Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

By | September 2, 2019


Well, like many others I’ve been watching the Jordan Peterson phenomenon with a certain fascination if you don’t know what I’m talking about you don’t spend a lot of time on social media because Jordan Peterson who is a kind of understated psychology professor from the University of Toronto Has emerged as one of the hottest personalities on the Internet. His lectures and presentations, which are kind of cool and brainy and understated are watched and commented upon by Millions of people especially I might say young men His new book 12 rules for life is number one bestseller pretty much all over the world In his native, Canada He’s emerged as kind of a controversial figure because of his Opposition to the imposition of speech codes around the you know transgender issue and all that; made him a hero To many and made him a right-wing ideologue to others Just recently he did an interview with Kathy Newman from channel 4 over in in Britain and it’s become kind of a cause célèbre because she reveals herself pretty much as a left-wing ideologue and that interviews been viewed now by I think it’s 7.5. Million people as I record These words, so who is Jordan Peterson, and what’s what’s he all about I think one way to get a handle on him is he’s doing for this generation What someone like Joseph Campbell did for a previous generation. Namely to present the archetypal psychology of C. G. Jung, in a way, that’s very appealing and very provocative So, Jung, of course the famous disciple of Sigmund Freud articulates this depth psychology based upon the idea of the archetypes of the collective unconscious It called them these these fundamental memories and instincts and ideas that influence at a profound level our behavior can also appear in our myths and our stories and our religions and our rituals etc, so Unpacking the meaning of these archetypes It was key to Jung and is now key to Jordan Peterson, and the Jungian template has enabled him to read a lot of the classic texts of our tradition including and especially Religious text, the biblical text, in a very fresh way that people are finding extremely appealing mind you, texts that are often dismissed as an old had or you know old myths and Patriarchal legends and all that he’s been able to breathe life into them through the Jungian template so that’s a big part of his work The new book I just finished reading, Twelve Rules For Life, makes for a pretty bracing and satisfying reading, I think. It’s a someone assuming the mantle I would say a Spiritual father, and he’s speaking, I think especially to younger people about you know rules Life is not just a matter of you know self-expression, and I make it up as I go along But there are these rules that are grounded in our psychological and physical structure that you can see up and down the centuries of the tradition and Peterson kind of moves boldly into that space of spiritual teacher I can’t begin to Discuss in detail all the riches of this book, but just a couple things An idea that runs really all the way through the book is the play between order and chaos If Peterson says that the the Dao symbol, you know the circle with the kind of the intertwining fish, they look like the yin and yang Symbol is an evocation of this that consciousness exists as a kind of balancing act between Order which is what we can know what we can control. What’s given to us by society, but then chaos Which stands for the unknown the unexplored. What, what is coming next See, in too much order leads to a kind of breakdown to a sort of Petrifying of the psyche and eventually of the society where everything is just set in place too much disorder of course too much chaos also leads to a psychic breakdown talk to people now that have fallen into simply a state of anxiety or depression so Healthy consciousness, the yin and the yang, to play between order and chaos is a key theme He thinks in much of the religion and mythology of the world it enables him also to explain Many of these myths of the hero, which you can find across the world and across the cultures Mind you in mostly stories now. I mean from the Epic of Gilgamesh all the way to you know Bilbo Baggins What you find usually is, is, the hero Who leaves or is compelled out of domesticity the realm of complete order think of Bilbo Baggins, right, in the Shire, in his cozy little Domestic space, or think of Luke Skywalker again Who’s living with his aunt and uncle in cozy domesticity And then they’re compelled or they’re invited or they’re forced to move into the realm of disorder or chaos on an adventure into the unknown and if the hero has the courage to undergo this test he’ll bring back something of enormous value to His domestic space, you know, think too of Plato’s Parable, the Cave, is similar someone who escapes from the restriction of a cave and moves out into the realm of the unknown But then brings back This knowledge of the forms to where he was, okay, so that rhythm can be seen in the great stories now Here’s what I think is really intriguing in Peterson is he will say mind you again especially to young men Act like a hero; in other words Internalize these these stories in such a way that you can move out of the, the