Jordan Peterson is Saruman (Part 1)

In recent writings I have spent a fair amount of time considering Jordan Peterson. Although, after this rant I shall take a little break from the subject (in order to catch up on some Peterson research: I do still have a lot more to say). Now, one of the concerns I have about Jordan Peterson has been the consequences of his publicity slot, on Channel 4 News, for Cathy Newman, although Cathy’s experience is far from an isolated case. In my imagination (or TFHT) I have envisioned the miscreants that have spent so much time and energy bothering Cathy as Jordan’s Troll Army of Internet Brown Shirts; pulled together by the psychological trickery of a Master Manipulator of the Mind (for what else shall we call a professor of psychology).

The Brown Shirts (SA) were an important instrument in Hitler’s rise to power (or at least his struggle for prominence). The SA silenced those who would oppose or question the voice of Hitler. The methods of the SA were crude. They did not engage in reasonable debate with those who spoke in opposition to Hitler’s ideas but silenced them – stopped opposing views with fist and boot (mind you they also engaged in the street fights with the Communists, who were also willing to do brutal things – the world always fails to be simple, even with a tidy bedroom).

Some followers of Jordan Peterson are a little touchy – acting too much like devotees of some fragile, egomaniac cult leader. This begins to make things difficult for those people who would question Peterson. But ‘difficult’ is not the word to describe what has befallen Cathy Newman; it is intolerable and an affront to all that is decent, pure and valiant. Foul fiends beset Cathy’s every move on social media and hardly a word of reason can be heard [note: presently things seem to have eased off a little for Cathy and the voice of reason seems to have somewhat retuned. I won’t take responsibility for the clearing of the Great Siege but will, out of interest, continue to watch things closely]. Now, had Twitter existed, the SA would have sought silence in much the same way; as voices of difference were made gone (though to be fair: likely less ‘friendly’ on average). Now, I do accept that my analogue is a little lazy and risks being met with immediate offence by those who have enough history to understand the allusion but their behaviour is more deeply offensive. And, even so, one should note that my comparison is not without use and instruction. It is applicable and those who have happily volunteered their services to Jordan’s Troll Army of Internet Brown Shirts should remember that Hitler eventually betrayed his own Brown Shirts on the Night of Long Knives. They trusted their Fuhrer, though I’m sure Jordan Peterson is one to be trusted… whoops, sorry; that is not what I’m saying. I’m not sure Peterson is one to be trusted. The misguided young men who joined the SA were too delighted with the permission for violence, which they believed had been granted to them, that they didn’t pay attention to the danger signs. Well ‘pay attention’ (one can’t fault Peterson on that point): Jordan is not free from danger signs.

Now, experience has shown me that in talking to a certain class of Internet denizen; revealing one’s capacity for counter offence and troll like silliness is the currency that buys respect. I actually sympathise with the manner of ‘troll activism’ – which is not politically aligned, though how things break down statistically would be a worthy study (I suppose Cambridge Analytica already know the answer and how to apply it: hence Trump and Brexit). But I did not, as such, actually call anyone a NAZI [in the interests of impartiality we should like to point out that other brands of fascism are available from every well stocked high street superstore]. The Troll Army besieging Cathy Newman may be under some dark whispered command of Jordan Peterson but that does not even remotely make Jordan a Hitler (I’ve seen a few YouTube titles talking of Jordan’s running against Trudeau but not having watched any of these particular clips, I have to allow that they may just be clickbait, as so many of them are, and so I have no idea if there is any real desire for political ambition).

As should be clear to the well ordered, untroubled mind; I simply draw attention to the problematic behaviour of the hoards of stench that befoul Cathy Newman’s online presence, by referencing another misguided hoard. The SA had a mission to silence opposition and create a space for Hitler’s voice to be heard in a vacuum; without meaningful challenge. Thought: if one silences the voice that seems other, the debate will only ever have the illusion of reason. Cathy has been silenced (and she was not really even part of the debate). Jordan points out that ‘the left’ will not engage in debate with him. Is the fearful fate faced by Cathy (and others) the reason why the left would rather avoid talking to Peterson. Does Jordan not see that his Army of Trolls have silenced debate (oh! I suspect he is very well aware that it has).

But here is the thing; according to Peterson and his admiring followers, it would seem as if Cathy was more than silenced in her opposition to Jordan’s beautifully reasoned arguments. Cathy has been revealed wanting in prowess and left fallen, fully annihilated in fierce battle with the Mighty One; welcome hero and true saviour of our lost and chaotic age. Two great warriors duelling: one the conquering king, made confidant in his noble quest. The other: Champion of the Evil Empire, fearsome foe felled by the instability of their own rotten lusts, twisted by proximity to the traitorous manipulations of the Enemy and now exposed by the Truth of Reason embodied in the New Messiah Jordan.

Two heroes, only one leaving the battlefield. Yet rather than let the downed champion be buried with honour and respect, her body is hacked to pieces by Jordan’s indisciplined legions. What sort of army celebrates the victory of their hero by bringing a mob of dismembering mayhem (this leaves one wondering who really are the forces of dark chaos).

Is this what Peterson intended when he called for the ‘kek boys’ to leave the underworld (4Chan); to bring the troubled forces of darkness to war in some great devastating double cross. The whole mass troll treatment of Cathy Newman seems at odds with Jordan’s most public statements: I’m at a loss to understand how anyone seeking to ‘grow the hell up’, will ‘throw their shoulders back’ and be satisfied that the ‘them shaped hole in the world’ is but a cog in a siege engine used in such an unjustified and ignoble battle; having contemplated on the voice of Reason (wrestled with the meaning of Logos) and mass trolling Cathy Newman is the answer.

If Peterson is not devastated at the pointless, pitiless virtual mob violence against Newman (and others), perhaps ask if he is some sort of sociopath: at what point does a lack of compassion make one a functioning psychopath – if we chip away at society’s appreciation for the ‘utility of compassion’ will our mothers and carers lose the capacity: both a childhood and dotage without the understanding of compassion (a hint of dystopia starts to emerge from Jordan’s envisioned future world).

Is truth that has been made free from the influence of compassion at risk of simply being meanness (Jordan’s troubling concept of truth begins to unravel): that’s a question to unpack but for another time.

Peterson talks of the conspiracy of the Extreme Left. Apparently the universities have already fallen. And once education has been won to the Enemy, all is lost; for the Great Evil has the mind of the youth in its hands and is now moulded to its diabolical Will. But what is the source of this Malevolence? Where does it reside? Where is Mordor (for what shall we call the head of the octopus)? Are we looking at the last ditch plan of a disintegrated Communists Empire; or perhaps the inscrutable programme of the People’s Republic. North Korea, even? Or is it just the continued existence of Marxist ideologies (did we not burn enough of Karl’s books yet: we are a tardy lot). Well this would make it a war of ideas. Academia has fallen to Marxism because of strength of thought. If the ideas of Marx are so poisonous and evidently wrong then either the capacity for reasonable thought has been lost (by all but Jordan Peterson), or there are a great cohort of brainwashed Marxist/Communist/KGB sleeper agents that have infiltrated the entirety of Higher Education. Regardless of how these lines of thought are followed, it becomes clear that Jordan Peterson is at least alluding to Conspiracy Theory. But does Jordan go beyond the origins of Marx (there are perhaps two points that get picked up by those that do seek the hidden motivations of Marx but Peterson seems to ignore both possible culprits). There seems great holes in Jordan’s consideration of these conspiratorial issues and there are arguments that Jordan will avoid exploring. It can be questioned: does Jordan Peterson seek to take advantage of the lack of critical thinking that is the fruit of our modern education system. This is the great betrayal of the educator and that accusation can run both ways (left or right).

