February 3, 2018


Christ Vs. The Crowd: An Interview With Professor Jordan Peterson (David Gornoski,  01/30/2018, Daily Caller)

Today, we see clearly that the ancient world's antidote to chaos -- collective violence against an innocent person (or at least, no more guilty than anyone else for social tensions) -- is nothing more than crowd madness and scapegoating. We are able to see this because of the lens the Bible provides us after two millennia of its narrative and ethic clarifying our perspective.

In the Gospels, as René Girard helps us see, we have the inauguration of a personhood revolution in which every human being is made to be a sacred temple deserving of love and respect. In the Gospel accounts of his passion, Jesus wrestles the camera of mythic history away from the persecuting collective always searching for a scapegoat and undresses the crowd of all its power. It is not the gods or, in our modern case, ideology, that demands coercion and violence but petty, crowd-possessed people blinded by fear and envy.

It is in that vein that Peterson's "12 Rules for Life" strikes such a powerful chord in our cultural moment. Each of the 12 axioms center on self-sacrifice rather than sacrifice of someone else -- a radical new antidote for chaos much more dangerous and powerful than the old antidote of violent sacrifice that shaped our ancestral roots.

Peterson's defiance of victim-garbed collective aggression is in service to Jesus's personhood revolution: the simple notion that instead of sacrificing your neighbors and blaming them for the chaos you feel, it is better to sacrifice your own pride, clean your own room and resist the urge to reciprocate aggression and insult to those who seek to harm you. In short, it is better that we stop unconsciously imitating Caiaphas because the old pharmakos prescription is past its expiration. We no longer need to cling to our collective group identities (race, gender, ethnicity, etc.) to shape laws as a tool of vengeance against those we fear and hate. We can instead crucify the monster inside us.

What made the West great was this simple truth. God desires mercy, not sacrifice. That the individual human being is sacred in body, mind, speech and, by extension, the fruits of his or her labor. That no ideology or witch hunt can repeal the beauty and dignity of the individual, no matter who they are.

Posted by at February 3, 2018 9:03 AM