Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. His lectures have become highly controversial. Here are some thoughts about his rising popularity by Dr. John Neufeld.
I must admit, I have been rather slow in paying attention to the Jordan Peterson “phenomenon.” I heard his name mentioned repeatedly in the past. More than once, I was urged to listen to his podcasts. Recently, someone urged me to type his name into YouTube, along with the word, “gotcha,” and listen. And so, it seems, I was the last person in Canada to listen. I was immediately fascinated.
Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. His lectures have become highly controversial. Recently, in an address at Queen’s University, protesters gathered outside, pounding on the stained glass windows of Grant Hall, breaking one of them. One of the protesters was found with an apparatus possibly meant to be used to kill him. They chanted coarse slogans and demanded that the University not allow him to speak. That same reaction has been heard in other places.
But Peterson is not only heard in Canada. Just now, the Gospel Coalition has done a rather fine article on him, found on their website. I understand the London Underground is plastered with posters promoting his new book. I recently found an article in the Guardian, describing how Australians are reacting to him. Time magazine just ran a lead article on his book 12 Rules for Life: an Antidote to the Chaos, which has risen to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. One article recently reported that Jordan Peterson might just become the most read Canadian author of all time. By any standard of measurement, Jordan Peterson has become a phenomenon.
What is Jordon Peterson all about?
Peterson writes and speaks against identity politics, postmodernism, gender studies, gender confusion and the political correctness that seems to stifle all communication. He challenges Canadian laws that are written to muzzle dissent. He points out that in 2016, Canada passed a bill which added gender expression and identity as a protected ground to the Human Rights Act. Essentially, that means that if you don’t use a person’s chosen pronoun, you can be guilty of hate speech.
Peterson argues that all of this amounts to no more than authoritarianism and a coercion of free speech. In an interview with the BBC, he said, “I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time – for 40 years – and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory. There’s no way I’m going to use words made up by people who are doing that – not a chance.”
What Dr. Peterson says about the gender question should interest all of us. He states that the question of gender identity is a psychological epidemic. In an interview with Christie Blatchford, speaking about people who identify with a different gender assigned to them by their biology, he says, “This happens all the time. Freudian hysteria was a psychological epidemic; you very seldom see Freudian hysterics now. Multiple personality disorder is a good example; you don’t see any cases of that anymore.”
Peterson believes that the current gender debate is mass hysteria. He also believes that legal attempts to suppress objections are one of the greatest threats to our times.
Although Peterson is not a Christian, Christians must hear what he has to say. We do well to listen, for he says many things we should have been saying, but have been far too intimidated. He represents both calmness and boldness.
One final point. I pray for Jordan Peterson – not because I agree with everything he says, but because I believe his voice is so necessary at this hour. And regarding Christianity and the belief in God, Peterson says he is not a Christian, but he is afraid that God might just exist. So for that reason, I am praying for Jordan Peterson.
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