From the comments
I think it’s a stretch to suggest that today’s churches are failing because they’re led by pastors and teachers rather than by prophets. Speaking of evangelicalism, the reality is that most of our churches are led by politicians whose primary goal is centered around propping up the status quo (with all of its vested interests) as the solution to people’s problems.
Peterson succeeds because he primarily cares about the plight of the individual soul. The evangelical church fails because it primarily cares about institutional perpetuation and the retention of power by those who possess it. Evangelical leaders these days are more akin to secular brand managers than anything else. Sure, they throw out the word “truth” here and there. But that’s simply part of the branding. This “truth” is little different from the “truth” that the Red Sox are superior to the Yankees, or that UNC is superior to Duke.
The contrast of Peterson and Nasser could not be more stark. It is clear who speaks the truth here. The casting of Peterson’s courage against Nasser’s unctuousness is so stark.
For my part, I love that this man whose compassion and empathy Christians finds so exceptional and moving is … not a Christian. I mean, correct me if i’m wrong here, but it would seem that Christians are actually drawn to the wisdom, empathy and compassion of this non-Christian. They can only just barely believe that he’s not a believer; I mean, is that even possible? No no; he’s probably secretly or latently a believer. “Peterson’s on a mission from God…he just doesn’t know it yet.”
That’s called projection.
As for the young man who interrupted the event: I have a little experience with such disruptions, having grown up in evangelical and foursquare churches. Rare was the Sunday when something like this didn’t happen. In the Liberty-esque milieu, such happenings are de rigueur, and Peterson’s obvious unfamiliarity with the culture sufficiently explains his reaction. Evangelicals probably experience acute distress and other emotional difficulties at about the same rate as other humans, but the culture encourages the very public airing of said distress and difficulties. And if it’s not acute distress interrupting Sunday worship, it’s speaking in tongues or some kind of emergency spiritual intervention. Let’s just say that *public high drama* is a feature, not a bug in these big evangelical gatherings; IMHO because it keeps the narrative going … we’re all broken, etc. I mean, look how ready for it the church staff was.
I’d be wary of reading too much into it.
[NFR: Come on, are you sure that you’re not projecting your skepticism and hostility of Christianity onto this situation? From what I can tell, most Christians are surprised by how much this unbelieving clinical psychologist has to say favorably about the faith, even though he doesn’t share it. And our surprise at his compassion is NOT a matter of “wow, a non-Christian is compassionate!”; it’s more a matter of being startled by how genuine his compassion for strangers seems to be. It doesn’t look practiced or smooth. I was e-mailing with a reader last night about Peterson, and why he has this uncanny effect on people. I mentioned that there is a certain *urgency* about him that seems real. — RD]
OK, just watched the whole event. The part with the kid brought me to tears.
What I cannot understand, however, is why anyone else is on stage with Peterson?? It’s obvious he can carry one of these talks on his own. Does Liberty require a mediator? It feels like the LibertyU representatives are the thought police up there trying to control the conversation…not to mention ever bringing the subject back to themselves. When Peterson speaks about himself it’s actually to get to a bigger idea. The number of times he makes the mistake of making a small pause and gets cut off before he can finish his sentence because his co-inhabiters-of-the-stage aren’t even listening to him should make everyone associated with Liberty cringe.
I’ve taught a couple university classes and the thing about young people today is the second they sense that you’re trying to force your point of view on them they just shut down. They stop listening entirely. I have a very strong opinion about the subject that I teach, but I have to be very Weberian about it. What Peterson says about being a sovereign individual in different contexts is what makes him so powerful. He really believes that we each have a spark of divinity in us and therefore, though we are all destined to get a lot wrong in life, we all have the potential for great truths. We can only get to that truth if we respect the spark, the sovereignty of each person. Falwell et al have none of that. The future belongs to JBP.
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