Jordan Peterson’s Sixth Rule

A part of a book review

.     Jordan B. Peterson is a recent public phenomenon who has become famous — some would say infamous — for directly challenging two things:  the political correctness, and the limitations on free speech, that are being enforced, right now, both legally and socially, in Canada.
.     He has just written and published a book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
.     The title is well-chosen. I here offer an extended quote from the middle of his discussion of Rule 6: ‘Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.’

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Clean up your life

.     Consider your circumstances. Start small. Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? Are you working hard on your career, or even your job, or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down? Have you made peace with your brother? Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect? Do you have habits that are destroying your health and well-being? Are you truly shouldering your responsibilities? Have you said what you need to say to your friends and family members? Are there things that you could do, that would make things around you better?
.     Have you cleaned up your life?
.     If the answer is no, here’s something to try: Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. . .
.     . . . Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

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.     I believe that this is a valuable, truthful, and important message.  I urge you to get and read his book.  As always, your comments here are most welcome.

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.     Jordan Peterson wrote another book some years ago.  You can read his comments about it here:  https://jordanbpeterson.com/maps-of-meaning/

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Trolls on My Timeline, part 2

.     Part 1 is linked here.

.     Once upon a time there were two old friends of mine.   Each of them (separately — they do not know each other) seems to have become embroiled in some personal crisis of mind.  Some disappointment, perhaps, that turned into a twist in their personal belief systems.  In one case, it seems to be purely political; in the other, it seems to be purely religious; in both cases, they appear to be deeply frustrated, and are projecting their frustrations outward into Facebook world.  (There I go, sounding like a psychologist.)

.     At any rate, the result was, in both cases, a series of Facebook posts that were extremely negative, and projected criticism and hostility on all their friends, and upon whole sets of people whom they have never met and do not know, but whom they think they understand, and whom they hold in profound contempt.

.     So I let them go.

.     As a numbers game, it’s pretty good — many, many good friends on Facebook, and only two trolls.  Still, I’m sorry to see it happen; they are not only long-term friends of mine, but also of many other people.

.     I hope they get past their angers, with God’s help.

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Trolls On My Timeline, part 1

I’ll be dropping some trolls from my Facebook timeline.  It’s time.

     What’s a troll? they will ask, as if they did not know.  Well, the website “Urban Dictionary” has an answer that goes back 15 years:

troll
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument
     Who’s a troll? they will ask, as if they did not know.  Well, that depends on where you are.  But on my timeline, they are the ones who, on important religious or political or social subjects  . . .
     1)  routinely “share” posts and memes that they got from some wholesale troll-post-and-meme-generator (thus proceeding from wholesale provocations to retail provocations)
     2) who on any subject of importance recklessly disregard contrary facts, mitigating factors, or indeed any other point of view than their own, (in other words, false witness)
     3) perceiving themselves to be on-stage (which they are), and imagining that they must give, and are giving, a great and significant dramatic performance (which they are not),  just like the celebrities and sports figures and media darlings that they have idolized (who are also not, for the most part, particularly great or significant)
     4) who haven’t, for a long time, thought for themselves, and are hostile to (or frightened of) people who think for themselves
     5) and therefore feel fully justified when they throw around personal insults, and false accusations, against whomever they happen (to have been told by their media mentors or their social circle) not to like.
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     Who is not a troll?  According to the definition above, most people are not trolls. Trolls are people who post “a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”  They prefer disruption over constructive conversation, and argument over the affirmation of truth.
     In my (fairly long, so far) life I, like you, have many friends and acquaintances who genuinely and sincerely hold points of view that are quite different from my own.  Some of them are on Facebook.  You know the list:  liberal, conservative, libertarian, apolitical, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, etc.  With them I have no quarrel; indeed, I look forward to engaging conversations.  Their posts and memes may be pointed, pithy, and even astringent.  They are not trolls, not in my book.
     But there are a couple of trolls that I am going to drop from my timeline, soon–unless, of course, they drop me first.  And after I do, I plan to get back to you and tell you why.

A Different True Hermit

A Book Review.

Michael Finkel.  The Stranger In The Woods:  The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.  New York:  Vintage Books, 2017.

 

.     You could have legitimate doubts as to whether this book tells a true story.

