The Peterson Paradox

 

“Meteoric” is thrown about somewhat excessively as a description for rapid success stories. It’s a shame that’s so for two reasons. Firstly, if I had my way, grand words wouldn’t be wasted on even the pretty dang impressive; and second, the successes tend to burnout in pathetic fashion. A full professor at the University of Toronto cannot really be rescued from obscurity, but the ascension of Jordan Peterson shows that superstars can be made faster than ever before. (If former words for greatness are reduced to cliche, it makes one wonder if neologisms are in order.) On top of it, he’s approaching six years of abiding influence in the internet age. I haven’t sorted the attention span inflation rate, but that’s quite a feat. I can’t say what will come of the liberal experiment, but, if it has a real future, we might be discussing the most important figure of this careening chapter of its history.

There are a handful of presuppositions implied here–beyond the aforementioned survival of Western Civilization, which in any case will likely at least sputter along in such a way that noble optimists of centuries to come might be able to squint their eyes, tilt their heads and say, “Yeah! It’s alright.” That’s not what I’m talking about though… The next is that history manages to survive as a science. (I don’t know why this is so often taken for granted.) The most important one, which I’ll get to shortly, is that American conservatives are willing to jump in with both feet. The last is that someone more significant doesn’t come around. That’s something we could all reasonably hope for, but I can’t recommend waiting on it.

So what’s the big deal with Jordan Peterson? It’s a fantastic question, and I’d suggest that the collapse of everything we hold dear relies on us merely reacting to our rivals when they take a shot at answering it. Crackpot mediocrities aplenty have offered their expensive feminist, queer and racial theories with the hopes of taking out the hero of the basement dweller. A few have taken a more honest approach in explaining the crowds lined up around an auditorium where he’d been set to speak. I can recall one positing that the Peterson phenomenon is the result of an abundance of young men who didn’t have someone (id est, a father) to teach them the basics of life. While incomplete–even good fathers can’t do everything for their sons–at least we’re getting somewhere.

What interests me is that I’m not aware of any conservative journalists who have seriously wondered about the rise of Jordan Peterson. By that I mean, asking why this guy, whom I don’t think they don’t take that seriously, became the guru of everybody’s awkward nephew. I can state with confidence that his fandom includes the sons of good fathers, and even if I hadn’t had conversations with big fans who’ve either told me as much, or whose fathers I know, it would still seem worthwhile for “thought leaders” — many who are fathers of boys themselves — to inquire about this overnight sensation who’s enthralled the nation’s young men. There’s a surplus of articles criticizing the countless libelous statements made against him, but practically no discussion about what his rise tells us about our society.

Why they’re okay with all this is simple: Jordan Peterson is a very positive development. But positive or not, there’s something troublesome about this.

The smart guys who remember Reagan, Buckley, Friedman, Sowell, and other less prominent academics aren’t wrong to scratch their heads and wonder privately about Peterson. After all, the man isn’t a political philosopher, yet it was political activity that made him famous. But activity is the operative word here, and that’s why he means the world to the frightened young men of the rickety postmodern West. Here’s the video that first turned heads… it’s maddening to watch (trigger warning!), but extraordinary to see someone keep that kind of composure during it.

So how did an intellectual icon come out of that?

It didn’t exactly, but if we consider that there are guys who’d like to have a more commanding presence (because it is, and will always be, the thing gets men ahead in this life) it’s clear how an almost literal 15 minutes of fame were made. It turned out Peterson had the talent to make a lot more of it than what actually met the eye. After bravado made up for the fact that the episode above doesn’t allow for especially stirring speeches or particularly memorable… anything, the man concentrated on his hard-earned new followers and got creative. His publicly posted lectures started incorporating production beyond a single camera in the back of the room, and he took the stories youngsters are familiar with, The Lion King and Pinocchio, to educate them on his real area of expertise (Jungian psychology) to direct them toward manhood. (More recently he’s worked his way to stories they’re less familiar with. Like the Bible!) He began Q&A sessions to semi-directly answer fan inquiries about their troubles with everything from study habits to substance abuse, pornography addiction to the ever-widening plethora of diagnosable anxieties. It’s remarkable how much you can find by typing the guy’s name into a YouTube search box. And the number of views is staggering.

But in real life, there’s the Louvre problem.

