The Staying Power of Dr. Jordan Peterson

Dr. Jordan Peterson is everywhere. It’s been a rocket ride for him since he rose up to do war with bill C-16 in Toronto, which Jordan believes, among other things, criminalizes pronoun usage.

It would be difficult to fire him since he is a tenured faculty at University of Toronto, but one thing that can be done is the denial of grants for his research, which has happened. He instead crowdsourced financial support, which has yielded the rate of $150,000 per year. He is taking that money to pursue some of his dominating ideas while cutting back on his private counseling practice.

One of those ideas is the bankruptcy of the humanities, particularly English departments, social work and sociology departments. His announced aim was once to decrease the number of students in these departments by 75% over the next five years. I think he has backed away from this as too vengeful and capable of misinterpretation. I know that at one point he was going to identify both professors and courses which had completed broken with the Western Enlightenment project and the Judeao-Christian tradition and had bought into a Neo-Marxian and Postmodern model. He quickly backed away from this profiling.

But the one thing he has not broken away from is his dominating concern with Postmodernism and Neo-Marxian ideology. The question that comes up time and again is whether or not he truly understands Postmodernism, which essentially asserts that all ideology is simply a move from and toward power and hierarchy. Nothing is true or untrue. It is simply useful or not useful for purposes of gaining power. This is a very cynical view of things, no doubt.

Here is Peterson’s response to whether or not he truly understands Postmodernism. We all will do well to pay attention to Jordan. He is now a player on the social/cultural/political stage. Time will tell how much staying power he has.

Copy of MLK’s Exam When He Taught at Morehouse College

Here is MLK’s final exam when he taught at Morehouse College. Not too far off what papers I assign for the political philosophy module in my Ethics class. It is clear that MLK wasn’t just responding to specific injustices he protested but working from a larger philosophical/theological framework that wove these protests into a larger fabric of justice.

He is proof that great ideas, known and meditated upon, water the roots of any movement that seeks to redress great wrongs so that it remains vital and enduring. Mere protesting is only for the moment. Those who seek true change in our politics should spend real time in reading and considering the great writers. Action alone is not enough.

Thus, the Reading Right Book Club, sponsored by the Pembroke Republican Town Committee, meeting the fourth Monday of each month, 7 PM, at the Lydia Drake Library, 340 High St.

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Immigration and the Two Conversations We Have To Have

There are two conversations that must occur together in Western society. There is immigration itself. Who? How many? Where from? Merit based? What constitutes a refugee? Etc., etc. Then there is a second discussion. There is immigration and then there is immigration to welfare states, which is a wholly different thing, which means immediate state subsidy of immigrants that actually turn into generational welfare.

In effect, states now pay immigrants to immigrate, and not just legal immigrants, illegal, too. Previous to 1965 in the US all immigrants had to have a sponsor who ensured that the immigrant would not become a ward of the State, at his own cost if necessary.

Americans who protest against this are not racists, bigots, and very bad Christians who don’t follow the Bible’s precepts. They want to discuss fairness and justice without being vilified, even though they insist on having that discussion even if vilified. They have a right to challenge the justice of imposing undue costs, increased burdens on civic infrastructures (schools, hospitals, crime, etc.), effects on employment and wages, effect on voting demographics, etc. It seems the only way they can have this conversation is by sheer insistence and political hard ball. The Dems flip on the fog machine and yell racist.

Part of what happened in the 2016 election with Trump’s election is the belief that the Republicans as a party did not want to have this conversation, particularly with Jeb Bush speaking for institutional Republicanism. On immigration he was a Democrat. Rubio (the Gang of eight), the same. Trump was the only one who would allow this conversation to happen, even if many Republicans did not like him, his tactics, his language, his brawler style.

The Dems and large swaths of the GOP had shut this conversation down. They are still trying. But there is only one thing standing in the way – the people, the half of the people who casts votes in the last election. That’s a lot of people. They have not gone away, even with the antics and language of Trump. They are looking past the GQ Gentleman of the Year Award. They want that conversation.

And people who try to shut down conversations aren’t gentlemen, either, by the way.

Game Called On Account of Darkness

To the best of my knowledge I have never called another’s Christianity in question due to his or her’s political opinions. That is not what I do nor where I go.

The toxicity created when Christians attack other Christians’ souls is a poison worse than the issue at hand. I evaluate positions and options and make mine known. When some Christian says to another Christian that the opinion he or she has is due to them being a bad Christian, the game is called on account of darkness.

The rage I now see is a blight that strips the landscape of life and verdure. It scars all. This doesn’t mean Christians cannot call other Christians to repentance. I hope not. The Bible explicitly calls us to bring correction and rebuke to errant brothers and sisters. The Lord knows that I have been turned from the error of my ways by a courageous brother or sister who chose to block the path I was on that would only lead to destruction. To do this is necessary and always in season. Yet in a moment this turns to bullying, leveraging, and shaming. After 68 years, virtually the whole of my life immersed in Christ-following and pastoring, I think I know the difference and can detect its stench from afar. When I sense this is in play, as a general practice I do not interact or comment. I withdraw. “Who is the best Christian” is a game I do not play.

