Monday, March 02, 2009

Muddled thinking about religion

Well, I hear you comment about the title above, when was it ever otherwise?

It has always struck me how the Myers-Briggs classifications tend to work better with 'exceptional people' than with those clustered around the mean. So, for instance:

Tony Blair is evidently ENTP
Gordon Brown is INTJ
Barack Obama is ENTJ.

With George Bush II, he's evidently ST, but it's less clear which of the S, T is externally-oriented and which is dominant. In other words, how extraverted is he, and is he more P than J?

Cherie Blair née Booth seems to me to be ENFJ.

She presented the last programme in Channel 4's season on Christianity. Ms Booth is a high-profile lay-Catholic, and also well-known for championing human rights and fighting discrimination against women.

Her diagnosis was that the institutional church is failing in Europe, while participatory Christianity is alive and flourishing in America. We should look to American phenomena such as megachurches to revitalise Christianity in Europe.

On the basis of the hour-long programme, the megachurches seemed to be bottom-up enterprises built and led by a charismatic chief executive. They are defined, like a start-up, by a market opportunity and the alpha-male characteristics of their leader. As described in "Good To Great", the characteristics which lead to tribal leadership seem to fit rather poorly with the Christian ideal, but are rather better aligned with cult-domination.

The European churches are defined by doctrine - laws if you will. The holders of ecclesiastical posts are not required to be larger-than-life and may sometimes even be spiritual. Unfortunately, the mass-market opportunity for spiritual seems to be rather smaller than that for boisterous, sing-along, primary-coloured, entertainment-cultural-social-welfare religion.

In another context, wasn't it stated that it was better to be ruled by laws than men? If I was the UK Catholic hierarchy, I would be wanting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to have a word with Cherie.

Oh yes, revenons à nos moutons, ENFJs are noted for conviction-leadership, but not necessarily for clear-eyed logic.

Cherie has the last word: You have the soul of a gimlet-eyed, stony-hearted bureaucrat.