Why Christ was a carpenter

The wonderful Pink Agendist recently introduced Jordan Peterson by quoting this:

“Haven’t heard of Jordan Peterson?

Take one part Carl Jung, one part Solzhenitsyn, one part Kermit the Frog, and one part St. Augustine. Put all this in a conceptual blender”.

While I don’t particularly like any of those ingredients, just like a Negroni, Peterson turned out to be more than the sum of his parts and just fabulous in small quantities.

He is quite right-wing compared to what I am used to. He explains the plight of young women and why they don’t “move up the corporate ladder” extremely well here. He made an interesting point: that status is more important for men compared to women because it’s the main criterion on which women judge men. This almost certainly applies in many animal societies where the winner takes all, but I am not so sure it applies with us. I think that when it comes to forming serious relationships, men require a woman to have a CV comparable to theirs, a family background comparable to theirs, etc. A man’s infatuation is unlikely to override these more prosaic factors. Herein probably also lies the real answer to “why he lost interest”: his interest was in a woman’s superficial qualities and burnt out pretty quickly as it should, while her underlying “status” wasn’t attractive enough to sustain more long-term interest. It’s less psychopathic than it sounds as it is simply based on common interests.

His advice for hyper-intellectual people is refreshing. He explains how you can be utterly unwise and even useless with an IQ of 160. It’s good for the ubereducated millenial to listen to this in a world where intelligence is pretty glorified. Peterson’s ideas are very reminiscent of Taleb’s “intellectual yet idiot”, “skin in the game” stuff.

Peterson takes a literary critic type approach to the Bible. He says that Jesus Christ was a carpenter because there is a certain honesty in a carpenter’s work: it falls down if it isn’t made well, so there is less BS-vending and more doing. Furthermore, Jesus has moral superiority without having a Ph.D. and a New York Times best-seller, so the lesson is that you don’t have to be “intelligent” to be effective.

His book, Maps of Meaning, seems to be of interest. Here is the PDF available free via his website (nice touch). Any reviews? To me, he sounds like a dilettante, albeit with a professor title. I suppose if you are popularising stuff, it’s hard to sound any different.

Some of Peterson’s videos though reek of the usual quasi-scientific verging on self-helpy aspects of psychology (one of his books is called 12 Rules for Life. Hmm.) Some of his political views seems to be sensationalist. He’s even been featured on Oprah, but still, interesting presence.

I found his list of recommended books pretty good though:

1. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

2. 1984 – George Orwell

3. Road To Wigan Pier – George Orwell

4. Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

5. Demons – Fyodor Dostoevsky

6. Beyond Good And Evil – Friedrich Nietzsche

7. Ordinary Men – Christopher Browning

8. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski

9. The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang

10. Gulag Archipelago (Vol. 1Vol. 2, & Vol. 3) – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

11. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

12. Modern Man in Search of A Soul – Carl Jung

13. Maps Of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief – Jordan B. Peterson

14. A History of Religious Ideas (Vol. 1Vol. 2Vol. 3) – Mircea Eliade

15. Affective Neuroscience – Jaak Panksepp

17 thoughts on “Why Christ was a carpenter”

  1. Jesus was a carpenter? Really? I’ll be blogging about the same topic soon. For example, a chair or table actually made by Jesus would be worth…what…a billion dollars by now? Could you imagine a chair at someone’s home made by Jesus? A house someone lives in made by Jesus? Would the Vatican keep all of Jesus’s handiwork under lock and key? Which begs the question, Dr: Why has no one found anything actually made, constructed, built or even touched by this carpenter, Jesus? I hope to answer that question soon. Great reading list tho! Thanks for that!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that the current biblical research posits that Jesus was a laborer, someone who did hard physical manual work. As to what exactly the nature of that work was, is less clear.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I find I share most of the background reading list Peterson uses for grounding his philosophy as well as a shared Jungian admiration and mythological interest. Where we part company is on the religious component and here I find a certain and very deep bias creeping into his work. He utilizes the social function of religion to justify/excuse/incorporate it without dealing with how the social problems raised by it mitigate its ‘moral’ usefulness. These incompatibilities he tends to wave away and so his contribution to insights into the psychology of religious belief is very much hindered by this unwillingness to tackle conflicting religious beliefs prima facie.

    Having also lived in Alberta during the same time Peterson was growing up, I understand very well the widespread and ingrained social expectation to be religiously liberal yet very respectful. I don’t think Peterson has ever seriously questioned his own presumptions in this matter and so I hear various rationalizations come from him in his blanket and surface criticisms of New Atheism (as well as taking this opportunity to expound on his understanding of Dostoevsky yet repeatedly and unabashedly mixing up Dostoevsky the author with the characters he created and presume the latter; this is done to support his religious commentary usually about morals). Peterson often enunciates a cartoonish representation of the ideas put forth by more popular New Atheists (unless he’s speaking directly with them).

    But I think he’s right on the money in many ways, not least of which is regarding this trend towards Post Modern thinking and the hijacking of language by people who used to be liberal. He is also quite articulate on why legalizing these beliefs is deeply anti-liberal and very much a threat to the foundations of Western liberal secular democracies. Not many people are willing to step forward and say what he says and for that I applaud him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think he is a populariser rather than a bona fide philosopher and he is in the right time and place to say a lot of these “non-PC” things. It sort of has some shock value when coming from a Canadian professor.

      I am not as much of an expert on religion as I believe you are, so I will take your word for it – and you seems to be saying he is quite shallow in his examination. And that’s consistent with my impression on what other things he has said. His purpose isn’t to be deep, it’s to be easy to follow I reckon

      Liked by 1 person

      1. His area of expertise is psychology and I know he’s very popular on campus. He’s sort of like the outspoken and opinionated version of a Joseph Campbell.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting…your posting brings to mind Thich Nhat Hanh words (The Sun My Heart), “Understanding is not an accumulation of knowledge. To the contrary, it is the result of the struggle to be free of knowledge. Understanding shatters old knowledge to make room for the new that accords better with reality.”
    His writing has brought me to ponder how often intellectual understanding of psychological theory blinded and deafened me, as a therapist, to understanding the other?


      1. Yet, while in grad and post grad theory was given more study and discussion than empathy. And Insight became a subjective goal that has no meaning in managed health care.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t made up my mind on him yet – and I think I probably won’t. It’s hard to deal with someone who has very interesting ideas alongside some fairly ridiculous ones. At the moment I’m wondering if it isn’t all mostly just airs of knowledge wrapped up in a whole lot of mediatic opportunism.


    1. I love how you put that. You know, he certainly has some of the characteristic markings of a BS vendor and very few of his ideas are new, they are just repackaged in an easy to digest manner from a man you wouldn’t expect. There are a lot of interesting evolutionary psychologists out there like Geoffrey Miller

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d just add the word Professional to your term of BS vendor 😀
        He knows what buttons to push to create the most controversy; and unfortunately that seems to be a popular method of making money these days.

        Liked by 1 person

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