Jordan Peterson Ch 12 Sermon

Jordan Peterson Rule #12

Jordan Peterson reflects upon the travails his family went through concerning his daughter, Mikhaila. Here are some quotes:

…left me with Mikhaila in the car. We were in the front seat. She was lying there in the sun, babbling away. I leaned over to hear what she was saying. “Happy, Happy, happy, happy, happy.” That’s what she was like.

When she turned six, however, she started to get mopey. It was hard to get her out of bed in the morning. She put on her clothes very slowly. When we walked somewhere, she lagged behind. She complained that her feet hurt and that her shoes didn’t fit. We bought her ten different pairs, but it didn’t help. She went to school, and held her head up, and behaved properly. But when she came home, and saw her Mom, she would break into tears.

Mikhaila began to walk up and down stairs one step at a time. She began to move like someone much older. She complained if you held her hand. (One time, much later, she asked me, “Dad, when you played ‘this little piggy,’ with me when I was little, was it supposed to hurt?” Things you learn too late…

Mikhaila had arthritis, all right. The physio, bearer of unwelcome news, was correct. Thirty-seven affected joints. Severe polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Cause? Unknown. Prognosis? Multiple early joint replacements.

What sort of God would make a world where such a thing could happen, at all?—much less to an innocent and happy little girl? It’s a question of absolutely fundamental import, for believer and non-believer alike.

Her rheumatologist suggested prednisone, a corticosteroid, long used to fight inflammation. But prednisone has many side effects, not the least of which is severe facial swelling. It wasn’t clear that this was better than the arthritis, not for a little girl. Fortunately, if that is the right word, the rheumatologist told us of a new drug. It had been used previously, but only on adults. So Mikhaila became the first Canadian child to receive etanercept, a “biological” specifically designed for autoimmune diseases. Tammy accidentally administered ten times the recommended dose the first few injections. Poof! Mikhaila was fixed.

After a few years, Mikhaila became completely symptom-free. The rheumatologist suggested that we start weaning her off her medications. Some children grow out of JIA when they hit puberty. No one knows why. She began to take methotrexate in pill form, instead of injecting it. Things were good for four years. Then, one day her elbow started to ache. (Grade 11 now)

The rheumatologist said, “some of your femur appears to be dead. You don’t need a hip replacement when you’re thirty. You need one now.”

As I sat with my client—as she discussed her husband’s advancing illness—we discussed the fragility of life, the catastrophe of existence, and the sense of nihilism evoked by the spectre of death…She asked, like everyone in her situation, “Why my husband? Why me? Why this?” My realization of the tight interlinking between vulnerability and Being was the best answer I had for her. I told her an old Jewish story…If you are already everything, everywhere, always, there is nowhere to go and nothing to be. Everything that could be already is, and everything that could happen already has. And it is for this reason, so the story goes, that God created man. No limitation, no story. No story, no Being. That idea has helped me deal with the terrible fragility of Being.

In May her hip was replaced. The surgeon was even able to adjust for a pre-existent half centimeter difference in leg length. The bone hadn’t died, either. That was only a shadow on the x-ray… We had some better days.

Then her right ankle disintegrated. Her doctors wanted to fuse the large affected bones into one piece. But that would have caused the other, smaller bones in her foot—now facing additional pressure—to deteriorate. That’s not so intolerable, perhaps, when you’re eighty (although it’s no picnic then either). But it’s no solution when you’re in your teens. We insisted upon an artificial replacement, although the technology was new. There was a three year-waiting list. This was simply not manageable. The damaged ankle produced much more pain than her previously failing hip…I knew she was at her breaking point. To call that stressful is to say almost nothing.

During much of this period, we were overwhelmed. The demands of everyday life don’t stop, just because you have been laid low by a catastrophe. Everything that you always do still has to be done. So how do you manage? Here are some things we learned: Set aside some time to talk and to think about the illness or other crisis and how it should be managed every day. Do not talk or think about it otherwise…You’re in a war, not a battle, and a war is composed of many battles. You must stay functional through all of them.

One you are aligned with the heavens, you can concentrate on the day. Be careful. Put the things you can control in order. Repair what is in disorder, and make what is already good better. It is possible that you can manage, if you are careful. People are very tough. People can survive through much pain and loss. But to persevere they must see the good in Being. If they lose that, they are truly lost.

P.S. Soon after I wrote this chapter, Mikhaila’s surgeon told her that her artificial ankle would have to be removed, and her ankle fused. Amputation waited soon that road. She had been in pain for eight years, since the replacement surgery, and her mobility remained significantly impaired, although both were much better than before. Four days lager she happened upon a new physiotherapist. He was a large, powerful, attentive person. He had specialized in ankle treatment in the UK, in London. He placed his hands around her ankle and compressed it for forty seconds, while Mikhaila moved her foot back and forth. A mispositioned bone slipped back where it belonged. Her pain disappeared. She never cries in front of medical personnel, but she burst into tears. Her knee straightened up. Now she can walk long distances, and traipse around in her bare feet. The calf muscle on her damaged leg is growing back. She has much more flexion in the artificial joint. This year, she got married and had a baby girl, Elizabeth, named after my wife’s departed mother. Things are good. For now.

Here is an older sermon about two parables.

Parable of the Unjust Neighbor and Judge

In a class of second graders. Problems with school work. “Ask God to help you and He will”. “I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work”. This interaction is closer to reality than we care to admit. So what is the problem? Our faith, an uncaring God? These parables give us a glimpse into the mind of Christ.

Luke 11:5-8 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;  7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

I. The Setting

This follows the 12 being sent out with power over demons and the failure of the disciples to cast out the demon while Jesus was on the mountain of transfiguration.

The disciples have argued about who is greatest and as they watch Jesus pray they know they are missing something: Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

Jesus lays out some basic prayer guidelines: “Give us this day”…

Then he shares this parable where on the surface the way to get prayer answered is to keep asking.

Jesus gives it a personal context when He asks us to keep asking and letting us know that our heavenly father will do us right. He ends tying it back to the original question of teach us to pray, show us what is lacking in our prayer life by saying: ask for the Holy Spirit and you will get it.

II. The Characterizations, let’s include the other parable: Luke 18:1-8

18 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.  3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’  4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Those asking have needs and they are being rebuked. The neighbor is down right rude. It is only because he keeps knocking so that he can’t go back to sleep does the neighbor finally respond just to rid himself of the hassle: the message: Don’t bother me!

The slime of a judge that will only respond to intimidation, bribery or bothering. The righteous widow has chosen bothering and the judge realizes that her story might have enough legs to cause him harm so he responds.

The context of the second parable is the church, the elect, who are crying out day and night to no avail. They are living in an anti-Christ world that saps their energy day by day. (sap, to undermine, to break down the walls of protection)

We notice that both of these parables put the person, God, who hears our petitions in bad light. The problem is not with the petitioners. The unjust neighbor and the unjust judge is how we begin to view God when our faith is tried by delay.

Jesus puts these characterizations to the side with his emphatic, “So I say to you” counter description of a heavenly Father who will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. And in the second parable: “Then the Lord said” will not God avenge the elect speedily or suddenly?.

Lessons in Reality

We have already seen that growth in the kingdom of God is slow and gradual. Prayers to speed up this process can only go so far.

Both parables are directed towards men who have discovered that God has to be waited on for the fulfillment of spiritual things.

A devout prayer can wait hours and even days, but these parables show us that our wait is long enough that we begin to wonder about the goodness of God.

Both parables direct us to resist the temptation to not bother praying because our view of God reflects the qualities of the unjust neighbor and the unjust judge.

Both parables force us to reconcile the beautiful words of God about taking care of us and our actual experiences of not seeing everything work out the way we want it to. Are these just beautiful words that have no relation to reality?

Jesus knew that good people would wrestle with these doubts and these parables are to heal them and reassure them.

The struggle with unanswered prayer is not solved by the parable, it is only Jesus’ word of exhortation to keep praying so that we can attain and keep a faith that sees a loving heavenly father rather than an unjust neighbor.

Scripture is full of examples of men crying out to God that life is unfair and thus He is unfair.

Ps 88:1 O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.

Job 7:19 How long? Will You not look away from me, And let me alone till I swallow my saliva?

Ps 6:3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord — how long?

Ps 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Ps 74:10 O God, how long will the adversary reproach? Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?

Ps 82:2 How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked?

Ps 94:3 Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph?

Hab 1:2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.


Our problem is that our parables don’t answer our main question, Why the delay?, they just let us know there is one and that in spite of the delay all will go well in the end with those who trust God.

Jesus asks will I find the kind of faith that can overcome these incongruities when I return?

Ps 27:14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!





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Jordan Peterson Ch 11 sermon notes

Jordan Peterson Chapter 11

Chapter Title: Do Not Bother Children When They are Skateboarding

Here are some quotes:

Of course it was dangerous. Danger was the point. They wanted to triumph over danger. They would have been safer in protective equipment, but that would have ruined it. They weren’t trying to be safe. They were trying to become competent—and it’s competence that makes people as safe as they can truly be.

Two weeks before elementary school classes started, throughout the city, all the playground equipment disappeared. The legislation governing such things had changed, and there was a panic about insurability. The playgrounds were hastily removed, even though they were sufficiently safe, grandfathered in their insurability, and often paid for (and quite recently) by parents. This meant no playgrounds at all for more than a year. During this time, I often saw bored but admirable kids charging around on the roof of our local school. It was that or scrounge about in the dirt with the cats and the less adventurous children.

I say “sufficiently safe: about the demolished playgrounds because when playgrounds are made too safe, kids either stop playing in them or start playing in unintended ways. Kids need playgrounds dangerous enough to remain challenging. People, including children (who are people too, after all) don’t seek to minimize risk. They seek to optimize it. They drive and walk and love and play so that they achieve what they desire, but they push themselves a bit at the same time, too, so they continue to develop.

Me: He now describes the current camouflaged Marxism.

Nietzche: “We shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not”—thus do the tarantula-hearts vow. “And ‘will to equality’ shall henceforth be the name for virtue; and against all that has power we want to raise our clamor!” You preachers of equality, the tyrant-mania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.”

He concluded, that the tweed-wearing, armchair-philosophizing, victim-identifying, pity-and-contempt-dispensing social-reformer types frequently did not like the poor, as they claimed. Instead, they just hated the rich. They disguised their resentment and jealousy with piety, sanctimony and self-righteousness. Things in the unconscious—or on the social justice-dispensing leftist front—haven’t changed much, today.

I believe it was Jung who developed the most surgically wicked of psychoanalytic dicta: if you cannot understand why someone did something, look at the consequences—and infer the motivation. This is a psychological scalpel.

If the consequences of placing skatestoppers on plant-boxes and sculpture bases, for example, is unhappy adolescent males and brutalist aesthetic disregard of beauty then, perhaps, that was the aim.

Why, then, is it virtuous to propose that the planet might be better off, if there were fewer people on it? I can’t help but see a skeletal, grinning face, gleeful at the possibility of the apocalypse, hiding not so very far behind such statements. And why does it so often seem to be the very people standing so visibly against prejudice who so often appear to feel obligated to denounce humanity itself?

It’s worse, I think, for young men. As privileged beneficiaries of the patriarchy, their accomplishments are considered unearned. As possible adherents of rape culture, they’re sexually suspect. Their ambitions make them plunderers of the planet. They’re not welcome. At the junior high, high school and university level, they’re falling behind educationally.

Boys are suffering, in the modern world. They are more disobedient—negatively=or more independent—positively—than girls, and they suffer for this, throughout their pre-university educational career. They are less agreeable (agreeableness being a personality trait associated with compassion, empathy and avoidance of conflict) and less susceptible to anxiety and depression, at least after both sexes hit puberty. Boy’ interests tilt towards things; girls’ interests tilt toward people. Strikingly, these differences, strongly influenced by biological factors, are most pronounced in the Scandinavian societies where gender-equality has been pushed hardest: this is the opposite of what would be expected by those who insist , ever more loudly, that gender is a social construct. It isn’t. This isn’t a debate. The data are in.

Boys like competition, and they don’t like to obey, particularly when they are adolescents. During that time, they are driven to escape their families, and establish their own independent existence. There is little difference between doing that and challenging authority.

Girls can win by winning in their own hierarchy—by being good at what girls value, as girls. They can add to this victory by winning in the   boys’ hierarchy. Boys, however, can only win by winning in the male hierarchy. They will lose status, among girls and boys, by being good at what girls value.

Boys can’t (won’t) play truly competitive games with girls. It isn’t clear how they can win. As the game turns into a girls’ game, therefore, the boys leave. Are the universities—particularly the humanities—about to become a girls’ game? Is this what we want?

The women at female-dominated institutes of higher education are finding it increasingly difficult to arrange a dating relationship of even moderate duration. In consequence, they must settle, if inclined, for a hook-up, or sequential hook-ups. Perhaps this is a move forward, in terms of sexual liberation, but I doubt it. I think it’s terrible for the girls. A stable, loving relationship is highly desirable, for men as well as women. For women, however, it is often what is most wanted.

The Pew data also indicate that a spouse with a desirable job is a high priority for almost 80 percent of never-married but marriage-seeking women (but for less than 50 percent of men).

When they hit their thirties, most of the top-rate female lawyers bail out of their high-pressure careers. Only 15 percent of equity partners at the two hundred biggest US law firms are women. This figure hasn’t changed much in the last fifteen years, even though female associates and staff attorneys are plentiful It also isn’t because the law firms don’t want the women to stay around and succeed. There is a chronic shortage of excellent people, regardless of sex, and law firms are desperate to retain them.

The increasingly short supply of university-educated men poses problem of increasing severity for women who want to marry, as well as date. First, women have a strong proclivity to marry across or up the economic dominance hierarchy. They prefer a partner of equal or greater status. This holds true cross-culturally.

Why do women want an employed partner and, preferably, one of higher status? In no small part, it’s because women become more vulnerable when they have children. They need someone competent to support mother and child when that becomes necessary. It’s a perfectly rational compensatory act, although it may also have a biological basis. Why would a woman who decides to take responsibility for one or more infants want an adult to look after as well? So, the unemployed working man is an undesirable specimen—and single motherhood an undesirable alternative. Children in father-absent homes are four times as likely to be poor. That means their mothers are poor too. Fatherless children are at much greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Children living with married biological parents are less anxious, depressed and delinquent than children living with one or more non-biological parent. Children in single-parent families are also twice as likely to commit suicide.

The strong turn towards political correctness in universities has exacerbated the problem. The voices shouting against oppression have become louder, it seems, in precise proportion to how equal—even now increasingly skewed against men—the schools have become. There are whole disciplines in universities forthrightly hostile towards men.

Consider this, as well, in regard to oppression: any hierarchy creates winners and losers. The winners are, of course, more likely to justify the hierarchy and the losers to criticize it. But (1) the collective pursuit of any valued goal produces a hierarchy (as some will be better and some worse at that pursuit not matter what it is) and (2) it is the pursuit of goals that in large part lends life its sustaining meaning. We experience almost all the emotions that make life deep and engaging as a consequence of moving successfully towards something deeply desired and valued. The price we pay for that involvement is the inevitable creation of hierarchies of success, while the inevitable consequence is difference in outcome. Absolute equality would therefore require the sacrifice of value itself—and then there would be nothing worth living for.

It is also perverse to consider culture the creation of men. Culture is symbolically, archetypally, mythically male. That’s partly why the idea of “the patriarchy” is so easily swallowed. But it is certainly the creation of humankind, not the creation of men (let alone white men, who nonetheless contributed their fair share). European culture has only been dominant, to the degree that it is dominant at all, for about four hundred years. On the time scale of cultural evolution—which is to be measured, at minimum, in thousands of years—such a timespan barely registers.

Here’s an alternative theory: throughout history, men and women both struggled terribly for freedom from the overwhelming horrors of privation and necessity. Women were often at a disadvantage during that struggle, as they had all the vulnerabilities of men, with the extra reproductive burden, and less physical strength.

It looks to me like the so-called oppression of the patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women, stretching over millennia, to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery.

The recent case of Arunachalam Muruganantham provides a salutary example. This man, the “tampon king” of India, became unhappy because his wife had to use dirty rags during her menstrual period…Now his low-cost and locally made napkins are distributed across India, manufactured by women-run self-help groups. His users have been provided with freedom they never previously experienced. In 2014, this high-school dropout was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. I am unwilling to consider personal gain Muruganantham’s primary motivation. Is he part of the patriarchy?

In 1847, James Young Simpson used ether to help a woman who had a deformed pelvis give birth. Afterwards, he switched to the better performing chloroform. The first baby delivered under its influence was named “Anaesthesia.” By 1853, chloroform was esteemed enough to be used by Queen Victoria, who delivered her seventh baby under its influence. Remarkably soon afterward, the option of painless childbirth was available everywhere.

The first practical tampon, Tampax, didn’t arrive until the 1930s. It was invented by Dr. Earle Cleveland Haas. He made it of compressed cotton, and designed an applicator from paper tubes. This helped lessen resistance to the products by those who objected to the self-touching that might otherwise occur. By the early 1940s, 25 percent of women were using them. Thirty years later, it was 70 percent. Now it’s four out of five, with the remainder relying on pads, which are now hyper-absorbent, and held in place by effective adhesives (opposed to the awkwardly placed, bulky, belted, diaper-like sanitary napkins of the 1970s). Did Muruganantham, Simpson and Haas oppress women, or free them? What about Gregory Goodwin Pincus, who invented the birth control pill? In what manner were these practical, enlightened, persistent men part of a constricting patriarchy?

Why do we teach our young people that our incredible culture is the result of male oppression? Blinded by this central assumption disciplines as diverse as education, social work, art history, gender studies, literature, sociology and, increasingly, law actively treat men as oppressors and men’s activity as inherently destructive.

These disciplines draw their philosophy from multiple sources. All are heavily influenced by the Marxist humanists. One such figure is Max Horkheimer, who developed critical theory in the 1930s . Any brief summary of his ideas is bound to be oversimplified, but Horkheimer regarded himself as a Marxist. He believed that Western principles of individual freedom or the free market were merely masks that served to disguise the true conditions of the West: inequality, domination and exploitation.

More important in recent years has been the work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, leader of the postmodernists, who came into vogue in the late 1970s. Derrida described his own ideas as a radicalized form of Marxism. Marx attempted to reduce history and society to economics, considering culture the oppression of the poor by the rich.

When Marxism was put into practice in the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere, economic resources were brutally redistributed. Private property was eliminated, and rural people forcibly collectivized. The result? Tens of millions of people died. Hundreds of millions ore were subject to oppression rivalling that still operative in North Korea, the last classic communist holdout. The resulting economic systems were corrupt and unsustainable.

Marxist ideas were very attractive to intellectual utopians. One of the primary architects of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Khieu Samphan, received a doctorate at the Sorbonne before he became the nominal head of Cambodia in the mid-1970s. In his doctoral thesis, written in 1959, he argued that the work done by non-farmers in Cambodia’s cities was unproductive: bankers, bureaucrats and businessmen added nothing to society.

