Joe Rogan Experience #1070 – Jordan Peterson

which which way these people are
55:55
thinking and why they think yeah well
and bad as that is and rife with
conflict as that is the alternative is
to separate as you pointed out into two
camps that don’t talk yes and the thing
is the the consequence of not talking is
that you fight that that’s the end game
because the only way you can stop from
fighting with other people is by
negotiating with them and you know one
of the things that’s also interesting
and this is partly why Silicon Valley
leans to the left is that a fair bit of
your political preference is determined
by your biological temperament it’s a
strongly influenced so if you’re a
creative type who’s kind of disorderly
then you’re likely to be on the liberal
left end of the distribution and if
you’re a non creative type who’s orderly
and and especially if your orderly then
you tend to be on the right-wing end of
things and so and well why is that why
do those variations exist well they
exist because some of the time your best
strategy is to do what other people have
done and shut the hell up
and just do it run the algorithm write
the pathways already laid clear it works
stay in the damn rut and move forward
okay so that’s the conservative approach
and when things are going right it’s the
right approach the problem is is that
sometimes it’s not the right approach
because something is shifted and so
something new has to emerge and so then
there’s a bunch of people who are
adapted to the new and those are the
entrepreneurial and creative types and
of course they dominate Silicon Valley
because it’s a very entrepreneurial it’s
a very entrepreneurial what would you
call it geography and so they’re gonna
lean to the left but they have to
understand people have to understand
that the left and the right need each
other the Liberals and the Conservatives
need each other liberals start companies
conservatives run them and the problem
with the Conservatives is well they can
only run a company in one direction
because they’re conservative they don’t
think outside the box but so if the
company is working in the product line
is good and every
stable like hire some conservatives
because they’ll maximize efficiency and
then move down that track but if the
track is no longer going in a good
direction because something’s change the
environments change well then you gotta
bring in the creative people and so we
need each other and the only way that we
can survive the fact that we’re
different and the fact that we need each
other is by continually talking they
have talked constantly it’s like well
how much of what we’re doing should we
preserve versus how much of what we’re
doing should we transform and the answer
is we don’t know because the environment
keeps changing so what do we do about
58:26
of so there’s this theory it’s a lovely
theory that’s laid out right at the
beginning of the Bible that says that
if you tell the truth you transform the
potential of being into a habitable
actuality that’s how it works so we say
well how do you want it how do you make
the world better tell the truth because
the world you bring into being as a
consequence of telling the truth will be
a good world and I believe that’s true I
think it’s true metaphorically I think
it’s true theologically and I think it’s
true like at the practical and
scientific level as well I think it’s
true and all those levels simultaneously
so that’s been ridiculously exciting to
just sort through I think this notion
and one of the things you said that I
think really resonates is that there’s
not a voice out there that is advocating
for responsibility and that is talking
about how important this is and I think
this is an inherent principle that most
people are kind of aware of and it feels
good to them to hear
I get resonates so you feel it you you
when you when you’re saying this clean
your room you know put your house in
order like yeah yeah how come I’m not
hearing this right I’m not hearing this
well it’s so funny because one of the
things psychologists have done for the
last 20 years especially the social
psychologist has pushed this idea of
self-esteem you should feel good about
yourself and I think why would you tell
someone 20 that it’s like you should
feel good about who you are it’s like no
you shouldn’t why should you feel good
about who you are it’s like you should
feel good about who you could be that’s
way better cuz you got sixty years to
turn into who you could wait a minute
are you what your accomplishments are or
are you dis individual going through
this journey I mean I don’t think
81:43
there’s anything wrong with feeling good
81:43
about who you are as long as it’s
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tempered by an understanding of
81:47
potential and what you have accomplished
81:50
versus what you can accomplish well I
81:51
think having confidence is a big part of
81:54
it it is it is and I’m not saying that
81:55
people shouldn’t have confidence but
81:57
like often you take young people say
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there are sixteen to twenty two and
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they’re not really feeling that good
82:02
about who they are right because their
82:03
life is chaotic and and disorder and
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they don’t know where they’re going and
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they don’t know which way is up a call
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so there could be bad parenting going on
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and I think that’s one of the reasons
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why presen eights with people this idea
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of be happy for you about who you are
82:18
right feel good about who you write but
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but the thing is it has
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to be stated with precision it’s like
82:23
yes it’s like Lucia you should treat
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yourself as if you’re valuable
82:28
especially in the Ho’s Angela but you
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should concentrate on who you should
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become especially if you’re young and so
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let’s say you’re miserable and
