Some people think I hate Jordan Peterson. The reason for this appears to be that I don’t fall down in adoration of Jordan Peterson as God’s anointed prophet to the Church, or indeed as a guide of any kind.
Contrary to the tribal convictions of his conservative Catholic groupies, that does not indicate hatred on my part, but the same sort of attitude I take to any non-Christian, pontificating on matters of the Faith when they are speaking outside their specialized field of competence.
So I will credit the views of, say, a non-Christian historian talking about some aspect of history he has studied (the Crusades, say) because he knows what he is talking about. I will pay attention to a scholar of Plato talking about Plato’s influence on the development of the Christian tradition, because he knows what he is talking about. Conversely, just because somebody is a Catholic does not mean they are automatically endowed with competence to talk about some field of academic studies.
The thing with Peterson is that he appears to me to be somebody genuinely interested in the Faith and, perhaps, on his way to entry into the Church. Great. I hope he does.
But that does not make him a prophet or guide. Indeed, it makes him, at most, a catechumen, and one I have no confidence in as somebody competent to talk about the Faith or even his own baffling field of study. Here, for instance, is a typical illustration of Peterson’s thought:
It’s not the only such chart providing us with his Map of Reality. And seeing it, it is hard for me to avoid the sense that this is all a bunch of rubbish. That sense only increases when he suddenly holds forth with this stunningly ignorant ipsi dixit:
It’s a tough choice:
On the one hand, you have the ignorant tweet of a non-Catholic pop psych oddball mysteriously valorized as an alternative Magisterium by right wing Catholics looking for affirmation in all the wrong places. On the other hand, you have the actual Magisterium of the Church, with an entire huge body of teaching called the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Now here’s the thing. I have no problem with a non-Catholic being ignorant of the Church’s teaching. What do you expect? Even most Catholics are ignorant of it. It’s a huge body of information and it is normal for people to not know a lot of it. I’ve been a Catholic since 1987 and I’m still learning about it. And when you consider the fact that the Catholic tradition aims to communicate God Almighty himself to us, the idea that the Catholic faith is a “subject” or “topic” that can be “mastered” is insane. Far wiser the story of Augustine walking on the beach and pondering the Trinity, only to meet a small child pouring ocean water into a hole in the sand. Asking the child what he was doing, he was told that he was trying to fit the sea into the hole in the sand. When Augustine told him that was impossible, the child (suddenly revealed to be an angel) retorted as he vanished that it was easier than fitting the mystery of the Triune God in Augustine’s tiny head.
So I have no problem with a maybe/maybe not catechumen having ignorant opinions.
What bugs me is that, because this odd man reinforced a couple of their culture war opinons about sex a few years ago, conservative Catholics hoisted him on their shoulders and declared him a prophet, Doctor of the Church, a guru, a sure guide and an alternate magisterium. He’s not. He is a crank. And he is a crank who needs to abandon some dangerous associations with whack job racists and with their racist garbage, like this
When Apollos, also attracted to the Faith, was found to be going around preaching well-intended but ignorant half-Christian stuff (since he knew only the baptism of John and not the full story of Jesus), Priscilla and Aquila welcomed him, took him in, and “explained to him the Way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). They did not drive him away as a heretic, but neither did they fall at his feet as a guru. They taught him the gospel. Peterson’s views appear to not even pass muster as well-intended if they drink from Molyneux’ deadly notions of racial superiority.
Somebody should be teaching Jordan Peterson the gospel, not elevating him as prophet, teacher, and guru when he is not, after all, even a Christian yet, much less a Catholic.
Somehow, in some fanboi circles, that makes me a “hater” of Peterson. I have no idea why.