Saturday, March 31, 2007

March Wrapup: Pies, Taxi Drivers, Titoudao and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Pies on Pi Day
Pie on Pi Day: huge!

Newton Hawker Food
Newton Circus: black-pepper crabs, barbecued chicken wings, satay, stir-fried kailan and true-life accounts of public-spirited taxi-driver uncles, attempting to boost the morale of physically unattractive girls by asking them out on dates, being mistaken for cheekopeks by the freaked-out.

Titoudao - Chua Enlai Needs The LooTitoudao - Beatrice Richmond-Chia as Scaredy-Cat EmperorTitoudao - Pick-Up Line: You Want To Go To Hell?Titoudao - Cabaret
Toy Factory Ensemble's Titoudao: a blend of Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese and English ("can you spek Engrish proprry?"); the backstage of the wayang (street opera) as stage; Pam Oei jibbing a latecomer - "Ah see, yan dao sit right in front. Yan dao, I look very young, right?"; interplay between the stories of (1) Titoudao - servant of a decidedly unmacho scholarly master Ti Boon Long betrothed to a Chua Enlai-ugly boo-worthy un-PC rich girl, and (2) Madam Oon Ah Chiam - once a farmgirl who ate chicken defecation who became a nanny in Johor Bahru, who became a wayang star, who became a housewife bullied by the evil preggers Beatrice Chia-Richmond mother-in-law, who became a getai cabaret singer (whose backup dancer Karen Tan looked like a drag queen), who became, err, a 60 year old; Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit looking like Andre the Giant from Princess Bride; a passable pickup line:"DO YOU WANT TO GO TO HELL?"; errant audience meowing at a particularly poignant scene.

Later at supper: an angsty frog leg porridge uncle with a killer glare; the future hit song:I'm Looking At You Through The Bones of My Chicken Wing; claypots with the Star of David; Pam Oei in many incarnations; theatre awards to appease the unhappy parents of theatre practitioners.

Copious amounts of homemade chendol with extra gula meleka: Romanticism in art being shocking rebelliousness in its time but utter tameness in ours; Romanticism spawning the goth movement and black eyeliner; Eugene Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus recalling the emasculated bochap men in Titoudao; Ludwig (the Scowl) van Beethoven being of the same era; Vladimir Ashkenazy's dramatic pauses playing Chopin's Polonaise making him sound like a terrible sightreader; concert piano-ing as a profession not only making one look like a performing monkey in a tux, but also giving one the distinctive air of perpetual constipation (which some mistake for angsty romanticism).

Brown Sugar: Undercooked PancakesBrown SugarCaneleCanele
Sunday brunch at Brown Sugar: not quite as worth eating as hoped, smudgeons from Canelé Pâtisserie saving the day, discussions about the Myers-Briggs type indicator.

Rabbit StewCake Display
A perhaps celebratory dinner at Valentino's: a stew of the folks that'd strayed into Mr. McGregor's juicy veggie patch and didn't quite get away, more chatter on the use of MBTI in a community of Christians, dessert and fairy lights outside Da Paolo Gastronomia.

There are some questions, imh(probably not too well-informed)o, that should be asked of MBTI:
Q: How effective is MBTI in its description of human beings?
Q: How empirical is MBTI in its analysis of human beings?
Q: How useful is MBTI in its prediction of future behaviour?

Effectiveness of MBTI in Description of Humans
Which Star Wars character are you? Which Evil Super Villain? What ice-cream flavour?

Ok, perhaps MBTI isn't some back-of-a-women's-magazine pop psychology quizilla forerunner. But still, our Father's world is really far more magnificently intricate than we could possibly observe or describe.

Hey, even quantum physics is reductionist. Freeman Dyson (no, astrochickens don't suck) described such reductionism as the attempt "to reduce the world of physical phenomena to a finite set of fundamental equations": the works of Erwin Schrödinger (and the messy business with that cat) and Paul Dirac being "triumphs of reductionism. Bewildering complexities of chemistry and physics were reduced to two lines of algebraic symbols".

And that's just the material universe. What more human beings, made in the very image of God himself. Imago Dei suggests, even if just limited to the characteristics of rule and relationship (reductionism!), that humans are gloriously fascinating daedalian beings that cannot be pigeonholed into one of 100 types (much less 16), no matter how updated and sophisticated the explanations of the interactions are or how much they have improved on Carl Jung's Psychological Types. Apparent accuracies in description ("Oh, that is sooo me!") could well be the Forer Effect flashing flesh.

Empiricism of MBTI in Analysis of Humans
MBTI scores rest on some very shaky foundations: they are dependent on a single temporal event - the administration of the test, the input of the subject on whom the test is being administered - input which not only presumes some form of self-observation on the part of the subject, but also input which varies according to time, environment and state of mind at the time of the test. Alas the dangers of introspection and anecdote.

Even amongst a jury of peers, the verdict is still out on the validity of MBTI.

Usefulness of MBTI in Prediction of Future Behaviour
The old debate: nature or nurture? Neither actually.

It is incontrovertible that people are different. MBTI merely reminds us of this. However, given the intricate nature of people and the doubtful total accuracy of the test, it is unclear what utility can be derived from propagation or prolonged discussion on MBTI.

MBTI Worldview
Utility aside, popular use of psychometrics inevitably promotes the cult of personality, the self-centred worshipping of ourselves at our own feet. In Christian circles, pagan (and out-dated) horoscopes, dredging up hithero unknown childhood trauma/abuse and the rattling of pretty little bottles of happy pills make way for spiritual gift inventories and assessments, this season's fashion accessory for the saved. But we are not to spend time trying to find out or having found them, polishing, our shiny gifts. Gifts are handed to us for the good of the church and we are to use them for that goal.

And if God's power is in the Word rather than the whimperings of human wisdom, then:
  • how dependent should we be on personality tests for our identity?
  • how reliant are we on personality tests to tell us our strengths and weaknesses, and how much does the doctrine of our own sinfulness impact our perception of self?
  • how much does our alleged extroversion/introversion energy orientation matter and how much should we be deriving our energy from God?
  • how are we to make decisions and judgements?
  • who is in control of our lives - the luck of the genetics/parental/environmental draw or God?
Should we allow broadbrush descriptions to be self-fulfilling prophesies or definitive excuses for our sinful fallen-ness and our rampant disobedience of God's laws?

Should we perceive our siblings-in-Christ stereotypically or dismissively ("Oh, he'll never be able to do that, he's a P.")? Should we remember that they too are complex beings made in the image of God?

Our underlying problem is not a clash of personality types nor a terrible childhood; it is sinners sinning. And what transforms our lives and our relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ ultimately is not deeper self-knowledge nor more information on what makes other people tick but deeper knowledge of Christ who died for us, God who first loved us, and knowing the power of the Spirit who changes our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.

God's word is working in the minds and hearts of God's children even as the Spirit is working in their lives to transform them not to be the best of all MBTI types (for their chosen ministry), but to repent and be more like Christ. The very best type to be.

Interfacing with the world and its wisdom, there is the freedom of the Christian but there are things that promote an erroneous view of the world and of people and things that are helpful and unhelpful to oneself and to one's family in Christ.

Ristorante Da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka
Singapore 588908
Tel: 6462 0555

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At April 17, 2007 10:20 am , Blogger kelvin said...

Don't use MBTI, use CPI, or PAI.


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