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nihilistic and chaotic and depressed and
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all of that now and you have your
82:38
reasons you know terrible parenting
82:40
abuse all of those things it’s like well
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you should feel good about yourself it’s
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like no no it’s it’s not it’s not the
82:46
right message is that it’s more like you
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should understand how much potential
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there is within you to set that straight
82:54
and then you should do everything you
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can to manifest that in the world and it
82:58
will set it straight and that’s better
83:00
than self esteem it’s like you’re you’re
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in a crooked horrible position okay fine
83:04
there’s a lot of suffering and pain
83:05
associated with that yeah you can’t just
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feel good about that because it’s not
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good but you can do something about it
83:11
you can genuinely do something about it
83:13
and I think all the evidence suggests
83:15
that that’s the case yes so I’m telling
83:17
telling young people look there’s no
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matter how bad your situation is I’m not
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gonna pretend it’s okay it’s not okay
83:23
it’s tragic
83:24
tainted with malevolence and some people
83:27
really get hurt by malevolent people
83:28
like you know terribly hurt sometimes
83:30
they never recover it’s really awful but
83:33
there’s more to you than you think and
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if you stand up and face it with with
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the positive with a with a noble vision
83:40
with discipline and intent you can go
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far farther to overcoming it than you
83:46
can imagine
83:47
and that’s the principle upon which you
83:49
should predicate your behavior and I
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think that one of the things that’s
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really nice about being the clinical
83:54
psychologist is that this isn’t just
83:56
guesswork like one of the things we know
83:58
two things in clinical psychology one is
84:01
truthful conversations redeemed people
84:03
because if you come to a clinical
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psychologist who’s worth is salt you’ll
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have a truthful conversation the
84:11
conversation is well here’s what’s wrong
84:13
with my life and here’s what caused it
84:16
you know maybe it takes a year to have
84:17
that conversation and both of the
84:19
participants are doing everything they
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can to lay it out properly here’s how it
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might be fixed here’s what a beneficial
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future might look like and so it’s a
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completely honest conversation if it’s
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working well and all that’s happening in
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the conversation is that the two people
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involved
84:34
are trying to make things better that’s
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the goal let’s see if we can have a
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conversation that will make things
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better okay so we know that works it
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does make things better and then another
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thing we know is that well let’s say
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there’s a bunch of things that you’re
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afraid of that are in your way so you
84:49
have some vision about who you want to
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be maybe you have to you know you want
84:52
to be successful in your career so you
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have to learn to talk in front of a
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group it’s like okay well you’re afraid
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of that no wonder you don’t want to be
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humiliated so okay so what do we do
85:01
93:51
because sometimes you know you’re just
93:53
hopeful I would like a good thing to
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happen it’s like yeah but you know I’d
93:56
like to drink half a bottle of whiskey
93:58
tonight – it’s like so which is it gonna
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be well just being hopeful about the
94:03
future might not be enough but then you
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think oh I see like there’s that little
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hell thing that I outlined it’s waiting
94:09
for me and maybe I’m afraid of taking
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the nips next step forward because it’s
94:12
demanding and challenging it’s like yeah
94:14
I’m afraid of that but I’m way more
94:16
afraid of where I might end up if I
don’t get my act together and people
should be that’s why their conceptions
of hell in so many religions it’s like
hell is a real place whether it’s
eternal that’s a whole different
question whether it’s waiting for you in
the afterlife that’s a whole different
question but if you’ve never met anyone
in Hell you haven’t lived very long you
haven’t had your eyes open yeah it’s
undeniable that feeling of total
complete misery and deniable yeah
especially when it’s compounded by the
fact that you know you did it to
yourself
that’s the real fun that’s the real fun
part it’s like I’m having a bitch of a
time and I richly deserve it
97:11
that’s that I have a chapter in there on
97:13