Jordan Peterson’s conspiracy theories are substandard and unimaginative (okay, his vicious totalitarian trans lobby is pretty inventive) and I believe I can do a little better. Paying attention to Jordan, we find he has studied the ‘kek boys’; those dwellers of the 4chan underworld: what sinister hold does this psychology professor, this wizard of enticing words, have over the troubled mentality of chaos and nihilism? What twisted words have fallen from the silver tongued menace in his anonymous wandering of the Internet’s underworld. What army has been shaped. Saruman had his fighting Uruk-hai, and Jordan has his trolling Uruk-hai. Saruman had been seduced by the Eye (though betrayed by his own mad ambition), while creating a secret army, he fought for the Enemy with ill advice presented as the inevitable wisdom of the Learned Ones. Is this applicable without undue offence. Has Peterson failed to understand the Enemy or has he deliberately misrepresented the Enemy. There was a time when the Catholic Church spoke of those enemies who sought destruction (of Europe’s Catholic heritage) as including the Marxist/Communist element but they were not seen as acting alone.

We can put the concerns of the Catholic Church aside for a moment but notice one thing: both the Catholic Church and Peterson seem to come together on the anxiety of irreligious culture/systems in the world. But there is a gulf between their concerns (despite the hopes of Bishop Barron) that means the two cannot be (easily) reconciled. For Jordan, Marxism is basically a very bad (untrue) idea that fails: leading to totalitarian nihilist states. For the Church, it is (or was) the work of the Enemy.

Is this just linguist patterns obscuring the same core truth. No! A church that sees Jesus as but a myth, an Archetype, has no truth. But for Peterson it is all about Archetypes. When we talk about Archetypes, we deal with forms of universal individual, e.g. the Hero, the Trickster (yes, it’s far more complicated than this). I suspect the ‘troll’ personality is most likely to resonate with the notion of ‘trickster’ (though ‘shadow’ may seem more fitting for the army of trolling Uruk-hai). Cathy is not beset by an apparently never ending occurrence of Trickster Archetype (and she certainly is not facing any Hero). Cathy has been facing a daily mob; unthinking and dull (the genius of any individual member lost): the intelligence of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid person divided by the number of its members (Sir Terry Pratchett). But how does a mob form? How does it exist? What is its metaphysical reality? Is a mob the lowest form of Archetype – collective in nature like a spooked herd; unsure of why but happily acting without reason; individuals spontaneously unified by a force beyond their (conscious) selves. The mob is a collective Archetype. Yet collectively ignorant of the cause of its collective action or direction (slaves to a power unknown and beyond).

A mob doesn’t listen – reason requires honest listening. This may be why a mob will act unreasonably (a crowd becomes a mob when it will no longer listen to reason). Debate without compassionate listening descends into hostility, becoming accusations. But when we truly listen, debate has the potential to progress into dialogue. A debate may leave one side feeling they have won but in war there are only losers – bankers aside: yet, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul. Dialogue can lead to compromise and agreement (it can also reveal the Enemy). Nobody is fully correct but we are engaged in an eternal conversation of trial and error. We need to listen to each other and that seems certain: deep listening, which brings honest critique even of the self.

Women are worth listening to (many women are significantly more worth listening to than most men). But I will go a little further and say that it is right and essential that we listen to the female voice – it is urgent! I could choose to make my point through use of Christian thought but given Jordan’s use of Archetypes perhaps we can use a line of reasoning drawing on the most fundamental of deep Archetypes (one that does not exist in some nebulas notion of collective consciousness but instead is at the very core of our soul’s entanglement with our evolutionary being – the foundation of all): maiden, mother and crone. The terrible, all-encompassing power of the feminine expressed in her Trinity.

We listen to the Maiden though eyes soft and gentle as she whispers the sweet nothings that establishes our primal meaning. We listen to the Mother through eyes that can not bear the pain of her loss, because she is nourishment and discipline; yet her love is unconditional. We listen to the Crone through eyes of suspicion and awe, because she has the power to destroy happiness, or to give the nod of respect that makes us king amongst men.

The man that doesn’t listen to women is a fool!

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Jordan Peterson is Saruman (Part 1)

On Trolling: An Easter Message.

A response to Fr James Martin’s Facebook post “How does Jesus deal with trolls?” (26 March at 15:46)

Fr Martin’s article is a nice thought provoking read, having much that is useful and applicable but the themes could be more deeply, more rewardingly and certainly more generously explored: and, to teach granny to suck eggs, perhaps the subject could have been explored in a more Jesuit manner.

Fr Martin is obviously right that to be called a ‘troll’ has become an insult – or rather the nature of the insult (when has it ever been cool to be called a troll) has been remodelled by our experience of social media, mixed with a vague awareness of internet subcultures.

The sense of the insult is to suggest that a person is engaging in some form of ‘ugly’ behaviour simply for the pure joy of being an annoying jerk; an unruly bothersome scallywag: A troll’s actions being fashioned as negative and hostile and having the intention of harm and destruction. A moral line has been crossed and, revelling in meanness, the troll wilfully swims the dark seas of Nihilism.

The mistake that has been made is to think that ‘trolling’ is a reference to the ugly fairytale creature that hides under bridges waiting to startle the innocent: the hidden enemy that needs to be outsmarted if we are to achieve safe passage to the green, pleasant pastures of some ‘promised land’. It is this aspect of common usage and public misunderstanding that Fr Martin picks up on. But it is wrong and it is offensive to those who correctly understand the meaning and, indeed, legitimately choose to identify with the high art of a good troll. Perhaps similar to the irritation the true hacker feels when the automated exploits of a ‘script-kiddie’ cracking passwords is given the honorific of a ‘computer hack’. There is a difference between being a mean, negative git (a deliberate killjoy with nothing to offer) and the act of trolling. The two should not be so easily confused.

Now, Fr Martin has certainly experienced a mass negative meanness and outright hostility for suggesting that (and this is my paraphrasing): in our dialogue with and about people who identify as LGBTi, we should, as Christians, listen to their voices with respect; letting LGBTi people be heard in a manner that reaches out and allows reaching back – listening ‘with’ and not just ‘to’ the LGBTi voice. We are all human and all voices make up the totality of the human experience: in truth – no voice can be left unheard (this does not mean that all voices are correct, or even being honest, but this realization can not be used to justify prejudice or inhospitality). I’ve not yet read Fr Martin’s controversial work (Building a Bridge) but I have experienced the mean vicious hostility, that comes from the Christians of Hate, for daring to consider similar questions in an open and generous manner.

It was last year that I had my first online engagement with the question of what is the correct Christian response to LGBTi concerns. It is a subject I had normally avoided when navigating the various concerns of social media’s armchair theologians and amateur Christian Apologists (I’m controversial enough in certain of my views without needing to seek out the most contentious topic for discussion – actually the LGBTi question is not so controversial as my ‘big theological question’: Paul and the Christians of Hate and That Paul).

The particular thread of virulent hate and vitriol, with which I chose to engage, was in response to a question asked by an Australian without guile and concerning the then upcoming Oz referendum on same-sex marriage. My own entry into the thread’s spew of nastiness was a little, apparently innocent, question that was carefully thought out to provoke and encourage interaction with the dark sea of ill-reason. My question was polite, positive and touched with a gentle humour. There was no condemnation directed to the voice of hate (or at the voice of joy) and by Fr Martin’s understanding I was not being a troll. Yet, having read the thread, full of hate and intolerance, I knew (or hoped) that my unsuspecting question would collect a squirming scream of outrage in response: it would gather together the voice of the most vehemently hateful Christians in a show of unified hostility towards my hope for reason and, in doing so, expose their ill-reason to its fullest. My actions sought to reveal the maggot filled mind of false discipleship of Jesus. I engaged with every petty point, curse and the occasional argument thrown my way. I never actually contended for any position but simply challenged and questioned the claimed reason behind the idea that ‘homophobia’ (or at least rejection) is necessarily the default position for the faithful follower of Jesus to the LGBTi person. It was the voice of one struggling to land the unreasoned cry of the many to the Shore of Reason and Love. Honestly, I don’t know if I made too much of a dent in the staunchly intolerant but for those who didn’t participate but read without hate and with an open heart: perhaps the ill arguments were shown to be built upon sands without foundation.