To the degree that I know myself, I think I genuinely do not judge another’s spiritual life by their politics and have never blocked nor raged against them. I have only twice in all these years on social media blocked another, and even then it was because of the way they were going after others with whom I was in conversation and not the way they were treating me. So, let the conversation continue.

I learn a lot when Christians disagree, and though many say people don’t change their mind by what they read on social media, I do, and love to read what friends believe and feel.

My Response to Reading of Masha Gessen’s “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.”

I am reading a phenomenal book by Masha Gessen, “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.” I came across her on an interview on NPR. Impressive. Depth of insight and wisdom in expression. She tells the story of Putin’s Russia and of the Communist Soviet Union through the journeys of several people. Very personal with dramatic description. Her grasp of the intellectual battles in play, the grasp of the devastation worked by the Communists to shape the perfect Soviet Man, and the working knowledge she has of the currents of ideas and literature are thrilling to the hungry minds of readers who are grasping at air to understand just what happened in Russia over the last 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution.

One of the surprises to me is the importance she attributes to Western sociology’s introduction into the Russian universities to give the people conceptual abilities to explain what they were going through after having been stripped of Western thought by the Soviet regime. Sociology was particularly culled out of the curriculum in the academic world, for it offered explanations of human society apart from Marx’s pure materialism. Lenin insisted that economics alone and the battle against capitalism were sufficient to bolster the Soviet experiment. This left no place for the human in the human being.

I have been critical of sociology’s role in re-engineering Western society. University students set loose with sociology degrees, rooting themselves in government and social services, have been particularly to blame for the constant and unremitting attempts to secularize our country without reference to any transcendent order and with its particularly scathing appraisal of religion and its value for elevating the human condition. With calculators, statistical and demographic studies, charts, and a constant attack on the family traditionally conceived, they are our secular priests.

Yet Gessen attributes any gathering of light in Soviet society at least partly to the introduction of sociology. I’ll buy her point, which is that it focused on the human being as human apart from the ideology of the State.

Putin’s rise to power has been in her crosshairs in the book, “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” which I also want to read. Heard her interviewed on that book as well. She demonstrates a working knowledge of Hannah Arendt’s works and applies the lessons there to the Russian experience.

Here is an interview with Gessen about Putin. And here is an interview on her book, “The Future Is History.”

The Golden Globes and the Beast at the Gate

Trump’s ability to use the media has nothing on these guys at the Golden Globes. Hollywood’s love affair with disordered sexuality is notorious. After the Golden Globes, now they seem to qualify to be on the Religious Right and appear on James Dobson’s radio program. Having participated in degrading sexual civility and marching it across the silver screen, much less what they offer on cable, now they want to volunteer to be guardians at the gate. Sure, why not??? They have been at the vanguard of making our shame our glory.

All of us have that dark side that we spend a lot of time building fences around. (OK, it’s just me, I know). We never lose the ability to embarrass ourselves at any age. The beast is never tamed. It can only be caged. Hollywood tells us that beast is the real us and authenticity is embracing it.

A lot of time and effort has gone into constructing a civilization where the beast doesn’t freely prowl its streets. Traditions, manners, civil codes, religious enterprise, community networks, etc., have over time constructed pathways that both guide us and warn us that there are other paths that destroy. This is a critical aspect of conservatism, honoring time-worn and tested ways that have yielded functioning societies.

I am not only thinking of the heritage of the West. China comes to mind with the advent of Mao and his attack on Confucianism, which in many ways, judged by the standard of the amount of peace a philosophy can bring to a society, is the world’s most successful religion. Mao outlawed Confucianism, enthroned marxist dialectics, and introduced a terror of which mankind had previously been incapable. The terror of the State became the only force to control man, and the interior motivation to the good and the ordered was destroyed.

BTW, this is one of the reasons I am not a libertarian. It fails to recognize the organic nature of a tested and organized society in producing the good man. It’s mantra of personal liberty as the great good loses focus on the institutional support necessary to both produce and preserve liberty. This is why I am a member of the Republican Party and not the Libertarian Party.

Anyway, Hollywood is the last place I go for advice on ordering our civil life. By their track record, they have earned my censure.

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Feminism and Frankenstein

The Daily Mail posted an article on Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” today. The article reflects on her life and work in response to a soon to be published book by Fiona Sampson, “In Search of Mary Shelley.”

Some time ago I read “Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley,” by Charlotte Gordon, who presented her work at the Boston Book Festival. I was glad to be in the audience.

I knew of Mary Wollonstonecraft (d. 1797) and had read her work, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” Christopher Hitchens was a fan of her work and based on his recommendation of it, I got a copy. It was a very good read, sensible, reasoned, and, of course, ahead of its time. She died giving birth to her daughter Mary, dying from an infection caught through the dirty and unwashed hands of her doctor, not an uncommon event in those days.

Mary grew up to be the author of “Frankenstein” and many other works. She was also the wife of the poet Percy Shelley, was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. His bohemian lifestyle brought them into much misery, both financial and maritally. She endured many of his infidelities and lost three of her children to death through their itinerant living. Shelly drowned in a boating accident at age 29. She went on to a life of writing and a guardian of Percy Shelley’s literary estate and legacy.

Life was never easy for her, but she carved out her place both as an entertaining author and a thought leader for feminism.