The resonance of Jordan Peterson

In the last year a relatively unknown psychology professor from the University of Toronto has become something of an Internet celebrity. He briefly captured international attention for his stand on non-binary gender pronouns. While he had no problem using standard pronouns. If a trans-male wanted to be referred to as he/him he would. He simply refused to use the ones that people made up for themselves. He caught the attention of some popular podcasters/YouTube stars and did some interviews. They were fascinating. His mix of philosophy, myth, psychology, history, and theology, yes, theology had people amazed. His message resonated with lots of people but primarily with males.

What intrigues me is the nature of that message. Structurally it is very Christian even if he won’t profess any faith in a higher power. It feels like old school Christianity though. It affirms that the problems in society are found in the darkness that runs through everyone. In an era left and right are quick to point the figure at things like terrorism, racism, privilege, capitalism Peterson points straight at the individual. There are problems in society because there are problems with people.

So, his challenge is for people to “sort themselves out” and to pull out the beam from their own eye before addressing the speck in others. The first step he encourages people to do is to clean their own room. Make small steps to create order out of the chaos of their lives and build on it. He encourages people to read great books by some of the most profound authors of the last 200 years like Jung, Freud, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Piaget, and even Nietzsche. The crazy thing is people are doing it and posting about it online. They are talking about the things they are trying clean up in their life.

One book he keeps coming back to is the bible. His Patreon account swelled with subscribers so he took that money and booked a lecture theatre to expound up on the psychological significance of the bible stories. He lectures for 2 ½ hours and takes a ½ hour of questions. The series already has a million views. I’m just blown away. People who have long since rejected Christianity, are spending hours listening to lectures on the bible.

As I take this all in I must wonder if the church has missed something, particularly with men. There is no call to take responsibility for one’s life. There is so little talk of repentance, or aligning oneself with the truth. To see oneself as a responsible citizen making order of chaos and to renew our culture. I wonder if the comforts of a culture that keeps us well fed and well entertained that we are earning for something to believe in and something to fight for.

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