Who knows how many fans he has–but for our purposes, and caution’s sake–I’ll just say there are three million of them. (I assume I’m undercounting by a bit.) Peterson’s roughly 60 years old. So if we gave him 30 more years of life–I think I’m being generous–and then, to counteract my generosity, subjected him to 24 hours of week-in, week-out service, all 365, to meet in-person with his three million fans, he would have–by my calculations–a little over five minutes for each. The man, special as he may seem, special as he probably is, cannot be everywhere for his admirers. And I think it’s safe to say that subjecting Jordan Peterson to 30 years of torture wouldn’t do much more to save the world than an endless library of thought-provoking video content. Even in the postmodern West, filled at this point with nothing but movable objects, a single mighty force won’t cut it.

This poses a problem.

But we’ve got something to work with. The rise of Jordan Peterson tells us that the young guys of our time, no matter how defeated, haven’t given up entirely. They don’t actually want to talk about their feelings. They don’t want to be more like what feminists say they should be, because they at least faintly understand that young women don’t really know what they want. They don’t want to be told how special and wonderful they are — they know they aren’t. What they’d like to do is to get their acts together. Despite all appearances, young American men yearn for greatness. And even if they won’t achieve it, and most will not, they need to strive for something worthwhile. To do so they’ll need guidance.

There’s a big craterous opportunity for those of us who’d like to see a reversal of the wretched revolutions that have sapped our hopes for the future. The only question is whether we’ll act on the bittersweet good news. The right correctly frets over fatherlessness, and it’s becoming the case that in the land of the all-too-free, you could throw a rock in a crowd of people and your best bet is that it’ll land on a bastard or a child of divorce. Our dilemma is that nobody wants to adopt them. I can’t blame conservative adults for this. For one thing, they’ve had their hands full bringing up their own children. Another is that today’s youth are, generally speaking, among the most grating world has ever seen. But I’m not sure we have any other option than to do what we can to make up for other parents’ failures. I’m not sure this is something that’s so much new as it is forgotten.

I’ve always liked chatting with ole-timer men. Quite a few of the ones I’ve known really made something of themselves. I’ve noticed something that they all share in common that my generation commonly lacks. They all have stories about the men who took them under their wing. The self-awareness that comes with growing up, and the concomitant realization that one wasn’t as charming as they used to think they were, usually makes them wonder why their role models saw something in them in the first place. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is that the adults were on the lookout.

Without those (mostly) now-deceased even-older timers, I wonder if guys like my father (whose dad abandoned his family) or my mother’s father (whose dad committed suicide) would’ve stood a chance. Thankfully one was given to these guys whom an outsider might mistake for self-made. It was really something to see when, after the latter’s funeral, my family was approached by over a dozen men in their 40s and 50s to tell us that Bill–a father of nine–was like a second father to them. I can count myself as one of the many my grandfather collected (though I suppose grandfathers generally take a liking to their grandsons). But if I add myself and a friend, who’s the only other I’ve heard use the word “mentor” to describe a man who’d helped him get his career started, we’re still outnumbered by three peers who’ve told me that they wished they had the money to hire a “life coach.” I like the free market as much as the rest of you, but I’m not so keen on this innovation.

And it’s why I think there’s something of a Peterson paradox. The prosperity that’s a bit over-cited as a defense for Conservatism has begat such a preference for comfortable private lives that Americans lack the energy for even voluntary public service. It gave us the televisions and video games which have pacified young men, and then they go to YouTube for help. We’re right to appreciate Jordan Peterson’s contribution, but if we want to avoid the meteoric catastrophe we’re worried about–whether it comes tomorrow, or more likely decades down the line–we’ll have to get the boys out of the house, and we’ll need some men to help them figure out where to go.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    One of the youngest Ricochet members just came up with one of the wisest of Ricochet posts! Thanks, SamBlock!

    • #1
  2. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I think buried in your last paragraph is a call to action. For men (and women I hope) to speak up whenever the opportunity arises with a young person. a worthy call. Something as simple as telling someone to speak up, because you’re generally interested in what they have to stay. And to stand up straight (one of Jordan’s favorites). 

    My standard command (language warning) is: shoulders back. Tits out. Chin high. Think tall. 

    I’ve watched closely JP’s rise since his first Joe Rogan podcast, and seen him in person once. His ability to communicate and connect is unsurpassed. 