A revealing has happened (of myself and of others): hate and ill-reason were exposed and an alternative way of being was glimpsed. It was a hard few weeks and by the end, left standing solitary and finally unanswered, I had somehow ‘won’. But it was a victory that left me greatly saddened and disturbed by the whole experience. I came away thinking that these voices of intolerance were angry that Jesus would not let them cast stones. Feeling ritually contaminated by their impurity of meanness, I deliberately provoked atheists on another forum in order to cleanse myself (to bring joyfulness back to my spirit). I knew the atheists to be less hateful and in places less rigid (only just) but the same thing: one voice against the many (unconcerned by the need for acceptance, or of being liked) challenging assumptions and ill-logic; that rigidity in thought that deafens one to the voice of the other (is this why Pope Francis tells young people that such ‘rigidity’ is an illness of the mind – it is also a spiritual sickness: if one is not open to the voice of the human other, then how can one be open to the Voice of True Reason that is the Mystery of the Divine Other).

Now, it is quite probable that ‘trolling’ is really a non-standard spelling of ‘trawling’ rather than a reference to mythical creatures. One is throwing out a bait filled line – casting a net. The bait can take many forms and the techniques of trolling can include many an inventive trick and turn – including deliberately ‘non-standard’ spellings. But the true troll is always hopeful that someone will bite and then the troll will seek to reel them in. A troll is simply fishing for dialogue with those they believe are lousy with ill-reason.

A ‘troll’ is a ‘fisher of men’!

In trolling there is cleverness and subterfuge; expressions of sideways humour, dark satire and off-key irony; inventiveness and the unexpected play in which norms are turned upon there head – there is a sense of mission (sure, there are some lost souls but an allegiance to Nihilism and mayhem is still a sense of mission): the true troll simply has a desire to shake things up and reveal ill-reason.

A troll at their best is a thorn in the side of hypocrisy and the unreasonable: a warning beacon to the dangerous stupidity of a rigid status quo in thought and institution (the rocks of betrayal upon which our faith is shattered). A troll at their worst is like the fisherman who throws his catch back into the sea. There was no point to the engagement but perverse enjoyment and display of skills – this is the ill-conceived troll: but don’t mistake even a ‘black hat’ troll for simply a purveyor of killjoy negativity. Anyone can be a negative jerk but an ‘evil trawler’ takes a certain intelligence, effort and learning.

Once we understand that trolling is really trawling, something else is made clear: a fleet of trawlers in pursuit of one fish is a nonsense. Such a scenario is the likely consequence of ‘ecological sin’; a path of ill-reason has been followed. Yes, Fr Martin has certainly received a mass of mean hostility (and continues to do so) but he has not really been mass trawled; even if one or two practitioners of the art have thrown their bait his way (or towards his supporters): it may be better argued that Fr Martin has provoked a response that was sadly obvious; even if Fr Martin did not realize to what extent social media would magnify the hostile response to what he has chosen to say. Fr Martin has cast his net and it is full to breaking.

Channel 4 News newscaster, Cathy Newman, has been mass trolled since her Jordan Peterson interview. She is a single fish chased by a fleet of trawlers: unlike the outright meanness of hostile reactionaries that have plagued certain statements of Fr Martin; much, if not most, of the bait thrown at Cathy Newman has been a somewhat creative but callous, often absurd, ridiculing and it is thrown at Cathy’s every move – she is not being trawled but suffocated. There can be no hope of landing Cathy to the Shore of Reason by those who have become the actors of ill-reason.

We read in our Gospels of Jesus doing and saying things that were likely to gather a response and it is probably correct to say that Jesus intended to provoke engagement and reaction.  But negative or positive, the choice is ours: “who do you say I am?”

Now, here is the trickster turn, the centrepiece of my own cleaver ‘troll’: if Jesus accepted His death and went willingly to the Cross; if he knew what he was doing when He refused to run from the great tide of ill-reason that sought to wash Him away to oblivion, then Jesus has set in play the ultimate troll: the God hung broken upon a tree. A provocation to the entire world to engage with Divine Wisdom, the very Reason of Jesus.

The Crucifixion, that negative and hostile response of rigid ill-reason to the Message that is Jesus, is reversed and placed upon its head becoming God trolling humanity: an invitation to a dialogue that reveals who we are and who God is.  The Master Troll continues unrelenting.  It is not the negativity of death that is the ultimate troll, as that honour belongs to the joy of Resurrection, in which the expected rigidity of death is turned upon its head, and death is shown only to be the ultimate ill-reason.

On Trolling: An Easter Message.

A response to @drs150250 (Centurian): I pray this is helpful for all our journeys.

The consequence of personal quest for self understanding reveals that (being human) I am an incongruous collection of contradictions. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I am in many ways a deeply conservative person: hinting at the problem with simply thinking of people in terms of ‘left’ or ‘right’. Perhaps ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ are more helpful terms but then it should be quickly seen that it is possible to describe someone as a ‘left-wing, conservative’ or a ‘right-wing, progressive’: in fact the more we start to try and reduce people to ‘slogans’ the more we realize that people are not reducible to ‘word-symbols’. When people reduce themselves to political slogans they are in some sense acting with dishonesty (against the self): ‘bad faith’.

I am Catholic and deeply love my Church. Do I think it is perfect and without blemish – that would be an act of gullibility. It is certainly credulous to think gullibility is the preserve of the young and/or the left. Actually the relationship between trust and gullibility are worth exploring (at what point does the one become the other). Ideas are fantastic for those who enjoy engaging in ideas. Some people get viciously attached to ideas, such that a contrasting idea is perceived as a personal affront. One does not own an idea if they have not engaged in some form of honest critique. When one has criticised their own beliefs and ideas one becomes more open to those with a difference of opinion; it becomes possible to understood where the other is coming from. People are different and people are the same. This difference and similarity is what we are and it can not be eradicated without destroying the meaning of ‘human being’.

I went to a Catholic college specializing in Philosophy and Theology (it began life as a Jesuit seminary college), other than Psychology of Religion, no other subjects were taught. The principal, during my time, was a conservative: at least he has been described in one book as, ‘the foremost voice of the conservative wing of the British Society of Jesus’: I have long forgotten the title of the book. A little prior to my enrolment the College had been embroiled in a controversy due to the appointment of a part-time Psychology of Religion tutor. She was to teach a course on Jungian Archetypes for postgraduate students. Her religious background is Wicca and as witches go, she is quite famous and well respected (as an intellectual pagan). She was appointed by a Jesuit who is unlikely ever to be known as a conservative or right-wing voice. The Church’s reactionary conservatives, perhaps better called Catholic traditionalists, brought a storm of protest that a witch should be teaching at a Catholic institution. The upshot of it all was that the ‘conservative voice’ gained a ‘victory’ and the college got a ‘conservative captain’.

With a simple reading of people; we have two Jesuits who would apparently fall on completely different sides of political thought. Yet when I had a particular question that I asked of the ‘conservative’ Jesuit, his response was to suggest that the ‘progressive’ Jesuit was the person to speak to. Both of these Jesuits are respected influences on my intellectual formation. And both of them had been able to escape the nonsense that someone who has strongly contrasting views must always be wrong, ridiculed and then rejected. During a class in Liberation Theology (a theology often accused of being on the extreme left, due to its engagement in Marxist thought), I made a remark regarding the left/right split in the Church (expressing surprise that the Church was engaged in a Right-wing, Left-wing political struggle). My Jesuit tutor basically told me that if this is how I understand it, then I don’t understand; and he was right. Things are far, far more complicated. It could be pointed out that generally the majority of US Catholics vote with the winning presidential candidate. One may like to suggest that this is the gullibility of Catholic’s voting for the most charming and charismatic rhetoric but it is also evidence that Catholics are less likely to limit their thought to Left or Right political allegiances.

