Monday, March 5, 2018

Winks or roses?

No, this is not about emojis or online dating. It's yet another observation about yet another Jordan Peterson video that I watched recently. (Yes, I watch a lot of them. It's the only form of TV we have now, and on the whole, it's more edifying and enlightening than HGTV or the Food Channel--and I've lost weight.)

Wisdom's  hint of a smile

The video below comes to us from the Dutch podcast, EindBazen ("bosses") episode #87. The host, Michel Vos, describes himself as a former "militant atheist," who is now struggling to come to terms with the concepts of morality, man's desire for knowledge, and the complexity of the universe. He thinks it's almost "too convenient" how well it all works together. Not to us believers; it's just how God rolls.

He talks about small acts of love, friendship, service etc, that end up having a big impact on people's lives and the wider society. He calls these acts "winks from the Universe," adding, "it restores your faith in humanity."

I think it sounds suspiciously like the way God works, and it reminds me of the spirituality of The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it "The Little Way." Find out more here. 

She used to say that after she died, she would send forth a shower of "roses from heaven." They are not really from her, of course, but from the Lord, the giver of all good things. Like all the other saints, she is just a friend (or big sister, however you want to imagine it) who is already there, and praying for us. We don't worship the saints; we just ask them to pray for us, much as you would ask your grandpa, or aunt or best friend to pray for you.

But back to the video for a few more points:

  • heroism is our goal: it shows we are "properly inculturated"
  • "You tend to become what you practice" says Dr. JBP ("Families, become what your are," was a famous quotation by Pope St. John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio)
  • "getting proactive with your life" is an antidote to misery and resentment
  • they discuss the symbolism of the pilgrimage and how it changes you: the psychology and biology of going outside your comfort zone and meeting goals
At one point, Michel Vos invokes (and approves the wisdom of) The Serenity Prayer, even though he says he's not a very religious person. They also discuss what was variously expressed as "the arbitrariness of evil" or the "randomness of the universe." 

I don't agree, because I think there is no such thing as coincidence or dumb luck or randomness, whether we're talking about good or evil. I believe God is omniscient, omnipresent, all-loving, all wise, and that his will is inscrutable. But he also has given us free will, and that, alas is where the devil so often seems to gain the upper hand. 

On that note, it's interesting that in the video, Dr. JBP discusses the psychological utility of fear.
He tells us that we need more than goals; we need a vision. And not just a positive vision (of future success). He says we also need to fear how bad things could get if we fail to move forward: if we let everything slide or let our worst habits take over. And thus he arrives (I kid you not) at the psychological utility of hell. Michel Vos even refers to the idea of "lighting a fire behind you."

Wow: how LONG have secularists been laughing at us Christians for talking or preaching or wanting to avoid "the fires of hell" -- and now here they are, straight-faced, discussing it as a legitimate motivation for goal-setting. Talk about a vindication for old-timey religion.

"You need a vision of hell;" says Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, "there's nothing like consulting your existential terror."

You don't hear secular professors say that every day. There are such interesting things going on... one might almost envision the Spirit of God hovering over the void.

Something tells me the saints are chuckling--and possibly winking.

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