raising kids it says don’t like your
97:15
kids don’t let your kids do anything it
97:17
makes you just like them it’s like well
that’s first predicated on the
observation that you’re quite a monster
and it would be better for your kids if
they didn’t get on your bad side and
like again because I’m a clinical
psychologist a monster why why do you
use that term because I’ve watched
families like I’ve seen families where
it’s as if every single person in the
family has their hands around the neck
of the family member that’s close to
97:39
them and they’re squeezing but only
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tight enough to strangle them in 20
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years but you’re not always using it as
97:45
a pejorative you you you’ve also used it
97:47
you should become a monster you should
97:48
be a monster yeah but that’s that’s you
97:52
shouldn’t be it it shouldn’t be
97:54
accidental that’s the thing what
97:57
so what do you mean by monster then in a
97:58
positive sense like you feel a monster
98:00
oh that’s easy among a positive monster
98:02
is somebody who says no and means it
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because when you say no what you mean is
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there isn’t anything you can do to me
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that will make me agree to do this why
98:10
is that a monster because you have to be
98:11
because no one will take you seriously
98:13
otherwise no one will take you seriously
98:15
like no means if you keep pushing this
98:19
something that you do not like will
98:21
happen to you that’s what no means you
98:23
don’t have any strength of character
98:24
unless you can put up a fight you know
98:27
and to be able to say no to something is
98:29
to be able to put up a fight so and you
98:31
can’t do that if you’re if you can be
98:33
pushed around you’ll just get argued
98:34
into submission or you’ll feel guilty
98:36
because you’re causing conflict or
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something like that but isn’t there
98:39
confusion using those terms as a
98:41
positivism and a negative maybe there’s
98:42
another word instead of monster well
98:44
there is there is the potential there is
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the potential for confusion you say well
98:48
is that something that can be I think
98:51
monster is a horrible thing I don’t
98:52
think of it as being like a wall like
98:55
someone who is just rock-solid in their
98:58
belief system and rock-solid and their
99:01
understanding when you fight someone
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who’s formidable say what do you think
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of the person that you’re fighting like
99:07
how would you characterize them they may
99:09
have a monstrous side because they can
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think they can they can bring physical
99:15
substantial physical force to bear on
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the situation and and be willing to do
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it so they’re not naive and and harmless
99:24
by any stretch of the imagination right
99:26
they have a well-developed capacity for
mayhem they think well is that monstrous
it’s like well I would say yes I would
say fierce fierce fine let’s go with
that yeah because someone who’s fierce
and formidable it’s not necessarily a
monster you know just I think of a
monster as being just an awful person
99:47
who’s done awful things and just you
99:49
know okay well so fair enough well so
99:52
back to the back to this situation with
99:54
your kids while you definitely don’t
99:56
want to have your kids act in a way that
99:57
awakens your inner monster right let’s
100:00
put it that way and so you need to you
100:02
need to organize your family with a
100:05
certain amount of discipline and a
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certain amount of structure so that you
100:08
get to do what you want which is back to
100:10
that
100:10
to the point that you made earlier so
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that you’re happy to have your kids
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around so that you won’t take revenge on
100:15
them and so you want to lay your life
100:18
out so that well so that it’s providing
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you what you need to not be bitter and
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to work for your best interests and for
100:28
the interests of everyone else that
100:30
would be lovely and I think it’s
100:31
attainable you know because the book is
100:34
very dark and and I’m a very dark guy in
100:36
some ways because I’ve looked at the
100:38
terrible things that people do to one
100:39
another that’s the fascinating way of
100:41
looking at you think you yourself as
100:42
dark as I don’t think of you as dark oh
100:45
that’s good
100:45
the more relevant thing is that I’ve
been studying these old stories these
archetypal stories for a very long
period of time and they have power they
really have power and they manifest
themselves everywhere they manifest
themselves in movies and in books and I
mean Harry Potter’s a mythological story
and it made Roland richer than the Queen
of England you know these stories have
power and I was fortunate enough to
study a large number of people large
number of scholars who knew what that
power was Carl Jung in particular and I
could make it more accessible to people
and so that’s a big part of it but what
overall significance of that is well I
just it just leaves me speechless I mean
there’s Kathy Newman things a good
example and I mean so many things have
happened I’ve got involved I’ve been in
a scandal of some sort a serious scandal
of some sort probably every three weeks
for a year and a half you know and there
are things that are just well the did
James tomorrow thing is a good example
of that like that’s a big deal you know
that that explosion that that that
emerged around him in the court case
that’s coming out of it it’s a big deal
and this thing with Lindsay Shepard that
was the worst scandal that
hit a Canadian University and then there
was all the protests and and then there
was what happened with with channel 4
the UK and it’s like I don’t know what
to make of it
I don’t what what I’m trying to do is