Back in Cambodia, he was provided with the opportunity to put his theories into practice. The Khmer rouge evacuated Cambodia’s cities, drove all the inhabitants into the countryside, closed the banks, banned the use of currency, and destroyed all the markets. A quarter of the Cambodian population were worked to death in the countryside, in the killing fields.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the Stalinist Soviets sent two million kulaks, their richest peasants, to Siberia (those with a small number of cows, a couple of hired hands, or a few acres more than was typical). From the communist viewpoint, these kulaks had gathered their wealth by plundering those around them, and deserved their fate.

The “parasitical” kulaks were, in general, the most skillful and hardworking farmers. A small minority of people are responsible for most of the production in any field, and farming roved no different. Agricultural output crashed. What little remained was taken by force out of the countryside and into the cities. Rural people who went out into the fields after the harvest to glean single grains of wheat for their hungry families risked execution. Six million people died of starvation in the Ukraine, the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, in the 1930s. “To eat your own children is a barbarian act,” declared posters of the Soviet regime.

The Gulag Archipelago,…AS noted (and is worth noting again), this book utterly demolished communism’s moral credibility—first in the West, and then in the Soviet System itself.

No one could stand up for communism after The Gulag Archipelago—not even the communists themselves.

This did not mean that the fascination Marxist ideas had for intellectuals—particularly French intellectuals—disappeared. It merely transformed. Some refused outright to learn. Sartre denounced Solzhenitsyn as a “dangerous element.” Derrida, more subtle, substituted the idea of power for the idea of money, and continued on his merry way. Such linguistic sleight-of-hand gave all the barely repentant Marxists still inhabiting the intellectual pinnacles of the West the means to retain their world-view. Society was no longer repression of the poor by the rich. It was oppression of everyone by the powerful.

It is almost impossible to over-estimate the nihilistic and destructive nature of this philosophy. It puts the act of categorization itself in doubt. It  negates the idea that distinctions might be drawn between things for any reasons other than that of raw power. Biological distinctions between men and women? Despite the existence of an overwhelming, multi-disciplinary scientific literature indicating that sex differences are powerfully influenced by biological factors, science is just another game of power, for Derrida and his post-modern Marxist acolytes, making claims to benefit those at the pinnacle of the scientific world. There are no facts. Hierarchical position and reputation as a consequence of skill and competence? All definitions of skill and of competence are merely made up by those who benefit from them, to exclude others, and to benefit personally and selfishly.

Beware of single cause interpretations—and beware the people who purvey them.

The Swedes, for example, push equality to its limit. The US takes the opposite tack, assuming that net wealth-creation of a more free-for-all capitalism constitutes the rising tide that lifts all boats. The results of these experiments are not all in, and countries differ very much in relevant ways. Differences in history, geographic area, population size and ethnic diversity make direct comparisons very difficult. But it certainly is the case that forced redistribution, in the name of utopian equality, is a cure to shame the disease.

I believe that government can, sometimes, be a force for good, as well as the necessary arbiter of a small set of necessary rules. Nonetheless, I do not understand why our society is providing public funding to institutions and educators whose stated, conscious and explicit aim is the demolition of the culture that supports them.

There are other serious problems lurking in the radical disciplines, apart from the falseness of their theories and methods, and their insistence that collective political activism is morally obligatory. There isn’t a shred of hard evidence to support any of their central claims: that Western society is pathologically patriarchal; that the prime lesson of history is that men, rather than nature, were the primary source of the oppression of women (rather than, as in most cases, their partners and supporters); that all hierarchies are based on power and aimed at exclusion.

In societies that are well-functioning—not in comparison to a hypothetical utopia, but contrasted with other existing or historical cultures—competence, not power, is a prime determiner of status. Competence. Ability. Skill. Not power. This is obvious both anecdotally and factually.

That leaves opinion—and force==and the use of force is all too attractive, under such circumstances, just as its employment in the service of that opinion is all too certain. The insane and incomprehensible postmodern insistence that all gender differences are socially constructed, for example, becomes all too understandable when its moral imperative is grasped–when its justification for force is one and for all understood: Society must be altered, or bias eliminated, until all outcomes are equitable.

The fact that such statements lead immediately to internal inconsistencies within the ideology is never addressed. Gender is constructed, but an individual who desires gender re-assignment surgery is to be unarguably considered a man trapped in a woman’s body (or vice versa). The fact that both of these cannot logically be true, simultaneously, is just ignored (or rationalized away with another appalling post-modern claim: that logic itself—along with the techniques of science—is merely part of the oppressive patriarchal system).

Here’s the fundamental problem: group identity can be fractionated right down to the level of the individual. That sentence should be written in capital letters. Every person is unique–and not just in a trivial manner: importantly, significantly, meaningfully unique. Group membership cannot capture that variability. Period.

None of this complexity is ever discussed by the postmodern/Marxist thinkers. Instead, their ideological approach fixes a point of truth, like the North Star, and forces everything to rotate around it. The claim that all gender differences are a consequence of socialization is neither provable, nor disprovable, in some sense, because culture can be brought to bear with such force on groups or individuals that virtually any outcome is attainable, if we are willing to bear the cost.

What such studies imply is that we could probably minimize the innate differences between boys and girls, if we were willing to exert enough pressure. This would in no way ensure that we were freeing people of either gender to make their own choices. But choice has no place in the ideological picture: if men and women act, voluntarily, to produce gender-unequal outcomes, those very choices must have been determined by cultural bias.

It has become a tenet of a certain kind of social constructionist theory that the world would be much improved if boys were socialized like girls. Those who put forward such theories assume, first, that aggression is a learned behavior, and can therefore simply not be taught, and second (to take a particular example) that, “boys should be socialized the way girls have been traditionally socialized, and they should be encouraged to develop socially positive qualities such as tenderness, sensitivity to feelings, nurturance, cooperative and aesthetic appreciation.

Most are nonetheless socialized effectively by the age of four. This is not, however, because they have ben encouraged to act like little girls. Instead, they are taught or otherwise learn in early childhood to integrate their aggressive tendencies into more sophisticated behavioral routines. Aggression underlies the drive to be outstanding, to be unstoppable, to compete, to win—to be actively virtuous, at least along one dimension. Determination is its admirable, pro-social face.

Many of the female clients (perhaps even a majority) that I see in my clinical practice have trouble in their jobs and family lives not because they are too aggressive, but because they are not aggressive enough. Cognitive-behavioral therapists call the treatment of such people, generally characterized by the more feminine traits of agreeableness (politeness and compassion) and neuroticism (anxiety and emotional pain), “assertiveness training”. Insufficiently aggressive women—and men, although more rarely—do too much for others. They tend to treat those around them as if they were distressed children. They tend to be naïve. They assume that cooperation should be the basis of all social transactions, and they avoid conflict (which means they avoid confronting problems in their relationships as well as at work).

The Oedipal mother (and fathers can play this role too, but it’s comparatively rare) says to her child, “I only live for you.” She does everything for her children. She ties their shoes, and cuts up their food, and lets them crawl into bed with her and her partner for too often. That’s a good and conflict-avoidant method for avoiding unwanted sexual attention, as well.

This whole series of essentially archetypal/mythological ideas became touchstones for the theology of the women’s movement and the matriarchal studies of 1970s feminism (Cynthia Eller, who wrote a book criticizing such ideas–The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory—called this theology “an ennobling lie”).

The Terrible Mother is an ancient symbol. It manifests itself, for example, in the form of Tiamat, in the earliest written story we have recovered, the Mesopotamian Enuma Elish. Tiamat is the mother of all things, gods and men alike.

Men enforce a code of behavior on each other, when working together. Do your work. Pull your weight. Stay awake and pay attention. Don’t whine or be touchy. Stand up for your friends. Don’t suck up and don’t snitch. Don’t be a slave to stupid rules. Don’t, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, be a girlie man. Don’t be dependent. At all. Ever. Period. The harassment that is part of acceptance on a working crew is a test: are you tough, entertaining, competent and reliable? If not, go away. Simple as that. We don’t need to feel sorry for you. We don’t want to put up with your narcissism, and we don’t want to do your work.

The ad is famous for a reason. It summarizes human sexual psychology in seven straightforward panels. The too-weak young man is embarrassed and self=conscious, as he should be. What good is he? He gets put down by other men and, worse, by desirable women. Instead of drowning in resentment, and skulking off to his basement to play video games in his underwear, covered with Cheetos dust, he presents himself with what Alfred Adler, Freud’s most practical colleague, called a “compensatory fantasy.” The goal of such a fantasy is not so much with=fulfillment, as illumination of a genuine path forward. Mac takes serious note of his scarecrow=like build and decides that he should develop a stronger body. More importantly, he puts his plan into action. He identifies with the part of himself that could transcend his current state, and becomes the hero of his own adventure. He goes back to the beach, and punches the bully in the nose. Mac wins. So does his eventual girlfriend. So does everybody else.

It is to women’s clear advantage that men do not happily put up with dependency among themselves. Part of the reason that so many a working-class woman does not marry, now, as we have alluded to, is because she does not want to look after a man, struggling for employment, as well as her children…a man should not be a child. This means that he must not be dependent. This is one of the reasons that men have little patience for dependent men. And let us not forget: wicked women may produce dependent sons, may support and even marry dependent men, but awake and conscious women want an awake and conscious partner.

When softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues, then hardness and dominance will start to exert an unconscious fascination. Partly what this means for the future is that if men are pushed too hard to feminize, they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology. Fight Club, perhaps the most fascist popular film made in recent years, by Hollywood, with the possible exception of the Iron Man series, provides a perfect example of such inevitable attraction. The populist groundswell of support of Donald Trump in the US is part of the same process.

Men have to toughen up. Men demand it, and women want it, even though they may not approve of the harsh and contemptuous attitude that is part and parcel of the socially demanding process that fosters and then enforces that toughness. Some women don’t like losing their baby boys, so they keep them forever. Some women don’t like men, and would rather have a submissive mate, even if he is useless.

When the boys were spinning donuts, they were also testing the limits of their cars, their ability as drivers, and their capacity for control, in an out-of-control situation. When they told off the teachers, they were pushing against authority, to see if there was any real authority there-the kind that could be relied on, in principle, in a crisis. When they quit school, they went to work as rig roughnecks when it was forty bloody degrees below zero. It wasn’t weakness that propelled so many out of the classroom, where a better future arguably awaited. It was strength.

If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men. They want someone to contend with; someone to grapple with. If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter. They desire someone who brings to the table something they can’t already provide. This often makes it hard for tough, smart, attractive women to find mates: there just aren’t that many men around who can outclass them enough to be considered desirable (who are higher, as one research publication put it, in “income, education, self-confidence, intelligence, dominance and social position.

The spirit that interferes when boys are trying to become men is, therefore, no more friend to woman than it is to man…It’s antihuman, desirous of failure, jealous, resentful and destructive. No one truly on the side of humanity would ally him or herself with such a thing. No one aiming at moving up would allow him or herself to become possessed by such a thing. And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.

Leave Children alone when they are skateboarding.



Do Not Bother Children When They are Skateboarding

Here is a recap: the overwhelming majority of thrill seeking, dangerous skateboarders are young males.

Hold that thought. Peterson is pointing out in this chapter that all governing philosophies in our culture are just rehashed Marxism. The goal of Marxism is equal economic outcomes for everyone with the enemy being the successful. Today, Marxism has been so discredited that it must be camouflaged. Now, the enemy is the hierarchies of culture and the dominant feature is power. Thus, patriarchy, the enemy, is dominating women through the exercise of power. Thus, the solution is making men and women equal thus taking away the power that males exercise over females.

To fix the problem that men being attracted to dangerous skateboarding exhibits (unequal representation of men and women) the solution must be communicated and if the solution communicated doesn’t work then society must use force to change the men and women. It will be a combination of making women advance into the arena of dangerous skateboarding while restricting the men from partaking in dangerous skateboarding accomplishing the goal of equal results for men and women.

Peterson has a problem with turning men into wimps. It is bad for everyone and especially our society as a whole.

Just two quotes:

Consider this, as well, in regard to oppression: any hierarchy creates winners and losers. The winners are, of course, more likely to justify the hierarchy and the losers to criticize it. But (1) the collective pursuit of any valued goal produces a hierarchy (as some will be better and some worse at that pursuit not matter what it is) and (2) it is the pursuit of goals that in large part lends life its sustaining meaning. We experience almost all the emotions that make life deep and engaging as a consequence of moving successfully towards something deeply desired and valued. The price we pay for that involvement is the inevitable creation of hierarchies of success, while the inevitable consequence is difference in outcome. Absolute equality would therefore require the sacrifice of value itself—and then there would be nothing worth living for.

The spirit that interferes when boys are trying to become men is, therefore, no more friend to woman than it is to man…It’s antihuman, desirous of failure, jealous, resentful and destructive. No one truly on the side of humanity would ally him or herself with such a thing. No one aiming at moving up would allow him or herself to become possessed by such a thing. And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of. Leave children alone when they are skateboarding.

Text: Jer 51:30 The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, They have remained in their strongholds; Their might has failed, They became like women; They have burned her dwelling places, The bars of her gate are broken.

  1. Zero Tolerance for Acting Like Men

In 2003, Fight Club was listed as one of the “50 Best Guy Movies of All Time” by Men’s Journal.[115] In 2006 and 2008, Fight Club was voted by Empire readers as the eighth and tenth greatest film of all time, respectively.[116][117] Total Film ranked Fight Club as “The Greatest Film of our Lifetime” in 2007 during the magazine’s tenth anniversary.[118] In 2007, Premiere selected Tyler Durden’s line, “The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club,” as the 27th greatest movie line of all time.[119] In 2008, readers of Empire ranked Tyler Durden eighth on a list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters.[120] Empire also identified Fight Club as the 10th greatest movie of all time in its 2008 issue The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

First rule of being a man in today’s world: “Don’t talk about being a man”.

Soylo: A Soy Wars Soyry Will Be Disney’s Lowest-Earning Soy Wars Entry Yet

Headline thanks to Comics Artist Pro Secrets. If the headline is indecipherable to you, Ethan Van Sciver says that Disney is producing “soy-based entertainment” — cucked-out movies where all the women are bad-ass and decisive and all the men are ineffectual Pajama Boys and pansexuals — and he calls their new movie “Solo: A Star Wars Story” “Soylo: A Soy Wars Soyry.”

Kathleen Kennedy really has no idea what she’s doing. She spent most of her career as an assistant to Steven Spielberg. Now in charge, the only idea she has is to make every 90 pound girl a UFC champion-level badass and make random characters gay (or “pansexual”).

She doesn’t view these as products meant to entertain an audience, so much as to educate them in the mysterious Ways of The Feminist Force:


2 Sam 23:8-12 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time. 9 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. 10 He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder. 11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. 12 But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

What are you fighting for?

Jordan Peterson talks about Arunachalam Muruganantham the “Tampon King” of India who invented an affordable tampon for poor Indian women. Victory! Male Doctor Earle Haas invented the first practical tampon in the 1930’s. Victory!

  1. Men and Women are Different

Men don’t need tampons.

Peterson: Since all outcome inequalities must be eliminated (inequality being the heart of all evil), then all gender differences must be regarded as socially constructed…The fact that such statements lead immediately to internal inconsistencies within the ideology is never addressed. Gender is constructed, but an individual who desires gender re-assignment surgery is to be unarguably considered fa man trapped in a woman’s body (or vice versa). The fact that both of these cannot logically be true, simultaneously, is just ignored (or rationalized away with another appalling post-modern claim: that logic itself—along with the techniques of science—is merely part of the oppressive patriarchal system).

Hanna Rosin celebrates the future of female dominance in “The End of Men”.

Men have been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. And yet, as journalist Hanna Rosin discovered, that long-held truth is no longer true. At this unprecedented moment, women are no longer merely gaining on men; they have pulled decisively ahead by almost every measure.

Peterson: Girls can win by winning in their own hierarchy—by being good at what girls value, as girls. They can add to this victory by winning in the boys’ hierarchy. Boys, however, can only win by winning in the male hierarchy. They will lose status, among girls and boys, by being good at what girls value…Boys can’t (won’t) play truly competitive games with girls. It isn’t clear how they can win. As the game turns into a girls’ game, therefore, the boys leave. Are the universities –particularly the humanities—about to become a girls’ game? Is this what we want?

Gen 1:26-28 Then God said,”Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,”Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

III. The Patriarchy

Gen 2:24-25 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Man alone and then a helpmate is created for him. Bet you can’t say that on facebook, twitter or any university.

Prov 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.

The two different people becoming one.

Prov 31:10-11 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.

Eph 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”   32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Prov 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.


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Jordan Peterson Chapter 10 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule 10

Be Precise in Your Speech

Just enjoying everything that I am reading that Jordan Peterson is writing. We live in a world that is beyond complicated. Therefore, we have a need to focus precisely upon the task at hand to navigate through this world. It is also true for objects that become extensions of ourselves as tools or obstacles that need to be gotten over. The complication of life is made more complicated by human interactions. He looks at a marriage gone bad to look at the need for consistent maintenance of life through precise conversations about the present state of things. Thus, the need to be precise in your speech.

Here are some quotes:

How can high-tech machines, each possessing more computing power than the entire Apollo space program, lose their value in such a short period of time? How can they transform so quickly from exciting, useful and status-enhancing machines to complex pieces of junk? It’s because of the nature of our perceptions themselves, and the oft-invisible interaction between those perceptions and the underlying complexity of the world.

Your laptop is a note in a symphony currently being played by an orchestra of incalculable size. It’s a very small part of a much greater whole. Most of its capacity resides beyond its hard shell. It maintains its function only because a vast array of other technologies are currently and harmoniously at play.

…all this is made possible by an even less visible element: the social contract of trust—the interconnected and fundamentally honest political and economic systems that make the reliable electrical grid a reality.

To put it another way: What you perceive as your computer is like a single leaf, on a tree, in a forest…

This is the position of our laptops in relation to the world. So much of what they are resides outside their boundaries that the screened devices we hold on our laps can only maintain their computer-like façade for a few short years Almost everything we see and hold is like that, although often not so evidently.

Subtitle: Tools, Obstacles and Extension into the World

Our evolved perceptual systems transform the interconnected, complex multi-level world that we inhabit not so much into things per se as into useful things (or their nemeses, things that get in the way). This is the necessary, practical reduction of the world. This is the transformation of the near-infinite complexity of things through the narrow specification of our purpose.

We don’t see valueless entities and then attribute meaning to them. We perceive the meaning directly.

The world reveals itself to us as something to utilize and something to navigate through—not as something that merely is.

We see the faces of the people we are talking to, because we need to communicate with those people and cooperate with them. We don’t see their microcosmic substructures, their cells, or the subcellular organelles, molecules and atoms that make up those cells. We don’t see, as well, the macrocosm that surrounds them: the family members and friends that make up their immediate social circles, the economies they are embedded within, or the ecology that contains all of them.

