Saturday, January 29, 2022

Back in the Game


When Jordan Peterson first came back to the public spotlight after his illness, he was slow to engage again on some of the topics that brought him to the fore during his first big wave.  This, of course, is understandable given what he apparently went through with his illness.  However, it was clear that the lack of his voice would be detrimental to exposing the underlying causes of the meaning crisis and resultant convulsions in the West.

This was most sorely missed in the context of the insanity behind everything covid.  Unlike Bret Weinstein, who began speaking out against many of the policies and reactions to this not-a-plague, Peterson was quiet.

This has changed.  In the last couple of months, there were signs of his re-awakening.  I recall a clip – I don’t remember from where – where he said something like “well, perhaps shame on me, but I took your damn vaccine.  Why won’t you leave me alone?”

Recently he was on Joe Rogan.  More than four hours, and I will summarize – not from the video, but from the first items that come up on a google search:

·         Scientists slam climate denialism from Jordan Peterson as ‘absurd’ – CNN

·         Jordan Peterson on Joe Rogan’s Podcast echoes the lunacy of Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ – Forbes (I have no idea what the show is about)

·         Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson eviscerated by experts for ‘whackadoo’ and ‘deadly’ interview on climate crisis – YAHOO!News

·         Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan Wax Idiotic on Climate Change and Race – Rolling Stone

·         Joe Rogan guest Jordan Peterson says being trans is a 'contagion' – NY Post

·         Jordan Peterson on Joe Rogan is DAMAGING – You Tube

I do recall reading that Peterson also poked at the entire covid narrative in this interview, but even when I added the word “covid” to the search, only one item came up in the first couple of pages.

Peterson recently released a discussion he had with Brian Peckford, entitled “Canadian Constitutional Crisis.”  From the show notes:

Brian Peckford and I discussed his reentry to the political arena after denouncing the Canadian Government for infringements on the Canadian Charter of Rights--a document he played a key role in drafting. In this intense conversation, Peckford outlines a combined plan of action against the Canadian Government over their COVID-19 response and ongoing use of power.

Starting his career as an educator, the Honorable Brian Peckford then served as the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador for nearly a decade. He is also an author, former minister, and notable member of the PC Party.

Peckford was directly involved, forty years ago, in the drafting of and agreement to the Canadian Charter of Rights.  So he has some idea of both the spirit and letter of the document.  He is filing a lawsuit in Canadian court regarding the government’s actions, specifically focused on the violation of the Charter on the point of freedom of association.

I won’t summarize the video, other than to say Peckford is very well read on the nonsensical (so-called) science behind the political reactions to covid.  Oh, and apparently Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre, who was also Prime Minister during the passing of the Canadian Charter, was as big a snake as Justin is.

There are a couple of quibbles I have with the comments, but overall both Peterson and Peckford have their eyes open.

The video is about an hour and twenty minutes.  It seems it was so important for Peterson to release it quickly that there was zero editing – there is nothing polished about the production.  This was by design, as will be explained in the opening – which captures the pre-planning of the video.


When Peterson first returned to the scene about a year ago, I noted, with understanding, his timidity.  It seems he is now finding the strength to break free of this.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The First Humanist


Christendom reached a fateful turning point during the fourteenth century.

The Age of Utopia: Christendom from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution, by John Strickland

The West, according to Strickland, had fallen away from the idea of paradise, understanding Adam’s banishment to mean that man would not again taste paradise until the Second Coming.  Drawn largely from the doctrines of Augustinianism, a sharp line would be drawn between divine grace and human nature. 

This as opposed to the old Christendom view, still held in the East, of a “transformation-centered” piety.  The world was constantly in a process of heavenly transformation.

Before continuing, I would offer my thoughts on where this is headed, because where I see Strickland drawing sharp distinctions between East and West, I see shades, variability, nuance.  Maybe this nuance is enough to make the difference.  Then again, given the failings of Christendom in both the East and West, maybe it isn’t. 

I have noted before that what the East refers to as theosis, someone in the West would describe as becoming more Christ-like.  In both cases, the Christian is striving for transformation, in this world.  Yes, I know that there are examples offered at the extreme to disprove this point (this world is not my home…), but extremes don’t make for good analysis.

Further, I have yet to understand that there is a view of man in the Eastern Church that recognizes anything other than his fallen nature and his inability to solve this problem on his own.  In other words, Christ was crucified and was resurrected for some reason.

Strickland offers that in the East, human salvation is presented as the process of deification; in the West, a one-time release from an impending punishment.  In the East, optimism, in the West pessimism.  But in each case, is it only the one thing and not the other?  Or, to put it differently, can it not be both? 

Not using the stark words of Strickland, but…with salvation comes a life of becoming ever more Christ-like (theosis) and also an avoidance of punishment?  Isn’t this understood both in the East and in the West?  Strickland presents this as a clear distinction, but just because I am presenting his views, it does not mean I fully agree.  It might be so, but I have seen too many examples contrary to this view.

With this, I will continue.  And there are important points made by Strickland to be examined.  We are introduced to Petrarch, known as the first humanist.