have a good conversation when I come and
talk to somebody like you where we can
have a good conversation try not to say
118:18
anything stupid that’s really what I’m
118:20
trying to do is to not say anything
118:22
stupid that’s hard or too stupid yeah
118:27
yeah well didn’t it’s being high stakes
118:28
poker yeah you know for it’s not quite
118:31
so bad now because especially after what
118:35
happened with channel 4 and some
118:36
journalists like people have been trying
118:38
to take me out for quite a long time and
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it’s not it isn’t working so far
118:43
actually you actually believe what
118:45
you’re saying and it actually makes
118:46
sense well you know that’s that’s it’s
118:50
not a bad start but it’s rare in this
118:51
world this is a especially in these
118:53
ideologically charged times yeah this
118:56
toxic tribalism that we keep bringing up
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it’s well and I also decided like a long
119:01
time ago and and I I think this runs
119:03
through 12 rules for life is well I
119:05
believe that people’s decisions tilt the
119:07
world towards heaven or hell I think
119:10
there’s no more accurate way of
119:11
describing the consequences of each of
119:14
your decisions than that you face
119:16
potential that’s what you face that’s
119:19
what you face in the world is potential
119:20
it’s not Material reality it’s potential
119:23
and every decision you make you’re
119:26
deciding whether you want to make the
119:27
world better or worse and if you like
119:30
the ultimate better is heaven and the
119:32
ultimate worse is hell we know how to
119:33
make the world into hell we’ve done that
119:36
multiple times much of the 20th century
119:38
was that it’s like I looked it all out
119:40
and I thought okay I would rather that
119:42
the world didn’t degenerate into hell
119:44
and I understand why people wanted to
119:46
degenerate into hell they’re angry
119:48
they’re angry because they suffer they
119:51
suffer unfairly and they suffer because
119:53
people hurt them and so they think this
119:56
is a bad game I’m not going to help make
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it better I’m angry I’m gonna make it
120:01
worse even that’s what the call of mine
120:02
kids did you know that’s what all the
120:05
mass shooters do they say to hell with
120:06
this I hate it
120:08
they’re so far behind the game they just
120:09
want to flip the table yeah yeah worse
120:11
than that they they want it
120:12
obliterate the game yes and they want to
120:15
do it with as much malice as possible
120:17
just to obtain revenge and I understand
120:19
that but I decided a long time ago that
120:21
I would rather not play that game I
120:23
think it I think that it’s possible that
120:26
we could make the world better I really
120:28
believe they leave that too so I think
120:29
well the so I’m I’m trying to tell
120:32
people look there’s more to you than you
120:34
think there’s more potential there’s
120:36
more than enough potential to go around
120:38
there’s definite suffering and
120:40
malevolence in the world we could fix it
120:41
you haven’t got anything better to do
120:43
that’s a very big point that there’s
120:44
more potential to go around talking
120:46
about more than people understand we’re
120:47
not gonna run now to put that no we’re
120:49
not and with this idea of the famine
120:51
thinking is one of the reasons why
120:53
people get upset at other people’s
120:55
success they think somehow another this
120:57
other person’s success takes something
120:59
away from them yep yeah well there’s and
121:01
it’s see the other thing too is that
121:03
I’ve realized that people actually act
121:05
like what they confront in the world is
121:07
potential it’s so funny because whatever
121:09
potential is it’s it’s not materially
121:12
measurable but if you tell someone
121:13
you’re not living up to your potential
121:15
they go it’s like well what is that
121:18
potential that you’re not living up to
121:19
and then when you say well there’s
121:21
potential in front of you you know that
121:23
you can walk out on the street and you
121:25
go right or left or straight ahead like
121:27
you’re facing this thing that isn’t
121:29
fully formed and you get to decide how
121:32
it’s going to form and you can make it
121:36
better and so my question is like the
121:38
world’s a rough place there’s no doubt
121:39
about it it’s a harsh place but my
question is what would happen if we
start making it worse how good could it
be if we stop making it worse and I
don’t know if there’s an upper limit to
that like it might be maybe we could
make it really really really good why
not and we don’t have any better to do
than that
it’s like aim at heaven start at home
aim at heaven tell the truth let’s see
what the hell happens you know like it
is the case clearly on the facts of the
matter in 20 years there wouldn’t have
to be a single person in the world that
was hungry in 20 years we could get rid
of the 5 biggest diseases that currently
plague the planet we could straighten
things up and god only knows what things
could be like that or we could let the
whole thing DJ
right into hell so in each of us is
making that decision with each decision
that’s the other thing that I’ve
understood so take your choice you want
hell are you want heaven if you pick
hell just remember you knew what you
were doing when you picked it but nobody
picks hell yeah just sort of let it
slide yeah but they do it because they
blind themselves you know you know when
you do it you say oh yeah well you know
I let that slide then you and then you
don’t think about it it’s like you could
think about it you could think about it
123:02
you could know but you don’t let
123:04
yourself know is any of this all the
123:09
pressure and the scandal every three
123:10
weeks is this this is it way on you is
123:14
it is it difficult how are you feeling
123:18
like when we’re not feeling strange
123:20
thing
123:21
yeah it’s like it’s like simultaneously
123:23
the worst possible thing and the best
123:25
possible thing that could happen well
123:27
financially it’s been a boom right yes
123:30
it’s which I mean the thing that I’ve I
123:35
shouldn’t say this but I’m going to
123:37
because it’s just so goddamn funny I
123:38
can’t help but say that I figured out
123:40
how to monetize social justice warriors
123:42
[Laughter]