We see them in the narrow, immediate, overwhelming now, instead of surrounded by the yesterdays and tomorrows that may be a more important part of them than whatever is currently and obviously manifest. And we have to see in this way, or be overwhelmed.

When we look at the world, we perceive only what is enough for our plans and actions to work and for us to get by. What we inhabit, then, is this “enough.”

We perceive not them, but their functionality utility and, in doing so, we make them sufficiently simple for sufficient understanding. It is for this reason that we must be precise in our aim. Absent that, we drown in the complexity of the world.

This is true even for our perceptions of ourselves, of our individual persons. We assume that we end at the surface of our skin, because of the way that we perceive. But we can understand with a little thought the provisional nature of that boundary. We shift what is inside our skin, so to speak, as the context we inhabit changes. Even when we do something as apparently simple as picking up a screwdriver, our brain automatically adjusts what it considers body to include the tool.

Furthermore, we instantly regard the screwdriver we are holding as “our” screwdriver, and get possessive about it. We do the same with the much more complex tools we use, in much more complex situations. The cars we pilot instantaneously and automatically become ourselves.

The extensible boundaries of our selves also expand to include other people—family members, lovers and friends. A mother will sacrifice herself for her children.

Something similar, but more extreme, happens when we identify, not with a character in a fictional drama, but with a whole group, in a competition. Think of what happens when a favorite team wins or loses an important game against an arch-rival. The winning goal will bring the whole network of fans to their feet, before they think, in unscripted unison. It is as if their many nervous systems are directly wired to the game unfolding in front of them.

Chapter subtitle: The World is Simple Only When It Behaves

The conscious illusion of complete and sufficient perception only sustains itself, for example—only remains sufficient for our purposes—when everything goes according to plan. Under such circumstances, what we see is accurate enough, so that there is no utility in looking farther. To drive successfully, we don’t have to understand, or even perceive, the complex machinery of our automobiles. The hidden complexities of our private cars only intrude on our consciousness when that machinery fails…

A car, as we perceive it, is not a thing, or an object. It is instead something that takes us somewhere we want to go. It is only when it stops taking us and going, in fact, that we perceive, it much at all. It is only when a car quits, suddenly-or is involved in an accident and must be pulled over to the side of the road—that we are forced to apprehend and analyze the myriad of parts that “car as thing that goes” depends on. When our car fails, our incompetence with regards to its complexity is instantly revealed. That has practical consequences (we don’t get to go to where we were going), as well as psychological: our peace of mind disappears along with our functioning vehicle. We must generally turn to the experts who inhabit garages and workshops to restore both functionality to our vehicle and simplicity to our perceptions. That’s mechanic-as-psychologist.

In a crisis, when our thing no longer goes, we turn to those whose expertise for transcends ours to restore the match between our expectant desire and what actually happens. This all means that the failure of our car can also force us to confront the uncertainty of the broader social context, which is usually invisible to us, in which the machine (and mechanic) are mere parts. Betrayed by our car, we come up against all the things we don’t know. Is it time for a new vehicle? Did I err in my original purchase? Is the mechanic competent, honest and reliable? Is the garage he works for trustworthy?

Chapter Subtitle: You and I are Simple Only When the World Behaves

When things break down, what has been ignored rushes in. When things are no longer specified, with precision, the walls crumble, and chaos makes its presence known. When we’ve been careless, and let things slide, what we have refused to attend to gathers itself up, adopts a serpentine form, and strikes—often at the worst possible moment. It is then that we see what focused intent, precision of aim and careful attention protects us from.

Imagine a loyal and honest wife suddenly confronted by evidence of her husband’s infidelity. She has lived alongside him for years. She saw him as she assumes he is: reliable, hard-working, loving, dependable. In her marriage, she is standing on a rock, or so she believes. But he becomes less attentive and more distracted. He begins, in the cliched manner, to work longer hours. Small things she says and does irritate him unjustifiably. One day she sees him in a downtown cafe with another woman, interacting with her in a manner difficult to rationalize and ignore. The limitations and inaccuracy of her former perceptions become immediately and painfully obvious.

Her theory of her husband collapses. What happens, in consequence? First, something—someone—emerges in his stead: a complex, frightening stranger. That’s bad enough. But it’s only half the problem. Her theory of herself collapses, too, in the aftermath of the betrayal, so that it’s not one stranger that’s the problem: it’s two. Her husband is not who she perceived him to be—but neither is she, the betrayed wife. She is no longer the “well-loved, secure wife, and valued partner.”

The past is not necessarily what it was, even though it has already been. The present is chaotic and indeterminate. The ground shifts continually around her feet, and ours. Equally, the future, not net here, changes into something it was not supposed to be.

Everything is intricate beyond imagining. Everything is affected by everything else. We perceive a very narrow slice of a causally interconnected matrix, although we strive with all our might to avoid being confronted by knowledge of that narrowness. The thin veneer of perceptual sufficiency cracks, however, when something fundamental goes wrong. The dreadful inadequacy of our senses reveals itself.

What is it, that is the world, after the Twin Towers disintegrate? What, if anything, is left standing? What dread beast rises from the ruins when the invisible pillars supporting the world’s financial system tremble and fall? What do we see when we are swept up in the fire and drama of a National Socialist rally, or cower, paralyzed with fear, in the midst of a massacre in Rwanda? What is it that we see, when we cannot understand what is happening to us, cannot determine where we are, know no longer who we are, and no longer understand what surrounds us?

What we perceive, when things fall apart, is no longer the stage and settings of habitable order. It’s the eternal watery tohu va bohu, formless emptiness, and the tehom, the abyss, to speak biblically—the chaos forever lurking beneath our thin surfaces of security. It’s from that chaos that the Holy Word of God Himself extracted order at the beginning of time, according to the oldest opinions expressed by mankind.

Emergency—emergence(y). This is the sudden manifestation from somewhere unknown of some previously unknown phenomenon (from the Greek phainesthai, to “shine forth”). This is the reappearance of the eternal dragon, from its eternal cavern, from its now-disrupted slumber. This is the underworld, with its monsters rising from the depths.

And so, the deceived wife, increasingly unhinged, feels the motivation to reveal all—to herself, her sister, her best friend, to a stranger on a bus-or retreats into silence, and ruminates obsessively, to the same end. What went wrong? What did she do that was so unforgivable? Who is this person she has been living with? What kind of world is this where such things can happen? What kind of God would make such a place? What conversation could she possibly initiate with this new, infuriating person, inhabiting the shell of her former husband? What forms of revenge might satisfy her anger? Who could she seduce, in return for this insult? She is by turns enraged, terrified, struck down by pain, and exhilarated by the possibilities of her new-found freedom.

Her last place of bedrock security was in fact not stable, not certain—not bedrock at all. Her house was built on a foundation of sand. The ice she was skating on was simply too thin. She fell through, into the water below, and is drowning. She has been hit so hard that her anger, terror and grief consume her. Her sense of betrayal widens, until the whole world caves in. Where is she? In the underworld, with all its terrors.

“Was it really so unexpected?” she asks herself—she asks others—thinking back. Should she now feel guilty about ignoring the warning signs, subtle though they many have been, encouraged though she was to avoid them?

There is a story for children. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon, by Jack Kent, that I really like. It’s a very simple tale, at least on the surface.

That’s the moral of many, many stories. Chaos emerges in a household, bit by bit. Mutual unhappiness and resentment pile up. Everything untidy is swept under the rug, where the dragon feasts on the crumbs. But no one says anything, as the shared society and negotiated order of the household reveals itself as inadequate, or disintegrates, in the face of the unexpected and threatening. Everybody whistles in the dark, instead. Communication would require admission of terrible emotions: resentment, terror, loneliness, despair, jealousy, frustration, hatred, boredom. Moment by moment, it’s easy to keep the peace.

Every one of the three hundred thousand unrevealed issues, which have been lied about, avoided, rationalized away, hidden like an army of skeletons in some great horrific closet, bursts forth like Noah’s flood, drowning everything. There’s no ark, because no one built one, even though everyone felt the storm gathering.

Maybe the demolished couple could have had a conversation, or two, or two hundred, about their sex lives. Maybe the physical intimacy they undoubtedly shared should have been matched, as it often is not, by a corresponding psychological intimacy.

Furthermore, in the absence of agreed-upon tradition (and the constraints—often uncomfortable; often even unreasonable—that it imposes) there exist only three difficult options: slavery, tyranny or negotiation. The slave merely does what he or she is told—happy, perhaps, to shed the responsibility—and solves the problem of complexity in that manner. But it’s a temporary solution. The spirit of the slave rebels. The tyrant merely tells the slave what to do, and solves the problem of complexity in that manner. But it’s a temporary solution. The tyrant tires of the slave. There’s nothing and no one there, except for predictable and sullen obedience. Who can live forever with that? But negotiation—that requires forthright admission on the part of both players that the dragon exists. That’s a reality difficult to face, even when it’s still too small to simply devour the knight who dares confront it.

Maybe it wasn’t sex. Maybe every conversation between husband and wife had deteriorated into boring routine, as no shared adventure animated the couple. Maybe that deterioration was easier, moment by moment, day by day, than bearing the responsibility of keeping the relationship alive. Living things die, after all, without attention. Life is indistinguishable from effortful maintenance. No one finds a match so perfect that the need for continued attention and work vanishes…

Everything clarified and articulated becomes visible; maybe neither wife nor husband wished to see or understand. Maybe they left things purposefully in the fog. Maybe they generated the fog, to hide what they did not want to see.

Maybe both, wife and husband alike, used the opportunity to mess up their marriage to take revenge upon God (perhaps the one Being who could have sorted through the mess).

Here’s the terrible truth about such matters: every single voluntarily unprocessed and un-comprehended and ignored reason for martial failure will compound and conspire and will then plague that betrayed and self-betrayed woman for the rest of her life. The same goes for her husband. All she—he—they-or we—must do to ensure such an outcome is nothing: don’t notice, don’t react, don’t attend, don’t discuss, don’t consider, don’t work for peace, don’t take responsibility. Don’t confront the chaos and turn it into order—just wait, anything but naïve and innocent, for the chaos to rise up and engulf you instead.

Why refuse to investigate, when knowledge of reality enables mastery of reality (and if not mastery, at least the stature of an honest amateur)? Well, what if there truly is something rotten in the state of Denmark? Then what? Isn’t it better under such conditions to live in willful blindness and enjoy the bliss of ignorance? Well, not if the monster is real! Do you truly think it is a good idea to retreat, to abandon the possibility of arming yourself against the rising sea of troubles, and to thereby diminish yourself in your own eyes? Do you truly think it wise to let the catastrophe grow in the shadows, while you shrink and decrease and become ever more afraid? Isn’t it better to prepare, to sharpen your sword, to peer into the darkness, and then to beard the lion in its den? Maybe you’ll get hurt. Probably you’ll get hurt. Life, after all, is suffering. But maybe the wound won’t be fatal.

Why refuse to specify, when specifying the problem would enable its solution? Because to specify the problem is to admit that it exists, Because to specify the problem is to allow yourself to know what you want, say, from friend or lover—and then you will know, precisely and cleanly, when you don’t get it, and that will hurt, sharply and specifically. But you will learn something from that, and use what you learn in the future—and the alternative to that single sharp pain is the dull ache of continued hopelessness and vague failure and the sense that time, precious time, is slipping by.

Why refuse to specify? Because while you are failing to define success (and thereby rendering it impossible) you are also refusing to define failure, to yourself, so that if and when you fail you won’t notice, and it won’t hurt. But that won’t work! You cannot be fooled so easily—unless you have gone very far down the road! You will instead carry with you a continual sense of disappointment in your own Being and the self-contempt that comes along with that and the increasing hatred for the world that all of that generates (or degenerates).

She must separate the particular details of her specific catastrophe from the intolerable general condition of Being, in a world where everything has fallen apart. Everything—that’s far too much. It was specific things that fell apart, not everything; identifiable beliefs failed; particular actions were false and inauthentic. What were they? How can they be fixed, now? How can she be better, in the future? She will never return to dry land if she refuses or is unable to figure it all out. She can put the world back together by some precision of thought, some precision of speech, some reliance on her word, some reliance on the Word.

Some earlier care and courage and honesty in expression might have saved her from all this trouble. What if she had communicated her unhappiness with the decline of her romantic life, right when it started to decline? Precisely, exactly, when that decline first bothered her? Or, if it didn’t bother her—what if she had instead communicated the fact it didn’t bother her as much as it perhaps should have?

What if she had continually and honestly risked conflict in the present, in the service of longer-term truth and peace? What if she had treated the micro-collapses of her marriage as evidence of an underlying instability, eminently worthy of attention, instead of ignoring them, putting up with them, or smiling through them, in such a nice, agreeable manner? Maybe she would be different, and her husband, different too. Maybe they would still be married, formally and in spirit. Maybe they would both be much younger, physically and mentally, than they are now. Maybe her house would have been founded more on rock and less on sand.

When things fall apart, and chaos re-emerges, we can give structure to it, and re-establish order, through our speech. If we speak carefully and precisely, we can sort things out, and put them in their proper place, and set a new goal, and navigate to it—often communally, if we negotiate; if we reach consensus. If we speak carelessly and imprecisely, however, things remain vague. The destination remains unproclaimed. The fog of uncertainty does not lift, and there is no negotiating through the world.

The psyche (the soul) and the world are both organized, at the highest levels of human existence, with language, through communication. Things are not as they appear when the outcome has been neither intended nor desired. Being has not been sorted into its proper categories, when it is not behaving. When something goes wrong, even perception itself must be questioned, along with evaluation, thought and action. When error announces itself, undifferentiated chaos is at hand. Its reptilian form paralyzes and confuses. But dragons, which do exist) perhaps more than anything else exists) also hoard gold. In that collapse into the terrible mess of uncomprehended Being lurks the possibility of new and benevolent order. Clarity of thought—courageous clarity of thought—is necessary to call it forth.

It is very difficult to put such things in order—but damaged machinery will continue to malfunction if its problems are neither diagnosed nor fixed.

Precision specifies. When something terrible happens, it is precision that separates the unique terrible thing that has actually happened from all the other, equally terrible things that might have happened—but did not.

Often, it’s something truly terrible. But even what is terrible in actuality often pales in significance compared to what is terrible in imagination. And often what cannot be confronted because of its horror in imagination can in fact be confronted when reduced to its-still-admittedly-terrible actuality.

If you shirk the responsibility of confronting the unexpected, even when it appears in manageable doses, reality itself will become unsustainably disorganized and chaotic. Then it will grow bigger and swallow all order, all sense, and all predictability. Ignore reality transforms itself (reverts back) into the great Goddess of Chaos, the great reptilian Monster of the Unknown—the great predatory beast against which mankind has struggled since the dawn of time.

Be careful with what you tell yourself and others about what you have done, what you are doing, and where you are going. Search for the correct words. Organize those words into the correct sentences, and those sentences into the correct paragraphs. The past can be redeemed, when reduced by precise language to its essence. The present can flow by without robbing the future if its realities are spoken out clearly. With careful thought and language, the singular, stellar destiny that justifies existence can be extracted from the multitude of murky and unpleasant futures that are for more likely to manifest themselves of their own accord. This is how the Eye and the Word make habitable order.

Courageous and truthful words will render your reality simple, pristine, well-defined and habitable.

If you identify things, with careful attention and language, you bring them forward as viable, obedient objects, detaching them from their underlying near-universal interconnectedness. You simplify them. You make them specific and useful, and reduce their complexity.

You have to consciously define the topic of conversation, particularly when it is difficult or it becomes about everything, and everything is too much. This is so frequently why couples cease communicating. Every argument degenerates into every problem that ever emerged in the past, every problem that exists now, and every terrible thing that is likely to happen int the future. No one can have a discussion about “everything.”

But to do that, you have to think: What is wrong, exactly? What do I want, exactly? You must speak forthrightly and call forth the habitable world from chaos. You must use honest precise speech to do that. If instead you shrink away and hide, what you are hiding from will transform itself into the giant dragon that lurks under your bed and in your forest and in the dark recesses of your mind—and it will devour you.

You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward. It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).

Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life. That will protect you from the tragedy of your life. How could it be otherwise?

Confront the chaos of Being. Take aim against a sea of troubles. Specify your destination, and chart your course. Admit to what you want. Tell those around you who you are. Narrow, and gaze attentively, and move forward, forthrightly.

Be precise in your speech.


Sermon time: While I was typing this up I got word of a young couple who have decided to divorce. Is it too late? Would reading this help? Will it require a miracle?

Jordan Peterson appeals to common sense. Marriage is difficult. Honest communication is difficult. Yet, there are dragons (demons) ready to cause suffering should they be allowed entry into your life or marriage. His solution: Be precise in your speech as you work to prevent the dragons from obtaining dominion over your life or marriage. The alternative: do nothing as the dragons gain dominion to “kill steal and destroy”.

Peterson quote: When things break down, what has been ignored rushes in. When things are no longer specified, with precision, the walls crumble, and chaos makes its presence known. When we’ve been careless, and let things slide, what we have refused to attend to gathers itself up, adopts a serpentine form, and strikes—often at the worst possible moment. It is then that we see what focused intent, precision of aim and careful attention protects us from.

Peterson quote: When things fall apart, and chaos re-emerges, we can give structure to it, and re-establish order, through our speech. If we speak carefully and precisely, we can sort things out, and put them in their proper place, and set a new goal, and navigate to it—often communally, if we negotiate; if we reach consensus. If we speak carelessly and imprecisely, however, things remain vague. The destination remains unproclaimed. The fog of uncertainty does not lift, and there is no negotiating through the world.

Peterson quote: Be careful with what you tell yourself and others about what you have done, what you are doing, and where you are going. Search for the correct words. Organize those words into the correct sentences, and those sentences into the correct paragraphs. The past can be redeemed, when reduced by precise language to its essence. The present can flow by without robbing the future if its realities are spoken out clearly.

Peterson quote: Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life.

Be precise in your speech.

Text: Hab 2:2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

  1. Make it clear, the vision

Can you clearly state who you are, where you are at and where you are going? Is your “you” actually a “we”?

Prov 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Who can you talk to? If you are married; can you be honest with your partner? Are you honest with God? Do you talk and pray specific things with God?

Does the bible work as a written vision for you to map out your life?

Jordan Peterson is using the picture of a marriage that is on the verge of collapse because both partners were unable or unwilling to talk things out as they happened.

Do God’s words: Mal 2:16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

Here is Peterson’s biblical recap. The goal is known; no divorce. Why? It will hurt everyone involved. The solution: “take heed to your spirit” or know who you are and what you are experiencing and recognize when your spirit is being moved towards missing the goal of a good marriage. The final piece of advice: “do not deal treacherously”. Your spouse is not your enemy that you must “deal treacherously” with. If you have gone that far there is still room for God to move if you can be honest about it.

Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

I believe God has clear and understandable words to speak into our lives. Can we clearly communicate what God has spoken into our lives to another person?

If God has spoken healing in my life can I communicate that I am pursuing that healing to another person?

If God has spoken restoration in my life can I communicate that I am working towards that restoration to another person close to me?

The answer needs to be yes. And Peterson’s advice will make it easier: Be precise in your speech.

  1. The Dragons of life

Peterson refers to a book; No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent do make the point that it is only when dragons are allowed to grow that they are finally noticed.

His simple advice is to slay the dragon by dealing with the exact issue with clear language before it gets to big.

The weapon that the Devil (dragon) uses is sin. In Songs of Solomon we have similar advice: Song 2:15 Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.

The point is take care of the little things that you can take care of and they will not turn into destructive giants.

What about the things that happen that are not connected to our actions? Accidents, sicknesses and other people’s malevolence can be things we have no control over.

This is where the foundation, or the shared foundation of a person, a couple, a family, a church or a nation really matters.

This is how Habakkuk starts out: Hab 1:2-4 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. 3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice e never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

Matt 7:24-27 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

III. So you can run

Why, did Peterson write this? Why am I preaching this? So that you can tie your untied shoes and run with all of your might.

Live life, don’t just survive life.

In his diagnosing what went wrong in the marriage he has this quote: “Maybe every conversation between husband and wife had deteriorated into boring routine, as no shared adventure animated the couple.”

We just had it preached to us: Isa 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

About those gates: Isa 28:6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

Matt 16:18-19 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Everything about our relationship with God is about God working good things in our lives. We can run with him or we can fight with him.


Hab 3:17-19 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls —  18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Much is said here. Though…rejoice and have dominion over the high places, my high places.









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Jordan Peterson Rule 9 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule 9 Notes

Assume That the Person You are Listening to Might Know Something You Don’t

I found myself looking for and desiring to have the ultimate conversations that the chapter is heading for. It has been a good week of better conversations. Here are some quotes:

Psychotherapy is genuine conversation. Genuine conversation is exploration, articulation and strategizing. When you’re involved in a genuine conversation, you’re listening, and talking—but mostly listening.

Sometimes if you listen to people they will even tell you what’s wrong with them. Sometimes they will even tell you how they plan to fix it. Sometimes that helps you fix something wrong with yourself.

Her parents had never provided her with a minute of attention. She had four brothers and they were not at all good to her. She had no friends now, and none in the past. She had no partner. She had no one to talk to, and she didn’t know how to think on her own (that’s not rare). She had no self. She was, instead, a walking cacophony of unintegrated experiences.

People like her are the reason that the many forms of psychotherapy currently practiced all work. People can be so confused that their psyches will be ordered and their lives improved by the adoption of any reasonably orderly system of interpretation. This is the bringing together of the disparate elements of their lives in a disciplined manner—any disciplined manner. So, if you have come apart at the seams (or if you never have been together at all) you can restructure your life on Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Rogerian or behavioral principles.

At about the same time I was seeing this client, the media was all afire with stories of recovered memories—particularly of sexual assault. The dispute raged apace: were these genuine accounts of past trauma? Or were they post-hoc constructs, dreamed up as a consequence of pressure wittingly or unwittingly applied by incautious therapists, grasped onto desperately by clinical clients all-too-eager to find a simple cause for all their trouble? Sometimes, it was the former, perhaps; and sometimes the latter. I understood much more clearly and precisely, however, how easy it might be to install a false memory into the mental landscape as soon as my client revealed her uncertainty about her sexual experiences.

The sexual abuse of children is distressingly common. However, it’s not as common as poorly trained psychotherapists think, and it also does not always produce terribly damaged adults. People vary in their resilience. An event that will wipe one person out can be shrugged off by another. But therapists with a little second-hand knowledge of Freud often axiomatically assume that a distressed adult in their practice must have been subject to childhood sexual abuse. Why else would they be distressed? So, they dig, and infer, and intimate, and suggest, and overreact, and bias and tilt. They exaggerate the importance of some events, and downplay the importance of others. They trim the facts to fit their theory. And they convince their clients that they were sexually abused—if they could only remember. And then the clients start to remember.

And then they start to accuse. And sometimes what they remember never happened, and the people accused are innocent. The good news? At least the therapist’s theory remains intact. That’s good—for the therapist. But there’s no shortage of collateral damage. However, people are often willing to produce a lot of collateral damage if they can retain their theory.

Memory is not a description of the objective past. Memory is a tool. Memory is the past’s guide to the future. If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing form happening over and over.

If I had been the adherent of a left-wing, social-justice ideology, I would have told her the first story. If I had been the adherent of a conservative ideology. I would have told the second. And her responses after having been told either the first or the second story would have proved to my satisfaction and hers that the story I had told her was true—completely, irrefutably true. And that would have been advice.

I decided instead to listen. I have learned not to steal my clients’ problems from them. I don’t want to be the redeeming hero or the deus ex machina—not in someone else’s story. I don’t want their lives. So, I asked her to tell me what she thought, and I listened.

She left therapy with me only somewhat less ill-formed and vague than when she first met me. But at least she didn’t leave as the living embodiment of my damned ideology.

The people I listen to need to talk, because that’s how people think. People need to think. Otherwise they wander blindly into pits. When people think, they simulate the world, and plan how to act in it. If they do a good job of simulating, they can figure out what stupid things they shouldn’t do. Then they can not do them. Then they don’t have to suffer the consequences. That’s the purpose of thinking. But we can’t do it alone.

People think they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking. True thinking is rare—just like true listening. Thinking is listening to yourself. It’s difficult. To think, you have to be at least two people at the same time. Then you have to let those people disagree. Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world.

You’re rationalizing, post-hoc. You’re matching what you want against a weak opponent so that you don’t have to change your mind. You’re propagandizing. You’re using double-speak. You’re using your conclusions to justify your proofs. You’re hiding from the truth.

True thinking is complex and demanding. It requires you to be articulate speaker and careful, judicious listener, at the same time. It involves conflict. So, you have to tolerate conflict. Conflict involves negotiation and compromise. So, you have to learn to give and take and to modify your premises and adjust your thoughts—even your perceptions of the world.

In consequence, thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding’ more so than anything else—except not thinking. But you have to be very articulate and sophisticated to have all of this occur inside your own head. What are you to do, then, if you aren’t very good at thinking, at being two people at one time? That’s easy. You talk. But you need someone to listen. A listening person is your collaborator and your opponent.

A listening person tests your talking (and your thinking) without having to say anything. A listening person is a representative of common humanity. He stands for the crowd. Now the crowd is by no means always right, but it’s commonly right. It’s typically right. If you say something that takes everyone aback, therefore, you should reconsider what you said. I say that, knowing full well that controversial opinions are sometimes correct—sometimes so much so that the crowd will perish if it refuses to listen. It is for this reason, among others, that the individual is morally obliged to stand up and tell the truth of his or her own experience. But something new and radical is still almost always wrong. You need good, even great, reasons to ignore or defy general, public opinion.

If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons. If you’re going to stand your ground, you better have your reasons. You better have thought them through. You might otherwise be in for a very hard landing. You should do what other people do, unless you have a very good reason not to. If you’re in a rut, at lest you know that other people have travelled that path. Out of the rut is too often off the road. And in the desert that awaits off the road there are highwaymen and monsters. So speaks wisdom.

A listening person can reflect the crowd. He can do that without talking. He can do that merely be letting the talking person listen to himself. That is what Freud recommended. He had his patients lay on a couch, look at the ceiling, let their minds wander, and say whatever wandered in. That’s his method of free association. That’s the way the Freudian psychoanalyst avoids transferring his or her own personal biases and opinions into the internal landscape of the patient.

But there are disadvantages to the detached and somewhat distant approach recommended by Freud. Many of those who seek therapy desire and need a closer, more personal relationship (although that also has its dangers). This is in part why I have opted in my practice for the conversation, instead of the Freudian method—as have most clinical psychologists .

It can be worthwhile for my clients to see my reactions. To protect them from the undue influence that might produce, I attempt to set my aim properly, so that my responses emerge from the appropriate motivation. I do what I can to want the best for them (whatever that might be).

You have to get along with other people. A therapist is one of those other people. A good therapist will tell you the truth about what he thinks. (That is not the same thing as telling you that what he thinks is the truth.) Then at lest you have the honest opinion of at least one person. That’s not so easy to get. That’s not nothing. That’s key to the psychotherapeutic process: two people tell each other the truth—and both listen.

He suggested that his readers conduct a short experiment when they next found themselves in a dispute: “Stop the discussion for a moment, and institute this rule: ‘Each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker accurately, and to that speaker’s satisfaction.’” I have found this technique very useful, in my private life and in my practice.

Looking at his arguments from his perspective, you can (1) find the value in them, and learn something in the process, or (2) hone your positions against them (if you still believe they are wrong) and strengthen your arguments further against challenge. This will make you much stronger. Then you will no longer have to misrepresent your opponent’s position (and may well have bridged at least part of the gap between the two of you). You will also be much better withstanding your own doubts.

If you listen, instead, without premature judgment, people will generally tell you everything they are thinking—and with very little deceit. People will tell you the most amazing, absurd, interesting things. Very few of your conversations will be boring. (You can in fact tell whether or not you are actually listening in this manner. If the conversation is boring, you probably aren’t.)

Not all talking is thinking. Nor does all listening foster transformation.

Speaking merely to establish or confirm his place in the dominance hierarchy. One person begins by telling a story about some interesting occurrence, recent or past, that involved something good, bad or surprising enough to make the listening worthwhile. The other person, now concerned with his or her potentially substandard status as less-interesting individual, immediately thinks of something better, worse, or more surprising to relate.

Then there is the conversation where one participant is trying to attain victory for his point of view. This is yet another variant of the dominance-hierarchy conversation. During such a conversation, which often tends toward the ideological, the speaker endeavors to (1) denigrate or ridicule the viewpoint of anyone holding a contrary position, (2) use selective evidence while doing so and, finally, (3) impress the listeners (many of whom are already occupying the same ideological space) with the validity of his assertions. The goal is to gain support for a comprehensive, unitary, oversimplified world-view. Thus, the purpose of the conversation is to make the case that not thinking is the correct tack. The person who is speaking in this manner believes that winning the argument makes him right, and that doing so necessarily validates the assumption-structure of dominance hierarchy he most identifies with.

These conversations are vey different from the listening type. When a genuine listening conversation is taking place, one person at a time has the floor, and everyone else is listening. The person speaking is granted the opportunity to seriously discuss some event, usually unhappy or even tragic. Everyone else responds sympathetically. These conversations are important because the speaker is organizing the troublesome event in his or her mind, while recounting the story. The fact is important enough to bear repeating: people organize their brains with conversation. If they don’t have anyone to tell their story to, they lose their minds. Like hoarders, they cannot unclutter themselves.

Much of what we consider healthy mental function is the result of our ability to use the reactions of others to keep our complex selves functional. We outsource the problem of our sanity. This is why it is the fundamental responsibility of parents to render their children socially acceptable. If a person’s behavior is such that other people can tolerate him, then all he has to do is place himself in a social context. Then people will indicate—by being interested in or bored by what he says, or laughing at his jokes, or teasing or ridiculing, or even by lifting an eyebrow—whether his actions and statements are what they should be. Everyone is always broadcasting to everyone else their desire to encounter the ideal. We punish and reward each other precisely to the degree that each of us behaves in keeping with that desire—except, of course, when we are looking for trouble.

The sympathetic responses offered during a genuine conversation indicate that the teller is valued, and that the story being told is important, serious, deserving of consideration, and understandable.

Men are often accused of wanting to “fix things” too early on in a discussion. This frustrates men, who like to solve problems and to do it efficiently and who are in fact called upon frequently by women for precisely that purpose. It might be easier for my male readers to understand why this does not work, however, if they could realize and then remember that before a problem can be solved it must be formulated precisely. Women are often intent on formulating the problem when they are discussing something, and they need to be listened to—even questioned—to help ensure clarity in the formulation. Then, whatever problem is left, if any, can be helpfully solved.

Another conversational variant is the lecture. A lecture is—somewhat surprisingly—a conversation. The lecturer speaks, but the audience communicates with him or her non-verbally. A surprising amount of human interaction—much of the delivery of emotional information, for example—takes place in this manner, through postural display and facial emotion (as we noted in our discussion of Freud). A good lecturer is not only delivering facts (which is perhaps the least important part of a lecture), but also telling stories about those facts, pitching them precisely to the level of the audience’s comprehension, gauging that by the interest they are showing.

A good lecturer is thus talking with and not at or even to his or her listeners. To manage this, the lecturer needs to be closely attending to the audience’s every move, gesture and sound. Perversely, this cannot be done by watching the audience, as such. A good lecturer speaks directly to and watches the response of single, identifiable people.

These also have a dominance element, but the goal is to be the most entertaining speaker (which is an accomplishment that everyone participating will also enjoy). The purpose of these conversations, as a witty friend of mine once observed, was to say “anything that was either true or funny.” As truth and humor are often close allies, that combination worked fine. I think that this might be the intelligent blue-collar worker’s conversation. I participated in many fine bouts of sarcasm, satire, insult and generally over-the-top comedic exchange around among people I grew up with in Northern Alberta.

You have to keep up, or risk severe humiliation, but there is nothing more rewarding than topping the last comedian’s story, joke, insult or curse. Only one rule really applies: do not be boring (although it is also very bad form to actually put someone down, when you are only pretending to put them down).

The final type of conversation, akin to listening, is a form of mutual exploration. It requires true reciprocity on the part of those listening and speaking. It allows all participants to express and organize their thoughts. A conversation of mutual exploration has a topic, generally complex, of genuine interest to the participants. Everyone participating is trying to solve a problem, instead of insisting on the a priori validity of their own positions. All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn. This kind of conversation constitutes active philosophy, the highest form of thought, and the best preparation for proper living.

The people involved in such a conversation must be discussing ideas they genuinely use to structure their perceptions and guide their actions and words. They must be existentially involved with their philosophy: that is, they must be living it, not merely believing or understanding it.

However, your current knowledge has neither made you perfect nor kept you safe. So, it is insufficient, by definition—radically, fatally insufficient. You must accept this before you can converse philosophically, instead of convincing, oppressing, dominating or even amusing. You must accept this before you can tolerate a conversation where the Word that eternally mediates between order and chaos is operating, psychologically speaking. To have this kind of conversation, it is necessary to respect the personal experience of your conversational partners. You must assume that they have reached careful, thoughtful, genuine conclusions (and, perhaps, they must have done the work that justifies this assumption). You must believe that if they shared their conclusions with you, you could bypass at least some of the pain of personally learning the same things (as learning from the experience of others can be quicker and much less dangerous). You must mediate, too, instead of strategizing towards victory. If you fail, or refuse, to do so, then you merely and automatically repeat what you already believe, seeking its validation and insisting on its rightness. But if you are mediating as you converse, then you listen to the other person, and say the new and original thins that can rise from deep within of their own accord.

It’s as if you are listening to yourself during such a conversation, just as you are listening to the other person. You are describing how you are responding to the new information imparted by the speaker. You are reporting what that information has done to you—what new things it made appear within you, how it has changed your presuppositions, how it has made you think of new questions. You tell the speaker these things, directly. Then they have the same effect on him. In this manner, you both move towards somewhere newer and broader and better.

A conversation such as this is one where it is the desire for truth itself–on the part of both participants—that is truly listening and speaking. That’s why it’s engaging, vital, interesting and meaningful. That sense of meaning is a signal from the deep, ancient parts of your Being.

…you’re stable enough to be secure, but flexible enough to transform. There, you’re allowing new information to inform you—to permeate your stability, to repair and improve its structure, and expand its domain.

A conversation like that places you in the same place that listening to great music places you, and for much the same reason. A conversation like that puts you in the realm where souls connect, and that’s a real place. It leaves you thinking, “That was really worthwhile. We really got to know each other.” The masks came off, and the searchers were revealed.

So, listen, to yourself and to those with whom you are speaking. Your wisdom then consists not of the knowledge you already have, but the continual search for knowledge, which is the highest form of wisdom.

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.


So here is the sermon:

Jordan Peterson Rule 9

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

In summing up the chapter; Peterson is into thinking. Thinking requires being able to hold conversations with yourself. Most people are not capable of that level of thinking. They need a conversation with a living person to allow that thinking process. The back and forth that goes with discussing anything allows both people to think as they digest the words that the other is speaking.

Most people are lonely and unable to think things through by themselves; their lives reflect this. Therefore, any kind of therapy (he is a clinical psychologist) works.

Here is a quote: “People like her are the reason that the many forms of psychotherapy currently practiced all work. People can be so confused that their psyches will be ordered and their lives improved by the adoption of any reasonably orderly system of interpretation. This is the bringing together of the disparate elements of their lives in a disciplined manner—any disciplined manner. So if you have come apart at the seams (or if you have never been together at all) you can restructure your life on Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Rogerian or behavioral principles.”

He is leading us to the conversations that can impart knowledge and wisdom to both parties. If you can talk with someone and truly listen to what they are saying (without discounting their views) you both will come away from the encounter a better person. These are conversations that touch the soul.

One more quote: “The final type of conversation, akin to listening, is a form of mutual exploration. It requires true reciprocity on the part of those listening and speaking. It allows all participants to express and organize their thoughts. A conversation of mutual exploration has a topic, generally complex, of genuine interest to the participants. Everyone participating is trying to solve a problem, instead of insisting on the a priori validity of their own positions. All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn. This kind of conversation constitutes active philosophy, the highest form of thought, and the best preparation for proper living. The people involved in such a conversation must be discussing ideas they genuinely use to structure their perceptions and guide their actions and words. They must be existentially involved with their philosophy: that is, they must be living it, not merely believing or understanding it.”

As I read the chapter I thought of one-minute bible studies, counseling, sermonizing, bible studies and preaching. All of these are opportunities for thoughtful and meaningful conversations. (He does a good job describing a lecture as a conversation).

Text: John 4:7-26 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”  8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,  14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’  18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

  1. Communicating the gospel in the Book of Acts

The picture of the activist with a bullhorn speaking at the Starbucks employee.

Here are some words: you shall be witnesses, testified, exhorted, he responded to the people, speak the things we have seen and heard, teaching, disputing, he said…listen, preached Christ to them, the eunuch answered Phillip, Phillip preached Jesus to him, spoke boldly, encouraged them, word of exhortation, persuaded them, reported, reasoned with them, vigorously refuted, hear my defense, declared,

I list these words only to use them to show the multitude of words used to communicate the gospel. Most of these words were used in group settings. Let us understand the thousands of personal conversations that sprang from these meetings.

  1. Jesus at the well

He speaks to her. He engages her. He listens to her. They trade information. An element of the supernatural is in the conversation. He is honest.

Think about the times you have witnessed or have done a one-minute bible study with someone.