The first essay of my second year at college was not the best. It was begrudgingly written (not wanting the Summer to finish) and with contempt for the shallowness of thought in the thinker I was responding to. The advice I received, during the tutorial (again a Jesuit, though slightly more than half of my tutors were not of the Order): it is easy to criticise if one has the skill but the difficulty, and the greater skill, is to build up what has been pulled down. Saying someone is wrong and showing why, is not enough; we can go further and show where they are right and build bridges between difference. To come close to what Jordan Peterson talks of: having wrought chaos, bring order. Bishop Barron may now see a chance to accuse me of being a hypocrite – though I suspect Bishop Barron would allow that a follower of Jesus may seek to bring an order different in nature to one for whom Jesus is but a myth.

Trust and gullibility are perhaps not unrelated to prejudice and cultural or institutional blindness (confirmation bias, group think, etc). This is a big philosophical subject but perhaps I can get to the point like this: when I am immediately attracted to a thinker I deliberately seek disagreement as a defence against gullibility; I choose to not give my trust freely. And when I am immediately repulsed by a thinker, I may allow the possibility that there may be truth in what they say (remembering that sometimes ‘truth hurts’): just because my personality intuitively finds certain ideas uncomfortable does not mean that the idea are necessarily wrong. Another warning to remember in life: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be! This most definitely includes academics suggesting there is complete scientific and scholarly justification for all one’s beliefs and prejudices (whether right or left-wing).

I have deliberately sought disagreement with Jordan’s ideas because of his personal appeal. But if one really pays attention to my complaint; it is that Jordan Peterson is not conservative enough and that he is too progressive: or better still, that he is conservative and progressive in all the wrong directions. The conservative Jesuit principal, mentioned above, once told our class (half joking, I’m sure) that Europe had all gone wrong with the French Revolution. Well, (only half joking), I might be prepared to argue that Europe all went wrong with the Renaissance!

But what I will say without any joking: our refusal to listen to the other, to treat debate and political difference as a zero sum game, will bring about catastrophe. Truth and peace are found in open and reasoned dialogue (rather than debate). Again, I am saying something close to Jordan Peterson but Jordan could be accused of seeking combative debate rather than honest dialogue and is perhaps not as reasonable in his arguments as his many fans seem to believe. But I’m happy to discuss openly with those who think otherwise.

A response to @drs150250 (Centurian): I pray this is helpful for all our journeys.

Rant 11: Jordan Peterson and the Bishop (a few notes)

So, Bishop Robert Barron has been talking about Jordan Peterson (again). He seems a fan but with some caveats (actually these seem quite significant but the consequences of which the US bishop doesn’t really follow through). I haven’t yet explored everything the bishop has to say on Jordan and at this point I am primarily responding to one particular podcast: ‘Jordan Peterson and Catholicism’ http://wordonfireshow.com/episode118/

The media Bishop has some clout and a rather high profile (as Catholic priests go, Bishop Barron is something of a Catholic celebrity – even having his own T.V. show). Amongst US Catholics, the bishop may probably still be more well known than Peterson – more free publicity for Jordan then. Yes, indeed: I’m sure Peterson is rather chuffed with his Catholic blessing. Though I suspect one fame junky feeding off another could be a slander thrown the bishop’s way. Perhaps the bishop just has shares in the publishing company behind Jordan’s self-help book for angry young men. Jordan is published by perhaps the biggest book publishing company in the world – yet in this age of new media and Amazon dominance, Penguin Random House is troubled: how happy they must be to have this publishing phenomenon helping to balance the books. But is anyone else troubled by the disconcert between Jordan’s narrative – the little man of truth and reason fighting against the elite, postmodern neo-Marxist infiltration and dominance of the establishment – and his comfortable reliance upon the same supposed suspect establishment? Not wanting to be needlessly tasteless, I will not draw attention to the controversial Nazi connection to one of the parent companies behind Penguin Random House. Bishop Barron also has a publisher with a solid German background – though, in the bishop’s case, a publishing company with a long history of theological publishing. As we are talking about publishing: the bishop’s brother seems to be involved in a little publishing (in fact any one who enjoys a little conspiracy theory might enjoy following those links but remember brothers are not necessarily friends, nor in the same lodge!).

Now, I do want to be fair to Jordan (and Bishop Barron) but the more I hear the more I worry (actually about both of them but here my main concern is the thought of Peterson, as seen through the eyes of Barron).

Jordan talks about Logos in a quasi-religious way: the Bishop seems to like what Jordan has to say about the Logos and how the Metaphysical sometimes touches the Literal (Jordan says he truly believes this but what can it actually mean). As the Bishop acknowledges, to someone reading John’s Gospel this may seem an acceptable insight (but Jordan seems almost oblivious to this – can that be so). But if Jordan had a correct understanding he would proclaim Jesus the God-man (forget about that part fabricated, part stolen figure of Noah). Jesus is the True Word – the expressed Logos of God. Having heard Jordan wax lyrical on the subject of Logos a couple of times, I am left with the question: does Peterson seek to de-Jesus the Logos?

The development of the concept of Logos is interesting and it pre-dates John’s Gospel but for our (Christian) culture Logos is a fusion of Greek and Jewish thinking and has basically come to mean the Word of God with particular reference to the God-man (“And the Word/Logos became flesh and pitched his tent amongst us”). The question is not really what did Ancient Greeks understand by Logos, or even what Philo of Alexandria understood by the concept, but what did John mean. Or to put it another way: why is it so difficult to find certainty in the Hebrew bible about the Spirit-Which-is-Like-a-Dove, if Jesus is so obviously the expressed word of YHWH.

This is a problem: if God inspired the bible then God inspired liars and blasphemers (something that doesn’t seem to too lost on John’s Jesus – “you are of your father the devil”, Jesus says to the Judaeans). The bible, despite its beauties, is not a pretty book. It makes God a murder (and dresses up the tribal god of psychopaths as the One True Universal God). Yet when the One True Universal God walked amongst Israel, the Jerusalem/Temple elite said “No, thanks – we prefer our insane tribal god to Truth.” But hasn’t that always been the case.

Talk of ‘Archetypes’ sounds impressive and quite rightly this is an area that Bishop Barron has some concern (mentioning the bugbear of gnosticism). Without going into any real depth: is talk of ‘Archetypes’ really just men writing and talking about men: all people are different and all people are the same – patterns of human beingness are necessarily found in the shape of individuals. For Jordan, despite his fancy words, is Logos just human reason, with nothing too difficult or unreasonable to be expected from his human reason – certainly no God of Surprises, turning the human world on its head.

It is hard to put Jordan into a religious box (he sort of flirts with being a believer in God but it is not clear what he means by God or how he relates that God to Jesus). The Bishop explains that Jordan believes in the bible texts (actually that seems a stretch) and the Bishop seems to think this is a good thing (as if people believing in biblical texts has never gone wrong). Personally, I can believe in Jesus – texts, not so much (especially ones so doubtful as the Hebrew bible). But if one is going to believe in them, one ought to understand them and here I actually have the Bishop in my sights (what!? Am I saying that the Bishop is a little lost – well, yes: and not for the reasons given by his ‘traditional Catholic’ critics). Actually, I think there may be a deep inconsistency in Barron’s theological reasoning but as I’m combining what he said with what he has been accused of saying, I will hold off on that line of though for the time being and instead…

It is funny that the Bishop should like Jordan’s need of three years to respond to the Resurrection question. What sort of Resurrection could Jordan believe in if he is agnostic towards the historical reality of Jesus (which he is). Bishop Barron seems to consider Jordan similar to Paul of Tarsus (who, on claiming to have witnessed the Resurrection, spent three years before going to Jerusalem and talking to the Apostles). I also consider Jordan similar to Paul of Tarsus. Paul spent three years trying to come up with an understanding of the Resurrection that didn’t require a lived life of a human Jesus and I expect Jordan would try to be as ‘clever’ but a Christianity that denies the flesh of Jesus, a preached Jesus without a lived life of Jesus, is consider by John to be of the spirit of the anti-Christ.

