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Eve Keneinan @EveKeneinan
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It’s time to talk about Jordan B. Peterson’s remark concerning God.

[THREAD]
First, this is not a theological statement about God.

This is rather, in line with Peterson’s conception of Darwinian truth, and his area as a psychologist, a comment on the EFFECTIVE TRUTH about God as HUMAN BEINGS ACT IN THE WORLD.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon."
This does not mean that Christ teaches the existence of a being called “Mammon” that is a rival God to God.

Mammon is money.

Christ is saying that, no matter how pious one PRETENDS TO BE WITH WORDS, if in his actions, MONEY is what he cares most about, then money is his God.
Peterson isn’t saying anything is out of order with what Christ said.

The point is that man WILL HAVE a highest value, and whatever that value is, THAT will be “God” for him—EFFECTIVELY, PRAGMATICALLY, FUNCTIONALLY—because it comprehensively orders his being in the world.
THE error in religion is to place something OTHER than God as your “God.”

And since you can’t not have an orientation to God, the human choice is: God or idolatry.

And since anything not-God is nothing in itself, God or Nothing or, which is the same, God or I:
MODERNITY is such that it tries to REPLACE GOD as the highest value, with MAN, on the basis that it is MAN who does the valuing.

This is synonymous with the tendency in modern thought to elevate WILL and FREEDOM above INTELLECT and TRUTH.
Consider the Greeks.

The Greeks concretized their highest ideals poetically, in the Homeric epics, specifically in the persons of Achilles and Odysseus.

No one can avoid this question: HOW SHOULD I BE IN THE WORLD?
For a long time, the Greek answer to “How should I be in the world?” was

“Be like Achilles” or “Be like Odysseus.”

This fruitful tension ANIMATES the Iliad and the Odyssey. Who is THE BEST OF THE ACHAEANS?

Is it Achilles or is it Odysseus?
Achilles is the warrior, the man of direct action. Words that connote “straight” cluster around Achilles. He hits his enemies until they fall down—even when his enemy is a river or a god. Achilles will never stop and is unstoppable. He attacks his objective in a straight line.
Odysseus is the strategist, the man of beguiling words, outthinking his enemy, of tricks and and stratagems. Words that connote “twisty” cluster around him (and in later Greek though “crooked” or “twisted”—Odysseus becomes far less heroic in later Greek literature).
Odysseus tells Polyphemus his name is “no one,” μή τίς, mē tis, leading to the cyclops’ pathetic cry “No one is murdering me!”

But this “lie” is also the truth, because μή τίς is indistinguishable (aloud) from μῆτις, which means “cunning,” “guile,”—which is PRECISELY Odysseus.
As an aside, Achilles and Odysseus as archetypes very clearly map onto Superman and Batman.

Even to the point of Batman’s habit of saying his name, “I’m Batman.”

That is equivalent to Odysseus saying “My name is μή τίς.”

Batman’s superpower is effectively “being Batman."
Something new happens with the coming of philosophy.

Plato dares to propose that HE, and NOT Homer, deserves to be the TEACHER OF ALL THE GREEKS.

How do you PROVE something like THAT?

You write a book which both is and is better than the Iliad and the Odyssey put together.
Plato would be insanely hubristic—if he didn’t pull it off.

With the Republic, Plato gives the Greeks a NEW IDEAL, the man of WISDOM, SOCRATES.

Thereafter, BE LIKE SOCRATES is the answer to “What mode of being in the world should I pursue?”

Be like Socrates. Seek Wisdom.
Not only the Platonists—including that most Platonic of rogue Platonists, Aristotle—but also the Cynics, like Diogenes, and the Stoics—in short, ALL THE PHILOSOPHICAL SCHOOLS concur in this:

BE LIKE SOCRATES

Epictetus goes so far as to say Stoicism amounts to just this.
As epic (literally) as Achilles and Odysseus are, the West proper gets it shape only when philosophy appears on the scene and Socrates is held up as the IDEAL for the human mode of being in the world.

