I’m not sure how many famous Canadians I can think of but until last week Jordan Peterson wasn’t one of them. I’d been vaguely aware that few friends of mine knew of him and were reading him but that’s it. Then this happened.
And then, in my blog feeds at least, he was everywhere. That video (a 30 minute interview on a news programme) has now been watched over 2.7 million times (at time of writing). That’s astonishing viewing figures for an interview with a Canadian academic over his latest book.
His new book by the way is 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. And you can find the 12 rules here (although rules 11 or 12 might need you to read the book). For a better interview listen to this one from the BBC.
The Spectator: Douglas Murray has written a fair bit about both this interview and the professor.
- Watch Cathy Newmans catastrophic interview with Jordan Peterson
- It’s easy to predict where the Cathy Newman backlash will lead
- The curious star appeal of Jordan Peterson
You can find one of the reasons Peterson has come to mainstream attention in this article Jordan Peterson and the transgender wars.
It’s also worth reading Matthew D’Ancona’s piece on this brouhaha Banning people like Jordan Peterson from causing offence – that’s the road to dystopia in The Guardian. Note this, which I think he is absolutely right about:
Of all the delusions that grip our fractious era, one of the worst is the confident belief that greater restriction of speech will necessarily serve progressive ends. I see no logic in that whatsoever. As Peterson warns, everyone finds something objectionable or upsetting. It would be a moment of maximum peril if the primary test applied to expression became its capacity to offend. Why assume that those setting the rules would necessarily support the powerless or the disenfranchised?
Now a few links to help you think through what this might mean for Christians.
Stephen Kneale on why the above interview is instructive for Christians in public debate.
Christians would do well to take note. This is the new form of discussion and debate. We have to accept that on key social issues – particularly issues of sexuality and human flourishing – we will be dealt with according to what our interlocuters presume we think despite what we actually say we believe. We can expect this to be multiplied to any number of other issues.
Alastair Roberts has some really good insights in his post: Jordan Peterson and Powerful Men
Peterson’s message is that men need to grow up because the world needs powerful men, and because women need powerful men. Men’s power is something that they have to offer the world and also something in which they should find meaning and dignity. And men’s power is good for women too.
Lastly Matthew Hosier wrote Peterson, Driscoll & the Millennial Man before the interview, so he gets to the heart of Peterson’s appeal.
Peterson has observed how his lectures attract a surprisingly large number of young men too. Peterson is a very different character from Driscoll, but his challenge to young men to ‘pick up the heaviest rock you can and carry it’ is strikingly similar. Many Millennial young men seem confused about what it is to be a man and something leaps in them when another man tells them what they can do about it: shoulder a load, take some responsibility, clean your room and make life better for you and for those around you.
You’ll also read that Peterson is a Christian. I think you should take that with a grain of salt. I suspect it will be used as an easy way to discount his views. Some say he is devout, he himself does not.