Mind you, if the Church had taken John seriously they would have realized long ago that Revelation 13:13 identifies Paul of Tarsus. Instead, as was prophesied, the Churches made the Antichrist (Paul) the primary interpreter of Jesus – the one who didn’t know Jesus and can quickly be shown to be a liar: Paul of Tarsus, that great deceiver!

I suspect that Jordan can only dream of deceiving the world to the extent of Paul the False Apostle but note that for the bishop, Jordan is the ‘spiritual father’ of hordes of angry young men – yet Jordan is not a spiritual leader and it is uncertain where he seeks to lead the silly folk that listen to him. Jordan flirts with conspiracy theory (just listen to his incomprehensible talk of postmodern, neoMarxists!?). Conspiracy theory about who is plotting to shape the world for their own ends is not without controversy. Anyone who talks about the conspiracies against humanity should ruffle feathers (the powerful and their plots should be exposed). Certainly Jordan has ruffled feathers but whose feathers has he unsettled (the powerful or the defenceless – is Jordan just a bully). What one says about conspiracy theory reveals much about what one believes and how much one has actually genuinely researched the questions involved. Anyone claiming to understand the dark forces who seek to crush humanity to their own aims will have to deal with the ‘Jewish question’. Anyone whose conclusion is that the Jews are only mentioned as plotters due to jealously of what Jewish people (and Israel) have achieved are as untrustworthy and revealed as those who say it is only the Synagogue of Satan that we have to be watchful of (Jordan claims that most of his friends are Jewish, which is fine but one may wonder if this is the source of his quiet attack upon Jesus).

Rant 11: Jordan Peterson and the Bishop (a few notes)

Jordan Peterson: initial post Cathy thoughts…

Was slightly ahead of the curve with this chap: at least with regard to my FB friends who seem to think Jordan worth listening to (and reposting). Yes: there at the beginning with the whole “I’m going to throw a Fawltian, ‘enough-is-enough’, Sybil is making me be pleasant to customers, even those of the of the all-powerful Trans lobby persuasion (which is most certainly now about to finally succeed in bringing to completion its diabolical plans for total world domination), tantrum.”  Not going to say too much about that particular issue but rather just meander through my initial sense of the Cathy Newman aftermath (will explore aspects of Peterson’s original controversy in Part 2 of ‘Can I Identify as a Kangaroo’).

Hadn’t been my plan to watch ‘that interview’ – generally assumed the whole thing was likely nothing but silliness and hype (for Jordan’s new book). But one of my more reliably entertaining FB friends (without whom, my FB experience would be much the more poorer indeed), posted a Peterson clip of Jordan being interviewed (about his Cathy ‘interview’) by, if memory serves, a Dutch YouTube channel (the link now seems unavailable). Having a spare hour plus of time, decided to actually watch the thing. It took longer: ended up taking notes! Feeling that somehow I had failed in some deep inner struggle; or perhaps losing a game I hadn’t realized I was participating in (grim memories of school day playing fields coming back to haunt me): knew I now had no choice but to watch the actual Newman interview – mostly because I wanted to confirm my growing suspicion that the ‘interview’ very probably hadn’t been one of those historical television moments that should realistically generate interviews about the ‘interview’: which, itself, was really less of an interview and more of a publicity slot – Peterson was not news and not his book: it was all part of a promotional book tour. The Cathy Newman ‘interview’ is little more than Channel 4 News doing an “and finally…”. One may even begin to doubt if Cathy had an agenda beyond: “have to talk to academic about new selfhelp book (for angry young men) and simultaneously not cause viewers to switch over to the One Show – which is probably where the book belongs… now, what is the actual news?” But perhaps Cathy really was just fulfilling her role as clandestine agent of ‘the Postmodern Neo-Marxist Downfall of Western Civilization (or at least white male privilege: we’ll get what we can take but take it we will) Society’, but keeping an eye on one’s ratings feels more to my sense of what is likely.

Anyway, in this interview about his ‘interview’ with Cathy Newman, Jordan Peterson starts by asking; “who is the real Cathy Newman” – the one before or after the camera starts recoding. Well, they were probably both expressions of Cathy’s professional persona (she has been at the job for quite awhile) but Jordan goes on to accuse Cathy of being possessed by the ‘animus spirit’ (performance and its possible similarity to ‘channelling’ is a subject for another time). Peterson doesn’t go on to explain what he really means by this reference to Jungian theories, giving the excuse that it is too complicated (…for his followers – one sometimes gets the impression that Jordan is having a right laugh at the expense of his devotees but perhaps this is probably true of most cult leaders).

Peterson comes from the world of academia and so it is not surprising that he uses academic language. But when speaking with non-academics (or even those from another discipline), technical language can be highly problematic and misleading – dangerously so, when one’s primary audience is made up of angry young men that can not clearly see their place in this world.

Most people would agree that there are many problems within and pressures upon society (and many of these people would further accept that forces of chaos and division are deliberately at work): individuals suffer, with many drowning in their uncertainties about their place in the world – indeed, Peterson puts his finger on at least some of the problems (or at least symptoms) but more than this: he claims to offer a lifeline and that many (mostly) men are thankful (writing to tell Jordan how he has saved them). Peterson, with his particular background, must realize that (at least initially) a drowning (angry young) man will be grateful even to a passing slave gallery – now shackled to the oars, he is at least dry, breathing and with direction. The question of whose direction can wait.

Peterson seeks to make much of the Catchy Newman advert for his book (sorry, I clearly mean interview about his newsworthy ideas) as if the interview is revealing of deeper truths; somehow demonstrating to the world how utterly lost it is and how thoroughly the world is under the control of some radical, far left extremest agenda (who just happened to decide to give Peterson valuable air time despite his dedicated opposition to their agenda. Or had they put all their foul Maoist hope upon Cathy Newman: by day, mild mannered news reporter but by night, slayer of wayward academic polymaths).

Jordan suggests that Newman probably doesn’t believe in truth (due to Cathy’s tendency to present Peterson with a somewhat skewed version of his position with which to engage – the very thing, I suppose, that actually made the advert somewhat ‘fun’ and far fewer people would have watched the advert if Cathy had spent the whole time with: “So, Professor, please tell me about your theses and how you articulate its importance in relation to present societal needs, such that it is meaningful to the malaise of uncertainty that eats away the deep histo-linguistic foundations of culturally and evolutionary existential platforms of, in particular, male ‘beingness’?”). But, to get back on thought, if Peterson asks if Newman believes in truth – Cathy is entitled to ask, “what is truth?”

Let us backup for a moment, my reference to Pontius Pilate brings us face-to-face with Jesus. But only if one knows the Gospel story. Peterson certainly (though not, I think, in his Newman piece) makes reference to Christianity and has apparently begun to explore the bible for some of his YouTube lectures. Yet he believes that Jesus may not have existed (a point he makes in the interview about the interview). Obviously this is not the same as believing Jesus did not exist but it is still problematic for a Christian position, if one is agnostic about the actual lived life of Jesus – this comes too close to being of the anti-Christ spirit (2 John 1:7). It is fine for an academic to ask, “Is Jesus an actual historical figure?” but not for anyone wanting to make any sort of an argument for something like the retention of Christian values/culture. To preach Jesus without Jesus is highly problematic and may be an overly strong accusation to make of Peterson, so I shall hold off from doing so until further certain of how he seeks to use Christianity in his apparent agenda to mobilize the lost moping of grumbling masculinity (do Jordan’s male readers, who take on board his critique of identity politics and how the invitation to wallow in victim status is used as a tool for political manipulation, ever ask if there is reason why his methods seem very similar to the position he ridicules).

Jesus is not just true but Jesus is the Truth.

For Peterson, is Truth true or something that is other (the inner workings of the mind explained in the linguistic-analytical musing of psychoanalysis, perhaps). What does Truth point to for Jordan Peterson. Peterson is not a Theologian and not, it seems, much of a philosopher but he may be a great showman.