But three centuries after the Great Division, penitents like Petrarch found little in Western piety to encourage them.  Most troubling was the system of penances that was now associated with the practice of confession.

Sin and the penances that negated sin were codified.  It was a system more concerned with punishment and satisfaction that it was one of human transformation.  Strickland offers that men like Petrarch could have looked East for a different example, namely Byzantium or Russia, where…

…the paradisiacal culture was flourishing, even if the political system of each was mortally threatened by, respectively, Turks and Mongols.

And this is the bump in the road that I keep running into, and that, as of yet, remains unexplored by Strickland.  Sure, one can point to the decline in the West – greatly evident in the last 125 years, but with signs pointing this way much earlier.  But does not being overrun by Turks and Mongols count as a decline as well?  Not, perhaps in the same sense, but still in a tremendously meaningful sense?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Expanding on a Comment Thread


This entire comment thread is particularly good by all involved and possibly deserves its own write-up.

-          Nick Badalamenti, regarding a comment thread begun by Walt Garlington, here.

The subject post, The Value of the Protest, reviewed reaction by Protestant Christian leaders to both Covid and to a recent Canadian bill signed into law, a law that now makes illegal conversion therapy.  This Protestant reaction was compared to reactions from more institutional churches – Orthodox and Catholic.

In any case, my response to Nick (who is, perhaps one of my longest-tenured on-line “friends”):

Nick, from my first exchange with Walt on this thread, I have had a similar thought. I will go back and review the thread; if I feel I can do it justice via editing a bit and trying to pull out the main points of the exchange, I will put it together and post it.

I will try to do the thread justice, without copying and pasting word for word.  If you want that, go directly to the thread.  Also, this post is going to be very long – two or three times as long as usual; if you don’t want that, just go read the original thread.  Walt also has included many links for further exposition in his comments; I will include these here only as necessary. 

First, a preamble, and, perhaps, a reminder of my purpose and some ground rules (albeit, sometimes loosely enforced and sometimes violated by me).  I have jumped fully into the examination of the relationship of culture and liberty, and, in doing so, have landed in a spot where it is clear to me that liberty cannot be found or sustained absent the Christian culture from which it sprang.

However, I do not want to turn this into an examination or debate about theological and doctrinal differences between and among Christians.  When I point to these, it is only to examine how these might have impacted, positively or negatively, liberty.

Finally, I have found Walt to be a gracious and thoughtful commenter.  I hope my replies to him have also been seen in the same spirit and I hope to maintain that spirit in this post.

With that, let’s begin.  For shorthand, Walt Garlington will be WG; I will be referenced as BM.  I will not present the comments as presented in the thread; I will try to present them in a dialogue format.  Where I introduce new thoughts, not from the comment thread, these will not be indented.

WG: Lutheranism / Protestantism is a double-edged sword. Because the individual conscience is the sole authority in that system (i.e., no bishops, binding traditions, etc., to restrain a man), there can be swift reactions against bad policies, as with the initiative against C-4 that was mentioned.

This is a good point.  Independent positions can be taken, with little or no approval necessary from a higher (earthly) authority.  This, as Walt is about to point out, also offers a downside:

The downside is that other individuals can go on to decide that their conscience tells them that LGBT ideology is blessed by God based on how they read the Scriptures; and because the individual is the final authority, no one has any ground on which to stand to gainsay them. And so we end up with situations like we have in Canada, the uS, and the rest of the West in which governments must suppress traditional Christian teaching in order to allow the LGBT individuals to live according to their consciences.

Yet, even the very hierarchical Catholic Church has fallen into these same humanity destroying worldviews…. Jonathan Pageau has recently released an excellent video on Weaponized Compassion – using a bastardized and neutered concept of Christian love and yet, somehow calling this “Christian.”

BM: Walt, you have illuminated both the value and the corruption of institutions. There is value in institutions, for consistency and guarding tradition and teaching. 

The wisdom of countless generations in conversation, instead of the inventions of one generation (the current one).

BM: Unfortunately, institutions are ripe for corruption (hence, the West received Luther).

And necessarily so.

WG: If the Orthodox are slower to act, in addition to what Miner said above…

The referenced comment from Delinquent Miner:

A “silent” and “complicit” Orthodox Church, in my observation, comes from their collective experiences under Ottoman, Muslim, Turk, and Communist oppression. It’s a matter of survival.

This seems a reasonable observation.  I will relate, however, one example of just where such a road leads.  The Armenians of the Ottoman Empire – Orthodox, but known as “Oriental” due to a different understanding of how Christ is both divine and man than that offered via the Council of Chalcedon:

During a period in which the Ottoman Empire was losing a great deal of land—particularly the Christian Balkans—the Armenians were seen as the “loyal millet” who did not cause problems for the government.

By the end of the nineteenth century, this loyalty devolved into getting slaughtered.  And during World War One, genocide.  So, such “loyalty” only goes so far.  Sooner or later scapegoats will be found, turned into sacrifices to appease some god or another.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Schooling Heretics


In 1179, a council convened by the pope specified ‘the lands around Albi and Toulouse’ as an especially noxious breeding ground of heresy.

Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, by Tom Holland

This wound which would not be healed with the treatment of a poultice must be cut away with a knife, according to Innocent III.  By November, 1207, it was feared that this heresy, left unchecked, would contaminate all Christian people.

In July, 1209, a great army of knights would have their crusade.  Not for territorial expansion; not for reclaiming lost Christian lands.  But for the extirpation of dangerous beliefs.  The crusaders would storm Béziers.  Reportedly, when asked by the crusaders how to distinguish the faithful from the heretics, the papal legate offered that they should kill them all and God will sort it out.

Even those sheltering in churches were slaughtered.  Fire brought down the cathedral; blood darkened the river.  “Divine vengeance raged marvelously,” reported the legate back to Rome.  In one afternoon, Béziers was reduced to a corpse-strewn wreckage.  But such slaughters would continue for two decades.  The terror grew even beyond the pope’s ability to contain it.  Ultimately, it was Pope Gregory who would sign a treaty bringing these slaughters to an end.

From the grandest schooling to the most acute…

The Count, entering her quarters, could only bless himself in admiration.  ‘Never before,’ he exclaimed, ‘has the daughter of a king been seen spinning wool.’

The count was Count Paviam; the daughter of the king was Lady Elizabeth.  Working in a hospital, tending the sick, bathing them, cleaning their sores.  Toiling in the kitchen, washing dishes, preparing vegetables.  If no other work was assigned, she would sit and spin wool.

Elizabeth was born to greatness, descended from a cousin of Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian king.  At fourteen years old, she married Louis of Thuringia in central Germany.  She bore him three children; he gloried in her closeness to God.  Louis died, and instead of returning to her father’s court, she chose to live a despised life.

The time was the thirteenth century, and after the reformations of the eleventh century.  Revolutionary in many ways, but obviously not in favor of further revolution.  Clerks in service to the papal bureaucracy toiled to strengthen the foundation of the Church’s authority.

‘There is one Catholic Church of the faithful, and outside of it there is absolutely no salvation.’

So proclaimed the First Canon of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.  Obviously, the claim that the bishops and abbots present came ‘from every nation which is under heaven’ was a stretch.  Let alone the Church in the East, even within the West there were the elite born of the reformation, who held to demands of further reformation.

Bands of preachers, the Waldensians, roamed beyond the castle of Wartburg.  They would preach that one must give away his wealth.  Pleading with the pope to be allowed to teach, they had been laughed out of the papal court.  After all, one didn’t suffer a university education only to land in poverty.

…they lambasted the clergy for failing to practice what they preached: for being leprous with lechery, and pride, and greed. … they had come to despair of the very edifice of the Church. …Corruption was its entire fabric.

Responding with such vitriol, they would soon proclaim that only Christ was their bishop.  Such teachings were condemned as heresy, of course. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Humble Approach


I have very much appreciated the series of books by Fr. John Strickland, where he reviews the 2,000-year history of Christendom (and which I have reviewed here).  One reason I have appreciated these is for the topic covered – a view of Christendom from the East, as offered by this Orthodox priest-historian.

But another reason – and one without which I would have never spent much time in the material – is his humility when discussing and examining Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.  For example, when considering the events of the Papal Reformation, he understands and appreciates the issues being dealt with by Western Christianity. 

He can do this while at the same time pointing to how certain aspects of this Reformation caused Western Christianity to move away from (in his view) Paradise and toward Utopia.

All of this is an introduction to a video interview of Fr. Strickland by Austin Suggs.  The entire interview is worthwhile, but I will point to the concluding segment, in which Suggs asks Strickland:

For someone living in the West that feels this tension – that the West does have some sense of decline – this sense that something is wrong, what can Western Christians do to regain that sense of paradise?  Is there anything short of becoming Orthodox or restoring communion?

Fr. Strickland responds:

As a convinced Orthodox Christian, I would obviously emphasize the value of returning to the original faith of Christianity, but I would not say that the only solution to the problem is universal conversion to Orthodoxy.

As I mentioned before, I don’t like the word “conversion” in this context, applying to a person baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  However, I agree that the only solution is not to be found in a universal return to Orthodox Christianity.

But to continue: Strickland offers that his fourth book will be titled “The Age of Nihilism,” where he will examine the anti-Christian agenda in the West from the last one-hundred-plus years.

The problem is solved as we return to traditional Christianity.  For me, that means Orthodoxy, but I can certainly recognize that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism also have elements of traditional Christianity within them – there is no question about this to me.

Nor to me.  And, I suspect, some Roman Catholics and Protestants can point to some aspects of traditional Christianity better found in these traditions than in Orthodoxy. 

Returning to those first millennium elements of culture – which we share together whether we are Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant – I think returning to that experience of paradise, which springs out of the liturgical sacramental life of the Church – East and West.

This means returning to their own roots which will take them back to an approach to Christianity that is centered upon liturgy, centered upon sacramental communion with God, the experience of God’s presence – of Heavenly immanence – that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near and is filling this world, and that pessimism begins to dissipate insofar as we experience God’s loving, caring presence in this world.


None.  Strickland said it best.