Richard Rohr: Universal Restoration

The shape of creation must somehow mirror and reveal the shape of the Creator. We must have a God at least as big as the universe, or else our view of God becomes irrelevant, constricted, and more harmful than helpful. The Christian image of a torturous hell and God as a petty tyrant has not helped us to know, trust, or love God. God ends up being less loving than most people we know. Those attracted to the common idea of hell operate out of a scarcity model, where there is not enough Divine Love to transform, awaken, and save. The dualistic mind is literally incapable of thinking any notion of infinite grace.

The common view of hell and a quid pro quo God is based not on Scripture but on Dante’s Divine Comedy—great poetry, but not good theology. The word “hell” is not mentioned in the first five books of the Bible. Paul and John never once use the word. Most of the Eastern fathers never believed in a literal hell, nor did many Western mystics.

Eastern fathers such as Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Peter Chrysologus, Maximus the Confessor, and Gregory of Nazianzus taught some form of apocatastasis instead, translated as “universal restoration” (Acts 3:21). Origen writes:

 Gregory of Nyssa’s two arguments for universal salvation as:

a fundamental belief in the impermanence of evil in the face of God’s love and a conviction that God’s plan for humanity is intended to be fulfilled in every single human being. These beliefs are identified with 1 Corinthians 15:28 [“so that God may be all in all”] and Genesis 1:26 [we are made in God’s “image and likeness”] in particular, but are derived from what Gregory sees as the direction of Scripture as a whole. [2]

If we understand God as Trinity—the fountain fullness of outflowing love, relationship itself—there is no theological possibility of any hatred or vengeance in God. Divinity, which is revealed as Love Itself, will always eventually win. God does not lose (see John 6:37-39). We are all saved by mercy. Any notion of an actual “geographic” hell or purgatory is unnecessary and, in my opinion, destructive of the very restorative notion of the whole Gospel.

.. Love and mercy are given undeservedly now, so why would they not be given later too?

Richard Rohr: Walking toward Heaven

Terry Pratchett has a character define sin thusly: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.” [1] . . .

.. I don’t believe hell or heaven to be post-life destinations. I believe they are states of consciousness largely visible here and now. A world of objects is a kind of hell. A world of subjects—divine beings honoring the divinity in the other—is surely heaven.

Why Not Mike Pence?

our first openly Hefnerian president gets impeached

.. If Trump were impeached and removed from the White House, the presidency would devolve to precisely the kind of man whom much of pre-Trump religious conservatism insisted that it wanted in the Oval Office: an evangelical Christian family man with a bluenose’s temperament and a boring Reaganite checklist of beliefs.

.. evangelical leaders currently fretting about Trump’s political position would face a case where doing the consistent thing — namely, returning to their Bill Clinton-era position that character counts in presidents and using illegal means to conceal gross infidelities are impeachable offenses — would actually deliver something closer to what they claimed to want, not so very long ago: not a liberal in the White House, but President Mike Pence.

.. We do not have a parliamentary system where party leaders fight internal battles and get replaced by their internal rivals on the regular; instead, we elect a quasi-monarch, whose removal seems as traumatic as a regicide. And thus party loyalists tend to identify with their leaders the way royalists identify with their kings, and regard the prospect of impeachment not as an opportunity for a change of leadership but a revolutionary threat.

.. Sure, making use of Donald Trump to keep Hillary Clinton from being president is a fascinating flourish by history’s Author, but the idea that the Almighty might use a porn star to make Mike Pence president represents, if anything, an even more amazing miracle.
.. So anyone interested in looking for the hand of God in history should probably welcome that miracle’s arrival
.. That God is using Trump not as an agent of his good work but as a kind of ongoing test of everyone else’s moral character seems like a not-unreasonable inference to draw.

.. And for those same religious conservatives to pass up the chance, preferring a scorched-earth battle in defense of priapism, would be a sad confirmation of the point that a beloved Christian author made many years ago: The doors of hell are locked on the inside.

