Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Enneagrams and the Broken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South (Sewanee)

The following invitation came to me via the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina,

Who Am I Really? Discerning Aspects of the Soul Through the Spirituality of the Enneagram
April 20 -22, 2017
Beecken Center of the School of Theology
University of the South
Sewanee, TN 
The Beecken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South, in partnership with the Institute for Conscious Being, invites you to this intensive weekend of self-exploration and study into the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram. Through lectures, dynamic presentations, music, video, group work, and more, this weekend conference-led by Joseph B. Howell, Ph.D., author of Becoming Conscious: The Enneagram's Forgotten Passageway-will teach participants to immerse in the deeper aspects of themselves as revealed by spiritual truths. For more details and to register, visit our website.  
Who Should Attend?
  • Laypersons interested in spiritual transformation;
  • Clergy, pastoral counselors, lay ministers, and spiritual directors;
  • Mental health professionals, LPCs, psychologists, and social workers;
  • Persons seeking certification to teach the Enneagram;
  • Business, government, and industry leaders interested in raising consciousness in the workplace;
  • Persons wishing to gain certification in the Spirituality of the Enneagram.
What Will You Learn?
  • The purpose and method of self-inquiry within the Enneagram approach;
  • How to apply the Enneagram to mental health and spiritual growth in oneself and in others;
  • What transforming the self means in changing the level of consciousness on this planet.
Tuition, early rates:
Jan. 1–March 30: $350
April 1 onward: full rate, $365
Lodging is not included with tuition. 
Studying "ancient wisdom". immersing in "deeper aspects" of yourself, "changing the level of consciousness on this planet", what a bunch of hooey, and what a waste of 350 bucks. I wonder how many churches are footing the bill for their spirit guides to go to this brainwashing experience?  

Back in 2012 and I blogged about Dr. Howell and his enneagram conference, but like a bad penny, it keeps coming back.

The enneagram returned as a Lenten exercise at a local Episcopal church last year, and reappeared as a series of classes in the fall of 2016.

The following picture from The Enneagram Monthly tells you what I think of this nonsense,

If this is what your "School of Theology" is teaching, then your denomination is in serious trouble.

A little history of the Beecken Center of the School of Theology reveals that it was established to promote EFM (Education for Ministry) which this pewsitter considers to be too liberal in its approach to theology, Bible study, and Church history to do anyone any good.

The Beecken Center's vision statement is a progressive gem. While it does mention God and the Holy Spirit, Jesus gets left out completely amidst the Episcobabble,
We educate faith leaders who have a vision of a church where every Christian is supported in discerning why he or she was born – what unique gifts are theirs for the healing and restoration of the world – and where we all become adept at listening for and hearing the still small voice of God in such a way that it guides our choices and actions.  We are especially mindful of the church’s call to nurture these capacities in our young people in every generation. 
Our vision is of a church where teams of the faithful are called together by God to enact His future of peace and justice, and where we have frameworks to discern in community how our gifts combine to offer powerfully of God’s promises. 
We believe that grounding in our sacred stories is the birthright of all the baptized. 
We see the church as a unique locale where the valuable life practice of theological reflection is learned and engaged by all, increasing the wisdom of the whole.   
We believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit blesses us with creativity and calls us to innovation. It is this that compels us to  teach lay leaders how to design the ministries they are called to enact using the techniques that empower some of the most advanced social innovations of our time, combined with age-old practices of the Christian contemplative tradition – good old-fashioned prayer. 
We believe that there is power in healthy teams – teaching believers how to work together, be accountable to and respectful of one another. We provide training in relationship building, asset mapping, and motivational techniques. We want to help believers get things done and do so in a way that is loving.  
Finally, we believe if we take seriously the training of all the baptized in these and other essential practices of discipleship that the church and the world will benefit and God’s holy name will be glorified.

That sounds more like a vision of developing future community organizers to me.

What have been the results of forty years of the Beecker Center and EFM? As I see it, EFM has contributed to the decline of the Episcopal organization by helping to produce the current crop of progressive (liberal) priests, deacons, and lay leaders. Forty years of failure should be enough to make them re-examine their own enneagrams and make some changes.

From henceforth, the Beecken Center of the School of Theology shall be called, "The Broken Center of the School of Theology"


  1. Anonymous4:54 AM


    This must be nirvana for the self-absorbed, spoiled children of privilege.

    Travis Cork

  2. "What transforming the self means in changing the level of consciousness on this planet." Maybe this is what it takes for Horton to hear a Who.

    1. Perhaps, or maybe the Tortoise of dissent Dissent nailed it when it wrote,

      "Are your books of any use?
      Are they? Are they, Dr Seuss?
      Rhymes divine, but logic flimsy:
      aren’t your works mere idle whimsy?
      Cat in Hat, Things One and Two –
      do they speak of what is true?
      True, my friend? You ask what’s true?
      True is what’s revealed to you.
      Logic is not here or there.
      Logic won’t go anywhere.
      Sometimes what you read won’t fit.
      Sometimes that’s the point of it.
      Look, here’s Karl. Now gather round:
      he will show you what he’s found.
      Word is spoken (can you guess?):
      God’s big No and bigger Yes.
      Yes, I like the Son of Man!
      Yes, I choose him, says I Am.
      Seuss and Barth and Barth and Seuss:
      sauce for gander, sauce for goose.
      Thus a simple children’s rhyme
      holds a truth to last all time.
      Jesus loves me, this I know,
      for the Bible tells me so.
      Who’d have thought that Fox in Socks
      might be neo-orthodox?"