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Headlines & Happenings (A Personal Update; Jordan Peterson)

This weekly column is devoted to discussing some of the themes that were common topics of discussion among Christians the week before. I often have a lot to work with, but last week there was just one major theme I picked up on, so will provide information on that while also offering a quick personal update.

Personal Update

On the personal front, you may know that over the past few months I’ve been dealing with some significant nerve problems in my hands that have slowed down the pace of my writing and nudged me into video. Over the past few weeks a number of you have asked how I’m doing and I’ve been able to express some cautious optimism.

However, I was in Ireland last week completing research for my EPIC church history project and, while there, fell hard and heard something in my arm go “crunch.” I went to a nearby hospital where x-rays seemed to show I was okay; however, two days later the hospital called to say a radiologist had looked at the x-rays and recommended getting checked out again. I was home by then, so went to the local hospital and, again, the first doctor said I was fine but the specialist caught something. It turns out my arm is fractured (which, I suppose, explains why I couldn’t—and still can’t—straighten it). For now I’m in a hard cast and we will reevaluate in a week or two.

Obviously a fractured arm is by no means a devastating injury and I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. However, typing has become more painful again and is also quite awkward because of the position of my arm. I’m rather concerned about causing a flare-up of my nerve issues. I guess I’ll just have to keep working toward mastering voice dictation software and relying on the help of Aileen and others. In the meantime, your prayers are much appreciated. To be frank, I’m feeling very discouraged about the whole thing. It has been a long, long time since I’ve been able to just sit down at my computer and type freely and without pain–one of those things in life I most love to do.

Jordan Peterson

The one theme that was prominent among Christian writers and readers this week was Jordan Peterson. His now-infamous interview with Cathy Newman and his new book both generated a lot of responses. Why the interest in this man? I think it’s because he’s not a Christian, yet he’s boldly saying the kinds of things that Christians have been saying. He is not a believer, but has clearly been shaped by the Bible in many ways. He gains a hearing because of his secular credentials but then says things that, though not perfectly consistent with scripture, are often not far off. He’s truly a fascinating character.

So here are some of the things that were said about him:

  • Matthew Hosier wrote a solid review that provided a lengthy overview of Peterson’s new book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which became an immediate bestseller.
  • Later, on the same site, Andrew Wilson responded with 12 Rules for Jordan Peterson. Here’s one of his rules: “You should meet Tim Keller some time, if you haven’t already. Both of you are father figures to a generation of young, bright males looking for wisdom; he’s a preacher who sounds like a professor, and you’re a professor who sounds like a preacher. If you ever meet for coffee, I’d love to be a fly on the wall.”
  • Alistair Roberts wrote an article on six things pastors ought to learn from him. “Peterson is, for a great many young men in particular, the father they never had. He is someone prepared to speak into their situation with a compassionate authority. His authority is not an attempt to control them or to secure his own power over them, but functions to direct them towards life. He isn’t wagging his finger at them, but is helping lost young people to find their way.”
  • Jacob Reaume had a couple of articles, first commenting on Peterson’s new religion, then focusing on the fact that he provides morality without gospel. “Peterson offers temporal salvation in morality. He knows enough to know how to survive as best as possible in this world. Take personal responsibility, work hard, and be honest. That’s a great mixture for a great life. The problem is that it’s not enough for eternal life.”
  • As is often the case, the Babylon Bee got into it with an article titled Jordan Peterson Convinces Pile Of Clean Laundry To Sort Itself Out.
  • Finally, Stephen McAlpine provided tips on What to Say When Someone Says “So You’re Saying”. “The non-sequitur argument is increasingly employed by those who see the Christian position as wrong simply because it is the Christian position, a position that consequently requires no intellectual repartee, but a rather dismissive reductionist slap-down. So how can we prepare ourselves for it? Here are four ways to behave…”

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