A Look Behind the Books, A New Christian Inspirational Trilogy, Catholic, Christian inspirational Fiction, Riding Out the Wreckage

Can Jordan Peterson Be a Good Example to Catholics? Bishop Barron Helps Me Decide

12 Rules Cover

The positive effect Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos are having on the youth of today, especially young men, is undeniable. Though a big fan of his, I was still concerned that his views may be at odds with Catholic teaching.

I am currently writing the third book in The Father Michael Trilogy and looking for a realistic way to bring hope to Joe Harper and those who suffer like him with ulcerative colitis or other IBDs.

Joe comes from a Catholic family, so is Dr. Peterson a good spiritual father for him?

 

Peterson Portrait Photo
Photo By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70242230

Dr. Peterson Attacks Nihilism

Life is difficult and Dr. Peterson doesn’t sugarcoat the fact.  His is not a ‘feel-good’ book, which makes a refreshing change.

But he stresses that throwing our hands up in despair is irresponsible and the easy way out. ‘Everything is horrible, there’s nothing I can (want) to do about it, so what is the point of existence? I’ll just feel sorry for myself and make everyone else around me more miserable, too.’

Instead Dr. Peterson urges us to stand up and voluntarily accept ‘the burden of Being’ and ‘the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.’ ‘There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.’ We must make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to ‘generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language.)’

Christ ‘outlines … the proper aim of mankind’ in the Sermon on the Mount. We must ‘aim at the highest good’ which puts us on a heavenward trajectory and ‘makes (us) hopeful.’

The psychologist urges us not to make the world a worse place but a better place. Either we are advancing the world towards Hell or towards Heaven. Which do we want to inhabit?

He points to history, warning us of the extremes to which people will go when they don’t take on the burden for improving life but instead seek scapegoats for their unhappiness. They become bitter, resentful, vengeful and ultimately murderous. He reminds us of the excesses of Hitler, Stalin, and the Communist Party in China and Russia in the 20th Century. Extreme right and extreme left ideologies are equally dangerous.

In Our Lord’s prayer we ask that “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” and Dr. Peterson states clearly, ‘To place the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering at the pinnacle of your hierarchy of value is to work to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.’ This viewpoint does not conflict with Catholicism or Christianity in general.

He tells us to meet suffering head on and be heroes – a great message for the lost young men of today. What a worthy challenge! Be the hero who reduces the suffering of others.

That is, after all, is Who Christ was.

Peterson Portrait Lecturing
Photo by Adam Jacobs – Peterson Lecture, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57264962

Renewing Interest in the Bible

Dr. Peterson explains why the Bible is profoundly meaningful and, as Bishop Barron says in his podcast The Word on Fire Show WOF117: Who Is Jordan Peterson?  is ‘uncovering a dimension of these texts which is very life-giving and illuminating.’

He says that the clinical psychologist has brought to light once more why Scripture matters and is ‘recovering the power of those texts’. They are not dead myths, which prominent atheists would have us believe, otherwise they couldn’t have lasted so long and had such influence.

As a direct result of Dr. Peterson’s work, it has become ‘cool’ to read the Bible. I found two very encouraging comments posted on Bishop Robert Barron’s podcast on Dr. Peterson:

“Jordan Peterson and Bishop Barron are the two biggest reasons why I’m getting confirmed Catholic tomorrow 😀. God bless you both”

“…I was a cradle catholic and left the church when I was 18….I went to my first confession in 20 years last month and have gone to every service since Ash Wednesday thanks to Dr Peterson’s work. I’ve even picked up the Bible.. it is like a switch has been flipped.”

What a resounding endorsement!

Bishop Barron states that Dr. Peterson believes deeply in the texts of the Bible and is spreading the message that faith in them is a matter of life and death. This is most definitely the Christian viewpoint!

Where Peterson’s Views Diverge from Catholicism

 

Bishop Barron
Bishop Robert Barron
By Frank Licorice [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
On the topic of whether Dr. Peterson’s views are Christian, Bishop Barron is scrupulously fair. He stresses that the author doesn’t claim to be a Christian theologian nor a Christian – he’s looking at the Bible from a purely psychological viewpoint.

 

Dr. Peterson is an avid follower of Jung, who said that the first great psychologists were the early Church Fathers. Yet in his video Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon  the bishop cautions that the psychologist’s ideas verge on Gnosticism – the idea that only a few cognoscenti can know Christianity. Wikipedia describes one of the Gnostic core teachings as ‘To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.’

Bishop Barron’s other concern with Gnostics is that they tend to ‘bracket the historical references in these biblical texts,’ thereby ignoring the reality of events in the Bible. The bishop reminds us that, rather than being philosophical or psychological, ‘Christianity is stubbornly historical.’ It matters that God really did become man, that He really did rise from the dead. Those are historical facts.

Christ is not an archetype, as Dr. Peterson describes Him – He is not a myth. The ‘myth’ of Christ is firmly grounded in history.

Myths are not rooted in a specific time or place: they happened ‘once upon a time’ and ‘in a faraway galaxy.’ Jesus Christ was ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ We know who Pilate was, where he lived and when. The New Testament may contain mythical elements but is also historical: the Church stubbornly insists on that.

Bishop Barron says the problem with liberal theology is that it sees God ‘as the deep background music of life.’ Biblical theology says that God ‘is a Person who acts in history and has purposes and it is the primacy of God’s Grace that breaks into my life and changes me.’