Richard Rohr Meditation: Christ Is the Template for Creation

In Bonaventure’s writings, you will find little or none of the medieval language of fire and brimstone, worthy and unworthy, sin and guilt, merit and demerit, justification and atonement, even the dualistic notions of heaven or hell, which later took over.

Bonaventure summed up his entire life’s theology in three central and sacred ideas:

  1. Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image, and thus our inherent identity is grounded in the life of God from the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27).
  2. Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example, manifestation, and illustration of God in space and time (Romans 1:20). No exceptions.
  3. Consummation: All returns to the Source from which it came (John 14:3). The Omega is the same as the Alpha; this is God’s supreme and final victory.

.. The Christ Mystery—the crucified and resurrected Christ—becomes the visible template for the pattern of all creation. Christ reveals the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things moving toward ever further life. The death and birth of every star and atom is this same pattern of loss and renewal, yet this pattern is invariably hidden, denied, or avoided, and therefore must be revealed by Jesus—through his passion, death, and resurrection.

.. Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He is all cosmic optimism and hope! Once we lost this kind of mysticism, Christianity became preoccupied with fear, unworthiness, and guilt much more than being included in—and delighting in—God’s positive, all-pervasive plan.

.. The problem is solved from the beginning in Franciscan theology: “Before the world was made, God chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). If more of the Church believed St. Francis and Bonaventure, they could have helped us move beyond the inherently negative notion of history being a “fall from grace.”

.. Bonaventure invited us into a positive notion of history as a slow but real emergence/evolution into ever-greater consciousness of a larger and always renewed life (“resurrection”).

In Conversation: Terry Gross

The Fresh Air host on the art of the Q&A, the guest that most surprised her, and how she salvages a tanking interview.

You’ve been interviewing people for more than 40 years. What do you think that’s taught you about yourself?
That’s hard. I’m not exactly sure I can enumerate what I’ve learned. It’s like you’re slowly being changed every day by doing this job. I have learned, though, that everybody is insecure and everybody is troubled. Even incredibly talented people have deep insecurities. Maybe this is perverse, but I find that idea comforting. It helps me cope with my own stuff.

.. I’m probably just revealing my own neuroses here, but it sure seems that when people are presented with two pieces of information — one negative and one positive — the negative one almost always gets a lot more attention.  
That’s exactly my problem.

So if somebody said to you, “Fresh Air is my favorite thing to listen to,” and then said, “Well, yesterday’s show wasn’t the best.”
Stop right there. I would totally dismiss the “favorite thing to listen to” part. I’d think that was just their way of cushioning the blow that yesterday’s show was terrible. They’d just come up with a false opening to be nice about how bad yesterday’s show was.

..  Do you have to be weird to be the kind of interviewer you are?
You don’t have to be weird. I think what you have to do is really believe, as I do, that the interview serves a function.

.. What’s the function?

.. John Updike on this. In his memoir, Self-Consciousness, which I really love, he said he wanted to use his life as “a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in this world.” That’s kind of how I see interviews. When you’re talking to an artist, you can get insight into the sensibility that created his or her art and into the life that shaped that sensibility. I love making those connections. I think we all feel very alone. I don’t mean that we don’t have friends or lovers but that deep at our core we all have loneliness.

.. And want connection. 
Yeah, we want connection and sometimes when you’re talking to an interviewer who you trust, you can speak in a way that’s different than the way you talk to friends. You can reveal more. Not always, but sometimes.

.. But if I am aware of allegations, I can’t not ask about them. And in that circumstance, the guest is unlikely to tell me the truth and we’re all likely to be very uncomfortable and feel as if something is going unsaid. So rather than create that situation, I’d prefer to just not do the interview.

.. Along those lines, did you have any qualms about interviewing Woody Allen? 
That interview was before the allegations that he’d abused his daughter. But I did ask him about Soon-Yi. .. I didn’t want to just say, “So, you married your daughter?” I kind of asked around it. I knew that he doesn’t talk about it or at least he didn’t at the time, so I just did this question about if he thinks it’s fair to judge somebody’s work based on their life. Needless to say, he didn’t think it was.

.. People think when you interview that you talk a lot. Actually, I listen a lot. I talk very little. Listening sounds like it should be easy, but it’s not, because while I’m listening, I’m also thinking ahead. I’m thinking, Is this an interesting answer? If I was editing this answer what would I be editing out and what would I be keeping in? Because if I’m going to ask a follow-up question, I need to know if the listeners have heard what I’m following up on. So I’m thinking all that, and I’m also thinking, Is this interesting enough to follow up? If so, what is the follow-up? Or is this something I should just say, “Time to move onto another subject.” I’m also thinking, What’s that word on the tip of my tongue? And then I’m thinking, Oh, my producer laughed. That’s good. Or, My producer looks bored, that’s not good.

