in the seeming contradictions of our lives, there can be harmony—a peace can be found. And we might see that love is everywhere—everywhere we chose to see it. Amen

Please stand as you are able and sing our closing benediction.

Resources Used:
Cron, Ian Morgan and Stabile, Suzanne. “The Road Back to You; An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery.” InterVarsity Press. 2016.
Heuertz, Christopher L. “The Sacred Enneagram; Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.” Zondervan. 2017
Riso, Don Richard and Hudson, Russ. “The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types”. New York: Bantam Books, 1999
Rohr, Richard. “Discovering the Enneagram; An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey.” Crossroad. 1992.
https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-4/
https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/520477/jewish/The-Story-of-King-David-in-the-Bible.htm
http://www.ifcj.org/assets/pdfs/FCH301_DAVID-OVERVIEW.pdf

Marilyn Monroe Biography

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