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The year of the lamb.

Last December, my husband Dan and I attended his office Christmas party, which was held at a Chinese restaurant. The owner and host welcomed the revelers by handing out complimentary bamboo calendars for the year 2005. The lower part of the scroll featured a year-at-a-glance Western (Gregorian) calendar, while the upper section depicted the twelve characters of the Chinese zodiac.

A friend who sat across the table asked me jokingly if I knew "my sign" on the Chinese zodiac. I did not, as I had never taken an interest in that sort of thing (indeed to do so with any sincerity constitutes flirting with the occult, according to Church teaching). She then asked me in what year I'd been born, and after I somewhat reluctantly divulged the information (women over 39 being sensitive to this sort of thing), consulted the calendar. "Dragon, " she declared.

This elicited laughter from all within earshot (including myself), and especially Dan, who quipped, "I'll vouch for that." Another friend has a nicer name for people like me. She calls us "strong women." There are less-polite names, like the one that begins with "b" and ends with "itch," and I've been called that too (even by one of my readers, though of course not a Catholic Insight reader).

As my ever-charitable niece pointed out when told this story, the dragon has a different connotation in Chinese culture than it does in Judeo-Christian. According to Chinese lore, dragons have many honourable character traits, including honesty and bravery. Perhaps this was her way of saying that it wasn't so bad being a dragon. However, we don't live in a Chinese culture. For that matter, we don't live in a Christian culture either, but most of us are still influenced--however dimly--by Western thought. And when you say "dragon" (or more specifically, dragon-lady), most folks think of the "b" word.

Depending on your outlook, you could either be depressed or relieved to think your character traits are determined by such arbitrary criteria as birth dates, birth order, or what have you. Either way, it makes you less likely to feel responsible for your sins and weaknesses. "Oh, I can't help being rude--according to Jung-Myers-Briggs, I'm a Type J personality, with E, R, and K undertones." Or, "I'll always be lazy; the enneagram says I'm a three-toed sloth," and so on.

Trying to pigeonhole yourself or someone else is an insult to the Holy Trinity. Who seriously believes that the Infinite Creator could only come up with 9, 12, 16 or 26 different personality types? One enneagram advocate tried to skirt this obstacle by divulging that a person could actually be any number of combinations of various animal totems (i.e. have many different personality traits, both positive and negative, making up a unique personality type for you.) Call me obtuse it. No pigeonhole required.

Personality cultists have also told me that Jesus (being the God-Man) is the perfect sum-total of all

the personality types. (As though it's some kind of New Age revelation that He is "All in all," the Alpha and Omega). The problem with this theory is that it includes the negative (sinful) aspects of personality, and we know that Jesus was without sin. But what need have you of a Saviour (or even a nice role model) if Jung or the Zodiac holds the key to who you are and who you would like to be? What need of a Sanctifier if you're a Rat or an Aquarius or a Number 8 or a Type A? I am who I am, and everyone else will just have to adjust.

It's interesting that in my (admittedly superficial) research to do this column, I did not come across any personality-typing systems that featured the symbol of a lamb. If you have already abandoned your New Year's resolutions, or need another one, may I suggest that in this, the Year of the Eucharist, you take the Lamb of God as your personal "sign." Give your New Age workshop money to the needy. Find a church that offers Eucharistic Adoration, and hang out there once in a while. Pass by the pop psychology section in the bookstore, and instead read the Word. Renew or increase (or try for the first time) devotion to His Blessed Mother. She will crush the dragon with her heel. She will help you discover who you are, and--more importantly--who you can be in Him.

Mariette Ulrich is a mother and a homemaker. She writes from Scott, Saskatchewan, where she lives with her husband, Dan, and seven daughters.
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Title Annotation:Columnist; Christian viewpoint on Chinese astrology
Author:Ulrich, Mariette
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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