Canonical

God Fearers
An Open Letter to Christian Readers of Jordan Peterson & Roger Scruton by James Bryson

This should be widely read. It is an astute connection of Peterson and Scruton with current religious, cultural and political issues. The only objectionable error is referring to them as ‘conservative,’ when they are both liberal in the classical sense. Other bits with which one might take issue are matters of opinion. The author’s take is as an orthodox Christian writing to Christians.

The analysis is also interesting because while Scruton and Peterson are both “defenders of the faith,” their defense is often unsatisfying to the orthodox, triggering to the Unitarian wing, and anathema to Liberation Theologists such as Pope Francis.

The orthodox generally focus on Peterson’s refusal to publicly avow Christ as Savior. The latter two groups object to his defense of Western civilization generally.

The orthodox critics make two mistakes here. One, if you want to interest the great unwashed in the possibility of salvation through Christ, how can you object to raising people’s curiosity about the meta-narrative of the idea? Two, if you wanted to preserve the West’s intellectual canon – which is heavily predicated on your faith and inextricable from it – why attack your obvious, and effective, allies? What’s to fear: Doctrinal impurity among those who would otherwise disdain to glance at your religion? Let them come to understand what you helped build before imposing a litmus test.

Feeding a hunger for meaning, demonstrating that people will spend dozens of hours deeply exploring the West’s foundational texts is a threat to those ‘Christians’ who take Christ as optional; to those who believe they can perfect mankind – given secular power. Not to you.

The author largely dismisses such criticism. He does, however, offer his own challenge to Scruton and Peterson:

I promised to say a word about where Scruton and Peterson might be pushed from an orthodox Christian point of view. They do not need advice from me, especially since it’s the authenticity of these men—that they are what they seem and mean what they say—that holds our attention. So I preface these criticisms by saying that I do not think for a minute that they should change who they are or radically alter the course of their arguments. Instead, I suggest that Scruton and Peterson should simply continue to become more deeply who they already are.

This brings me to something Peterson and Scruton have in common: the Kantian “as if.” Peterson says he acts “as if” God exists—that “he’s afraid” he might. This simply won’t do when it comes to God. The way to convince men of integrity and seriousness, like Peterson and Scruton, is to meet them where they are strongest and most convinced—that is, as moralists.

Neither would ever countenance the idea that you should treat your wife “as if” she were your wife—”as if” you had made a promise to love and cherish her until death do you part. Nor should you treat a friend merely “as if” he were your friend. Friendship and matrimony must be grounded in an indubitable reality, or else they are nothing at all. When put to the test, “as if” arrangements will show themselves to be mere fantasies projected onto the screen of unreality. One need only appeal to the pragmatist in Peterson to make the case: How well are marriages doing in our “as if” culture? How abundant is friendship, good will, and respect for the rule of law?

The whole thing falls apart if it’s not real; that is, if it’s not true. No amount of willing or acting “as if it’s true” will do. God must be the ground of all reality through Christ his Mediator—the eternal and incarnate Logos. There is no other way to see and accept the goodness of being that Scruton and Peterson defend. This is something we believe, but it is also possible to know it, just as it is possible to know ourselves even as we are known. This does not demand a leap of faith in an existentially absurd sense—it’s a deeply rational vision, both logically and intuitively, and it is one that we, Scruton, and Peterson already share. But we need to make ourselves continually aware of it. This is what we call the sacramental life.

This is interesting but, for me, unconvincing. “As if” doesn’t seem to me to indubitably apply equally to a wife and to God. One still calls for that willing suspension of disbelief. I also find “How well are marriages doing in our “as if” culture? How abundant is friendship, good will, and respect for the rule of law?,” circular, in context. Peterson and Scruton would certainly answer, “Not as well as they should be,” but that doesn’t prove anything. Nonetheless, it’s the best offering I’ve seen.

The KGBT

Beto Targets Tax-Exempt Status of Churches Opposing Gay Marriage

The power to tax is the power to destroy. Beta O’Rourke just invoked that taxation power to threaten every church, college, or charity – any institution – which does not toe what should be now be known as the KGBT Line.

“K” is close enough to “L” for government work.

That’s the work which should be governed by the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

But Progressivism is a religion. It’s being established in order to suppress freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The press is complicit.

Peaceable assembly is attacked by Antifa, academiots, Democratic presidential candidates, and municipal martinets, among others.

The grievances of tiny, vocal minorities – fashionably high in the victimhood competence hierarchy – are being mooted as Federal government policy.