    And I tear up whenever he speaks of how just a little encouragement goes a long way. Our young are not stupid, they knew the participation trophies were BS.  They need a personal and intimate message. And JP is the dude for those willing to listen. 

    Amazing. 

    • #2
  3. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Annefy (View Comment):
    My standard command (language warning) is: shoulders back. Tits out. Chin high. Think tall. 

    Not stand tall?  :)

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What an articulate, beautifully written post, Samuel. I think you’ve hit on something very important. Thank you.

    • #4
  5. Cato Coolidge
    Cato
    @Cato

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    If you are invested in what the American Psychological Association says about whether or not you are sane, maybe you should look up the meaning of the word “neurotic.”

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Now pull up your pants and clean your room.

    • #7
  8. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Percival (View Comment):

    Now pull up your pants and clean your room.

    “First clean your room” is apt: Those people most passionate about Changing the World (in other words, running our lives) tend to be very bad at managing their own lives.

    • #8
  9. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    My standard command (language warning) is: shoulders back. Tits out. Chin high. Think tall.

    Not stand tall? :)

    I am very short. No way can I “stand tall”. But my posture is better when I “think tall”. I think I stole the line from the Princess Diary, but I’m not sure.

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Samuel Block: But if I add myself and a friend, who’s the only other I’ve heard use the word “mentor” to describe a man who’d helped him get his career started, we’re still outnumbered by three peers who’ve told me that they wished they had the money to hire a “life coach.” I like the free market as much as the rest of you, but I’m not so keen on this innovation.

    I think first and foremost boys (and young men) need fathers who are active in their life. Then, other men who can act as mentors. Informally, coaches, teachers, church leaders, etc., can offer a lot to young men. More formal mentors can be found but you have to ask. From a professional strand point, I think a lot of “seasoned” workers would love the opportunity to help out an up and coming colleague. Most would feel honored just to be asked. 

    Additionally, it is good to have a group of like-minded peers. If you are going to stand up and act like a man in a society that can’t even clearly define the difference between a man and a woman, the you will take some flack. Good to have some friends to stand with you during those times.

    • #10
  11. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    @annefy

    Maybe there is something special about the initials “JP” 

    When I hear the initials JP I think of not only the mind blowing  Jordan Peterson, but also JP Sears.

    Sears had a following in Southern Calif, starting back in 2016, I believe. It was a bunch of middling in number but enthused  members supporting his earnest and somewhat  serious videos on youtube.

    Then Sears  began making fun of COVID and COVID measures by pretending his alter ego was all for them – to even more extreme measures than Calif’s draconian  Newsom. Where others were blacklisted by youtube for openly opposing COVID restrictions and measures, Sears kept saying how great they were – in such an insidiously hilarious way that although the youtube  algorithms never caught on, his audience sure did.

    When I think about it, there are a few other JP’s out there who shine with wisdom in my personal life.

     

     

    • #11
  12. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    A great post.

    When I was a young (fatherless) child, I had uncles, Xavarian brothers, priests, and an extraordinary Caddy Camp Director in my life. John T. Dexter was a pipe smoking batchelor who played the “Victory at Sea” or the “Love Me or Leave Me” albums when he was in his office. His job was to manage around 100 boys from the North End of Boston who were living in a camp in Bethlehem, N.H. and working as caddies for the patrons of the Mapplewood Hotel there in order to pay for this summer vacation and even take home a few bucks. 

    Before camp, we caddies were given a course on the history of golf and how to treat our customers well.  We wore uniforms featuring neatly ironed (by us) chinos, and a teeshirt or sweatshirt with the M logo, and a cap, ditto. 

    EVERYTHING we did was inspected and rated by the camp officers. (It was a source of great pride for me that we did not have “counselors.”)  Campers could progress from Junior to Intermediate to Senior. Seniors had their own dorm and got special priviledges. As Caddies we were ranked from “fish” to “A” by the caddy master.  As campers, we were on squads with weekly duties like kitchen, dining room, etc. Every week we had a meeting where we found out how we were doing: did I get a plus or minus, did my squad make squad of the week, what’s my caddy rank., etc. This may sound like the military, but camp was in no way felt “militaristic.”

