Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Catholics are weighing in on Jordan Peterson

And it's about time. The man is a cultural phenomenon (and IMO, a force for good), and the Church intellectuals should be commenting on anything of that nature. I'm actually a bit surprised by the number of people I encounter who have not yet heard of Dr JBP, but I guess they don't frequent the same news/web hangouts or YouTube channels that I do. (Or maybe they have actual "lives" and "jobs" and such, and don't live online, haha).

 Bishop Barron has written a good article, titled "The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon." It's well worth reading, but here are a few snippets:
The Jungian template enables Peterson to interpret many of the classical spiritual texts of Western culture in a fresh way—those very texts so often excoriated by mainstream intellectuals as hopelessly patriarchal, biased, and oppressive. It also permits him to speak with a kind of psychological and spiritual authority to which young people are not accustomed but to which they respond eagerly.
With all due respect to Bishop Barron, "eagerly" is a bit of an understatement. Dr Peterson is a man who gets invited to SECULAR colleges by SECULAR clubs (such as Free Speech clubs) and he stands at the podium, telling unchurched young people (many of them hardcore atheists) that every action and every thought and every word they say "tilts the world either toward heaven or toward hell." He tells them to "take up their cross and carry it." And he tells them to tell the truth at all times, so that they can build up "the kingdom of God." And they jump to their feet, giving him standing ovations. STANDING OVATIONS.

Which should lead ordinary Christians --especially those of us not very good at evangelizing-- to wonder, "What the heck is going on here?"

Especially given the fact that Dr. Peterson himself is not a religious person. (If the Holy Spirit ever gets a hold of him, look out, I say!) But I'm fairly certain that God knows what he's doing, and I'm content to let the Almighty order things in his own time and way. (As I've written elsewhere, I am not overly concerned about the nature of Dr JBP's personal relationship with God); I'm just glad he seems to be doing wonderful things for Western Civ and helping people, especially young men, change their lives for the better.

Bishop Barron again:
His new book, an elaboration of twelve basic psychological rules for life, makes for bracing and satisfying reading. Peterson’s considerable erudition is on clear display throughout, but so is his very real experience in the trenches as a practicing psychotherapist. His advice is smart indeed, but it never seems abstract, detached, or unrealistic. [...] Peterson tells his readers—especially young men, who have been cowed into complacency for various reasons—to throw back their shoulders, stand tall, and face the challenges of life head on. 
The article is mostly warm praise for Dr. Peterson, but there's a BUT coming. You know there has to be. (Emphasis in red added by me.)
So do I thoroughly support Jordan Peterson’s approach? Well, no, though a full explication of my objection would take us far beyond the confines of this brief article. In a word, I have the same concern about Peterson that I have about both Campbell and Jung, namely, the Gnosticizing tendency to read Biblical religion purely psychologically and philosophically and not at all historically. No Christian should be surprised that the Scriptures can be profitably read through psychological and philosophical lenses, but at the same time, every Christian has to accept the fact that the God of the Bible is not simply a principle or an abstraction, but rather a living God who acts in history. As I say, to lay this out thoroughly would require at least another article or two or twelve.
PLEASE WRITE THEM, BISHOP BARRON! Catholic supporters of Jordan Peterson would love to read them, and perhaps Dr. Peterson would read them too. We need all the information, discussion and inspiration we can get in this battle of powers and principalities. 

For your further edification, here is a discussion between Dr. JBP and Catholic evangelist Patrick Coffin: 


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