So. A nine year old child was abused in order to abuse the Constitution.

The Progressive audience applauded.

Meaning and Millennials

“I think that often people come to the conclusion that life is meaningless because that is a better conclusion to come to than the reverse, because if life is meaningless, well then who cares what you do. But if life is meaningful, if what you do matters, then everything you do matters, and that puts a terrible responsibility on the individual. And I think that people are generally unwilling to bear that.”

-Jordan Peterson

Professors Jordan Peterson and John Vervaeke are colleagues in the University of Toronto Department of Psychology. They share an interest in the study of life’s meaning and reject moral relativism as nihilistic. They’re students of science and metaphysics.

Vervaeke, psychology specialties: Perception, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
PhD 1997 University of Toronto, Philosophy
BSc 1991 University of Toronto, Specialist in Cognitive Science
MA 1985 University of Toronto, Philosophy
HBA 1984 McMaster University, Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude

Peterson, psychology specialties: Social, Personality and Abnormal
PhD 1991 McGill University, Clinical Psychology
BSc 1984 University of Alberta, Psychology
BSc 1982 University of Alberta, Political Science

Their voices are sorely needed as the Humanities move ever deeper into postmodern despair, absurdity and self-deception; and Science faces political pressure to abandon scientific method as sexist and/or racist.

Our educational system has gone to a lot of trouble to replace such sources of meaning as family, competence and merit by deconstructing individual responsibility into a collectivist competition for victimhood participation trophies. Reason is similarly challenged: There are no truths, only interpretations.

This has negative consequences, especially for those who grew up during this cultural shift. To be sure, much of what follows doesn’t apply to most Millennials, but we see evidence daily that there’s a problem.

One example: We’re told Millennials in the workplace desire “purpose over paycheck.”

Purpose should be easy: “You do this. We pay you.”

Instead, it seems likely “purpose” in that phrase substitutes for “precisely aligned with my life values and goals,” or “meaningful.” There’s nothing wrong with such an aspiration, but it isn’t realistic. For one thing, your colleagues would all have to be of one mind. That’s one reason jobs that provide life meaning are not common. Even self-employed I couldn’t be sure my job would always fulfill a particular “purpose,” including meeting payroll. And who could make sure the customers would co-operate? But, some people expect job “purpose” to be supplied by others.

In any case, as we’ll see, Millennials don’t appear to be finding deep meaning through their employment. That might indicate they are incapable of finding it in themselves.

And why would they be? They’ve been conditioned by effusive praise to expect meaning to find them. Meaning becomes external. Like a job. Or ‘Likes’ on Facebook.

A Millennial meaning deficit is strongly suggested by the fact that Millennial suicide rates are soaring: They experience high rates of depression: And they may be the “quintessential postmodern generation.”

They’ve been cut adrift in a sea of narcissism by their parents and their professors, who should have taught them moral values and how to think, but handed them participation trophies and moral nihilism instead. Many Millennials have come to expect constant and instantaneous validation of their merit, whether they’ve displayed any or not. That applies to their opinions too, many of them are convinced that simply taking offense grants them some sort of moral authority.

They’ve been misled about their capabilities. They’ve been lied to about their prospects. They’ve been suckered into huge student debt by what amounts to academic fraud.

A growing cultural anomie should not be surprising. Nor should we wonder why Millennials flock to hear Jordan Peterson, and increasingly John Vervaeke, speak for two hours about how to find meaning. For a dozen lectures.

Reason and meaning are under siege because of guilt by association with Western Civilization. Peterson and Vervaeke are playing defense. Some examples:

I’d say watch the whole thing, but this link will start at 2:04. Watch until you want to stop. TWT is 20:49.
Jordan Peterson *NEW* The Meaning of Life

Here’s an interview about meaning: John Vervaeke: The Meaning Crisis (39 minutes) Again, the whole thing is worthwhile, but the link starts at 18:32. There, Vervaeke puts his finger on the epistemological question raised by Postmodernism. It’s a serious question.

Vervaeke has recently started a series of lectures on YouTube: ‘Awakening From the Meaning Crisis.

Consequences: logically absurd conclusions

I sent this link to a friend and muttered about “logically absurd conclusions.”

A Canadian Human Rights Spectacle Exposes the Risks of Unfettered Gender Self-ID

Part of his reply was, “It is interesting that this topic is consuming so much energy – and the unintended consequences of the efforts of those seeking change.” The assumption that the results are unintended is charitable. And self-disarming.