    Every morning we met at the flag pole for an assembly. If there was to be a trip to the drive-in movie, the roster of those next in line who could fit in one of the two vehicles would be called. The first could pick his seat. Always it was right next to Mr. D.  Every night one of the officers would walk the dorm telling us a story–sci fi or horror most often–as we lay in our cots drifting off.

    In the off season, Mr. D. would produce a multi paged mimeo called “The Caddy Camp Courier” composed of news of visits by and successes of caddies and former caddies. It also would describe of his gardenening  or work in the winter teaching chess to kids in Maine, wher he lived. Every birthday and Christmas for thirty years, we each received a card from him.  These were hand adressed and signed.

    When he retired in the 60s and I asked why, he said he was not used to dealing with drugs or foul language and the job needed a younger man with more patience. The job IS harder now, but that kind of place seems to be one way to meet the need you describe.

     

     

    • #12
  13. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Peterson really has my dream job, and the only reason he has it is that he has much more ability and courage than I do, which just isn’t fair :).  In seriousness, he combines a willingness to speak plainly while parsing the differences between phrases that sound alike, and he is willing to take the time to make the argument (there are relatively few quick takes in Peterson presentations), and he sounds like he has written down everything he says and gone back to read it for errors.  (Have you noticed those lengthy pauses in his presentations?  “Glib” cannot be applied to him in any context.)  I believe his idea of trying not to say anything false is central to his impact. 

    I also mentioned courage.  Most of us do not want to live under siege as a result of saying something which everyone knows and practically no one would publicly defend or take a stand on.

    What’s also interesting is that he didn’t initially set out to address young men as a group:  they simply gravitated to what he had to say.

    Your post really brings across a characteristic of some of the old guys:  they seemed to be more dense or solid than people around them, a palpable air of experience. They hadn’t all flown in bombers or climbed mountains, but they’d paid better attention to the small things that happen every day, and saw them straight and true.  Maybe they saw their experiences as something personal, and didn’t do (what I too often do) that thing where you’re looking at something, but thinking about how you’re going to describe it to someone else.  Instead of just being there.

    Peggy Noonan described being at dinner with a man when the candle on the table set fire to something.  He simply extinguished it with his water glass and kept on speaking.  He didn’t have to make a clever comment about it.  That’s what she found refreshing:   his plainness.  Which has me thinking about the phrase “matter of fact…”

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    GFHandle (View Comment):
    When I was a young (fatherless) child, I had uncles, Xavarian brothers, priests, and an extraordinary Caddy Camp Director in my life. John T. Dexter was a pipe smoking batchelor who played the “Victory at Sea” or the “Love Me or Leave Me” albums when he was in his office. His job was to manage around 100 boys from the North End of Boston who were living in a camp in Bethlehem, N.H. and working as caddies for the patrons of the Mapplewood Hotel there in order to pay for this summer vacation and even take home a few bucks. 

    What an amazing story you’ve shared with us, G. F! Thanks!

    • #14
  15. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Jordan Peterson’s approach works for the same reason it worked for Winston S. Churchill.

    At some point the lies, evasions and nonsense talk won’t conceal that something has gone very wrong. And, at that point, people want to hear the truth about whatever the situation is. The truth, even if it’s grim news, is just such a relief. Part of the Jordan Peterson phenomena is that we’re finally ready to hear what he has to say. Another part is that we don’t associate him with the people who spouted so much  nonsense. Then, also, there’s what he says.

    • #15
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis.  Lewis was a Christian believer.  Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer.  That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood.  I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    • #16
  17. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    I don’t follow JP as closely as I used to, but I do believe he is now a believer. It bothered a few of my friends that he was not a believer, but I always thought of him as a gateway to Christianity. Following his path would take you there. And I guess he followed the path.

    I, too, always appreciated the fact that he was never dismissive.

     

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Great and timely article @samuelblock, thanks. I like Jordan Peterson very much. His view that essentially there is no individual freedom without the freedom to speak one’s thoughts is a formidable position as Americans stand up for the people.

