Who Wants to Be (Most Like) Christ?

I am not the only oneconcerned about the way in which Jordan Peterson talks about Christianity, although not everyone goes so far as I did to call him a heretic.

To be liable to being considered a heretic, my Facebook friends insist, you need first to declare yourself a believer, and it is not clear whether Peterson thinks of himself in those terms or not. One interviewer calls him “a devout Christian,” to which implied question he is quoted as answering, “Yes.” But when another interviewer asked, “You call yourself a Christian?,” he responded, “I don’t; other people do.”

Certainly, it is possible that he does not know the answer himself; he would most likely reply, “It depends on what you mean by believe.” But to judge from the responses my blogposts about him have been getting, many of my friends have been drawn to his lectures on the psychological significance of the Biblical stories as much by the thought that he is making Christianity if not great, at least interesting again, as …

What I Learned Writing About Jordan Peterson

Some of my Facebook friends are very upset with me for the blogposts that I have been doing these past four weeks since watching Jordan Peterson’s interview with Cathy Newman.

One has just left this post on my own Facebook page about yesterday’s blogpost:
Another shameless post of mind-reading and armchair psychoanalysis with a bit of shock language thrown in for drama and clickbait. And unless you’re suggesting that a boyhood playground tussle is similar to a crucifixion your example of Mary is histrionic to the point of absurdity. If one were to play this same game directed at you they would say this is an example of an Oedipal Mother defending her sick need for her son’s dependence. That would be wrong to do of course—just as wrong as your misguided and unfounded attack that you have cloaked in fake compassion. This is not a friend whom I know in person; she friended me almost exactly a year ago because she liked what I had said in Milo’s defense. She is much less happy about my re…

Our Lady and the Old Infant

The convener of one of the Jordan Peterson Facebook groups that I participate in has been pushing me for some time now to be more compassionate towards our professorial “father.” Or, as my friend puts it: “to take off your fencing gear and model the Nourishing Feminine.”

Okay, then, but I have to warn you. It is going to hurt.

What do I see when I look at Jordan Peterson with a mother’s eyes?

I should preface my reflections with the caveat that I speak here not just as the mother of a son, but also as an historian. Reading the textual accounts left by people about their thoughts and emotions is what I do in my scholarship. Just as Jordan has spent the past thirty years as a clinical psychologist, I have spent them as a reader of texts,* my goal as an author being to help the texts speak to audiences for whom they no longer mean anything. I have practiced listening to my texts just as Jordan has practiced listening to his patients, and I hope that I have been able to hear.

More to the p…

Who Wants to Be a Heretic?

I have been struggling for some time with whether and how to write this post, but not writing it is making me feel weak, so, following Our Father Jordan’s advice, I’m going to say it.

Jordan Peterson is a heretic.

His Orthodox friend Jonathan Pageau would say all of us Latin Christians are heretics, of course.

The question is whether it matters.

It does.

My burden is to help you see why.

I know from the Facebook groups I belong to that many of his followers take Jordan as a kind of spiritual advisor, some would say guru. They spend thread after thread discussing how to live out his sayings.

Which would be fine.

If not for the fact that some of his sayings go directly contrary to the tradition in which he purports to be speaking.

I know, I fell for it, too. In Jordan’s powerful words:
Don’t underestimate the power of your speech! Now, Western culture is phallogocentric. Let’s say it... It is predicated on the idea of the Logos. The Logos is the sacred element of Western culture. What do…

Alma Mater, or Why MILO Sits on a Lion Throne

I never set out to teach like a woman, but somehow it happened anyway.

Back when I was a beginning teacher, my great hero was Erich Auerbach, more particularly, Erich Auerbach as the author of Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature(1953). His whole method seemed to me to be genius. He would start each chapter with a lengthy block of text, which he would then use as a key to unlock the underlying patterns of Western culture, wondrously made visible through his close reading of the text.

You can see how I use this technique in my blog posts, but it comes from my teaching. In effect, I encourage my students, “Submit yourself to the word, and let it teach you. If you read carefully, thinking about what the text tells you about why the author was writing and paying attention to what it can tell you about the circumstances in which the author found it important to write, that is when it becomes a proper historical source, something in which you are able to ground an ar…