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How does one know John Paul II is a One? On the enneagram, begin with the pope's penchant for scolding.

One of the most telling photographs of Pope John Paul II shows him wagging a scolding finger at liberation theologian Fr. Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua. He did this in front of God, the multitudes and the media. What type of man would do that?

If you're student of the enneagram, you might reply "a type One."

Each enneagram type has one major preoccupation or habitual way of paying attention. Type Ones are variously tagged as perfectionists, moral heroes, achievers or reformers. Their compulsion is summed up by the question, "What's wrong with this picture?"

They are intensely critical and, when healthy, they tend to be good judges. They are frequently hard workers and work for the highest motives -- because it is the right thing to do. They look for the moral high ground, and no task is accomplished until it is perfect.

The engine that drives this moral quest is anger. The type One is the only type driven by a twin compulsion: to be angy and to deny the anger. The anger is the source of their energy (and they are physically and morally energetic), but they can't admit their anger because anger is a sin. Even though their reforming anger is often obvious to others, it is hidden from themselves.

The inner drive of the One is to be always right. Morally right. And not only right but in such a way that any other opinion is wrong. Ones work hard to get others to be always morally right, too. What's worse for them, they are harder on themselves than on the rest of us. The cross of the One is an unrelenting critical conscience.

Pope John Paul, for all his assumed infallibility, is probably more critical of his work than anyone else. It was probably a type One who first pictured conscience as an unrelenting voice sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear. This urge to be right has some dark roots. The search for rightness is really a compensation for lack of nurturance. Types Ones, unable to find nurturing in their past, often lack inner permission to be sensual or sexual. And if they are unhealthy, they suspect sensuality in others. When they are healthy, they are able to enjoy their bodies. Then a certain rigidity of body and mind relaxes and they are serene as well as sensual.

St. Paul was a type One. He scolded half the Mediterranean world. He worried a great deal about the thorn "in his flesh" (where Ones are most concerned). He was certainly on a crusade to be right and to convince his listeners that anyone who disagreed with him was terminally wrong. Traditionally, Solomon was considered a One because he was such a superb judge of what was right and wrong.

On the darker side of One there were the Pharisees: rigid, punitive, angry, critical and reeking with moral authority. Pharisees get bad press because our literature and tradition take the side of Jesus, whom they were trying to set straight. But they had some good things going for them. They were keenly interested in how God was to be served -- an uncommon trait then and now. They defended the moral traditions that held people together. We have to grant virtue's necessity.

How do we know John Paul II is a One? Begin with his penchant for scolding. Besides Cardenal, he has condemned some great and loyal theologians and created a climate of fear throughout the church.

His latest encyclical is a classic type One document. It is, in the words of a recent NCR editoria, a "harsh, negative, rigid, authoritarian document." Apart from the tone, the content is typically a One's concern: the misuse of sensuality. John Paul did not write this admonitory missive as a response to some external crisis; by all accounts he's been fretting over all this lasciviousness for years. This is his issue.

In 1981 he wrote a book in Polish that was later translated into English as Love and Responsibility, a highly abstract, sanitized philosophical discourse on how to love correctly. It is filled with polysyllabic equivalents of finger-shaking. The book, opened at random, reveals that on page 63 he condemns Malthusianism, libertinism, utilitarianism, libidinous distortions, subjectivism and irresponsibility. The process of being right by condemning all that is wrong is a classic type One procedure. Ones pay attention to what is wrong, what is missing, what is out of order. Unhealthy Ones can walk into a field of flowers and notices the ground is dirty. Those who know that the young Wojtyla did his dissertation on Max Scheler will not be surprised that the central theme of Scheler's philosophy is resentment.

Fortunately, Jesus gave more clues about how to deal with Ones than with any other number. The key is the parables. The presupposition of a parable is that we are wrong about God and kindred matters. The lawyer in the Good Samaritan parable was wrong about who his neighbor was. The story of the prodigal father told us we're wrong about what God will forgive. Parables tell self-righteous Ones they are wrong and leave the correct answer open-ended.

It's not an entirely smooth solution. The Pharisees never did refute the parables or establish an exclusively morally right position. But they got so angry (their primary compulsion, remember?) that they killed the man who told the parables. Thing have changed little. Now again, a Oneish self-righteousness attacks the body of Christ.

Clarence Thomson is director of Credence Cassettes and lives in Kansas City, Mo.
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Author:Thomson, Clarence
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Dec 3, 1993
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