    I was about five years old when my parents divorced during WWII. I was in my mother’s care from then until I was thirteen when she married again and I had a stepfather. During that period my mother worked full-time and was our sole support, nothing from my father who left the state. We got a lot of help from my mother’s parents . Toward the end of that period as I was reaching my teens, I was becoming difficult to handle and at one point I was arrested and placed in juvenile detention for theft and vandalism. They called my mother to come and get me from the lockup but she told them to keep me for the night and she got me the next day. So I had a learning experience. Then she married again. My stepfather had served in infantry combat in Korea and suffered some mental distress but he was very sharp. The first years of their marriage he went to night school  at the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia (later to become Georgia State University) and he worked so there was not much time for me.  But things began to get better.  I still struggled in 8th and 9th grades, smoothed out a little in the 10th, and with his help and encouragement raised my academics significantly the last two years of high school. I was able to compete and get a full NROTC Holloway Plan scholarship and entered Georgia Tech in 1957 when I was almost 19 years old. I didn’t finish there because of my mother’s untimely death in 1959 but I later served in the military and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at night from George Washington University and Georgetown. In my opinion, my life has been successful and I have written about some of that in other posts on Ricochet. But I think my experience illustrates what Jordan Peterson is telling us.

    • #18
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Samuel Block: So what’s the big deal with Jordan Peterson? It’s a fantastic question, and I’d suggest that the collapse of everything we hold dear relies on us merely reacting to our rivals when they take a shot at answering it

    What do you consider to be “everything we hold dear”?

    I’m inclined to agree that everything I hold dear is collapsing, but we may be thinking about entirely different things.

    • #19
  20. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: So what’s the big deal with Jordan Peterson? It’s a fantastic question, and I’d suggest that the collapse of everything we hold dear relies on us merely reacting to our rivals when they take a shot at answering it

    What do you consider to be “everything we hold dear”?

    I’m inclined to agree that everything I hold dear is collapsing, but we may be thinking about entirely different things.

    This: His view that essentially there is no individual freedom without the freedom to speak one’s thoughts is a formidable position as Americans stand up for the people.

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    I don’t follow JP as closely as I used to, but I do believe he is now a believer. It bothered a few of my friends that he was not a believer, but I always thought of him as a gateway to Christianity. Following his path would take you there. And I guess he followed the path.

    I, too, always appreciated the fact that he was never dismissive.

    I don’t think that Peterson has clearly stated that he is a “believer.”  I do recall one ambiguous video, which I haven’t been able to locate quickly.

    I’m very skeptical of the idea that there is a non-Christian gateway to Christianity.

    Like you, I appreciate the way that Peterson is not dismissive of Christianity, and takes it seriously.  He’s not an obvious opponent.  But there is that 2 Corinthians about there being no fellowship between light and darkness, and the discussion in 1 John about anyone denying Christ being an antichrist.

    • #21
  22. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    I don’t follow JP as closely as I used to, but I do believe he is now a believer. It bothered a few of my friends that he was not a believer, but I always thought of him as a gateway to Christianity. Following his path would take you there. And I guess he followed the path.

    I, too, always appreciated the fact that he was never dismissive.

    I don’t think that Peterson has clearly stated that he is a “believer.” I do recall one ambiguous video, which I haven’t been able to locate quickly.

    I’m very skeptical of the idea that there is a non-Christian gateway to Christianity.

    Like you, I appreciate the way that Peterson is not dismissive of Christianity, and takes it seriously. He’s not an obvious opponent. But there is that 2 Corinthians about there being no fellowship between light and darkness, and the discussion in 1 John about anyone denying Christ being an antichrist.

    Christianity requires individual sovereignty for the decision to accept Christ and Jordan Peterson defends that right to speak one’s thoughts to engage that required process.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    . . .

    Christianity requires individual sovereignty for the decision to accept Christ and Jordan Peterson defends that right to speak one’s thoughts to engage that required process.

    Bob, I don’t find this convincing, but I may not be understanding your point.

    I have been troubled by Peterson’s discussions of “sovereignty.”  My recollection is that he usually uses the phrase “sovereign individual.”  This does not seem like a reasonable formulation to me.  A possible explanation is that he is using the word “sovereign” in a sense that I do not understand.

    Sovereignty is a characteristic of government.  I tend to think of it as meaning something like “exercising legitimate political authority,” though some dictionary definitions go further than this and refer to royal or supreme authority.

    As a political matter, the idea that each individual has complete authority over his own actions seems like a very bad idea to me.  It seems to imply anarchism.

    As a theological matter, the idea that the individual is sovereign is equally troubling.  Within the Christian faith, I think that God is sovereign.  We can also say that Christ is sovereign, but Christ and God are one and the same, in some sense.  (I don’t want to get sidetracked by a discussion of the nature of the Trinity.)