Honest request, word goes forth, exchange of thoughts, both enriched, leading to?

The church is a place for honest conversations. Yes, we are dogmatic and yes many people are dogmatically opposed to any conversation of religion. The outreach with an honest conversation can bridge that gap.

Thinking of bible studies and sermon workshops. Breakfast with Pastor Mitchell.

III. Thinking is the best way to travel

Do you reason with yourself?

Christians have a built-in advantage when it comes to thinking. We reason with God.

“Come now let us reason together”

Job 13:3 But I would speak to the Almighty, And I desire to reason with God.

Isa 41:21 “Present your case,” says the Lord. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.

Gen 4:6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

Ezra 9:6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.

Ps 130:1-5 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. 3 If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.

A life of prayer is a life of communicating with God.

Combine that with reading the bible and the talks you have with God as you explore His word.

As Peterson says: any therapy will work. This is a therapy that has worked in the souls of mankind from the beginning. The world cannot deny this.

Take this to the next step referring back to Peterson. To be living the bible, being a doer of the word and to now enter into discussion of anything pertaining to life with another person who is a doer of the word and it should result in two souls tremendously blessed with wisdom and knowledge gained from the encounter.

We are now touching the beauty of the church. Not a place, but a group of people committed to help each other grow in love.


John 4:34-36 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.  35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!  36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.







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Jordan Peterson Rule 8

Jordan Peterson Rule # 8

Tell the Truth—or, at Least, Don’t Lie

Just a quick take from me: lying damages your soul, lying enables the evil in the world to triumph, truth is subjective as well as objective and you know when you have violated your subjective truth and subjective truth is subject to change therefore it must be allowed to be examined and reexamined as you go through life. (I am starting to sound like a psychologist, I am sure what I just said must be confusing). He also takes a shot at anyone who believes their subjective truth is the only truth and that truth will always be true. (I feel the suffering he is putting me through, from the previous chapter, at least he hides the arrow in psychobabble).

Here are some quotes:

I told the patient as simply and directly as I could that we were new students, training to be psychologists, and that she couldn’t join us for that reason. The answer highlighted the distinction between her situation and ours, making the gap between us greater and more evident. The answer was harsher than a well-crafted white lie. But I already had an inkling that untruth, however well-meant, can produce unintended consequences. She looked crestfallen, and hurt, but only for a moment. The she understood, and it was all right. That was just how it was.

I soon divided myself into two parts: one that spoke, and one, more detached, that paid attention and judged. I soon came to realize that almost everything I said was untrue. I had motives for saying these things: I wanted to win arguments and gain status and impress people and get what I wanted. I was using language to bend and twist the world into delivering what I thought was necessary. But I was a fake. Realizing this, I started to practice only saying things that the internal voice would not object to. I started to practice telling the truth—or, at least, not lying. I soon learned that such a skill came in very handy when I didn’t know what to do.

You can use words to manipulate the world into delivering what you want. This is what it means to “act politically.” This is spin. It’s the specialty of unscrupulous marketers, salesmen, advertisers, pickup artist, slogan-possessed utopians and psychopaths. It’s the speech people engage in when they attempt to influence and manipulate others. It’s what university students do when they write an essay to please the professor, instead of articulating and clarifying their own ideas. It’s what everyone does when they want something, and decide to falsify themselves to please and flatter. It’s scheming and sloganeering and propaganda…These are all examples of what Sigmund Freud’s compatriot, the lesser-known Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, called “life-lies.”

A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie. One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster. After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life.

If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. That does not only mean that you suppress who you are, although it also means that. It means that so much of what you could be will never be forced by necessity to come forward. This is a biological truth, as well as a conceptual truth. When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confront the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information. That is the conceptual element. However, researchers have recently discovered that new genes in the central nervous system turn themselves on when an organism is placed (or places itself) in a new situation. These genes code for new proteins. These proteins are the building blocks for new structures in the brain. This means that a lot of you is still nascent, in the most physical of senses, and will not be called forth by stasis. You have to say something, go somewhere and do things to get turned on. And, if not…you remain incomplete, and life is too hard for anyone incomplete.

If you say no to your boss, or your spouse, or your mother, when it needs to be said, then you transform yourself into someone who can say no when it needs to be said. If you say yes when no needs to be said, however, you transform yourself into someone who can only say yes, even when it is very clearly time to say no. If you ever wonder how perfectly ordinary, decent people could find themselves doing the terrible things the gulag camp guards did, you now have your answer.

If you betray yourself, if you say untrue things, if you act out a lie, you weaken your character. If you have a weak character, then adversity will mow you down when it appears, as it will, inevitably.

Only the most cynical, hopeless philosophy insists that reality could be improved through falsification. Such a philosophy judges Being and becoming alike, and deems them flawed. It denounces truth as insufficient and the honest man as deluded. It is a philosophy that both brings about and then justifies the endemic corruption of the world.

A vision of the future, the desirable future, is necessary. Such a vision links action taken now with important, long-term, foundational values. It lends actions in the present significance and importance. It provides a frame limiting uncertainty and anxiety.

Willful blindness is the refusal to know something that could be known. It’s refusal to admit that the knocking sound means someone at the door. It’s refusal to acknowledge the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room, the elephant under the carpet, the skeleton in the closet. It’s refusal to admit to error while pursuing the plan.

An inauthentic person continues to perceive and act in ways his own experience has demonstrated false. He does not speak with his own voice.

“Did what I want happen? No. Then my aim or my methods were wrong. I still have something to learn.” That is the voice of authenticity. “Did what I want happen? No. Then the world is unfair. People are jealous, and too stupid to understand. It is the fault of something or someone else.” That is the voice of inauthenticity.

When the individual lies, he knows it. He may blind himself to the consequences of his actions. He may fail to analyze and articulate his past, so that he does not understand. He may even forget that he lied and so be unconscious of that fact. But he was conscious, in the present, during the commission of each error, and the omission of each responsibility.

Someone power-hungry makes a new rule at your workplace. It’s unnecessary. It’s counterproductive. It’s an irritant. It removes some of the pleasure and meaning from your work. But you tell yourself it’s all right. It’s not worth complaining about. Then it happens again. You’ve already trained yourself to allow such things, by failing to react the first time. You’re a little less courageous. Your opponent, unopposed, is a little bit stronger. The institution is a little bit more corrupt. The process of bureaucratic stagnation and oppression is underway, and you’ve contributed, by pretending that it was OK. Why not complain? Why not take a stand? If you do, other people, equally afraid to speak up, may come to your defense. And if not—maybe it’s time for a revolution. Maybe you should find a job somewhere else, where your soul is less in danger from corruption.

…the almost universal proclivity of the Soviet citizen to falsify his own day-to-day personal experience, deny his own state-induced suffering, and thereby prop up the dictates of the rational, ideology-possessed communist system. It was this bad faith, this denial, that in Solzhenitsyn’s opinion aided and abetted that great paranoid mass-murderer, Joseph Stalin, in his crimes. Solzhenitsyn wrote the truth, his truth, hard-learned though his own experiences in the camps, exposing the lies of the Soviet state. No educated person dared defend that ideology again after Solzhenitsyn published The Gulag Archipelago. No one could ever say again, “What Stalin did, that was not true communism.”

Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and Nazi concentration camp survivor who wrote the classis Man’s Search for Meaning, drew a similar social-psychological conclusion: deceitful, inauthentic individual existence is the precursor to social totalitarianism, Sigmund Freud, for his part, analogously believed that “repression” contributed in a non-trivial manner to the development of mental illness (and the difference between repression of truth and a lie is a matter of degree, not kind). Alfred Alder knew it was lies that bred sickness. C.G. Jung knew that moral problems plagued his patients, and that such problems were caused by untruth. All these thinkers, all centrally concerned with pathology both individual and cultural, came to the same conclusion: lies warp the structure of Being. Untruth corrupts the soul and the state alike, and one form of corruption feeds the other.

The capacity of the rational mind to deceive, manipulate, scheme, trick, falsify, minimize, mislead, betray, prevaricate, deny, omit, rationalize, bias, exaggerate and obscure is so endless, so remarkable, that centuries of pre-scientific thought, concentrating on clarifying the nature of moral endeavor, regarded it as positively demonic. This is not because of rationality itself, as a process. That process can produce clarity and progress. It is because rationality is subject to the single worst temptation—to raise what it knows now to the status of an absolute.

Over thousands of years of history, the Western world wrapped a dream-like fantasy about the nature of evil around its central religious core. That fantasy had a protagonist, an adversarial personality, absolutely dedicated to corruption of Being. Milton took it upon himself to organize, dramatize and articulate the essence of this collective dream, and gave it life, in the figure of Satan–Lucifer, the “light bearer.”

Lucifer, in Milton’s eyes—the spirit of reason—was the most wondrous angel brought forth from the void by God. This can be read psychologically. Reason is something alive. It lives in all of us. It’s older than any of us. It’s best understood as a personality, not a faculty. It has its aims, and its temptations, and its weaknesses. It flies higher and sees farther than any other spirit. But reason falls in love with itself, and worse. It falls in love with its own productions. It elevates them, and worships them as absolutes. Lucifer is, therefore, the spirit of totalitarianism. He is flung from Heaven into Hell because such elevation, such rebellion against the Highest and Incomprehensible, inevitably produces Hell.

To say it again: it is the greatest temptation of the rational faculty to glorify its own capacity and its own productions and to claim that in the face of its theories nothing transcendent or outside its domain need exist.

As rationality rose ascendant from the ashes of Christianity, the great threat of total systems accompanied it. Communism, in particular, was attractive not so much to oppressed workers, its hypothetical beneficiaries, but to intellectuals—to those whose arrogant pride in intellect assured them they were always right. But the promised utopia never emerged. Instead humanity experienced the inferno of Stalinist Russia and Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and the citizens of those states were required to betray their own experience, turn against their fellow citizens, and die in the tens of millions.

This is no afterlife fantasy. This is no perverse realm of post-existence torture for political enemies. This is an abstract idea, and abstractions are often more real than what they represent. The idea that hell exists in some metaphysical manner is not only ancient, and pervasive; it’s true. Hell is eternal. It has always existed. It exists now. It’s the most barren, hopeless and malevolent subdivision of the underworld of chaos, where disappointed and resentful people forever dwell.

It is deceit that makes people miserable beyond what they can bear. It is deceit that fills human souls with resentment and vengefulness. It is deceit that produces the terrible suffering of mankind: the death camps of the Nazis; the torture chambers and genocides of Stalin and that even greater monster, Mao. It was deceit that killed hundreds of millions of people in the twentieth century. It was deceit that almost doomed civilization itself. It is deceit that still threatens us, most profoundly, today.

We must make decisions, here and now, even though the best means and the best goals can neve be discerned with certainty. An aim, an ambition, provides the structure necessary for action. An aim provides a destination, a point of contrast against the present, and a framework, within which all things can be evaluated. An aim defines progress and makes such progress exciting. An aim reduces anxiety, because if you have no aim everything can mean anything or nothing, and neither of those two options makes for a tranquil spirit. Thus, we have to think, and plan, and limit, and posit, in order to live at all. How then to envision the future, and establish our direction, without falling prey to the temptation of totalitarian certainty?

The act of seeing is particularly important when it challenges what we know and rely on, upsetting and destabilizing us. It is the act of seeing that informs the individual and updates the state. It was for this reason that Nietzsche said that man’s worth was determined by how much truth he could tolerate. You are by no means only what you already know You are also all that which you could know, if you only would. Thus, you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are.

In the Christian tradition, Christ is identified with the Logos. The Logos is the Word of God. That Word transformed chaos into order at the beginning of time. In His human form, Christ sacrificed himself voluntarily to the truth, to the good, to God. In consequence, He died and was reborn. The Word that produces order from Chaos sacrifices everything, even itself, to God. That single sentence, wise beyond comprehension, sums up Christianity.

The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power. Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.

If you pay attention to what you do and say, you can learn to feel a state of internal division and weakness when you are misbehaving and misspeaking. It’s an embodied sensation, not a thought. I experience an internal sensation of sinking and division, rather than solidity and strength, when I am incautious with my acts and words.

If you bend everything totally, blindly and willfully towards the attainment of a goal, and only that goal, you will never be able to discover if another goal would serve you, and the world, better. It is this that you sacrifice if you do not tell the truth. If, instead, you tell the truth, your values transform as you progress.

Thus, you have to risk your particular, individual life to find out. It is this risk that the ancients described as the sacrifice of personal will to the will of God. It is not an act of submission (at least as submission is currently understood). It is an act of courage. It is faith that the wind will blow your ship to a new a better port. It is the faith that Being can be corrected by becoming. It is the spirit of exploration itself.

Everyone needs a concrete, specific goal—an ambition, and a purpose—to limit chaos and make intelligible sense of his or her life. But all such concrete goals can and should be subordinated to what might be considered a meta-goal, which is a way of approaching and formulating goals themselves. The meta-goal could be “live in truth.” This means, “Act diligently towards some well-articulated, defined and temporary end. Make your criteria for failure and success timely and clear, at least for yourself (and even better if others can understand what you are doing and evaluate it with you).

For the big lie, you first need the little lie. The little lie is, metaphorically speaking, the bait used by the Father of Lies to hook his victims.

…These all work effectively to camouflage its true nature, its genuine dangerousness, and its equivalence with the great acts of evil that man perpetrates and often enjoys. Lies corrupt the world. Worse, that is their intent.

Hell comes later. Hell comes when lies have destroyed the relationship between individual or state and reality itself. Things fall apart. Life degenerates. Everything becomes frustration and disappointment. Hope consistently betrays. The deceitful individual desperately gestures at sacrifice, like Cain, but fails to please God.

Tortured by constant failure, the individual becomes bitter. Disappointment and failure amalgamate, and produce a fantasy: the world is bent on my personal suffering, my particular undoing, my destruction. I need, I deserve, I must have—my revenge. That’s the gateway to Hell. That’s when the underworld, a terrifying and unfamiliar place, becomes misery itself.

At the beginning of time, according to the great Western tradition, the Word of God transformed chaos into Being through the act of speech. It is axiomatic, within that tradition, that man and woman alike are made in the image of that God. We also transform chaos into Being, through speech. We transform the manifold possibilities of the future into the actualities of past and present.

To tell the truth is to bring the most habitable reality into Being. Truth builds edifices that can stand a thousand years.

Truth makes the past truly past, and makes the best use of the future’s possibilities. Truth is the ultimate, inexhaustible natural resource. It’s the light in the darkness. See the truth. Tell the truth.

Truth will not come in the guise of opinions shared by others, as the truth is neither a collection of slogans nor an ideology. It will instead be personal. Your truth is something only you can tell, based as it is on the unique circumstances of your life. Apprehend your personal truth. Communicate it carefully, in an articulate manner, to yourself and others. This will ensure your security and your life more abundantly now, while you inhabit the structure of your current beliefs. This will ensure the benevolence of the future, diverging as it might from the certainties of the past.

If your life is not what it could be, try telling the truth. If you cling desperately to an ideology, or wallow in nihilism, try telling the truth. If you feel weak and rejected, and desperate, and confused, try telling the truth. In Paradise, everyone speaks the truth. That is what makes it Paradise. Tell the truth. Or, at least, don’t lie.


Biblically, evil speaking, lying or bearing false witness (ten commandments) and gossiping are all condemned in the most stark of terms. You might say these are truths that will always be truths. So, we have the voice of Jordan Peterson speaking bible truths. For us he is speaking the words that God wanted us to hear and digest. For him, he is speaking truths that man through his intellectual evolution wrote down as from God when man started to write. Interesting, that all the great psychologists associate what we would call sin with their patient’s mental problems. “The wages of sin is death” seems to be an objective truth.

As I thought about the chapter my mind went to a character study of two of Jesus’ disciples: Judas and Peter. Let’s take a look at their lives through the lens of truth and authentic living.

Text: Matt 10:1-4 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

For the most part, when it comes to the life of the twelve disciples, we don’t get a lot about most of them. We get lots of Peter, the sons of Zebedee with more on John, Thomas’ famous doubts and Judas’ betrayal.

As a group they all walked and experienced Jesus’ three years of ministry before his death and resurrection.

The lies and the life lie that Judas lived is obvious in scripture. Peter was forced to re-examine his life over and over while walking with Jesus and after His resurrection. Lets look at Peter first.


Luke 5:4-11 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying,”Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

John 6:66-69 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matt 14:28-33 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Matt 16:16-19 Simon Peter answered and said,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Mark 8:31-33 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Matt 19:27-30 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.  30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Matt 26:33-35 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

John 18:10-11 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

Matt 26:74-75 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 24:8-13 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

John 21:1-6 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:  2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

John 21:7-14 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” — knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. 14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

John 21:17-19 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”  19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

I think you can see the examining and re-examining that Peter did to his own life through these times. He would come out of it as a man who knew who he was, what he was doing and why he was doing it. He would be an authentic man with a healthy soul. He would even be able to say Paul was right when Paul’s words infringed upon his leadership.


Judas saw everything that Peter and the other disciples saw. Yet, he ends up as the perfect example of a person who lies and cannot be the authentic person that Jordan Peterson is encouraging us to be.

We only pick up on Judas by name at the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

Matt 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said,”What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Matt 26:23-26 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.  24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”

Luke 22:47-48 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Matt 27:3-5 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

John 12:4-6 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.


Luke 22:3-6 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.

John 8:43-46 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.  44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.  45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

Tell the truth or at least don’t lie.







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Jordan Peterson Rule #7 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule #7

Chapter title: Pursue What is Meaningful (Not What is Expedient)

Peterson will take us through the bible in the search for proper sacrifice as a part of our evolution of understanding delayed gratification. He will look at the powerful force of science as an opposing force to Christianity founded upon the building block of “truth” that the church enabled. That destruction of Christianity as spoken of by Nietzsche for its failure to conform a man into a weapon for good in the true form of Christ leads him to his own conclusions about life. His rejection of Christianity, in no part due to his eyes being opened by the study of evolution, led him to formulate an ultimate meaning of life that he could embody. We see it in the title: Pursue what is meaningful; not what is expedient.

Here are some quotes:

“Life is suffering. That’s clear. There is no more basic, irrefutable truth. It’s basically what God tells Adam and Eve, immediately before he kicks them out of Paradise.”

“What in the world should be done about that? The simplest, most obvious, and most direct answer? Pursue pleasure. Follow your impulses. Live for the moment. Do what’s expedient. Lie, cheat, steal, deceive, manipulate—but don’t get caught. In an ultimately meaningless universe, what possible difference could it make? And this is by no means a new idea. The fact of life’s tragedy and the suffering that is part of it has been used to justify the pursuit of immediate selfish gratification for a very long time.”