.. I started doing interviews because I had initially wanted to be a writer and by the time I was in college, I gave up on that. Then there was this kind of creative void that I had no idea how to fill.

.. But as somebody who’s shy, radio gave me an opportunity to engage with people in a forthright way without it being about me. Once I had a microphone, “Why would you talk to me?” became “Now I have a reason to talk to you and you have a reason to talk to me. So let’s talk.”

.. maybe people who knew me could trust me to keep a confidence. And I do think people thought of me as somebody who played fair. The other thing that prepared me to be an interviewer was being an English major.  When you’re reading fiction, you’re becoming the narrator of the story.

.. It’s an act of empathy. 
Yeah, you’re imagining living that person’s life and that’s part of what you do when you interview somebody. Part of the preparation is thinking, What’s it like to be this person? And then when you’re talking to the person it’s like, Wow, that person lived through that? Let me make some calculations about what that could be like, and ask them questions based off of how I’d feel if that happened to me.

.. I think what changed their minds about my job — and made them realize it was an actual thing — was when I was still in Buffalo at WBFOIn the early ’70s, after a mercifully short stint as a public school teacher in Buffalo, Gross was able to land a job at the city’s WBFO station, where she produced programs on public and women’s affairs, as well as the arts. Chief among them was a three-hour daily magazine program, This Is Radio, and the feminist-focused Womanpower.. [NPR’s] All Things Considered ..  was a new show back then, and it went on the road to develop stories that had a local angle — I did one of those stories when it came to Buffalo. Having a story that aired on a national show and that my parents could hear — that made them think, Oh, her work exists! 

.. Once they realized I hosted a show and earned a genuine salary, they were thrilled but in terms of answering your question — I committed, you know? I wanted it so badly that I just devoted myself to it.

.. And you were determined to hold on to it. 
You could criticize me, you could insult me, you could mock me — it was all right, just let me keep doing the job. Because I was an English major, I loved to read and dissect what was being said and why it was being said and think about the language being used. Interviewing fit so many of my needs.

.. when you interviewed Quentin Tarantino around the time of Django Unchained.
I really wanted to know his position on cinematic violence! When that movie came out, the Sandy Hook shooting had just happened, and Django Unchained was this incredibly violent movie — Quentin Tarantino’s stylized kind of violence .. It’s kind of glorying in the violence. And I wanted to know if that violence read differently after all those children were killed by a gun. [Tarantino] interpreted that, I think, as meaning, “It’s your fault, Quentin Tarantino.” Which I didn’t mean at all. It disappointed me that he got testy about it and took it as moral judgment of his movie, as opposed to an opportunity to reflect on an issue that was staring us in the face.

.. People are always projecting things. They’re hearing things that weren’t said or projecting meaning that was not intended and, perhaps, not even implied. I’ve gotten both insults and compliments for interviews I’ve never done. What can you do? There’s no way of controlling what people think. I do have a bullshit detector and it’s something I’ll use, but I do think I try and be empathetic to everyone I interview regardless of their politics.

.. Can empathy be learned?
I’m not so sure. I think you can learn to be a better listener and to focus better, but some people are just naturally not attuned to others. Even if they’re listening, they’re not picking up on the emotional meanings. I don’t know that you can teach emotional understanding.

.. I wish I could’ve asked my parents more about how they felt about dying. It’s the kind of question I ask guests, but my parents would wave me away if I tried to talk about that subject with them. I think they were trying to spare me, but also that maybe they didn’t have the language to talk about death. I don’t know. They were children of Eastern European immigrants who grew up without the language of psychology and philosophy. My father, I’m not sure he ever read a novel. There’s a certain kind of introspective language he might not have had access to.

.. How do you feel about dying?
I’m not afraid of it. What I’m afraid of is pain. I’m really afraid of suffering. I’m afraid of being trapped in a hospital incapacitated.

.. But the prospect of not existing isn’t scary to you.
No, it’s not. I also don’t believe in a literal heaven and hell. I don’t think that there’s going be an accounting and I’m going to be sent to a place where I’m burning in flames.

.. Unless it hurts. 
Then I’d be very afraid.

.. one of the things I’ve learned how to do on the air is make people stop talking. Some people can go on for seven minutes without a breath. At some point, you have to interrupt them and explain, “This is radio. We need to take breaks. We have to have, say, two-minute answers, or else we’re only going to be able to ask about three questions.”