So, at college – when dealing with the concept of ‘Post-modernism’ we were encouraged to understand the term as something like a total collapse of faith in the truth of the Arch-Narrative such that now all is to be approached with the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’. What does this mean: all our stories about human triumph and salvation are revealed as fraud; whether religious, political or technological: all our arch-narratives have failed and this certainly includes the necessity and primacy of established authority – we now own and understand that authority is not to be trusted simply because it is claimed authority. Marxism is an arch-narrative – it tells a story of human redemption. Neo-Marxism can not be free of Marxism; so can it be free of narrative – thus can it even be possible to hold a post-modern, neo-Marxist position if one doesn’t believe in truth. With no truth, is it possible to be a neo-Marxist. To ask the question clearly: is neo-Marxism an attempt to salvage Marxist thought through the hermeneutic of suspicion, or just a mirage of an oasis in the desert of criticism. Really, I’m not entirely sure, I’m just thinking aloud. These are just the sorts of questions I would have been asking Jordan Peterson if he had been on my show doing an interview about the Newman stage of his book tour.

It is not clear how Peterson would respond to such questioning but perhaps one can begin to see the problem with ‘big words’; of using academic Jargon in a conversation with those who are not in the same discipline. This problem is intensified when trying to usurp a religious tradition for one’s own socio-political agenda. Jordan Peterson may believe that no Jesus ever actually lived but not only did Jesus live, He lives still. Peterson’s words could be construed as an attempt to cage the unfathomably confines of Christ – always an exercise in futility and bringing with it the kiss of death.

Christ is troubling and turns expectations on their heads. These included the expectations that men must belong to the male world and that women must belong to the female world. Jesus is also held to be victorious – Jesus has won. Jesus allows us to share in that Victory but this does not mean we have the power to manipulate our share to achieve a different victory (those who have read my other rants may well be aware that this is what I accuse Tarsus Paul of trying to do).

The Kingdom of Jesus is Victorious but it is not of this world – it is other worldly. Peterson is fighting in this world and for this world. He seems to be fighting for a traditional world of separate male and female domains (perhaps pointing out that he doesn’t need to fight for it – this is what happens, just see Sweden: even in the most liberal system there will be a male/female divide) but is not clear that Peterson has genuine respect for the female sphere (celebrating ‘manly’ women but disparaging ‘womanly’ men). Can you imagine Jordan Peterson washing the feet of his ‘brown shirt’ disciples; of welcoming society’s most marginalised and rejected. Have I missed something, or is Jordan Peterson fighting for a world very much like that to which Jesus stood in opposition.

In the Gospel story, Peter is quick to draw his sword and lop of an ear – to discourage the arrest of his master, Jesus. Peter is quickly rebuked by the Master and the ear is miraculously healed. Jordan talks of ‘manly’ men with swords kept sheaved but he is not that good at keeping his ‘brown shirt’ followers from using their swords – he may seem to try a little, if the external pressure is enough, but this should tell us that his heart is not really in it (and judging by the manner in which he continues to talk of Cathy Newman – even mundane healing seems a stretch of expectation).

Now, there have been many societies (perhaps most – if not, to some degree, all) that have maintained a strong separateness in the male and female domains (though some have allowed and even perhaps celebrated forms of divergence) and it makes a great deal of sense from many different perspectives and generally works well, but something has changed – civilization arrived.

Civilization sounds nice – we think about the great cultures that Civilization has given us: the works of art, the literature, the ideas, the architecture. The list goes on with an apparently never ending litany of worthy delights “Oh, Civilization! How dull life would we be without you?”

Civilization sounds nice and it is also quite comfortable but underlying the great cultures is always a potential expression of violence. Civilization is maintained through what we think of as military power – Civilization can not exist without the sword (and isn’t it always paid for by robbery – in fact, civilization could be redefined as: banditry justified through the illusionary authority of bureaucracy maintained with judicious use of thuggery). In a less civilized, traditional society; men being men (read: being stupid and getting into a fight) tends to be limited to small scale silliness (until civilization sold them guns) but Civilization brings total devastation to those who resist its promises of luxury because Civilization brings with it the resources to turn greed into conquest but not the resources to resist using such an unfortunate power.

And now the swords of Civilization have become push-button, intercontinental nuclear Armageddon. Manly sabre rattling no longer threatens simple misery and a season’s blight but potential world annihilation. Being manly is no longer a game – this shit has just got way too real.

It is past the time of being manly: now we need to be God-manly: the God-man was never scared to take women seriously, to listen to them to give his mother to us (“Look! Your mother”) and maybe it is time for the Mother’s voice to be heard. I suspect it might come in the form of a Howler and addressed to: “All my dear, idiot boys!”

Jordan Peterson: initial post Cathy thoughts…

Rant 9: Can I identify as a kangaroo?

 

My experience of people debating trans issues (part 1).

Like many over the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about (and usually getting quite upset over) transgender issues. It just sort of happened all so abruptly – like, where did that come from: suddenly everyone is a world-renowned expert on the nature of gender. Personally I don’t have a clue but I’m happy to ask questions of those who think they do (so far I’m no clearer and yes; I have looked between my legs). Now, as mentioned in a rant or two back, I’d been speaking to the CoH (Christians of Hate) about their objections to a positive Christian response to gay relationships. The explosion of (overwhelmingly negative) interest in trans issues broke just as I was coming to the end of my FB conversation regarding possible Christian acceptance of gay relationships. I was tired and emotional from the onslaught of hate and vitriol directed at (even non-Christian) gay people by those misguided individuals claiming to be members of the Religion of Love and of True Solidarity. But I quickly noticed that the Trans Haters were coming from all beliefs and none. Yes, there is still homophobia (and fatally so) found in the general population but it isn’t anything like the level of every day transphobia.

Outside of the forums and my first noticing of the shifting focus was a model who lost her job due to an outburst on FB. Yes, the outburst was ill-judged and not the most rigorous of arguments but we are all allowed to get upset at our perception of the state of the world. One of my more ‘interesting’ FB friends had posted a news article about the story. She was outraged – but not being too clear as to what her outrage was, I decided I too would be upset at someone being fired for ‘chatting shit’ on facebook (“if someone as beautiful as Munro can’t chat crap online without being fired, what hope of freedom for the rest of us” I sardonically quipped). Being somewhat offensive on FB is something my fellow facebooker is known for and I suspected she would be quick to see the irony of her outrage. But some angry man was outraged simple because Munroe was not a ‘conventional women’ (rather than for her alleged racism), such that the angry man deemed it acceptable to reduce this fellow human being to an ‘it’.

This is often the level of debate – pointless hurtful diatribe. Now, if one stops to consider things; poorly formed insults are probably to be expected but I was, and still am, mightily shocked at the expressed opinions of friends I would have thought more accepting of difference in others. Friends who wouldn’t trust a newspaper to wipe the shit from their own arse were suddenly falling for every skewed tabloid scare story.

Yes, it is fantastic that so many people are now genuinely concerned about the welfare of society’s female prisoners but I would suspect that the female prison population have a great many concerns and grievances prior to their worry of being raped by devious men with a ‘get out of (male) jail for free card’. Okay, as we know, the only reason these poor, weak and vulnerable females are in prison is for being single mothers who didn’t pay their TV licence fee but even so… apparently it is not fun being a male sex offender in a male prison and I suspect it could be just as little fun being a male sex offender in a female prison but what do I know, other than the smell of hypocrisy.

The biggest FB flare up (with my actual friends rather than forum debates with strangers) came with the ‘Christian’ school teacher, Joshua Sutcliffe, and his being fired for the simple error of ‘misgendering’ a transgendered student with a collective, “Good work, girls”, or some such. Well, that was his story but anyone paying attention to the details (as opposed to their uncritical emotive reasoning) was not so easily convinced. Why did a maths teacher need to bring his apparently Christian faith into class – I mean, as a creative lesson into the mathematical logic of the Trinity it might be acceptable and novel but that wasn’t the objective – so we are left with some other reason (presumably the apparently Christian teacher didn’t keep reminding the boys in his care of the ‘sin’ of masturbation, for example).