“Our primordial parents, Adam and Eve, waked with God. Then, tempted by the snake, the first couple ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, discovered Death and vulnerability, and turned away from God. Mankind was exiled from Paradise, and began its effortful mortal existence. The idea of sacrifice enters soon afterward, beginning with the account of Cain and Abel, and developing through the Abrahamic adventures and the Exodus: After much contemplation, struggling humanity learns that God’s favor could be gained, and his wrath averted, through proper sacrifice—and, also, that bloody murder might be motivated among those unwilling or unable to succeed in this manner.”

“When engaging in sacrifice, our forefathers began to act out what would be considered a proposition, if it were stated in words: that something better might be attained in the future by giving up something of value in the present.”

“Your demise might be staved off through work; through the sacrifice of the now to gain benefit later. It is for this reason—among others, no doubt—that the concept of sacrifice is introduced in the Biblical chapter immediately following the drama of the Fall. There is little difference between sacrifice and work. They are also both uniquely human.”

“Prosaically, such sacrifice—work—is delay of gratification, but that’s a very mundane phrase to describe something of such profound significance. The discovery that gratification could be delayed was simultaneously the discovery of time and, with it, causality (at least the causal force of voluntary human action). Long ago, in the dim mists of time, we began to realize that reality was structured as if it could be bargained with. We learned that behaving properly now, in the present—regulating our impulses, considering the plight of others—could bring rewards in the future, in a time and place that did not yet exist.”

“Our ancestors acted out a drama, a fiction: they personified the force that governs fate as a spirit that can be bargained with, traded with, as if it were another human being. And the amazing thing is that it worked.”

“Here’s a productive symbolic idea: the future is a judgmental father. That’s a good start. But two additional, archetypal, foundational questions arose, because of the discovery of sacrifice, of work. Both have to do with the ultimate extension of the logic of work—which is sacrifice now, to gain later.”

“First question. What must be sacrificed? Small sacrifices may be sufficient to solve small, singular problems. But it is possible that larger, more comprehensive sacrifices might solve an array of large and complex problems, all at the same time. That’s harder, but it might be better. Adapting to the necessary discipline of medical school will, for example, fatally interfere with the licentious lifestyle of a hardcore undergraduate party animal.”

“Second question (set of related questions, really): We’ve already established the basic principle—sacrifice will improve the future…We must ask, to begin, ‘What would be the largest, most effective—most pleasing—of all possible sacrifices?’ and then ’How good might the best possible future be, if the most effective sacrifice could be made?’”

“Abel’s offerings please God, but Cain’s do not. Abel is rewarded, many times over, but Cain is not. It’s not precisely clear why (although the text strongly hints that Cain’s heart is just not in it). Maybe the quality of what Cain put forward was low. Maybe his spirit was begrudging. Or maybe God was vexed, for some secret reasons of His own. And all of this is realistic, including the text’s vagueness of explanation. Not all sacrifices are of equal quality. Furthermore, it often appears that sacrifices of apparently high quality are not rewarded with a better future—and it’s not clear why. Why isn’t God happy? What would have to change to make Him so? Those are difficult question—and everyone asks them, all the time, even if they don’t notice. Asking such questions is indistinguishable from thinking.”

“To share does not mean to give away something you value, and get nothing back. That is instead only what every child who refuses to share fears it means. To share means, properly, to initiate the process of trade. A child who can’t share—who can’t trade—can’t have any friends, because having friends is a form of trade Benjamin Franklin once suggested that a newcomer to a neighborhood ask a new neighbor to do him or her a favor, citing an old maxim: He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

“It is better to have something than nothing. It’s better yet to share generously the something you have. It’s even better than that, however, to become widely known for generous sharing. That’s something that lasts. That’s something that’s reliable. And, at this point of abstraction, we can observe how the groundwork for the conceptions reliable, honest and generous has been laid. The basis for an articulated morality has been put in place. The productive, truthful sharer is the prototype for the good citizen, and the good man.”

“People watched the successful succeed and the unsuccessful fail for thousands and thousands of years. We thought it over and drew a conclusion: The successful among us delay gratification. The successful among us bargain with the future. A great idea begins to emerge, taking ever-more-clearly-articulated form, in ever more-clearly-articulated stories: What’s the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful? The successful sacrifice. Things get better, as the successful practice their sacrifices. The questions become increasingly precise and, simultaneously, broader: What is the greatest possible sacrifice? For the greatest possible good? And the answers become increasingly deeper and profound.”

“We’ll start our analysis with a truism, stark, self-evident and understated: Sometimes things do not go well. That seems to have much to do with the terrible nature of the world, with its plagues and famines and tyrannies and betrayals. But here’s the rub: sometimes, when things are not going well, it’s not the world that’s the cause. The cause is instead that which is currently most valued, subjectively and personally. Why? Because the world is revealed, to an indeterminate degree, through the template of your values (much more on this in Rule 10). If the world you are seeing is not the world you want, therefore, it’s time to examine your values. It’s time to rid yourself of your current presuppositions. It’s time to let go. It might even be time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who you are.”

“In turn, Mary’s son, Christ, offers Himself to God and the world, to betrayal, torture and death—to the very point of despair on the cross, where he cries out those terrible words: my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46). That is the archetypal story of the man who gives his all for the sake of the better—who offers up his life for the advancement of Being—who allows God’s will to become manifest fully within the confines of a single, mortal life. That is the model for the honorable man. In Christ’s case, however—as He sacrifices Himself—God, His Father, is simultaneously sacrificing His son. It is for this reason that the Christian sacrificial drama of Son and Self is archetypal. It’s a story at the limit, where nothing more extreme—nothing greater—can be imagined. That’s the very definition of ‘archetypal.’ That’s the core of what constitutes ‘religious.’”

“Pain and suffering define the world. Of that, there can be no doubt. Sacrifice can hold pain and suffering in abeyance, to a greater or lesser degree—and greater sacrifices can do that more effectively than lesser. Of that, there can be no doubt. Everyone holds this knowledge in their soul. Thus, the person who wishes to alleviate suffering—who wishes to rectify the flaws in Being; who wants to bring about the best of all possible futures; who wants to create Heaven on Earth—will make the greatest of sacrifices, of self and child, of everything that is loved, to live a life aimed at the Good. He will forego expediency. He will pursue the path of ultimate meaning. And he will in that manner bring salvation to the ever-desperate world. But is such a thing even possible? Is this simply not asking too much of the individual? It’s all well and good for Christ, it might be objected—but He was the veritable Son of God.”

“Because his ever-reliable internal voice objected to fleeing (or even to defending himself) Socrates radically altered his view of the significance of his trial. He began to consider that it might be a blessing, rather than a curse. He told Hermogenes of his realization that the spirit to whom he had always listened might be offering him a way out of life, in a manner ‘easiest but also the least irksome to one’s friends,’ with sound body and spirit capable of shoeing kindliness’ and absent the ‘throes of illness’ and vexations of extreme old age. Socrates’ decision to accept his fate allowed him to put away mortal terror in the face of death itself, prior to and during the trial, after the sentence was handed down, and even later, during his execution. He saw that his life had been so rich and full that he could let it go, gracefully.”

“Socrates rejected expediency, and the necessity for manipulation that accompanied it. He chose instead, under the direst of conditions, to maintain his pursuit of the meaningful and the true. Twenty-five hundred years later, we remember his decision and take comfort from it What can we learn from this? If you cease to utter falsehoods and live according to the dictates of your conscience, you can maintain your nobility, even when facing the ultimate threat; if you abide, truthfully and courageously, by the highest of ideals, you will be provided with more security and strength than will be offered by any short-sighted concentration on your own safety; if you live properly, fully, you can discover meaning so profound that it protects you even from the fear of death.”

The tragedy of self-conscious Being produces suffering, inevitable suffering. That suffering in turn motivates the desire for selfish, immediate gratification—for expediency. But sacrifice—and work—serves far more effectively than short-term impulsive pleasure at keeping suffering at bay.

There is also the problem of evil to consider. The world is set hard against us, of a certainty, but man’s inhumanity to man is something even worse.

Abel’s sacrifices are accepted by God, and he flourishes. Cain’s however, ae rejected. He becomes jealous and bitter—and it’s no wonder. If someone fails and is rejected because he refused to make any sacrifices at all—well, that’s at least understandable. He may still feel resentful and vengeful, but knows in his heart that he is personally to blame. That knowledge generally places a limit on his outrage. It’s much worse, however, if he had actually foregone the pleasures of the moment—if he had strived and toiled and things still didn’t work out—if he was rejected, despite his efforts. Then he’s lost the present and the future. Then his work—his sacrifice—has been pointless. Under such conditions, the world darkens, and the soul rebels.

Cain is outraged by his rejection. He confronts God, accuses Him, and curses His creation. That proves to be a very poor decision. God responds, in no uncertain terms, that the fault is all with Cain—and worse: that Cain has knowingly and creatively dallied with sin, and reaped the consequences. This is not at all what Cain wanted to hear.

Cain, embittered to the core by God’s response, plots revenge. He defies the crator, audaciously. It’s daring. Cain knows how to hurt. He’s self-conscious, after all-and has become even more so, in his suffering and shame. So, he murders Abel in cold blood. He kills his brother, his own ideal (as Abel is everything Cain wishes to be). He commits this most terrible of crimes to spite himself, all of mankind, and God Himself, all at once. He does it to wreak havoc and gain his vengeance. He does it to register his fundamental opposition to existence—to protest the intolerable vagaries of Being itself.

Conscious human malevolence can break the spirit even tragedy could not shake.

But the hard lot of life, magnified by the consequence of continually rejected sacrifices (however poorly conceptualized; however half-heartedly executed)? That will bend and twist people into the truly monstrous forms who then begin, consciously, to work evil; who then begin to generate for themselves and others little besides pain and suffering.

Begrudging sacrifice, half-heartedly undertaken; rejection of that sacrifice by God or by reality (take your pick); angry resentment, generated by that rejection; descent into bitterness and the desire for revenge; sacrifice undertaken even more begrudgingly, or refused altogether. And it’s Hell itself that serves as the destination place of that downward spiral.

Life is indeed “nasty, brutish and short,” as the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes so memorably remarked. But man’s capacity for evil makes it worse. This means that the central problem of life—the dealing with its brute facts—is not merely what and how to sacrifice to diminish suffering, but what and how to sacrifice to diminish suffering and evil—the conscious and voluntary and vengeful source of the worst suffering.

Abel could please God—a non-trivial and unlikely accomplishment—but he could not overcome human evil.

Christ takes a different path. His sojourn in the desert is the dark night of the soul—a deeply human and universal human experience. It’s the journey to that place each of us goes when things fall apart, friends and family are distant, hopelessness and despair reign, and black nihilism beckons. And, let us suggest, in testament to the exactitude of the story: forty days and nights starving alone in the wilderness might take you exactly to that place.

This is where the idea of Chirst’s taking on the sins of mankind as if they were His own becomes key, opening the door to deep understanding of the desert encounter with the devil himself. “homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,” said the Roman playwright Terence: nothing human is alien to me.

In the desert, Christ encounters Satan. This story has a clear psychological meaning—a metaphorical meaning—in addition to whatever else material and metaphysical alike it might signify. It means that Christ is forever He who determines to take personal responsibility for the full depth of human depravity. It means that Christ is eternally He who is willing to confront and deeply consider and risk the temptations posed by the most malevolent elements of human nature. It means that Christ is always he who is willing to confront evil—consciously, fully and voluntarily—in the form that dwelt simultaneously within Him and in the world. This noting merely abstract; nothing to be brushed over. It’s no merely intellectual matter.

Satan embodies the refusal of sacrifice; he is arrogance, incarnate; spite, deceit, and cruel, conscious malevolence. He is pure hatred of Man, God and Being. He will not humble himself, even when he knows full well that he should. Furthermore, he knows exactly what he is doing, obsessed with the desire for destruction, and does it deliberately, thoughtfully and completely. It has to be him, therefore==the very archetype of Evil—who confronts and tempts Christ, the archetype of Good. It must be him who offers to the Savior of Mankind, under the most trying of conditions, what all men most ardently desire.

Bread is of little use to a man who has betrayed his soul, even if he is currently starving.

Christ aims, therefore, at something higher: at the description of a mode of Being that would finally and forever solve the problem of hunger. If we all chose instead of expedience to dine on the Word of God? That would require each and every person to live, and produce, and sacrifice, and speak, and share in a manner that would permanently render the privation of hunger a thing of the past. And that’s how the problem of hunger in the privations of the desert is most truly and finally addressed.

Christ is continually portrayed as the purveyor of endless sustenance. He miraculously multiplies bread and fish. He turns water into wine. What does this mean? It’s a call to the pursuit of higher meaning as the mode of living that is simultaneously most practical and of highest quality. It’s a call portrayed in dramatic/literary form: live as the archetypal Saviour lives, and you and those around you will hunger no more. The beneficence of the world manifests itself to those who live properly. That’s better than bread. That’s better than the money that will buy bread.

“Throw yourself off that cliff,” Satan says, offering the next temptation. “if God exists, He will surely save you. If you are in fact his Son, God will surely save you.” Why would God not make Himself manifest, to rescue His only begotten Child from hunger and isolation and the presence of great evil? But that establishes no pattern for life. It doesn’t even work as literature. The deus ex machina – the emergence of a divine force that magically rescues the hero from his predicament—is the cheapest trick in the hack writer’s playbook. It makes a mockery of independence, and courage, and destiny, and free will, and responsibility. Furthermore, God is in no wise a safety net for the blind. He’s not someone to be commanded to perform magic tricks, or forced into Self-revelation—not even by His own Son.

Christ does not casually order or even dare ask God to intervene on his behalf. He refuses to dispense with His responsibility for the events of His own life. He refuses to demand that God prove His presence. He refuses, as well, to solve the problems of mortal vulnerability in a merely personal manner—by compelling God to save Him-because that would not solve the problem for everyone else and for all time.

There is a powerful call to proper Being in the story of the third temptation. To obtain the greatest possible prize—the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, the resurrection of Paradise—the individual must conduct his or her life in a manner that requires the rejection of immediate gratification, of natural and perverse desires alike, no matter how powerfully and convincingly and realistically those are offered, and dispense, as well with the temptations of evil. Evil amplifies the catastrophe of life, increasing dramatically the motivation for expediency already there because of the essential tragedy of Being. Sacrifice of the more prosaic sort can keep that tragedy at bay, more or less successfully, but it takes a special kind of sacrifice to defeat evil.

Carl Jung hypothesized that the European mind found itself motivated to develop the cognitive technologies of science—to investigate the material world—after implicitly concluding that Christianity, with its laser-like emphasis on spiritual salvation, had failed to sufficiently address the problem of suffering in the here-and-now.

This is not to say that Christianity, even in its incompletely realized form, was a failure. Quite the contrary: Christianity achieved the well-nigh impossible. The Christian doctrine elevated the individual soul, placing slave and master and m=commoner and nobleman alike on the same metaphysical footing, rendering them equal before God and the law. Christianity insisted that even the king was only one among many. For something so contrary to all apparent evidence to find its footing, the idea the=at that worldly power and prominence were indicators of God’s particular favor had to be radically de-emphasized. This was partly accomplished through the strange Christian insistence that salvation could not be obtained through effort or worth—through “work”.

It is in fact nothing short of a miracle (and we should keep this fact firmly before our eyes) that the hierarchical slave-based societies of our ancestors reorganized themselves, under the sway of an ethical/religious revelation, such that the ownership and absolute domination of another person came to be viewed as wrong.

Nietzsche described himself, with no serious overstatement, as philosophizing with a hammer. His devastating critique of Christianity—already weakened by its conflict with the very science to which it had given rise—involved two main lines of attack. Nietzsche claimed, first, that it was precisely the sense of truth developed in the highest sense by Christianity itself that ultimately came to question and then to undermine the fundamental presuppositions of the faith.

Carl Jung continued to develop Nietzsche’s arguments decades later, pointing out that Europe awoke, during the Enlightenment, as if from a Christian dream, noticing that everything it had heretofore taken for granted could and should be questioned. “God is dead,” said Nietzsche. “God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wife this blood off us

But it was his second attack—0n the removal of the true moral burden of Christianity during the development of the Church—that was most devastating. The hammer-wielding philosopher mounted an assault on an early-established and then highly influential line of Christian thinking: that Christianity meant accepting the proposition that Christ’s sacrifice, and only that sacrifice, had redeemed humanity. This did not mean, absolutely, that a Christian who believed that Christ died on the cross for the salvation of mankind was thereby freed from any and all personal moral obligation. But it did strongly imply that the primary responsibility for redemption had already been borne by the Saviour, and that nothing too important to do remained for all-too-fallen human individuals.

Nietzsche writes, “The Christians have never practiced the actions Jesus prescribed them; and the impudent garrulous talk about the ‘justification by faith’ and its supreme and sole significance is only the consequence of the Church’s lack of courage and will to profess the works Jesus demanded.”

Dogmatic belief in the central axioms of Christianity (that Christ’s crucifixion redeemed the world; that salvation was reserved for the hereafter; that salvation could not be achieved through works) had three mutually reinforcing consequences: First, devaluation of the significance of earthly life, as only the hereafter mattered. This also meant that it had become acceptable to overlook and shirk responsibility for the suffering that existed in the here-and-now; Second, passive acceptance of the status quo, because salvation could not be earned in any case through effort in this life; and , finally, third, the right of the believer to reject any real moral burden (outside of the stated belief in salvation through Christ), because the Son of God had already done all the important work.

Quite the contrary: In the Brothers Karamazov, for example, Dostoevsky’s atheist, Ivan, argues against presuppositions of Christianity with unsurpassable clarity and passion. Alyosha, aligned with the Church by temperament and decision, cannot undermine a single one of his brother’s arguments (although his faith remains unshakeable). Dostoevsky knew and admitted that Christianity had been defeated by the rational faculty—by the intellect, even-but (and this of primary importance) he did not hide from that fact. He didn’t attempt through denial or deceit or even satire to weaken the position that opposed what he believed to be most true and valuable. He instead placed action above words, and addressed the problem successfully. By the novel’s end, Dostoevsky has the great embodied moral goodness of Alyosha—the novitiate’s courageous imitation of Christ—attain victory over the spectacular but ultimately nihilistic critical intelligence of Ivan.

The dogma of the Church was undermined by the spirit of truth strongly developed by the Church itself. That undermining culminated in the death of God. But the dogmatic structure of the Church was a necessary disciplinary structure. A long period of unfreedom—adherence to a singular interpretive structure—is necessary for the development of a free mind. Christian dogma provided that unfreedom. But the dogma is dead, at least to the modern Western mind. It perished along with God. What has emerged from behind its corpse, however—and this is an issue of central importance-9s something even more dead; something that was never alive, even in the past: nihilism, as well as an equally dangerous susceptibility to new, totalizing, utopian ideas. It was in the aftermath of God’s death that the great collective horrors of Communism and Fascism sprang forth (as both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche predicted they would).

