Saturday, January 20, 2018
Jordan Peterson Goes International: Takes London by Storm
Why are young Brits flocking to hear a psychology professor talk about morality?
Last Sunday night a capacity crowd of mainly young people packed into the Emmanuel Centre in London. Those who couldn't find a seat stood at the back of the hall. When the speaker entered, the entire hall rose to its feet. It was his second lecture that day, the fourth across three days of sold-out London events. For an hour and a half the audience listened to a rambling, quirky, but fascinating tour of evolutionary biology, myth, religion, psychology, dictators and Dostoyevsky. Occasionally a line would get its own burst of applause. One of the loudest came after the speaker's appeal for the sanctity of marriage and child-rearing.
Yet this was not a Christian revivalist meeting. At least not explicitly or intendedly so. It was a lecture by a 55-year-old, grey-haired, dark-browed Canadian academic who until 18 months ago was little known outside his professional field of psychology. Today, for at least one generation, Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto has become a mixture of philosopher, life-coach, educator and guru. He has the kind of passionate, youthful, pedagogical draw that the organized churches can only dream of. Anybody interested in our current culture wars, not to mention the ongoing place of religion, should head to YouTube, where his classes have been viewed by millions.
YouTube arguably made Peterson. That and an uncommon reluctance to genuflect before the hastily assembled dogmas of our time. In 2016 he made a stand against the Canadian government's introduction of a law that aimed to make it a crime not to address people by their preferred gender pronouns (regardless of chromosomes). The issue of 'gender pronouns' may sound a strange springboard to international attention. But Peterson did something a decreasing number of people in our societies are willing to do: he stuck his head above the parapet. He politely but firmly objected to officials telling him or anyone else what words to use or to define for him what the meanings of words should be. There was an outcry. His classes were disrupted by often riotous protests. There were serious efforts to force him out of his university position. For a moment, it looked as though the social justice mounties might get their man. But for once it didn't work. In fact it badly backfired. Not only did a lot more people discover a counter-cultural (or counter-counter-cultural) hero who was willing to say what almost everybody else thought. They also discovered someone with not only humanity and humor, but serious depth and substance.
Read more at SOTT..