Addiction, Dependency, and The Sacred Enneagram

  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We’re all drunk on something. Perhaps this statement is too simplistic, you think. Perhaps you’d claim no dependencies, no addictions, no compulsive habits. But ask yourself this: What is addiction?

In his new book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, Chris Heuertz offers unique insights about addiction. And he’s not writing of the common addictions—booze, pills, porn gambling, whatever. Instead, Chris digs deeper, takes a more holistic approach. Describing deeper addictions, Chris writes:

“It’s important to remember that power and control, affection and esteem, and security and survival aren’t bad needs in and of themselves. The problem arises when in our adult lives we become addicted to one of these programs to maintain our happiness. The word addiction comes from the Latin addicto, which suggests being literally given over to something in devotion. As the term evolved, it took on the legal connotation of enslavement as a form of debt.”

See? Addiction isn’t just about chemical dreams and coping anesthesias. Even if your not prone to lining up rails or knocking down shots, you can become addicted to some underlying basic need. Doesn’t this make sense? Don’t you know control freaks or folks obsessed with security or self-esteem junkies? Don’t you know men who’ll do anything for another hit of power? This, Heuertz argues, is a soul addiction, a place of attachment, a place of soul slavery.

So often, when our underlying soul addictions fail us, the pain comes roaring in. And though Chris's book is not a book about addiction (per se) his discussion of addiction within the Enneagram framework—a sort of spiritual personality test (though Chris will kill me for this reduction)—gives us some real insight. (As an aside, a working knowledge of the Enneagram isn't essential, here, though it might be helpful. Stick with me.)

According to the Enneagram, I am a type Five. I’m marked by a need to form thoughtful conclusions based on investigation. So often, my search for knowledge stems from my own hyperactive need for security. So, when my son was ill, when my soul addiction for security couldn’t be satiated, a deep, existential pain set in. Heuertz aptly recasts my story:

“One of the clearest tales of type Five in disintegration is Seth Haines’s book, Coming Clean: A Story of Faith, the heart-wrenching memoir of a young man whose child is facing dire health risks and likely death. Seth knows what to do: he finds the best doctors, has his faith community say all the right prayer, and commits to being a loving and present father as he cares for his son. But nothing works.

And so he wades into the murky waters of [alcohol]. The constant buzz of the booze is Seth’s way of dulling the constant mental activity his mind is addicted to—the continual churning and turning over the problem in pursuit of solutions. In his own disintegration, Seth adopts type Seven’s propensity to overuse or overdo anything that offers pleasure as a way of rescuing himself from the mental and emotional agony.”

With security in short supply, unable to find answers, I felt the pain of scarcity. Where were the answers? Where was the healing? Where was God?  Pain being too much to bear, I turned to the “propensity to overuse or overdo anything that offers pleasure as a way of rescuing” myself. Gin was my anything of choice.

Heuertz’s work is rich on so many levels, but for those of us coming to terms with our own addictions, especially those with some interest in the Enneagram, its richness lies in the fact that he draws us to the deep truth. The true addictions we all battle lie beneath the alcohol, beneath the heroin, beneath the shopping or social media injection. These addictions rise from deeper addictions, the need for power, control, affection, esteem, security, and survival.

Consider it. Doesn’t this feel true? And if it does, ask yourself this: Can I name my deeper soul addiction?


Buy your copy of THE SACRED ENNEAGRAM: FINDING YOUR UNIQUE PATH TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH by following this link. (P.S. This is a completely unpaid, unsponsored, un-affiliated post.)



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The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb

To my faithful readers and dear friends: I've been in large churches, small churches, tweeny-sized churches. I've done a stint in Baptist churches, non-denominational churches, and now, the Anglican church. In my elementary-school days, I even attended weekly mass at the ornate Catholic church on the corner of Rogers and Garrison. I've worshiped next to old ladies chewing gum and old nuns wearing habits. I've knelt, stood, even prostrated myself once out of some odd holy compunction. I've run the rails--communion and prayer alike--and I suppose what I can say with some certainty is this: I'm a church guy.

There are so many who've been busted up by the church. They've had their knuckles popped by Catholic rulers or heads bashed by oversized Baptist bibles. They've been shamed with and without cause--pre-marital sex, dancing, sneaking a nip of whiskey, whatever. They've been excluded from leadership because they asked the wrong questions or because they wore a bra. They've been pushed into corners--singles groups, over-the-hiller groups, you're-not-my-language groups, whatever. They've been on the blunt end of power, and they can tell you, the blunt end of power leaves mark.

You know this; yes?

I'm a church guy, but I see the fundamental disconnect between the call of Jesus to his followers (divest yourselves of power; become a child) and the all too familiar call of the modern church (solidify power; build your influence, your numbers, by being excellent). Enter the prophets.

Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin have written a book that's changing me. In The Way of the Dragon or The Way of The Lamb, they interview the church-sages of our day, sages like J.I. Packer, Dallas Willard, Marva Dawn, John Perkins, Jean Vanier, James Houston, and Eugene Peterson. Along the way, they find the most beautiful truth: [tweetherder text="The way of Jesus, the way of divesting yourself of power, is the soul-freeing, healing way to wholeness."]the way of Jesus, the way of divesting yourself of power, is the soul-freeing, healing way to wholeness.[/tweetherder]

I don't often pop in here to encourage you to buy a book, but today is that day. It's my sincere hope that every deacon, priest, pastor, minister, or church member--anyone in the church with a pulse--will purchase this book straightaway. It's my hope that you'll share a little about it with your friends, that you'll start a church book club, or an online reading group using this book as your discussion fodder. It's my hope that it will change you like it's changing me, and that in turn, it will change the church.

A modest hope; I know.

Would you like to grab your copy? The Way of the Dragon or The Way of The Lamb releases today. You can find it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

For the record, I received no compensation for writing this post. These are my honest, genuine, free-of-charge thoughts, so you know I mean business. Do you see my serious eyes? I mean business.

In all things peace,




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Cue the Ruckus

This week is the release of Mother Letters: Sharing the Laugher, Joy, Struggles, and Hope. Today, I'm grateful to be sharing a little mother story at Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. I hope you'll read along.


The sun set over the western bank of trees, long arms stretching across the waters of a tiny pond.

Welcome, they said.

Workweek over and itching to exercise his boyish spirit, Isaac called his best friend—Tippa, the black, wire-haired mutt—and reached for his fishing rod.

Down to the water glowing orange, the moss-covered banks. Down to his sanctuary, the place of catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. It was his place of refuge, his honey hole.

Lure to line, knot tied, Isaac rested his rod against the fence post and turned to his tackle box. He reached for split shot, some pliers, perhaps some scissors. The rod listed, fell, flipping the lure forward, barbed hook finding its way into the paw of Isaac’s best friend.

Cue the ruckus.


Continue reading at A Holy Experience.

And if you'd like purchase a copy of Mother Letters (it'd make a great Mother's Day present), visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

***Tiny Letter***

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What is a Mother?

Today's piece is brought to you by Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope. (Happy Birthday, Mother Letters!) Whether for Mother's Day, a baby shower, or yourself, Mother Letters makes a great gift. Grab a copy at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.


If man was made from the dust of the earth and woman cut from his rib, my mother was sawed from the bayou's bone. A daughter of cypress knees, Spanish moss, and spent shotgun shells, she was reared on a lane with a passel of boys--a rough and tumble crew of scabby, bb-gunning, scratching, cussing boys. She learned to spot snakes--water moccasins and coral alike--spit on a scraped knee, and climb trees. She cut her literary teeth on Planet of the Apes, knew the names of superheroes and villains.

My grandfather told me she was a bona fide daddy's girl, a parasitic, stick to the hip sort. He took her hunting in the basin of a Louisiana bayou, and poor shot as she was, she winged a green crested mallard. He rowed to the gaggling bird, swimming circles, black-marble eyed. "Finish him," gramps said, "or we'll have to break his neck." She was tough girl, but didn't have much use for shotguns after that. This is how the story goes, anyhow.

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Don't Miss This One (Tiny Letter #25 and the Devotion Baker)

I get by with a little help from my friends, and one of those friends that helps me get by is Preston Yancey. In the days of my own drying out, he said, "God wants good things for you too, you know." Those words have stuck with me more than just about any others. I suppose the Spirit still speaks. Preston is a Canon Theologian in the Anglican Church, which is to say he wears no dunce hat. He's written a wonderful new book, Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger for God with the Spiritual Disciplines, and it's available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold. I've invited him to co-opt my Tiny Letter, to spend a few words walking us through one particular spiritual discipline.

And now, without further adieu, please welcome Preston Yancey.


How often do you ask Jesus what you have done well?

I wrote my latest book, Out of the House of Bread: Satisfying Your Hunger for God with the Spiritual Disciplines, after teaching a class for three semesters on spiritual practices and baking. Over the course of several weeks and several practices—several loaves of very good bread and some true disasters—we worked through and baked out different ways of approaching a life of devotion to God. At the end of each semester, I asked the cohort to reflect on what discipline had been the most significant and staying for them. Each time, people named a discipline like lectio divina, contemplating icons, or feasting. But they further named the Examen as the discipline that always stuck. While the others were appealing for seasons, useful at different times of life, the Examen felt like a continual work that could be--and should be--returned to often.

When I asked why so many people enjoyed the Examen, the answer was the same: "No one ever told me to ask Jesus what I had done well." In the church, we talk a lot about repentance, especially in the Lenten season, and we rightly should. We do ourselves and our God a disservice, however, if we don't orient ourselves in the direction of repentance with...

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CC Austin OuttakesThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you'll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin Outtakes. The Outtakes share the story behind my latest release from Zondervan, Coming Clean|A Story of Faith.

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