Socratic piety is to seek God in Wisdom in humility, knowing he does not know.
Socrates represents, as it were, the highest ideal the man could give himself. If there were no God, man could not aim at a higher ideal than Socrates.

Nietzsche concurs:
It is in Christ, however, that the West finds its HIGHEST ideal, which is given TO MAN BY GOD rather than TO MAN BY MAN.
In Christ, the West finds its highest ideal in the outpouring, self-emptying of SELF-SACRIFICIAL LOVE.

LOVE is higher even than WISDOM.

Wisdom finds its completion in LOVE, in CHARITY.
What, then, does a man take to be “God”?

Whatever his highest and most fundamental value is.

Aristotle already noted that for ALMOST ALL human beings this will be

1 pleasure = fun, enjoyment, entertainment, distraction
2 money = wealth
3 honor = status, power, recognition
Aristotle goes on to show HOW and WHY each of these ideals FAILS US.

Higher than these is VIRTUE, the ETHICAL LIFE.

Higher still is WISDOM, the PHILOSOPHICAL LIFE.
Socratic optimism proves insufficient to overcome the tragic dimension of life. Soon enough, the highest ideal of the philosopher and sage becomes RESIGNATION—to a world in which human nature is, as Aristotle again says, “in many ways, enslaved.”

Stoicism is the culmination.
A tragic sadness and gloom hangs over the entirety of the ancient world, one which we moderns—in our ceaseless frenzy of attempts to distract ourselves—rarely confront head on.

But the wisest do. This is the problem of NIHILISM, the emptiness and meaninglessness of existence.
This is Nietzsche’s problem. This is Dostoyevski’s problem. This is THE problem of modern man.

Christianity burst on the gloom of the ancient world like a brilliant ray of sunlight from above, cutting through the gloom like a laser beam.
But, says Nietzsche, “God is dead,” and he is not wrong—but this means, “Modern man has lost sight of God. The light from above, the Sun beyond the Cave, no longer shines upon us.”

Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, used the term “The Eclipse of God.”
God, always a hidden God, has withdrawn in our age. This non-appearance of God is the fundamental FACT of our age.

Atheists think they have achieved something by their unbelief, when it is merely the basic character of our age. They are merely sheep, part of Nietzsche’s “herd.”
Our greatest minds have grappled with this problem—the Death of God or the Eclipse of God—for 200+ years.

“We don’t need God! Man can create heaven on earth!” was the cry of the 20th century, particularly in Communism and Fascism.

We know how THAT worked out.
The idiot-Marxists (and there is no other kind) are STILL trying to use the flawed clay and flawed tool that is MAN to create Utopia.

But nothing succeeds like failure in disabusing one of an ideal.
So today, more and more, we see the Marxist “social justice” left give less and less a damn about ACTUALLY FIXING MAN—

It is obvious that social justice is a fake religion of Original Sin (sins such as “racism” or “white privilege” or “toxic masculinity)—but without REDEMPTION.
But if there is ORIGINAL SIN and NO POSSIBILITY OF REDEMPTION—we are back to the tragic gloom of late antiquity.

Science cannot save us, no more than Philosophy saved the Ancients.

It can’t even give us the RESIGNATION of the Stoic.

Modern man is LOST and HOPELESS.
The virtue of Jordan Peterson is that he is not hesitant to put this TRAGIC SITUATION OF THE HUMAN CONDITION front and center.

He has no patience with modern man’s attempts at what Pascal called “diversion”, and rightly so.
You can only distract yourself from the spectre of meaninglessness for so long with an XBOX, drugs, and/or Twitter.
I will again allow Nietzsche to state the problem—even if his boast of having found the SOLUTION has not exactly panned out:
“A Yes, a No, a straight line, a GOAL.”

This is what we lack.

“Resignation” is the best we can do—and modern resignation is more pathetic than tragic.
As Marx said, history repeats itself, the first time as TRAGEDY, the second as FARCE.

Antiquity is the pre-Christian tragedy.