There is a VERY tiny number of people for whom the trans-absolutist contention that a man who says he’s a woman is a woman even matters.

Nonetheless, they are driving the debate over whether the fundamental concepts “male” and “female” have any biological or cultural meaning. That is intentional. In fact, it’s the core intent.

I want to believe that individuals like “Jessica” Yaniv are simply profoundly disturbed. Eventually to be dismissed. Yet, they have a following and are supported by large corporations, government, academics, and frothing at the mouth Twitter warriors. They are distorting the public perception of victimhood and oppression, while redefining “violence” to include pronouns.

In this article the author refers to Yaniv as a woman because he would otherwise be courting legal jeopardy in Canada. Yaniv is a sick man, being indulged by government (behind which indulgence is a gun) out of fear of the fraction of a fraction of (by one estimate involving 19 US states) .52% of the population attesting gender dysphoria.

I reluctantly include a link to social media threads between Yaniv and ~14 year old girls wherein, among other vile conversations, he is asking for advice about how to talk to the girls’ peers about tampons and pads when he is in a female locker room/bathroom. Until recently the records had been sealed by Canadian courts.

This link is supplied for documentary purposes. The content is disturbing, though the site is safe.

This man is heinously twisted. He is a sexual predator. A person possessing a penis and testicles who insists on a Brazilian wax job from 16 different economically marginal, immigrant women.

Using the word “man,” to describe him may be verboten in Canada. It is already verboten on Twitter. Meghan Murphy and Lindsay Shepherd were banned from Twitter for suggesting Yaniv is not a woman.

The charitable explanation fails to account for this:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.””

― Theodore Dalrymple

Maybe Yaniv is simply a useful idiot taking advantage of an inflamed social zeitgeist to indulge his sexual deviancy while making a few bucks, but the purpose of those who originate such ideas is not to protect the marginalized, it is to marginalize and undermine Judeo-Christian mores, the idea of the nuclear family, freedom of conscience, and ultimately Western Civilization.

And even useful idiots are not innocent. They are culpable for their practiced, willful ignorance.

Look at where we’ve come. Children as young as 6 are being mutilated and poisoned to change their sex. Martina Navratilova, formerly a respected lesbian spokeswoman, is defenestrated for disagreement with the ‘men can literally be women’ trope. Men are winning women’s sports competitions. Female Brazilian waxers are being sued for refusing to manipulate a penis and testicles. Churches are being riven. Language is being radically distorted. College dorms are being resegregated according to identity-group fractures. Quotas based on sex, and sexual identity, are in place or being contemplated. Males are routinely vilified for their chromosomes. The Army pays for sex-change surgery. Libraries sponsor drag-queens reading to toddlers. Legislators cheer themselves for approving abortions at any time if the mother’s health is at risk (without defining ‘health’). Speech is being compelled. See also.

This is not an exhaustive list. It’s just about sex, and even then incomplete. If you take ‘intersectionality’ (the SJW claim that all ‘victimhood’ is related) into account, the list grows much longer.

It does explain why so much energy is being expended: Those consequences were foreseen and desired. Assuming otherwise is dangerous.

Victimhood competence hierarchies

“Tyrannical pathological hierarchies are based on power…”
-Jordan Peterson

Dr. Peterson sometimes refers to our traditional hierarchies as hierarchies of competence, since they arise organically out of our necessity to act in the world.  To do something is to want to improve the way you do it.  Some people will become better than others in some given action.  Some people achieve higher ability to cook, some become more proficient in math, others in music, or sports.  There are infinite hierarchies in which you may compete.  You can even create your own, like Paul Durand-Ruel, Steve Jobs, or Lee Felsenstein, Efrem Lipkin, Ken Colstad, Jude Milhon, and Mark Szpakowski, and enable millions of others to invent new hierarchies.

While any hierarchy is subject to corruption, they are inevitable, biologically ancient, and not by necessity pathological or tyrannical. Though those based on power usually are.  It’s sort of the point.

Social Justice practitioners are telling us all hierarchies are entirely socially constructed, unfair,  and oppressive – excepting theirs – which they don’t admit to having.  But what else is the jockeying for power in the identity group/victimhood sweepstakes about?

We haven’t yet seen a merger of the many contenders trying to prove they are the biggest victims and the smallest oppressors.  The hierarchy of victim hierarchies is yet to be settled science. The Intersectionalist Progressive Social Justice Cartel is having some nasty fights trying to sort out their pathological hierarchy:

QTIBPOC vs. LGBTQ
Trans vs. feminist
Indigenous group vs. Indigenous group
Black LGBT vs. White LGBT

Given what they insist all the rest of us must believe, I think tyrannical also applies.`  And we don’t even have the comprehensive doublethink manual yet, since they’re fighting over it.