simple domestic space Boldly and heroically into the unknown Don’t despise order and don’t be overly afraid of the unknown and in that space you will find the heroic Task; the heroic vocation, and I think that’s really a neat thing for anybody especially young men to abide by Another thing that jumped out at me in the book was his analysis of Alexander Solzhenitsyn So here’s this figure, one of the most tortured souls of the 20th century, a victim of both Hitler and Stalin for Decades a prisoner in the gulag archipelago Someone that suffered under the great tyrannies of the 20th century. How easy it would have been for Solzhenitsyn Simply to curse his fate; to curse God To bemoan his terrible life But in fact what he did, Peterson argues, is He looked within he did a kind of searching moral inventory He tried to set his own life, right even acknowledging, even acknowledging some small role he played in the early years of supporting the Stalinist tyranny and That kind of honesty that searching spiritual honesty Enabled him then to see the world with greater clarity He got his own house in order and that enable him then to see the, the dysfunction of the wider society much more clearly. Then of course he publishes his great book, The Gulag Archipelago, comes out in the 70s in the in the West and Played a major role in undermining the very tyranny that had oppressed him and so he takes it to be a sign I think a very healthy Indicator of what we ought to do is before we run around reforming the world Take the time to reform yourself To get your own house in order and then you’ll find you’ll have much clearer and cleaner vision For looking at the rest of the world. I like his a little quote, he says Start to stop doing right now What you know to be wrong. So, if you want to change the world, look at yourself and say okay, I’m doing certain things wrong. Stop it. And That little movement can be extraordinarily powerful Okay, now. Do I think everything is right in Jordan Peterson, and I, I appreciate this book a lot It’s the first book of is that I’ve read; I appreciate a lot of his Talks, I’ll just say a quick word here at the end as a, as a Christian Theologian and, and Peterson, to be fair here, doesn’t claim to be a Christian theologian I mean, he’s very honest about his starting point he’s a depth psychologist He’s reading the great religious texts through the the lenses of that archetypal psychology And he uncovers great truths, and I, I applaud that But ,what worries me a bit is what worried me about Joseph Campbell, what worried me about C. G. Jung whom I read years ago with great interest, but it’s, I’ll call it the gnosticizing tendency that’s to say, a tendency to bracket historicity and to Uncover, the sort of secret or hidden wisdom, in these texts. Now, whether you do it philosophically as the ancient Gnostics did, or you do it more psychologically as Jung and Campbell and, and Peterson do, the danger is a Bracketing of the historical reference in these biblical texts, now, this would take, you know, Another 12 videos adequately to, to get into, but it matters Immensely for Christian theology that certain things happened That Jesus really is the incarnation of the Logos. It’s not just an archetypal story full of wise of patterns of meaning But that, God really became one of us, that God really died on the cross and that Jesus rose from the dead through the power of the holy spirit those are not just Archetypal symbols; those are facts of history Anyway, that’s where I would maybe engaged Jordan Peterson if we had a chance ever to talk about some of these things, but again, I don’t think he’s claiming to be doing some kind of exhaustive account of Christian theology So I don’t, I don’t really blame him for that. It’s just a caution I would have In balance, I really like what I read in this book, and I think That message, especially for young men Stand up straight, get your own house in order, act like a hero Not bad

5 thoughts on “Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

  1. Kay Williams Post author

    If I ate meat on Friday, in 1940 I would have Sinned.If I did So in 2019 I would be innocent. How can one act be sin, and another be otherwise?

    Reply
  2. Kay Williams Post author

    Tell me something, Bishop, how does a Sin in 1940, becomes a non Sin in 1982, This paints God as quite Transient, is that what God is? Transient?

    Reply
  3. Ryan Whitney Post author

    I attend an extraordinary Latin mass every week because JBP helped modernize the Bible for me. As a kid I used to think God just had a bunch of rules to follow. Now I understand that while there are rules, it’s not to restrict us as much as a set of guidelines for living properly. JBP makes that link. So I attend mass, watch these videos, read the Catechism. He’s really done so much for people and Christianity itself.

    Reply
  4. A M Post author

    Bishop, you are sitting in your safe space commenting on other people's lives. Get out of your safe space and live dangerously. Stop commenting on others and make your live your own life.

    Reply
  5. Carlos Gustavo M. Ballock Post author

    Always be suspicious on a Bishop who proclaims Hell is empty.

    Reply

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