The great French philosopher Rene Descartes set out o an intellectual mission to take his doubt seriously, to break things apart, to get to what was essential—to see if he could establish, or discover, a single proposition impervious to his skepticism. He was searching for the foundation stone on which proper Being could be established. Descartes found it, as far as he was concerned, in the “I” who thinks—the “I” who was aware—as expressed in his famous dictum, cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

Now, an idea is not the same thing as a fact. A fact is something that is dead, in and of itself…But an idea that grips a person is alive. It wants to express itself, to live in the world. It is for this reason that the depth psychologists insisted that the human psyche was a battleground or ideas. An idea has an aim. It wants something. It posits a value structure. An idea believes that what it is aiming for is better than what it has now. It reduces the world to those things that aid or impede its realization, and it reduces everything else to irrelevance. An idea defines figure against ground. An idea is a personality, not a fact.

To use the dramatic conceptualization of our ancestors: it is the most fundamental convictions that must die—must be sacrificed—when the relationship with God has been disrupted (when the presence of undue and often intolerable suffering, for example, indicates that something has to change). This is to say nothing other than that the future can be made better if the proper sacrifices take place in the present…we can simply say “If you are disciplined and privilege the future over the present you can change the structure of reality in your favour.”

In 1984, I started down the same road as Descartes. I did not know it was the same road at the time, and I am not claiming kinship with Descartes, who is rightly regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. But I was truly plagued with doubt. I had outgrown the shallow Christianity of my youth by the time I could understand the fundamentals of Darwinian theory. After that, I could not distinguish the basic elements of Christian belief from wishful thinking. The socialism that soon afterward became so attractive to me as an alternative proved equally insubstantial.

I was plagued with doubt. I searched for one thing—anything—I could regard as indisputable. I wanted a rock upon which to build my house. It was doubt that led me to it.

I once read of a particularly insidious practice at Auschwitz. A guard would force an inmate to carry a hundred-pound sack of wet salt from one side of the large compound to the other—and then to carry it back. Arbeit macht frei, said the sign over the camp entrance—“Work will set you free”—and the freedom was death. Carrying the salt was an act of pointless torment. It was a piece of malevolent art. It allowed me to realize with certainty that some actions are wrong.

Nuremburg trials…The conclusion of those trials? There are some actions that are so intrinsically terrible that they run counter to the proper nature of human Being…These are evil actions. No excuses are available for engaging in them. To dehumanize a fellow being, to reduce him or her to the status of a parasite, to torture and to slaughter with no consideration of individual innocence or guilt, to make an art form of pain—that is wrong.

The reality of suffering. It brooks no arguments. Nihilists cannot undermine it with skepticism. Totalitarians cannot banish it. Cynics cannot escape from its reality. Suffering is real, and the artful infliction of suffering on another, for its own sake, is wrong. That became the cornerstone of my belief.

It was from this that I drew my fundamental moral conclusions. Aim up. Pay attention. Fix what you can fix. Don’t be arrogant in your knowledge. Strive for humility, because totalitarian pride manifests itself in intolerance, oppression, torture and death. Become aware of your own insufficiency—your cowardice, malevolence, resentment and hatred. Consider the murderousness of your own spirit before you dare accuse others, and before you attempt to repair the fabric of the world. Maybe it’s not the world that’s at faulty. Maybe it’s you. You’ve failed to make the mark. You’ve missed the target. You’ve fallen short of the glory of God. You’ve sinned. And all of that is your contribution to the insufficiency and evil of the world. And above all, don’t lie. Don’t lie about anything, ever. Lying leads to Hell. It was the great and the small lies of the Nazi and Communist states that produced the deaths of millions of people. Consider then that the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering is a good. Make that an axiom: to the best of by ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Expedience is the following of blind impulse. It’s short-term gain. It’s narrow, and selfish. It lies to get its way. It takes nothing into account. It’s immature and irresponsible. Meaning is its mature replacement. Meaning emerges when impulses are regulated, organized and unified. Meaning emerges from the interplay between the possibilities of the world and the value structure operating within that world. If the value structure is aimed at the betterment of Being, the meaning revealed will be life-sustaining. It will provide the antidote for chaos and suffering. It will make everything matter. It will make everything better.

You may find that if you attend to these moral obligations, once you have placed “make the world better” at the top of your value hierarchy, you experience ever-deepening meaning. It’s not bliss. It’s not happiness. It is something more like atonement for the criminal fact of your fractured and damaged Being.

Meaning signifies that you are in the right place, at the right time, properly balanced between order and chaos, where everything lines up as best it can at that moment.

What is expedient works only for the moment. It’s immediate, impulsive and limited. What is meaningful, by contrast, is the organization of what would otherwise merely be expedient into a symphony of Being.

Meaning is when everything there is comes together in an ecstatic dance of single purpose-the glorification of a reality so that no matter how good it has suddenly become, it can get better and better and better more and more deeply forever into the future. Meaning happens when that dance has become so intense that all the horrors of the past, all the terrible struggle engaged in by all of life and all of humanity to that moment becomes a necessary and worthwhile part of the increasingly successful attempt to build something truly Might and Good.

Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility and on the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bringing forth a still more balanced and productive chaos and order. Meaning is the Way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that.

Do what is meaningful, not what is expedient.


Peterson gives us his measure of meaning in this chapter. Here are some of his concluding thoughts:

Suffering is real, and the artful infliction of suffering on another, for its own sake, is wrong. That became the cornerstone of my belief.

Make that an axiom: to the best of by ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering.

You may find that if you attend to these moral obligations, once you have placed “make the world better” at the top of your value hierarchy, you experience ever-deepening meaning. It’s not bliss. It’s not happiness. It is something more like atonement for the criminal fact of your fractured and damaged Being.

Meaning is the Way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that.

The last quote works for a sermon.

Text: Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

  1. What gives our lives meaning?

Peterson started the chapter off with the idea of sacrifice or bargaining with God about the future. He equated work with sacrifice. He then looked at Able, the man who could please God, and Cain the man who was rebuked by God. The result: the murder of Able by Cain.

We are called to be a living sacrifice. Being that living sacrifice in service to God brings meaning to life.

This requires knowing God but even more it requires the born again experience.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The science that undermined the church was not science that could endure the scientific method. It was the science of evolution that was impossible to prove via the scientific method.

Philosophy, psychiatry and self improvement cannot come understand yet lead to an born again experience.

Peterson has identified a problem in the world of creating suffering, and has given his life meaning by not being a person that creates suffering but also takes away suffering. Here is the illustration he uses:

I once read of a particularly insidious practice at Auschwitz. A guard would force an inmate to carry a hundred-pound sack of wet salt from one side of the large compound to the other—and then to carry it back. Arbeit macht frei, said the sign over the camp entrance—“Work will set you free”—and the freedom was death. Carrying the salt was an act of pointless torment. It was a piece of malevolent art. It allowed me to realize with certainty that some actions are wrong.

To be born again, to have Christ in you, to be filled with the love of God, and to have the Holy Spirit directing you through your day would not allow you to be that German guard.

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.


18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Peterson wants to do the truth and his title as “Gateway Drug to Salvation” applies to him also.

  1. The Abundant Life

Peterson does a good job of describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the desert.

Satan embodies the refusal of sacrifice; he is arrogance, incarnate; spite, deceit, and cruel, conscious malevolence. He is pure hatred of Man, God and Being. He will not humble himself, even when he knows full well that he should. Furthermore, he knows exactly what he is doing, obsessed with the desire for destruction, and does it deliberately, thoughtfully and completely. It has to be him, therefore==the very archetype of Evil—who confronts and tempts Christ, the archetype of Good. It must be him who offers to the Savior of Mankind, under the most trying of conditions, what all men most ardently desire.

Bread is of little use to a man who has betrayed his soul, even if he is currently starving.

Christ is continually portrayed as the purveyor of endless sustenance. He miraculously multiplies bread and fish. He turns water into wine. What does this mean? It’s a call to the pursuit of higher meaning as the mode of living that is simultaneously most practical and of highest quality. It’s a call portrayed in dramatic/literary form: live as the archetypal Saviour lives, and you and those around you will hunger no more. The beneficence of the world manifests itself to those who live properly. That’s better than bread. That’s better than the money that will buy bread.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

1 Thess 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

The problem of the church according to the philosophers quoted by Peterson is its centering upon the truth of His word, Jesus and His salvation without our works.

To “taste” of the word is to taste of Jesus and He is not talking about a way of living He is talking about being the “Way”.

III. “Guided by love and speaking the truth” is how Peterson puts it.

Eph 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —

Eph 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

1 Peter 2:1-6 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,   3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”


1 Peter 2:7-10 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”  8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

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Zambia 2018

Zambia 2018

Our 24 hours of travel turned into 48 hours as our fist Air Canada flight was cancelled. We arrived into Lusaka around 15 hours via Ethiopian Air Thursday March 22nd. Pastor Jeff Day picked us up at the airport. We were to preach for him the Wed. previous day; but now he was setting us up to be on our way. We freshened up at his house, had some fellowship and coffee with he and his wife Maureen. Made a few calls making sure my phone was working in Zambia. First stop would be with Pastor Royd Mwauluka in Kafue. We loaded up our 4 bags into his church van and headed out. I had a question about directions, Jeff’s response “It will come back to you”.

It was 19 years ago that we landed in Mazabuka, Zambia. We would spend 7 years there, planting three churches. This is our fourth trip back and it has been four years since our previous visit. Jeff was right; it all comes back to you. We made our way from round about to round about taking us to the southern end of town heading for Kafue. Nice roads, speed limit signs (80K looks like the maximum) and a toll booth. We were told an armada of government vehicles shows up to grab the cash each day. I have talked to Royd and I have the name of the school he teaches in and holds services; Railroad Community School. Actually, it is Railside Community School. We stop at Guffer’s (a Muslim expert mechanic) old station for gas and directions. The oil light is on so I want to check the oil also. Can’t find the dip stick and its getting dark. We make our way through the market, cross over the railroad line. We ask for more directions. Keep going until the road splits, go right. We do and are moving along when we hear “Pastor Hansston”. One of Royd’s disciples happens to see us and lets us know that we had just passed the church. He guides us in.

My favorite Royd Mwauluka story of many is the one and only time that Zambia Sugar used a lottery system to hire the thousands of seasonal workers they need each year. They had everyone line up in rows in a football field. They had a big barrel filled with slips of paper but only the allotment for today’s hire were marked for hiring. They chose Royd to be first one to choose because he was known as the Potter’s House song leader. Our guys were there laying hands on Royd and everyone was making a big deal of it. Royd reached in and pulled out a marked slip to the eruption of praise and the raising of hope and faith. Royd’s victory for God would be tempered by the failure to get jobs from other church folks there, but we all agreed that it was a stunning victory for God.

Royd is now married to Imelda and is the father to Joy and Patrick. He works as a teacher here at this school and conducts services using the school facilities. He has several young men who are disciples as well as some older men who are pillars in the church. The school room was decked out and we would have electricity. I have been preaching using chapter headings from Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules” (He is known as the “gateway drug to salvation”). Tonight would be “Stand up Straight with your Shoulders back”. It would be my single sermon for Kafue, Kaleya, Magoye and Lusaka and first sermon in the revivals for Monze and Mazabuka. The young men and the older men all remember me from when I preached here four years ago. One young man is going to school in Lusaka, coming home for weekends, and he has made a special trip here for the service. The class room is filled and yet people keep coming through most of the sermon. Always fun to have the church stand up straight to start the sermon off. In the end we have the importance of standing tall (a pure soul), disciplining ourselves and recognizing purpose and victory that God has for us. And having done all “Stand”.

Many hands go up for salvation and we pray and ask for a commitment to the church by those who don’t already go to another church. We have a photo session and then I am asked to pray for the oldest family of the church. We go into an office where the father, wife and seven children have gathered. The oldest is the young man going to and from Lusaka. We pray for his marriage as he has recently made a commitment to do the paper work to make his marriage legal in the eyes of the state.

We take Royd’s family to dinner. He has blessed us with a love offering that easily covers the dinner. It’s pizza time. The kids and I indulge in an ice cream cone as we wait for a pizza. The adults who chose to wait will be disappointed when they realize the machine has been shut down as we ate our pizza. His kids are great, his wife and he are a romantic story of childhood romance; but he works too much, never misses Saturday outreach and Sundays are Sundays. The wife lets us know that she could use some Royd time. This would be the needed theme in the pastor’s lives this trip: you need to date your wife again.

We drop them at home and head for Mazabuka where we have a guest house reserved. We will travel to and from that location as I preach in all the churches. We have been warned that the road is a mess. 19 years ago we arrived in Mazabuka as one set of donors had just completed the road from Mazabuka to Lusaka. We would drive it at 120 or 130k. It seemed like a slow crawl this night. From the Kafue turnoff to Mazabuka seemed like one continuous pot hole. Royd let me know that since I was driving at night et least I would have the whole road to avoid the pot holes without much oncoming traffic. We make it to Mazabuka around 11:30 that night. The “Sweetest” town in Zambia.

The next morning, we divided up the two suitcases we would leave behind for Mazabuka and Monze churches. Each would get a projector (Thanks Pastor Greg) two portable Bluetooth PA’s and all the extra films, cd’s and DVD’s I could get from our church. We dropped the one to Mazabuka and got to walk around the grounds of the church. Everything looking great. To our surprise we met Joshua, Pastor Charles Tembo’s and Bette’s two-year-old son. During the battle for the soul of the church after our departure, Charles was the #1 target. During that time, they lost a baby and it just seemed right to see Bette happy with her son.

We agreed to meet later that day for lunch. Joan and I had nshima and chicken and the Tembo’s had chicken and chips. Royd had already given me a sense of confidence for the future and that was reinforced with our time with the Tembo’s. Twelve years of assaults had taken their toll, but he was strong, confident and more importantly not bitter. It seemed like the wars were finally over. The first two times I came back Maz church was still my church. We entertained visitors all day long every day while in town before preaching each night. The third visit was a visit to Charles’ church. They were now his disciples. Royd had taken over a Lusaka church in Kafue and Kelvin had been sent to Kaleya. That was four years ago. The young Turks, my spoiled musicians, never got the repeated message that the use of equipment would drastically change once I left. The devil had given the church several blows, but it had held together.

Joan and I rested that afternoon before heading to Monze with the Tembo’s and Makupa and his wife Sharon. Pastor Oliver Hanzalla is a natural evangelist. Pastor Day would use him as an evangelist, should Oliver want to go in that direction. Oliver was the first man to preach one of our early day film outreaches. We called him the “young preacher”. He retains that youthful energy. The picture of him at the pulpit, sweaty with handkerchief in hand, leading the congregation in praise is a photo right out of a movie. The only difference is that it is not Hollywood but Monze, Zambia and its real. Oliver and his wife Sheila have been a success story in Zambia. Most of our ex-missionary churches are doing well. It is the exception when one of the churches planted out of those missionary churches is doing just as well. Monze is the exception. They went from school classroom to school classroom before Wickenburg helped them start a building. That building now includes a shiny tiled platform loaded with working equipment.

We met Pastor Fast Phiri out of Pemba and Pastor Kelvin out of Chisekese. Both men planted out of the Monze church. This was welcomed news to Joan and I. We are grandparents in the physical and now in the spiritual. Great song service. I preach. There is a multitude of young men on the right side of the church. The young ladies are on the left side. The preaching turns to being a hero or a coward. I ask one of the young ladies if she would rather marry a coward or a hero. She answers “hero” and I have her repeat it a little louder each time. It turns out it was Pastor Oliver’s daughter. She is finishing up medical studies in Lusaka and was returning to finish up Monday. She would pray for the Holy Ghost later in the revival. His son, who would always cry whenever he would see us, didn’t cry and is a fine young man in grade 10 attending school in Pemba. Five people per bench would have given us 150 people; the benches were full. Add to that chairs to the side and the children herded into one area and we had a good crowd. I was aiming for the young men and neglected to focus on the many visitors; but an altar was given and people responded.

We headed home in the dark, with the occasional headlightless vehicle approaching and the charcoal vendors with their bags of charcoal on bikes crowding the edges of the road. We had a good night’s sleep, still recovering from 48 hours of travel. I need to check out the oil light the next day. I make my way over to the petrol station that the white farmers use. I gas up and ask about Cornelius. I am told that he hired the man who was filling my tank. Cornelius was an early convert to the church. He had some mishaps that had made him a stranger to us the last two visits. He had moved from one station to this station and now he was the manager. His boss was the son of one of the white farmers. Cornelius introduced me to him. He let me know he was married with children, owned a car, built a house and went to church. Pastor Tembo would let me know that he came to church when he could but his wife was faithful and he never missed his tithe. My parting words as we left Mazabuka to Cornelius were that we have managed to get closer and closer each visit despite the things that had transpired, and next time would be even better. I had found the dip stick under the front seat of the van. It looked dry to me; although the moisture was present. Cornelius checked it for me and announced that it was bone dry and need et least 3 containers. We would put in five. I had also noticed that the front right tire was low. He agreed but his air was not working. I went around the block and found some tire repair men. That’s when I realized I didn’t have a jack. The man was able to find the leak by putting water on the turned-out tire. He cut strips of rubber from a tire tube, intertwined them together and saturated them with glue and stuck the conglomeration into the hole and then drew it out and snipped it even with the tire. Filled the tire with air and away I went.

Next stop was Mazabuka Block, one of my favorite spots in Maz. I walk in to greetings from my Muslim friend Abraham and his son Khalid. Khalid gets us drinks as we talk and purchase a tire jack. The first time we ever ate dinner with them the women and men divided up. I sat at a table with three men. We were eating delicious Indian food with our hands using chapati’s. The man across from me cleared his throat; he was going to speak. The prophet Muhammed would want us to eat our food using only two fingers and our thumb. Using three fingers was a sign of gluttony. Sure enough I was using three fingers and I switched to two. The next man then said if we were going to follow the Sharia perfectly we should not be sitting in chairs but lounging on pillows around the table. The third man then stated that if we were to follow the law we had no business even eating with this man, me. Needless to say, I have been given the perfect opportunity to express the uniqueness of the Christian message of salvation through grace rather than law.

Abraham invited us over for lunch and a little bit later Naseem, the whirlwind of life, entered in with joy and upset (as always) that we were staying at a guest house instead of their house and was chastising Abraham for not inviting us to lunch, he had. And where was Joan? We would have lunch with them after prayers at 1:30, everything is settled. Lunch is delicious and wonderful. They were semi expecting us as Joan had contacted the other son who was doing studies for architecture in Malaysia. His wife was staying with them since she was unable to renew her visa. She turned out to be quite the accomplished woman with web ideas and a blog about Indian recipes. We would retire to the living room for Indian tea and the first thing that needed to be discussed was this man Trump. We like him; and Abraham said he thought he was good for America. I mentioned Obama and was surprised to hear this description: “Obama was not a true Muslim”. Yes, the outside world considered him a Muslim.

