Peterson’s idiosyncratic but sympathetic views on Christianity appear to be outgrowths of his ultimately incoherent views about human societies, blending brash political incorrectness with a love of tradition and an enthusiasm for individualism. For modern Christians frustrated by their loss of standing in liberal societies, this makes Peterson, like a stiff cocktail, potent, delicious, and, if enjoyed carelessly or in the wrong context, dangerous.
.. He speaks with a breezy self-assurance, but at the same time he takes serpentine routes to his conclusions – so much so that it’s not always clear even he knows where he’s going until, with a splash, he arrives and all seems to have been made clear.
.. This sense of being on a journey with an unknown destination is heightened by the idiosyncratic nature of his arguments. It’s just weird to get to principled conservatism and appreciation of Scripture from Nietzsche and Jung
.. some – and perhaps a great deal – of what is attracting millions of largely young male viewers to him is not laudable and should not be thoughtlessly applauded by Catholics.
.. Strident denunciations of feminism and anti-racism are not what is missing from our apologetics
.. Jesus Christ is neither politically correct nor incorrect
.. Peterson is at his best and most magnetic when he is almost stammering in awe of the human condition
.. When I hear Peterson speak about God, I think of the late French-American philosopher René Girard.
.. Peterson’s strategy to bring meaning and success to the lives of deracinated young men is an essentially amoral training in interpersonal dominance founded in an uncritical acceptance of the radical individualism that has dominated Western civilisation for the past few centuries.
.. For instance, he argues that the credible threat of violence is essential for earning respect in conversations with men; in one lecture he asserts with his distinctive fatherliness: “If you are not capable of cruelty you are absolutely a victim to anyone who is.”
.. It is true that our present crisis of meaning is related to the inability of many young men to compete effectively in the marketplace, which is for us the primary giver of significance
.. the role of the Church is not to prop up a secular civilisation that has reduced meaning and identity to paychecks and sports teams, but to offer a more beautiful and comprehensive alternative.
.. If the Church is to baptise “Jordan Peterson the internet sensation”, it must be for his reputation as an authentic and awe-filled truth-seeker, not as a politically incorrect provocateur. His sincere reverence for the awesome reality of the human person is a potent antidote for a civilisation whose spirit has been oppressed by secularism and nihilism.
.. striving not for the greatness of alpha status in a world of brutes but for the greatness of communion with the God who is love.
If you actually experienced these worlds, and contrasted them with the normal world of high-minded liberal secularism, it was the charismatic-religious and “health food” regions
- where people were the most personally empirical,
- least inclined to meekly submit to authority, and
- most determined to reason independently and keep trying things until they worked.
That’s because those worlds’ inhabitants were a self-selected population who had either experienced something transformative or suffered something debilitating and been told by the official consensus, “We have no answers for you yet.”
.. If you refuse any non-F.D.A.-blessed treatment for chronic illness because there’s no controlled study proving that it works, or have a religious experience and pre-emptively dismiss it as an illusion without seeing what happens if you pray, you may be many things, but you are not really much of an empiricist.
.. Which is why in many instances the interests that Pinker dismisses as irrational hugger-mugger, everything from astrology to spiritualism, have tended to strengthen during periods of real scientific ferment.
.. It’s not that there is some quantum of unreason that needs an outlet when reason’s power grows. Rather, it’s that when people and societies are genuinely curious they are very reasonably curious about everything
.. Which is why if Pinker and others are genuinely worried about a waning appreciation of the inquiring scientific spirit, they should consider the possibility that some of their own smug secular certainties might be part of the problem — that they might, indeed, be stifling the more comprehensive kind of curiosity upon which the scientific enterprise ultimately depends.
European nations like Hungary and Poland are reasserting their Christian culture, posing a bigger threat to Brussels than Brexit ever will.
The eastern states are reasserting their historic Christian character, much to the chagrin of politicians who see this as incompatible with the modern liberal creed. The head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, wants his nation to show “the sick Europe of today the path back to health, fundamental values, true freedom, and a stronger civilization based on Christianity.”
Ancient faith and secular ideology are on a collision course. The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.
The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.
.. The more perceptive of Christianity’s detractors within the EU project realize that the truths of the faith have the potential to derail all that they believe in and strive for in this world.
.. Poland and Hungary have both been referred to the European Court of Justice after unequivocally refusing to take in migrants under the EU’s mandatory quota system. These governments watched Angela Merkel’s Germany open its doors to well over a million migrants, with the resultant assimilation problems and political fallout, and decided it wasn’t for them, while even in Germany the right-wing populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) took 13 percent of the vote in the last election, becoming the first nationalist party to enter the Bundestag in almost 60 years.
.. The most corrupt state in the union—Bulgaria—has now ascended to the EU presidency.
.. Bulgaria has “reached a stage of state corruption which we describe as state capture.”
.. For all the talk of Brexit, these frictions could prove much more damaging in the long run.
The social goods associated with faith flow almost exclusively from religious participation, not from affiliation or nominal belief. And where practice ceases or diminishes, in what you might call America’s “Christian penumbra,” the remaining residue of religion can be socially damaging instead.
.. regions with heavy populations of conservative Protestants had higher-than-average divorce rates, even when controlling for poverty and race.
.. But the lukewarmly religious are a different matter. What Stokes calls “nominal” conservative Protestants, who attend church less than twice a month, have higher divorce rates even than the nonreligious. And you can find similar patterns with other indicators — out-of-wedlock births, for instance, are rarer among religious-engaged evangelical Christians, but nominal evangelicals are a very different story.
.. In the Christian penumbra, certain religious expectations could endure (a bias toward early marriage, for instance) without support networks for people struggling to live up to them. Or specific moral ideas could still have purchase without being embedded in a plausible life script. (For instance, residual pro-life sentiment could increase out-of-wedlock births.) Or religious impulses could survive in dark forms rather than positive ones — leaving structures of hypocrisy intact and ratifying social hierarchies, without inculcating virtue, charity or responsibility.
.. Among those working-class whites whose identification with Christianity is mostly a form of identity politics
.. at least some the problems they see at work reflect traditional religion’s growing weakness rather than its potency.
.. a truly healthy religious community should be capable of influencing even the loosely attached somewhat for the better.
.. On the secular side, though, there’s a sense that there’s a better way — that a more expansive state can offer many of the benefits associated with a religious community, but in a more enlightened, tolerant, individual-respecting form.