The teacher was supported (or is that controlled) by Andrea Williams – surely one of the scariest women of 2017 (and not a good scary like Rose McGowan). Both Andrea and Joshua were to appear on morning TV with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, where Andrea was advocated taking children, who possibly identify as trans, aside. Wow! What does ‘take aside’ mean, I wonder – does Andrea intend to keep such children ‘aside’ until they conform to her vision of the world. When I was around 7 my cousin declared she was now a ‘tomboy’. I didn’t know what this was and so my cousin had to tell me: “a girl that likes to wear boys clothes and do boy things.” In my memory this commitment to boyness lasted a day. One wonders how long we would have to wait before it was deemed appropriate to ‘take aside’ such a child. Would there be gender (religious) police at the doors of all schools: “Here, this one’s got his hair parted to the right – take ‘it’ aside!” What a chilling vision for the world Andrea must have.

Andre Williams (and her organization, Christian Concern) seems interested in establishing New Christendom. But True Christendom is “not of this earth”. And the Victory of Christ is already achieved; taking children ‘aside’ will not make His Victory more victorious. But when Andre talks of taking children ‘aside’, she does not mean in order that they can ‘find Jesus’. So, what does Andre have in mind for the children she takes ‘aside’ and how will she distinguish between those children who will ‘grow out’ of their gender experimentation, and those for whom it is not ‘just a phase’.

Although I could continue to probe away at Andre’s thinking; this is not really my concern (here). But I was to become interested in what one of my FB friends was to allude to with the phrase, ‘Liberal Cultural Marxism’: that is to say; is there ‘deep politics’ involved behind the scenes and, if so, what objectives are in play and how many players are in the game?

The term, Cultural Marxism, has two basic meanings, along with other associations (ignored by my FB friend but that’s another story), which point to the Frankfurt School: maintaining a shallow analysis; this school has a Hegelian influence and is interested in why and how societies change. Now, some of my friends are rather interested in Conspiracy Theories and why not – deep shit happens! But there is no All Powerful Trans Lobby set about destroying Western Culture. If conspiracy is at play we will have to look elsewhere. What is interesting is that for some reason those who speak out against trans rights/acceptance make the claim that they will be furiously shut-down by the… well, they are not always clear but what is more interesting is how wrong they are in this claim. The voices in support of transgendered rights are the ones that are shut-down. I’ve seen many variations of, “We normies can’t speak without being attacked by the SJWs, the Snowflakes and the power of the PC or LGBT lobbies [the list goes on]” but actually the voices don’t get drowned out – intolerance and hate on this subject is not so challenged. Indeed, it is quite safe to trash trannies (which is a term of offence, btw).

So, when considering this subject from the perspective of TFHT (see Rant 4) there are some interesting questions to be asked – such as: has the ‘liberal agenda’ been manipulated into being a victim of its own success – the objectives were not social freedom but a mustering of unsuspecting public outrage apparently in support of some sort of ‘reactionary fightback’ but public outrage (like other forms of ‘mob violence’) just uncritically follows – so who is doing the leading? With men and women at a heightened state of distrust, how are we to be reconciled. One classic form of reconciliation is the ‘scape goat’: the innocent victim we place the blame upon and then murder.

But I shall hold off exploring these questions for now (hopefully looking at ‘deep politics’ in part 2). Instead I will consider some of the usual types of accusations and blather that this topic generates. But please remember that this is a daily grind for people who are (obviously) Trans (actually it is still a daily grind for those people whose trans nature is not obvious – perhaps similar to growing up Irish in Britain during the 70s and 80s: unless I revealed my ethic origins I could anonymously experience the joy of being hated).

“If someone identifies as a kangaroo, do I have to call them Skippy?” Yep, we have all seen this question or variations of and then there is: “Can I identify as an Olympic athlete despite not being one?”

Neither are thought out questions but are asked with a smugness that suggests the questioner has achieved an insurmountable insight that forces us to realize that transgendered people are clearly insanely deluded (and consequently a threat to society). These questions are not so smart to my ears and again, I’m surprised at some who ask these types of questions – very clever people unable to get past their prejudice.

One of my nephews went through a phase of ‘being’ a dog – if he hadn’t grown out of ‘being’ a dog, life would have become difficult for him and others (despite lasting a good few months, no one thought he needed to be ‘taken aside’ for his good and the good of other children).

When he was a dog it was impossible to have a conversation with him – it didn’t matter how many times his brother told him he wasn’t a dog, my nephew would just briskly bark back at him. Conclusion: one can probably call someone who identifies as a kangaroo whatever one likes; kangaroos do not have great language skills.

As for the elite Olympic athlete, this is surely a different categorical area of identity and being, and I’m not really sure what one would want from their friends and associates other than hoping to be called ‘Champ’ but I suspect if one introduced themselves to people as, “They call me Champ, you can as well”, most people would happily do so (especially after they knew the truth – it would just become ironic).

One can be as rude and upsetting as one is comfortable with (the legalities of Hate Speech and Incitement aside), but certain contexts put certain limits on how objectionable one can be and ‘school teacher’ is one of them. This particular school teacher’s story doesn’t quite add up and there seems more to the story than what he is saying and, to butt-in on myself, would he have been so quick to have ‘misgendered’ the Head Teacher had they been trans (i.e. are we really just dealing with a basic bully). Also, Andre (and her Christian Concern) seems to be using (not supporting) the teacher for her own, scary ends. This raises questions about their own morality and if they are really hypocrite Christians.

Now, to be fair, I do understand the genuine concerns that can legitimately be explored by our society: should trans-men be allowed to join the Freemasons or should they instead be forced to attend the Order of the Eastern Star; will being trans become like having tattoos and suddenly everyone is, “I’ve got to be trans, it’s so cool!” Well, if so, it will surely only last a while – fashions change (soon getting tattoos will be what our grannies did – yuck!) yet we will certainly still have that ‘mental disorder’ of dressing our young men (and now women) in nice uniforms and then sending them overseas to pulverize entire countries (including children and babies). And I will still be expected to call these people ‘hero’.

Rant 9: Can I identify as a kangaroo?

Rant 8: That Paul (a follow up to what went before).

So, this is my least funny rant. Mind you, even if one makes it past the beautifully understated ice cold ironic satire, the generally herculean austerity of my nihilist, misanthropic sense of comedy has probably kept any unfortunate interlopers safe from laughter. Still, here it is likely that more than one or two people would actually be horribly shocked and offended by what I have to say but, as it is unlikely that more than one or two people will read this, I should probably not worry. In fact the topic will most likely put most potential readers quickly off; which is just as well, as I am still discussing Paul of Tarsus and his troubling claim to be an apostle appointed by Jesus.

It has been interesting.

Recently I’ve been engaging in a challenge laid down by an admin on a FB forum (from which I’m yet to be blocked but I’m trying hard): “I’ve asked these anti-Pauline people repeatedly”, the challenge starts, “to show where Paul contradicted the gospel of Jesus Christ, and none have responded to me”. Actually the challenger was then slow to respond to my gambit but eventual the conversation picked up. Now, I’ve shown that Paul’s own words confirm that possibly very significant figures (the super apostles – now who could they be) were in opposition to his gospel. That Paul is often forced to defend his gospel. Now even all four written gospels have contradictions. Trying to find where Paul fits into this difference is pertinent to the challenge. But the challenger does not seem to allow that the four written gospels have difference. They are different in both theology (‘metaphysical’ understanding) and narrative.

So far in our conversation I have shown some difference in what Jesus is recorded as saying and what Paul is saying. Jesus says “the one who comes to me, I will never expel them outside” and “I AM the living bread that comes down from heaven. If someone eats from this bread they will live for ever” (John 6:22-59) but Paul says, “do not even eat with a person of that sort.” (Corinthians 5:9-13) and “whoever eats the Lord’s bread or drinks the Lord’s cup unworthily is guilty of the Lord’s body and blood.” Paul’s words, and those attributed to him, have caused suffering and conflict that seems at odds with the inclusive Jesus. Paul, I suggest, has far less faith in Jesus, the True Medicine, than can be found in John (to the extent of there being two very different religions/gospels).