Bishop Barron endorses Dr. Peterson’s book but cautions us against the Gnostic tendencies in it.

Is Dr. Peterson a Christian?

He makes frequent statements that suggest a belief in God. For example, ‘you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God.’ Yet when asked in interviews he declines to come down on one side or the other.

About the Resurrection, he says that the literal (historical) and metaphysical (archetypal) sometimes touch – and that is a miracle. He is not excluding the possibility that the Resurrection truly happened. He is simply unsure about its historical truth and needs another three years to go into it.

Bishop Barron has no problem with that. He suggests we look at St. Paul, who after his encounter with the Risen Christ went to Arabia for three years to sort himself out before coming back to preach the Gospel.  Dr. Peterson is in good company.

 

The bishop regards Dr. Peterson as a spiritual father for young men, whom the psychologist says are starving for direction. Spiritual masters who give spiritual instruction are what they need, according to Bishop Barron, who adds that priests would do well to talk in the same manner as the author of the 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Therefore I feel confident that Dr. Jordan Peterson will be a good influence on Joe. He will encourage the teenager to read the Bible. He will urge him to overcome his suffering by being the hero who takes responsibility for his actions and makes the world a better place.

Using him as a spiritual adviser to Joe is not a bad place to start.

Where do you stand on Dr. Jordan Peterson? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Resources:

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

The Word on Fire Show WOF117: Who Is Jordan Peterson?

Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

 

 

A Father Michael Book, A New Christian Inspirational Trilogy, Catholic, Equine therapy, Veterans with PTSD

The Story of a Wounded Horse & His Soldier

Father Michael’s brother-in-law has an impossible house guest – Justin, an army veteran suffering from PTSD – and the man is making life miserable for his host family.

But the priest has no practical assistance to offer, until an incident in church gives him an idea. Naturally, his plan involves the ever-reluctant and newly-wed trainer Jack Harper. It will also require the help of Isaac, a very special but damaged horse on his farm.

And a wager.

Meanwhile Father Michael gives a podcast interview to a local atheist hoping to trip him up on Catholic matters. As soon as the podcast is aired, church attendance plummets and the priest is under intense pressure from his bishop to rectify the situation.

Justin is no closer to coming back to the faith and the podcaster is rejoicing in his victory over the Church.

Will God makes good come out of evil for those who love Him, as Father Michael desperately wants to believe?

Catholic, Church scandal, Uncategorized

Brittle Diamonds: A Book Born Out of Scandal

When I first moved to the States from England in 2001,  I was also in the process of returning to the Church after many years of anti-Catholicism.

The transition from Europe to the United States was a tough one, but that isn’t why I came back to my faith. It was actually from reading a book my mother-in-law gave me by Charles Stanley, about whether one could be certain of eternal salvation.

I like to joke about how a book given to me by a Baptist lady brought me back to Catholicism! But that’s a topic for another day.

The point is, here I was, finally reconciling with the faith of my youth. I was only taking baby steps, but at least making the effort to go to Mass every Sunday.

The Awesome Priest

We had a wonderful, huge church called St. Michael. I could be anonymous among the thousand or so parishioners, and no one talked to me or made any demands on me. I could come and go unnoticed. It was perfect.

Father John, the parish priest, was phenomenal with a wonderful sense of humor. His sermons were interesting and thought provoking, and I looked forward to hearing what he had to say every week.

I’d been listening to him for about three years when he suddenly said something that neither I nor any of the other parishioners wanted to hear.

Allegations of sexual abuse had been made against him and he was being suspended from his position. 

Many victims were now coming forward after years of allowing themselves to be paid off in return for their silence. What a terrible time to return to the Church! I’d just got back into the routine of being Catholic again, and now this!

Of course none of us wanted to believe that our beloved pastor had done any of the awful things he was being accused of.

I wanted Father John to be innocent, regardless of what people might say.

800px-Painswick_Church_(7817365226)
Painswick Church near my old Gloucestershire home in England

The Truth

I carefully listened to his repeated defense, that he had been a blameless priest for the past thirty years.

But, I noted, the allegations against him dated prior to thirty years ago. Could it be that he was guilty yet trying to make it sound as if he weren’t?

Shaken to the core, I needed an outlet for my frustration.

The Book

I began outlining the rough draft for a novel which tackled the sore topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and Brittle Diamonds was born.

While I was writing the book, Father John was found guilty of the charges against him and defrocked. It was a horrible shock but it made me even more determined to finish my book.

I set the novel in a fictional Cotswold village near where I used to live, in the west of the England. Doing so took me back home and away from the sad realities around me.

For we had got a new priest, whom we liked very much. But just as we were getting used to him, he made the unexpected announcement: “I am an alcoholic and am going into rehab.”

Boom! That was it. He was gone.

Were there no good priests left? It is an issue that I also bring up in the book.

If you haven’t read it yet, Brittle Diamonds is permanently free. Here are the links: Amazon US  Amazon UK  Nook iTunes Kobo

Some reviews of Brittle Diamonds

Brittle Diamonds Dog

“This is a well-written story. The characters are well-defined and believable. The details about the church and the priesthood were also well-written.”

“Great read. I was ‘hooked’ by page 3. Very interesting and complex character portrayals. Suspenseful until the very end. I could not have predicted the outcome. I was torn between wanting to finish the book so I could find out the ending, yet I didn’t want the literary experience to end. Days after completing the novel, I was still thinking about the characters and actually hoping for a sequel.”

“Told very well.”

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