    We are not sovereign.  Theologically, isn’t a claim to individual sovereignty actually sinful?  Rebellion against God?  Jesus taught us to pray “thy will be done,” not my will be done.  We are supposed to be subjects of God, obedient servants, aren’t we?

    As an example, I don’t think that I would need to be exposed to a discussion of the benefits of the system of human sacrifice of the Baal worshippers or the Aztecs, in order to make a decision to follow Jesus.

    I don’t think that the New Testament provides much guidance in matters of government.  The Old Testament does, and it is quite clear that false teachers and idolators are to be treated very harshly.  I don’t claim that these commands persist into the Church age.  But I don’t find any teaching in the New Testament requiring toleration of the teaching of falsehood.

    Inside the Church, there are many warnings against false teachers.  They are not to be tolerated.  It does not mention any physical or temporal punishment.  The enforcement mechanism is ostracism.  Those who persist in error are cast out of the fellowship of believers.

    This doesn’t seem consistent with the idea of individual sovereignty, as a matter of theology.

    If “individual sovereignty” just means that every person makes up his own mind, I do agree with that, but it seems to be a tautology.  The social pressure of ostracism of false teaching is not just permitted, but commanded.

    Am I missing something?

    • #23
  24. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    I don’t follow JP as closely as I used to, but I do believe he is now a believer. It bothered a few of my friends that he was not a believer, but I always thought of him as a gateway to Christianity. Following his path would take you there. And I guess he followed the path.

    I, too, always appreciated the fact that he was never dismissive.

    I don’t think that Peterson has clearly stated that he is a “believer.” I do recall one ambiguous video, which I haven’t been able to locate quickly.

    I’m very skeptical of the idea that there is a non-Christian gateway to Christianity.

    Like you, I appreciate the way that Peterson is not dismissive of Christianity, and takes it seriously. He’s not an obvious opponent. But there is that 2 Corinthians about there being no fellowship between light and darkness, and the discussion in 1 John about anyone denying Christ being an antichrist.

    I don’t understand the bolded comment 

     

    • #24
  25. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Am I missing something?

    Au contraire! I simply equate Peterson’s “individual sovereignty” to the concept of free agency taught in my religious background. That free agency is essential in the process of individuals gaining forgiveness for their sins through Christ since that cannot happen through someone else’s action. In America, we speak of self-government. To me, there is an implication of individual sovereignty there, so I’m okay with Peterson’s terminology and I don’t subscribe to your notion that sovereignty must be connected to already established or organized government. I think Peterson views sovereignty as I do rather than as you do.

    • #25
  26. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    I don’t follow JP as closely as I used to, but I do believe he is now a believer. It bothered a few of my friends that he was not a believer, but I always thought of him as a gateway to Christianity. Following his path would take you there. And I guess he followed the path.

    I, too, always appreciated the fact that he was never dismissive.

    I don’t think that Peterson has clearly stated that he is a “believer.” I do recall one ambiguous video, which I haven’t been able to locate quickly.

    I’m very skeptical of the idea that there is a non-Christian gateway to Christianity.

    Like you, I appreciate the way that Peterson is not dismissive of Christianity, and takes it seriously. He’s not an obvious opponent. But there is that 2 Corinthians about there being no fellowship between light and darkness, and the discussion in 1 John about anyone denying Christ being an antichrist.

    I don’t understand the bolded comment

    The idea of Peterson being a “gateway” to Christianity suggests that while denying the truth of Christianity himself, Peterson will nevertheless lead others to Christianity.  I question whether this is true, especially on balance.  It may be true in some individual instances, but it may also be true that some fans of Peterson who do not believe will be influenced by the fact that he does not believe.

    I doubt that unbelievers make effective evangelists.

    • #26
  27. Cato Coolidge
    Cato
    @Cato

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Cato (View Comment):

    Yeah man, right on with your description of why so many follow Peterson.

    I’ve decided he’s our generation’s C.S. Lewis. But we also need a Tolkien, an N.T. Wright, and a Billy Graham.

    Still trying to figure out my role.

    That’s the trick: finding and stepping into our roles, no matter how small, and (especially) no matter how large.

    I’ve been a fan of Peterson, but I sure hope he’s not our generation’s Lewis. Lewis was a Christian believer. Peterson decidedly is not, though at least he’s not dismissive of Christianity.