Paul states that he received his ‘last supper’ story from the Lord (as a revelation) but the Gospel of John does not have this account of the last supper (having Jesus washing the feet of His disciples instead). We may ask how exactly did Paul receive the story of the ‘last supper’. Did Resurrected Jesus literally tell Paul; did Paul lie about the Lord telling him; did Paul invent the ‘last supper’ Eucharist. Notice that Paul, not really interested in who actually killed Jesus or why, makes those who unworthily eat and drink the Eucharist guilty of the Lord’s body and blood! Did the Lord tell him this, as well?

My question in response to the admin’s challenge: “how was the gospel that Paul claimed to have received as a revelation from the Risen Jesus different from the gospel he already knew from human sources and was trying to destroy – how was the gospel that Paul preached different from the gospel Paul had hoped to destroy?” The answer given: “it was the same gospel” but this seems a naive and problematic answer and immediately forces the question: “So what was revealed?”

Paul knew what the followers of Jesus were saying (he had been persecuting them for saying it). Paul knew the Gospel of Lord Jesus and Paul knew what was problematic about the Gospel from the perspective of his Jewish fanaticism.

Paul knew the Gospel and one would expect his ‘revealed’ gospel to reflect this prior knowledge. But we still have a problem with the concept of ‘gospel’ – if we translate the word into ‘the teachings of Jesus’ we lose something important. Jesus was/is more than a teacher but a reality revealed. The Gospel of Jesus is not just what He said but the consequence of who He was and continues to be (and not just in His death and resurrection).

Not only did Paul know what was being preached by the followers of Jesus, he came to influence how the Gospel was preached.

This makes the admin’s challenge seem quite difficult. Yet there was obviously tension between Paul and the Jerusalem Church and Paul is forced on more than one occasion to justify his claim to be an apostle but Paul only ever reasserts the claim.

What advantage does Paul see in his being accepted and understood as an apostle.

Apostle implies authority.

Authority was important to Paul. Prior to his change of mission he claimed authority to persecute the (Jewish) followers of Jesus and after his change in mission he claimed authority to teach the followers of Jesus.

In both cases God is his ultimate claim to authority. If Paul were a true Apostle then his authority would flow from God. Jesus had Authority and the Apostles understood themselves to be speaking in His Authority but not based upon subjective musings (2 Peter 1:16) “You see, we were not following cunningly concocted myths when we revealed to you the powerful presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. No – we had seen his majesty for ourselves.” A theme I shall develop below.

One does not need to be appointed an apostle by Lord Jesus to go out and preach the Gospel of Jesus. One may need to be appointed Apostle by Lord Jesus if one has a radical new take on the Gospel – theology aside. We can perhaps say: Gospel is the Truth of God directed toward humanity.

Paul used his claim to be an apostle to make great theological claims – we are to take what he says seriously because it is ‘rubber stamped’ with the word ‘apostle’.

At what point is Paul’s theology separate from his gospel? At what point is Paul’s theology separate from his message? At Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul makes known (again) the Gospel he carried. It starts: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”. Paul’s gospel ignores the lived live of Jesus and pays no regard to His earthly mission. Paul whitewashes the death of Jesus. Paul ‘denies’ Jesus came in the flesh in that he really has no interest in the actual lived life of Jesus. Paul does not acknowledge Jesus (in life) which means Paul is not from God according to 1 John 4:1-6, calling such, the spirit of the Antichrist: who is already in the world at the time of John’s writing.

Paul has been accused of many things by many different people (it is not even a controversial theory that Paul invented our understanding of Christianity). Accusations against Paul have existed from the first and now have many different sources. The Church (Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant) has been very good at downplaying the problems in uniformity within its Sacred Scripture (e.g. our nativities have become a singular story in which shepherds and magi both visit the New Born King). The Church is not really in the business of questioning itself in fear of questioning itself out of existence (don’t frighten the punters – we’ve got a good thing going on).

My question (to the admin) received an answer that is completely unsatisfactory and risks making religion nothing but subjective understanding and inventiveness. It may be true that most of us come to faith through subjective ‘emotive reasoning’ but most of us do not claim to be an apostle appointed by Lord Jesus. If Paul is an apostle only because it is his ‘emotive reasoning’ then he can be questioned. But in what direction can he be questioned – how can we even begin to find a way of talking about apostleship-appointment and revealed gospels that is free from subjectivity?

“You see, we were not following cunningly concocted myths when we revealed to you the powerful presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ”; 2 Peter (1:16-21) goes on to say this: “…and the Morning Star rises in your hearts [or mind]”. The Morning Star is the Resurrected Jesus – a concept that is also found in Revelations.

This concept of the Morning Star that rises in the mind can be considered (objectively real) internal fire from heaven. The fire from heaven that is associated with the Resurrected Jesus is not in the sight/presence of men. It is a reference to this real internal experience, that can be objectively understood as more than ‘emotive reasoning’, which is behind the Pentecost story in Acts. Paul did not receive the Morning Star but (in Acts) makes reference to an external light from heaven that shines for others (fire from heaven in the sight/presence of men). If Revelation 13:13 is not referring to Acts 22:6.9 then we have a little problem. Why would Revelation opt for something that comes so devastatingly close to describing Paul as an identifying feature of the Antichrist (unless intended): a question that cuts to the heart of the biblical prophecy and the nature of its interpretation.

Right after mentioning the Morning Star, 2 Peter continues: “Know this first, that no prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. For prophecy was never brought about by the will of human beings; no – human beings gave utterance when they were borne along by the Holy Spirit from God.” For Paul it was perhaps something of a habit making scripture a matter of his own interpretation and it is not clear that Peter would have seen Paul as being ‘borne along by the holy spirit from God’ if Paul did not have the Star. 2 Peter also has this intriguing comment (2:11): “They are arrogant and audacious, not afraid to revile the glorious ones, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a defamatory judgement against them from the Lord.” Can the ‘glorious ones’ be any other than Peter, James and John (the true apostles) and who is it but Paul that has such arrogance as to revile them.

Peter warns that Paul has written some things which uneducated people distort to their own destruction. It is the gentiles who are the uneducated – Paul is a threat to the very people for whom he claims to be apostle. It is hard to see how Paul could be any more strongly condemned. But then we have Revelation.

What is so different about the message of Paul and the message of Jesus? Well Revelation spells it out. Paul has no real interest in who killed Jesus or why they did so. Jesus was not going to be the Messiah Judaism seemed to hope for. Jesus was in opposition to (nationalistic) Judaism – in part we can think of this in terms of the elites of Judaic society/religion with particular focus on Jerusalem. They were corrupt (a common view for many normal Jewish people of the time) and in opposition to God. This second aspect is the more significant. What does it mean when Judaism is in opposition to God? Actually disobedience to God is a common theme in the History of Israel but the question is, “what did Jesus identify as Israel’s disobedience to God: what was it that Jesus was in opposition to?”

Perhaps, today we might say that Jesus and his apostles would be anti-Zionist Jews, with Paul being a Zionist. When John identifies Paul as the beast that has ‘horns as a lamb but speaks as a dragon’, he does so within a framework (beast system), there is coherence within his thought (or revelation). There has been a tendency to look to Rome when trying to understand the ‘beast system’. This is because the Harlot City is usually interpreted as being Rome. It is not Rome but Jerusalem. The Harlot rides upon Israel not Italy. This is a controversial idea (less so than Paul being the Antichrist) but it is not without serious scholarly support and Jerusalem is a more satisfactory fit, scripturally, than Rome. I’m going to leave the remainder of the beast system blank for now but with the Whore of Babylon and the Antichrist identified, it should be a little obvious as to who the remaining two aspects of the Beast System are.

Which, when one understands the answer, is really quite a funny thing – I mean, if you have a slightly distorted, tenuous grasp on comedic value.

Rant 8: That Paul (a follow up to what went before).