Modernity is the post-Christian farce.
Peterson’s problem is THE problem of modernity. He has articulated it in a more popular way than most others—and this because the time is ripe for modern man to understand his situation.

Everyone senses the West is dying, but we have no direction, no goal, no way out.
Peterson’s “clean your room” resonates because it is profound: “Put your house in order.”

That means: “Sort yourself out.”

That means: “Know yourself, in all your EVIL and WRETCHEDNESS.”

Modern man is FAR behind Socrates. VIRTUE and SELF-KNOWLEDGE would be a huge step up.
We are far behind Socrates, and Socrates is the best humanity can do on its own, and Socrates is NOT ENOUGH.
G. K. Chesterton noted this about the appearance of Christianity precisely in the ROMAN EMPIRE.

Rome was magnificent. Rome was Rome.

Rome was the BEST HUMANITY COULD DO. Man could DO NO MORE.

And it was NOT ENOUGH.
THIS is the context in which one must understand the Good News of Christianity.

THIS is why Christianity places beside LOVE, although subordinate to it, the more-than-human virtues of FAITH and HOPE.
It is a fool’s errand to think we can reject FAITH for FAITHLESSNESS without at the same time rejecting HOPE for HOPELESSNESS and LOVE for LOVELESSNESS.

Better to suffer the hatred of the Nazi than the compassion of the Marxist.

Both lead to gas chamber or gulag. One is HONEST.
In saying that “God is the mode of being that you value most, as manifested in deed, in action” Peterson attempting, rightly, to put the question of God into the foreground, where it MUST BE.

Modernity is shallow enough to think that God is a merely intellectual question.
But then, what would we expect from an age that thinks PHILOSOPHY is adequately understood as “puzzle solving”?

Read Quine, if you wish, but don’t expect anything.

Nietzsche and Dostoyevski are the ones who see furthest into the PROBLEM AT HAND—which is an EXISTENTIAL CRISIS.
Peterson isn’t trying to “define” God. He is trying to TALK ABOUT GOD in a way that our shallow, distracted, pathetic secular age might have some faint hope of UNDERSTANDING.

And God be with him in this attempt.
People wonder why I “hate atheists.” I don’t.

I hate ATHEISM because atheism is co-extensive with meaninglessness and ultimately death.

I don’t like to quote the same thing twice in one thread, but the alternatives for human beings are:

LIFE or DEATH

=

GOD or NOTHINGNESS
In an existential crisis, we either LIVE or we DIE. There are no other options.

The crisis—DYING—cannot go on forever.

And things which cannot go on forever—don’t.
In any event, it is necessary to again proclaim—and understand!—the Christian Good News:

DEATH IS NOT GOD.

IN CHRIST, DEATH DIES.
Death is the thief, the thief of everything, everything you have, everything you are, unless LIFE > DEATH:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

This is the meaning of the Resurrection of Christ.
If you need to take the triumph of life over death, the resurrection of Christ at first only SYMBOLICALLY, ALLEGORICALLY—ARCHETYPALLY, as Peterson would say—fine.

But it must also be REAL to be EFFECTIVE in the world. A phantasm cannot conquer the horrible finality of DEATH.
At the very least, we are quickly losing the luxury of ignoring the problem.

Our best minds, our philosophers like Nietzsche, our writers like Dostoyevski, our poets like Yeats, have been SCREAMING AT US for more than TWO CENTURIES:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Against the dissolution of all things, Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air,” it is necessary once more to assert the TRIUMPH of LIFE:

Χριστός ἀνέστη: “Christ is risen.”

Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη: “Truly He is risen.”
The Christian message is not behind us; it is ahead of us—if we STILL HAVE an “ahead”—and waiting to be discovered anew.

Many still find it, even today.

Thanks to Dr. Peterson, even more may.

Will it be enough? Only time will tell.
But I remain hopeful—I am, after all, a Christian, and therefore not only authorized, but commanded and commended to HOPE.

And FAITH.

This is the only way: HOPE and FAITH united in LOVE.

There is no other path. So let us begin again upon it.

[FIN]
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