    I suppose that there is a possibility that Peterson will become a Christian believer. That might have widespread consequences.

    I’m not familiar with Wright, and I’m more skeptical of your indication of the importance of Tolkien, though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. I would dearly love to see a Billy Graham in our generation.

    Lewis had a long journey to Jesus, and Peterson seems to be on a similar journey, and has spoken of it often.

    NT Wright is an academic theologian. Tolkien created a mythology for Britain that echoed Scripture and still influences culture. Graham, of course, was a preacher respected by all.

    My point is our generation needs an everyman theologian, an academic theologian, a storyteller, and an evangelist. At the very least.

    • #27
  28. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    The idea of Peterson being a “gateway” to Christianity suggests that while denying the truth of Christianity himself, Peterson will nevertheless lead others to Christianity.  I question whether this is true, especially on balance.  It may be true in some individual instances, but it may also be true that some fans of Peterson who do not believe will be influenced by the fact that he does not believe.

    I doubt that unbelievers make effective evangelists.

    Has Peterson actually denied the truth of Christianity? From the few videos I have seen I get the impression that he has been very cautious in what he says about whether Biblical revelation is true or not.

    • #28
  29. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: But if I add myself and a friend, who’s the only other I’ve heard use the word “mentor” to describe a man who’d helped him get his career started, we’re still outnumbered by three peers who’ve told me that they wished they had the money to hire a “life coach.” I like the free market as much as the rest of you, but I’m not so keen on this innovation.

    I think first and foremost boys (and young men) need fathers who are active in their life. Then, other men who can act as mentors. Informally, coaches, teachers, church leaders, etc., can offer a lot to young men. More formal mentors can be found but you have to ask. From a professional strand point, I think a lot of “seasoned” workers would love the opportunity to help out an up and coming colleague. Most would feel honored just to be asked.

    Additionally, it is good to have a group of like-minded peers. If you are going to stand up and act like a man in a society that can’t even clearly define the difference between a man and a woman, the you will take some flack. Good to have some friends to stand with you during those times.

    Ah! You touched on a few things I cut from the post so it wouldn’t go on too long. I’m not sure exactly why the first is the case, and I don’t know if it started with millennials or if Gen X had this problem too, but my generation is really timid about asking for things–especially help. I was with some old friends yesterday and one of them showed us the shed he just built. He got it for free on the condition that he broke it down and moved it from whoever’s property he knew that wanted to get rid of it. And he did the whole thing by himself over a long period of time because he didn’t want to burden anyone. Even beyond asking for help, I’m pretty sure this is why the hookup scene has replaced the dating scene.

    On that note: the second reminds me of a conversation I had with Titus, the Ricochet member, who’s given a few guest speeches at Hillsdale College. Of course he thinks highly of their academics, but was talking about how strange it is that the school isn’t putting on events to try to get their students dating–with the smart end goal that they marry and have lots of children. Without that, most of them will move on to a post-student body world where it’s much harder to make new friends and find mates. Starting their own organizations is something we’ll have to learn to do, so far it’s pretty rare since the graduating classes have little experience with unsupervised play.

    Not to excuse any of this. It’s just a challenge we’ll have to overcome.

    • #29
  30. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    @ annefy

    Maybe there is something special about the initials “JP”

    When I hear the initials JP I think of not only the mind blowing Jordan Peterson, but also JP Sears.

    Sears had a following in Southern Calif, starting back in 2016, I believe. It was a bunch of middling in number but enthused members supporting his earnest and somewhat serious videos on youtube.

    Then Sears began making fun of COVID and COVID measures by pretending his alter ego was all for them – to even more extreme measures than Calif’s draconian Newsom. Where others were blacklisted by youtube for openly opposing COVID restrictions and measures, Sears kept saying how great they were – in such an insidiously hilarious way that although the youtube algorithms never caught on, his audience sure did.

    When I think about it, there are a few other JP’s out there who shine with wisdom in my personal life.

    Sears goes back a while. Early on he was a big yoga/meditation guy, but started making videos poking fun at the pretensions of the “ultra spiritual” culture before 2016 (I think around 2010 to 2012). When wokeness started rearing its ugly head, he made fun of that too and he found out he was a conservative somewhere along the way.

    • #30
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