.. Are there any similar ways in which your job bleeds into your daily interactions? 
Well, it’s made talking to people easier. I used to be really shy and now I feel like I can talk to anybody. I know I can ask questions that will help me find common ground. I can navigate to the place where me and another person can have a real conversation.

.. Sometimes I feel like people want the experience of being interviewed. But off the air, I like to be not the interviewer. I want to engage with the person I’m talking to on an equal level.

.. What I like is to have a genuine back-and-forth: Here’s how you feel, here’s how I feel. Here’s my reaction to you, here’s your reaction to me. That’s as opposed to just “tell me more about you.” In an interview, I like to hang back. It’s not about me. If I made the interviews about me, we’d be talking about the book I read that day, because that’s how I spend all my time — preparing for the show.

.. So I had to buy a car — this was the ’70s and or maybe the early ’80s — and I wanted to hear the car’s radio and make sure the speakers were good. So I was trying out a car and I tuned into WHYY, where Fresh Air was then a local show that I hosted, and the guy who’s selling me the car says, “Oh, I know that station. You know that lady in the afternoon? That really annoying lady?” And I said, “Oh, uh, that’s me.” And he smacked his head and went, “I’m never gonna be able to sell you the car now.”

.. I used to think of myself as nondescript. Outside of being short, I’m not the kind of person who is visually memorable. I don’t mean to disparage myself, but some people are striking because they’re so beautiful or they’re so tall and I’m short — it’s easy to not notice me. To be noticed when you don’t think of yourself as being noticeable is a little spooky.

.. You’ve said before, in various places, that all the prep time your job requires means you’re not the best at cultivating friendships. But I wonder if talking with people every day for Fresh Air satisfies some of the needs you might otherwise have for emotional connection. 

.. Have you learned any reliable tricks over the years for how to salvage an interview that’s tanking? 
Sometimes if somebody’s like a little too low-key, I find myself maybe talking faster to compensate, Like, Match me up here! Match me louder and faster!

.. Does that actually work?
[Laughs] No, I don’t think so. What I’m really trying to do is find the person’s comfort zone. Some people are great on craft — the process of writing, the process of making the film. Some people are great on anecdote. Some people are great on biography, their personal story. So I’ll just keep looking for that spot.

..  I can’t argue that every interview I do is interesting. Sometimes we don’t run interviews because they’re boring or confusing. You don’t want to hurt the interviewee’s feelings but your first responsibility is to offer something interesting to your audience.

.. my job has had a bad effect on me physically. I’m either reading, screening something, listening to something, or talking to someone. It’s a sedentary life. I’m proof that you can hurt yourself by sitting and reading. I have back issues. Sitting’s also probably not good for your heart. I don’t have heart problems but when people talk about, like, aerobic exercise, I just stare at them blankly: “I’m sorry, what?”

.. I don’t have children. I can’t say that was a sacrifice. I didn’t feel called to have children. I know I’ve missed out on something special but I couldn’t possibly have done my job and be a parent. The show is premised on me preparing at night for the next day’s interview. Doing that with children would’ve made me a terrible mother. When I was growing up it was unheard of to not have children and if you didn’t have children, it meant that there was something physically wrong with you. The women in my neighborhood were full-time mothers and that’s not the life I wanted. So I went completely in the opposite direction and I’m not sorry. I made a choice about what I wanted and I’m glad I did.

Richard Rohr Meditation: Choosing Heaven

Even in heaven the wounds of suffering will not be removed but will be transformed by divine love into new and eternal life. Heaven is not a place of eternal rest or a long sleep-in, but a life of creativity and newness in love; one with God in the transformation of all things.

.. One might think, on face value, that the self-creation of heaven and hell conflicts with the scriptures, but in fact, the gospel message is based on invitation and choice, symbolized by the parable of the wedding feast: “‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner . . . and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business” (Matthew 22:1-14). The question of heaven is not one of worthiness before God but accepting God’s invitation for life: “I have set before you life and death, choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

.. Where our minds focus, there our treasure lies. As Rabbi Shapiro writes, “I made the choice for heaven and, having done so, I went in search of tools for living it.”

..  If you choose kindness, love, generosity, and joy, then you will discover in that choice the Kingdom of God 

.. If you choose cruelty, fear, scarcity, and bitterness, then you will discover in that choice the hellish states of which so many religions speak.

.. Heaven and hell are both inside of you. It is your choice that determines just where you will reside.