.     First of all, the story itself is pretty incredible.  A twenty-year-old man disappears in the Maine woods and reappears at the age of forty-seven.  In that time, from 1986 to 2013, he has survived twenty-seven Maine winters.  In that time, he only twice meets another human being, and only once says a word — “Hi.”    All of which would make him not merely one hermit among many, but a pretty remarkable specimen of a rare breed of men, known the world over from ancient times, who are perhaps noble, but perhaps just peculiar.

.      Secondly, you might have doubts about the truth of the story when you learn that the author, Michael Finkel, got in trouble back in 2002 for writing a story for the New York Times about a boy supposedly caught up in modern human trafficking, when in fact the boy was a actually a composite of several characters, not a specific individual as claimed.  So there’s that.  (Although we should mention that Mr. Finkel has gone on to write a true story  — whose title is True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa — that has won awards and been turned into a film.  Which might reasonably cause one to suppose that he has firmly put sloppy journalism behind him.)

.     And thirdly, there is this fact about the strange man:  that the people who lived nearest to him on the shores of North Pond, in Maine, knew him not as a hermit, but only as a thief whom they never saw,  but who pilfered food and other supplies from their homes and summer cabins while they were gone.  He committed hundreds of burglaries in those twenty-seven years.

.     But the story is true as told.  His trial and incarceration are a matter of public record.  His camp was quickly found . . .

. . . and there we see the picture, the situation, the story.  Read it.  Enjoy it.  Learn something about a strange and interesting man.

.     Comments always welcome.

 

March 9, 2018.

 

Joseph Sobran Comments on The Man They Still Hate

January 4, 2018.

“Jesus is Lord!” are the triumphant words with which Joseph Sobran ends the essay, “The Man They Still Hate,” which was first published in 1999 and reposted about a year ago. He begins his essay with these words:  “The world has long since forgiven Julius Caesar. Nobody today finds Socrates or Cicero irritating. Few of us resent Alexander the Great or his tutor, Aristotle.   No, only one man in the ancient world is still hated after two millennia: Jesus Christ.”  At first reading, that sounds strange to me: hated?

It has been said of great writers and philosophers that if you want to understand them, you must read them in their own words, rather than the words of the commentators and critics who seek to interpret and explain them.  So to understand Greek philosophy, read Plato and Aristotle. not the erudite commentaries; to understand the theory of relativity, read Einstein.  (And yes, his book is pretty straightforward and reasonably short.)

The same goes for Joseph Sobran: if you started in by reading the Wikipedia article about him (which you can, right here, right now), you would have a very different impression of Sobran and his thoughts than if you began by reading a double handful of his relevant essays.

I urge the reading (and re-reading) of his essay — it is a piece of good writing, and good sense — and satisfying like good soup on a cold day.

 

Joseph Sobran on The Incomparable One

January 3, 2018

Joseph Sobran was a Christian (Roman Catholic) essayist.  I noted his passing in 2010, but have hardly mentioned him since.  Some of his essays still appear from time to time on the website of Lew Rockwell, and here is a recent offering.  The essay itself is about twenty years old.  It is titled,

 The Incomparable One

Your comments are, as always, most welcome.  Since this version of my website is new to you (and largely untested by me), please be patient if comments don’t appear, for some reason.  The old website remains operational as well.

 

To Cam, Again

.     October 3, 2014
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.      I think of you, Cam.
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.     I think how you came forth from the Father, and how quickly you returned to Him.  I think about who you are, where you are, how you are.
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.     It came to me, this morning, that it was for you — especially for you — that the world, the earth itself, was created.  As the Lord of All Worlds has said, and by saying, has decreed, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” it is a thing of certainty that you, the Little Meek Fellow, will inherit the very earth itself, and all that is in it.  If Cosmos itself must be restructured in order to receive you, then the Cosmos itself will be restructured.
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.     I have called you meek.  By saying that I do not say, and I do not mean, that you were, or are, merely powerless or passive; though in a certain sense it must be granted that you were then, and still are, powerless and passive.  The Holy Scriptures attribute meekness to that strong servant of the Lord, Moses — meekness being that humility that comes with increasing clarity and reality as the knowledge of the Lord God Himself comes with increasing clarity and reality; and for some that humility only comes, or comes best, where the spirit recedes from the body.
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.     You, like all the meek, must expect, and patiently await, the Resurrection.  It is surely He who will bring you to your inheritance.  He has promised this much:  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
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.     I have some other things to say to you, Cam.  But let that be for another time.