Monday, February 26, 2018

Mirror for the soul by Alice Fryling

Mirror for the soul: a Christian guide to the Enneagram by Alice Fryling

Print Length: 179 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (August 7, 2017)
  • Publication Date: August 15, 2017

Book descriptionThe Enneagram is like a mirror, reflecting dimensions of ourselves that are sometimes hard to see. In this helpful guide, spiritual director and Enneagram teacher Alice Fryling offers an introduction to each number of the Enneagram and the respective triads into which they're organized. More than just helping us discern our number, Fryling shows how knowing it can lead to transformation by revealing to us both our false and our true selves. She writes:

"Knowledge of the Enneagram has led me to the grace of God. I discovered through the Enneagram that I am not just my gifts, I am not just my failures. . . . I am a person created by God, loved by God, and uniquely gifted to love others with God's merciful and gracious love. Through the Enneagram God has taught me that I am not exactly who I think I am. . . . The Enneagram itself does not make me a different person. But knowledge of the Enneagram does help me see who I truly am and offers me words to describe how I would like to be transformed by God's grace."

With questions for reflection and personal meditations aimed at leading you into deeper self-awareness, Mirror for the Soul will give you new perspective on yourself and reveal how you can experience God’s love more abundantly.

My thoughts

As an avid reader of Enneagram books, I was excited to read the third book released that claims to view the Enneagram through a Christian lens. The other books are The Road back to You by Ian Morgan Chron and Suzanne Stabile, and Self to Lose, Self to Find: a Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types by Marilyn Vancil. Each of these books places its emphasis in different areas. IVP Press published both The Road back to You and, about a year later, Mirror for the Soul

First off, if you are new to the Enneagram, read almost any other Enneagram book first. 

Mrs. Fryling does not spend much time describing the types or in helping you to figure out your own type. That's okay, there are plenty of Enneagram books that do. 

She also does a drive-by through the triads, the wings and the growth/disintegration points. I suspect the brief treatment of each aspect is more confusing than helpful to Enneagram newbies. So look for another book to explain these things in more depth. 

Then, as if she hadn't already tried to cram too much (albeit abbreviated) information into too few pages, she added a chapter on spiritual direction for each type. 

Thank goodness she didn't try to discuss the entire ball of wax, which means she would've included the 27 instinctual subtypes, in this very short, 179-page book. 

Around 60% of the way through, she gets into the meat I'd been waiting for, which was her attempt to attach the ideas and possible uses of the Enneagram to some Biblical truths about human nature. 
Though what she said has merit in a psychological/spiritual sense, I personally found it rather repelling, sorry to say. 

When I read the Bible, I want God's words to radiate from it. I don't want to think about how Enneagram psychology can be shoehorned into it. 

Maybe you need to be a counselor, coach, or spiritual director to fully appreciate Mrs. Fryling's book. 

If you're one of the above, go ahead, read it. 

If you just want an introduction to the Enneagram, please red my all-time favorite, by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, entitled, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


  1. I've been interested in the subject of enneagrams since reading about them the first time during your A-Z Challenge a few years back, but I've never pursued reading about them. Maybe now I will with your book recommendations. But sounds like I need to read Riso and Hudson's book first! Thanks for the titles :-)

  2. Yes, if you plan to read only one book, Wisdom of the Enneagram is probably all you need. There's a lot of repeated information in Enneagram books, just as in any book on a particular topic.


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