To advance their cause with less embarrassment they need is a kinder, simpler way than Twitter fights to sort it out, preferably based on objective analysis of the victim/oppressor ratio. Because nobody is a perfect victim.

If they did find the perfect victim, they’d have to make him/her/it/zir/xe/Mr. Mxyzptlk the Dear Leader of the world utopia. You might think of it as the ultimate inverse hierarchy, because actual competence in any real thing is a Western, white, colonialist, patriarchal concept.  To be avoided.

I surely don’t understand the intersectional nuances that would allow me to compare a black gay male who hires a fake hate crime attack on himself, with a brown cis-gender (and why do I have to use a made up term now to indicate ‘normal’?) female who spouts anti-semitic drivel in the US House of Representatives.  An objective assessment may well be impossible.

Each individual objecting to someone else’s existence will have their own criteria. We could ask them all their opinion of everybody else and average the results (sort of like Facebook); Throwing out those rated below some arbitrary score – by other voters whose ratio was in the top 1% on the victim/oppressor ratio scale  (sort of like Twitter).

Running, especially enforcing, that system would be the prize for winning the victim/oppressor ratio sweepstakes.

Still, if we were to attempt objectivity, even to arrive at an informed individual opinion, a complex spreadsheet to calculate power rankings might serve. We’re after a way to model other people’s thoughts. We need to place the technology into individual hands, since it is obvious we can’t depend on the SPLC anymore.

Let’s consider the complexities via example. Rate a black, homosexual male, wealthy actor; vs. a white, trans-female, wealthy former Pentathlon champion; vs. a brown, female, anti-semitic, Islamist congressional member; vs. a white, 1/1024th Amerind, biological female, wealthy United States Senator. It’s not easy, and those are only a few of the factors. The enterprise seems very difficult.

victim-oppressor axis

This is the type of analysis intersectionalists demand as a principle of governance.  And, that’s just a poor preliminary attempt to begin to capture the variables currently driving the SJW power struggle. It doesn’t include anywhere near the required profile information. I tried filling it in for a couple of people I thought would help refine scoring. Maybe you can guess who they are.

Complicating this further, just when you might think you have a workable algorithm someone gets offended by something you did not expect. For example, here’s an example of a lesbian, trans, Leftist, female academic in the Humanities you’d expect to score moderately well even if you’re white: A concrete example against which to test our calculation of the victim/oppressor ratio.

Students demand controversial prof be replaced by ‘queer person of color’

That controversial prof is Camille Paglia. You might think this means race trumps homosexuality as a factor on the victim/oppressor scale. I don’t think we can depend on that. From the complainers:

“In recent interviews she has blatantly mocked survivors of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement, and in classes and interviews has mocked and degraded transgender individuals. She believes that most transgender people are merely participating in a fashion trend (“I question whether the transgender choice is genuine in every single case”), and that universities should not consider any sexual assault cases reported more than six months after the incident, because she thinks those cases just consist of women who regret having sex and falsely see themselves as victims.”

Aha! The problem is Paglia’s opinions and outspokenness, which one could at least imagine being held by a “queer person of color.” It isn’t about color.

The entire identity politics internecine war is about thinking the right thing. Thinking correctly is hard to define, though. It depends on the thought processes of the person thinking about someone else’s thoughts. See: Red Guards.

Full circle we have come. When objectivity is thrown out the postmodernist window, objective rankings are simply impossible. And that’s intentional, since any reference to a set of rules could inhibit the exercise of power.

So, it’s back to imagined victimhood points minus perceived privilege points times influencer points divided by the reciprocal of Twitter followers. The factors for race, sexual orientation, biological sex, wealth, income, religion, political affiliation, etc. are left to the student.  If you are intersectionally woke the answer just pops into your head.  Of course, that may not be the same answer another woke intersectional arrives at…

Clarity of thought, rational arguments, philosophical consistency are irrelevant. We don’t need no freaking spreadsheet to identify thoughtcrime. Besides, Excel itself is oppressive because it uses numbers, and its very name is a violent affront to nihilistic mediocrities cowering in their safe spaces everywhere.

It’s not so bad though, those of us not caught up in the victim-identity Olympic trials can eat lots of popcorn while we watch.

Man In Critical Condition After Hearing Slightly Differing Viewpoint