I have given Khalid two of a three set of novels by Harold Lamb about an adventurous Cossack living in the 1500’s traveling from Russia to China. Abraham had a son pass away and I couldn’t remember if it was him who I had given the books to on previous trips. It was Khalid. He proudly showed by his bookshelf; something to be very proud of in bookless Zambia. He liked to remind us that Brooke was his teacher when she taught at his school. Khalid was studying accounting and neither of Abraham’s sons wanted to continue the hardware business of Mazabuka Block. That was fine with him.

A short nap and then off to Monze for the second service. My translator in Monze in Christopher. We met Christopher 19 years ago when we opened up in a small classroom in Ndeki. He was a young teenager doing construction work and speaking very little English. He would get saved and baptized with us but when his work ended he went home to Monze. He would join with the church when Oliver came to Monze and be an important member of the church. Pastor Oliver wants me to pray for the sick tonight. I preach, altar call and a line up of about a dozen people for healing. Perceiving faith, as Pastor Mitchell would say, we pray for each one individually from easiest to most difficult. All give testimonies of healing. The next day in Sunday school the healings would be testified of even heartier. I am not the mighty man of faith and power. My years in Zambia put me in contact with disease, malnutrition, tropical infections, malaria, AIDS running wild and death. Yet, many times there is a spiritual side to sickness that retreats when a greater power shows up on the scene to bring healing. The miracles of blind eyes opening, lepers cleansed, and wheelchair bound springing forth were the spectacular realities of Jesus’ earthly ministry, certainly not mine.

Our last services in Monze would be on Sunday. Joan and I would travel alone and spend the day until the ending of the afternoon service. I have a special sermon for both Sunday mornings in Monze and Mazabuka. Jordan Peterson’s chapter title is: Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You. I use the chapter as an opportunity to preach on friendship but one step further into it by preaching about blood covenant relationships. Friendship verses, Jonathon and David, Vikings blood covenant taken from Trumbell’s book, and finally blood covenant relationship with God through the “blood of the everlasting covenant” of Jesus. In my mind it is the perfect sermon for the times we have gone through and now the times we are entering into. We need to be committed to each other just as we are committed to Jesus. Monze church felt solid. I was asked to comment during Sunday School. Christopher was describing his conversion and baptism in Mazabuka followed by him drinking beer. The question seemed to be how can this happen? What is the danger? I shared Heb. 3:12-14 to put sin and salvation as related to the spirit of unbelief into context.

Sunday morning service ended with just a great sense of confidence and direction. We had lunch with Oliver and Sheila. Oliver had given me the ultimate compliment as a young pastor. In his conference testimony he talked of a sermon I preached “Show Yourself to be a Man” as the springboard that led him into full time work, marriage and the ministry. Here he is 16 years as a Pastor later; a man of God, a loving wife, great children and a thriving church. Yet, there is a restlessness. The questions of what is wrong. Nothing. Conversation turns to the realities of life. We had given them some money four years ago. They had taken that money and bought kapenta (small fish) to sell in the market. They have been reinvesting that original gift over and over again enabling them to educate their children. Once again, the man who protested the most about working while being a pastor, finds himself and his wife working two stalls during the week with church on the weekend and yes there were signs of the strain. Thinking about Royd, Charles and now Oliver I am sticking with my thoughts about the need to comfort and encourage each other in marriage in order to be in top shape for the wear and tear of the ministry. We finished lunch allowing Joan and I to sit in the restaurant with a nice cup of coffee; unheard of while we lived here. Life is good.

My final sermon was on the Holy Spirit and the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Many people came forward to receive the Holy Spirit. Joan and I headed back to Mazabuka in the daylight. Pastor Oliver gave us a love offering. We stopped at Spar (used to be Baghoos) for some snacks and made it back to our room.

Monday started with a walk around our old house. Can’t tell who lives there now. The radio station has moved across the street next to our house. Our four seedling Flamboyant trees have grown into beautiful trees along the highway 12 years later. We walk over to the golf course, talk with the caddies, see how all the golfers are doing via the caddies. Walk around the now watered and beautiful course. I had already met one caddy who is now a high caliber golfer with a job at Zambia sugar, he reminded me that both Joan’s and my caddies had died. I need to change some money. I had failed Saturday because the internet was down and apparently the banks couldn’t change money without an internet connection. Didn’t understand why; but I needed to make it happen today. I went to my old Barclay bank. A young man was talking with the teller as I was called to the window. Our clerk leaves to start the process of changing money. The young man asks if I remember him. Only when he tells me his name. Moonga was a young man who was one of the people that lived around us who would get a ride with us for church. I remember young Moonga’s testimony to the church. He would be shifting north to Chingola but he would retain his relationship with God. Couldn’t get a feel for where he was at now, but he said he knew I was preaching this week and would see me. Made the exchange and returned home to get ready for our visit to Zoubie’s Gym.

We had exercised over our years here in Mazabuka under a series of abled instructors. Now Zoubie the wife of our most eminent Muslim businessman of Mazabuka ran and taught at a gym on their property. Joan and I showed up for a session. Our companions in this endeavor have succumbed to health issues and work issues. We were the only couple there as the normal family was out of town. Zoubie had us do some free weight exercises along with planks and stretches. I would feel it in my legs for the rest of the week, despite my exercise routines I do in my house. We had lunch with Abraham and Naseem’s. Joan was collecting garlic to grow, herb starts and seeds. We would lose some of it so we were not a botanical garden trying to go through customs. They also loaded us up with avocados and custard apples for our feast Sunday with the church.

That night we went to Kaleya with Pastor Kelvin Chala and his wife Florence. Kaleya is one huge poor compound outside of Mazabuka. We would outreach it and even the name of the clinical officer who ran the clinic where we showed films was repeated as we remembered back to those days. Once again we drove through the market and then drove through the compound reaching the far southern end. Along the way the picture of third world poverty exemplified by the young children who had collected the wrappers to the foods and sweets they wished they could have. There we found a half completed building where we would have church. We passed the pastor and a disciple using the bullhorn. We were starting earlier with no electricity. The church was quietly seated waiting now for the pastor’s return. I decided to share a story while we waited with Pastor Tembo translating. Markford was coming and he would be our translator from this day forward. I shared my “2” story. I would flash the victory sign or peace sign for you hippies when I would drive through Maz. I remember having a bunch of kids come running up the vehicle shouting 2, 2 as they gave me the 2 signs. Some of the crowd got the joke. I told Pastor Tembo it was his turn now. He gave his testimony. Hard to believe he stumbled into our church our first New Year’s Eve service. He, Mwapesa and Josius. They had been on a three-week drunk. Mwapesa would rise up in church and we sent him out to explore the land. He would get sick and finally I realized he was fighting AIDS’s and had him stay home. He would die. Josius never made it past the duty of relatives to cleanse (sleep with) the remaining spouse of a married relative. Yet, here was Pastor Tembo looking strong.

I preached my sermon to the crowd gathered. We had some young women all decked out proudly being part of the church. This sermon aims at the young men. We have plenty of kids; but I am pleased to see the disciples around the pastor as well as 3 young men coming as visitors. They would all pray before the night was finished. I had to interrupt my sermon when a man came into the meeting. I said “excuse me, for my father has arrived” and went and gave Alfred Kagolo a welcoming hug. He was the builder of our church buildings in Mazabuka and Monze. Five years ago he had been swept into one of the many conflicts aimed at Pastor Tembo. I remember Theresa’s face when I said I wouldn’t go visit him then; and here he is back in church again. I describe him as stubborn being the only man in Mazabuka who refuses to work for Zambia Sugar, though they always ask him, because of a slight from years ago. It was good to notice that his son Fostus now works for them.

The next day, Tuesday, we took a trip out to Coventry’s farm. They are the leading white farming family of Mazabuka. We met them when Pastor Dave Robinson was coming for us from the states. I thought it would be cool to give Pastor Robinson a horse riding experience in Zambia. George let me know that he knew the Cantley’s and they had horses. George is the big farm boy who somehow mixed with my compound toughies as part of the church. I remember the first time I gave him permission to back up the vehicle a whole 5 yards. You would of thought he had walked on water to the cheers of everyone there. He would end of driving for Cantley and then Sugar for more and more money. We would hear his dating testimony with his wife and meet her and his children on our second visit back. But the warning clouds of drinking were there and he would lose his job due to drinking and yet regained a job with Zesco out at the dam at Lake Kafue. We received greetings from him and everyone who shared his story with us was happy for him that his life has not ended in a complete disaster. There is hope.

I went to Doug Cantley and he was happy to let us ride his horses; except that he did not regularly ride them. He suggested asking the Coventry’s who own 40 polo horses. Joan and I drove out to the Coventry’s. They treated us to tea and coffee on a porch surrounded by Linda’s banzai trees. They heard what we asked, and we set up a time to come out. We showed up to saddled thoroughbreds that impressed my cowboy pastor. We went for a ride through the sugar fields led my Shane the Coventry’s all-American Texas A&M Polo rider son. What made it best was listening to Pastor Robinson and Shane talk American conservative politics. This was followed by ride down to a damned stream where we shared a BBQ.

We spent the time yakking and time flew by. They invited us to lunch but we had to run. Joan to Naseem’s and me to lunch with Pastor Tembo. I gave Lionel a deck of my Trump Wargame.

Joan would have a great time with the ladies since Abraham was running to Lusaka and I would have a great time with Pastor Tembo. On my previous visits Pastor Tembo would be the picture of strength. I would only get a glimpse into the turmoil of his soul as we would say our last goodbye after all of the preaching. It had been very difficult for him. Pastor Day gives him dignity, helping to preach in Malawi and preaching in our Lusaka conference. The pain was gone. Our lunch conversation centered around the future not the past. Mazabuka had grown and the time was coming to plant some churches in some of these new areas. We talked about Pastor Happy Muntali in Magoye. I had never intended any pastor to stay in Magoye for more than a few years. Happy had been there almost 14 years. We also talked over the Sunday program. I had mentioned to Pastor Day that we did a semi-Seder on Easter in Sparta. Our ladies would all make Jewish dishes and lay them out in several serving dishes covering the prepared tables. We would then all sit down together and start our meal with testimonies and the four cups of the fruit of the vine: cup of blessing, cup of thanksgiving, cup of redemption (Jesus cup of His blood) and cup of praise. The mechanics of trying to pull that off in Maz probably would not work; Jeff encouraged me to try it. The churches had all plateaued and it might work as an outreach tool. We would try it Sunday afternoon at our last service.

That night we would go to church in Magoye to a church singing and waiting for our arrival. Pastor Happy Munthali and his wife Happiness are the proud parents of a great group of children. The ex-mayor of Mazabuka would also be there. My man Henry, who helped me around my house while living here, would become his driver. Meeting him I would mention Henry and he said that the two of them were childhood friends here in Magoye. He laughed that a village man such as himself would be Mazabuka’s mayor. I will have to find out how next time. There was joy in the camp. Great song service helped prepare the way. Many salvations; but I knew I would have to pray for the sick. There was the church, visitors and a man with leprosy. When we first came to Zambia we would do outreaches anywhere we could find people. We ventured further and further out using our generator to show a film or just preach. It was at one of those outreaches that I was asked to pray for a woman with leprosy. I think every pastor can relate to the event. Jesus healed lepers. Their skin immediately became whole. Faith, no faith, sin, sin of the fathers all become moot points as you are confronted with the need. Her toes were stubs as I bent over to pray for her. No miracle transpired; and we carry on, but the hope she had, that just maybe, stuck with me. I once had a dream where Jesus was conducting a healing crusade and every person got healed. It’s a heavenly dream and I can console myself that someday she gets a new healthy body in heaven; but I think you get the point. Our man is in the front row. I cannot ignore him. His fingers are stubs. We pray for salvation. He prays. I pray for the sick. I have already asked him to show everyone his hands during the sermon. I will not run away or pretend he doesn’t exist. I have him sit in a chair. I do my best to treat him with dignity. We will pray for him. I want him to see others get healed first and he does. We quiz him, doctors, time and we believe God together and pray for him. And life goes on.

Happy has a vibrant family. Although it is now dark the church is still fellowshipping as Happy and I talk about his future. We write a letter of recommendation for one daughter who is chasing bursaries for university. He has plans and has even considered moving on. He wants to complete the building; but I tell him he does not need to make that commitment. We will see how he and Pastor Tembo work things out.

The next morning Joan and I will head to Lusaka to preach for Pastor Day and his congregation. We will take that opportunity to buy gifts for the Sparta church as well as a cow herder’s weapon for Cindy Wright to give to one of her sons. April has given us money for masks to go with her Zambian themed home. We head out early and will have breakfast with the Collet’s before making our way to Lusaka. We turn off the main road along a freshly graded dirt road. There had been a rain the night before. All is going well until we come across a semi unable to make traction in the wet soil. He says a tractor is coming. A four-wheel drive vehicle makes it through the opening coming our way. I pull over a bit but now slide into the shoulder. I am stuck. I am talking with Antony while this is happening; trying to figure out what to do. The truck drivers get me back on the crown of the road. They encourage me to go around the semi with them pushing. Communication has been cut off. We do and we make it. Joan has a gift for Mary, the same perfume they both enjoy, and we talk life. Our children, their children and the business of their farm. They were the farmers we would get our coffee from while in Zambia. They charcoal roasted their beans and I have never quite found that exact same quality and flavor. The economics of coffee forced most of the coffee farmers to switch to other crops. They chose pepper dews. They had some adventurous moments cultivating, preparing, packaging and finally transporting down to South Africa their livelihood. It looks like their son will continue the work of the farm, which I am sure makes them feel good.

I have been warned to follow the speed limit signs to the number. 80k on the straightaway, 60k approaching towns and 40k within towns. That’s 24 miles per hour. We do this passing several speed traps making our way into Lusaka. I couldn’t remember how to get around to the curio spots. I called Jeff and he said Northmead is no longer functioning but the one by the church is still going. It is on Burma road and we make our way down the road. It is a bit of a tourist trap; but it cannot be helped. We found all the things we needed and made our way to the Day’s. The Day’s take us to one of our favorite places to eat in Lusaka, The Marlin, where we have our first taste of Zambian steak (the best in the world). We get a cup of coffee before church all the while giving Jeff our thoughts and perceptions. It seemed like a big crowd for a Wed. night and we had a great time preaching and seeing old faces. Jeff learns that Pastor Bob Overson was my pastor for 2 years and says that explains some of the mannerisms I include in my preaching. We had a peaceful evening of pop corn and ice cream. In the morning we set up the handing off of the van at the Intercontinental. I have used points to stay there our last night. Pastor Day would be in South Africa. We take the Day’s out to breakfast and head back to Mazabuka with a stop in Kafue to bring Royd and family into Mazabuka for Pastor’s meeting, services and his preaching in Kaleya.

I am leaving the toll booth not thinking about speeds and sure enough I am going 67 in a 60 zone and get pulled over. No paperwork will be exchanged only money. We start at K300, $30 and finish at K100, $10 and on we go. I am looking forward to the first night of revival in Mazabuka.

The church is full. The song service is wonderful. Bedford is the song leader; they call him the producer. Familiar face after familiar face and all is good. I am not preaching to patch wounds or correct attitudes; for the first time since leaving I am preaching to propel the church forward. After Kafue, I use Jordan’s chapter heading to launch into my sermon. The four I would use: “Stand up Straight”, “Treat Yourself Like Someone You are Responsible for Helping”, “Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday not Someone Else Today”, and “Make Friends with People who Want the Best for You”. The first sermon is aimed at young men and my young men have grown and I am being introduced to many wives. Now there is whole new batch of young people. Just upbeat preaching to tons of young men who want to be heroes. Good altar call with one notable response: Wist! Wist was one of our original converts who disappeared as the church progressed. We saw him last visit, but that was the last he was seen. Pastor Tembo let me know that his wife comes but not Wist. He now owns several vehicles and is planning on buying a truck. I say all this because everyone recognized it as consequential that he would be one of five adults among a herd of kids responding to an altar call for salvation. He would be there the whole revival.

The next morning we would take the Mubika’s out to coffee. It would be Bright and his four sisters, including Pamela and Pauline, our daughter’s friends. We went to the sugar estate and sat out in the morning coolness. Bright was my star basketball player who directed his sisters to our church in the early days. He would eventually join with us. He was the cameraman when we filmed “James Tembo, Detective”. We would talk politics, I had already planned on giving him a deck of “Trump Wargame”. I had also given one to Jeff. We talked America first, playing the game a bit and then we talked Zambian politics. Bright is on top of it all. He has made friends with a Zambian who has been living in Minnesota who now has returned to Zambia to be a successful farmer. Joan and the girls were in one world while we were in another. We took them home, had a short exercise without Zoubie and got ready for our pastor’s lunch.

Ahhh. The pastor’s lunch. My thoughts are still on the weariness of the troops, the importance of marriage and the need to date. But one thing has happened. I met Christopher’s wife at church last night. I had been looking for her in Monze and just assumed she was sick, visiting relatives or sick kids. She was even in the song service. They were split up. They had made the major push the way Zambians do this in trying to convince her to return to her husband. She refused and apparently this has all happened years ago, less than four. The American in me wants to charge into this: Christopher in Monze ministry and now her in Mazabuka ministry. We all have a good lunch together with the Monze group 3 pastors and wives came a little late due to the Easter weekend. We then crossed the street to a shady spot under a tree where I would stand and talk to the men and Joan would separately talk with the women.

The wives seem beaten down a bit. We talk marriage and dating. Of the seven couples; three do not have legal paperwork for their marriages. I encourage the men to date their wives again. When was the last time you took your wife somewhere special. One response: 2003. Point made. Walks, tea and coke, nothing expensive but your wife desperately needs to spend some time with you. We talk moving. Oliver evangelizing. Maybe the time has come to step out into the unknown instead of living in the known. It’s a Peterson thing: one foot in order the other in chaos; but that is how you grow. Joan shares the time she refused to go on outreach with me to the twitter of the ladies. We hash out Christopher. It just exemplifies the need for paperwork in a marriage. There was a pride in standing there with these men; I hope they felt it to.

That night I preach from Jesus being the way, truth and life. It is an easy sermon to pray for the sick and I do. After service a man named John comes up to me. “Do you remember me?” Not really. You prayed for me in 2003. I was blind in my left eye and now I can see. This was after mentioning the leper in the sermon I just preached. He would return to church the next night driving in a big suv. He would even slip us some money to have a treat. I never quizzed him but there it is. The fantasy of praying for the man in Magoye and having him get miraculously healed leading to 1000’s attending the revival to receive the healing at the hands of Pastor Hansston. I compare that fantasy to this reality of John believing God and eventually getting his healing and giving me along with mostly God some credit to this day.

The next morning, Saturday, we would be visited by the Nyoni’s. They are the most western couple of all of our church folks. He was Joseph in our film We really appreciate that they have stayed faithful through all of the battles that have transpired. She runs an NGO and he is a high level government employee. In that young men’s sermon, I mention Jordan’s thought that men should be viewed as dangerous. Government employees are at the mercy of the government. We had many members who have been transferred all over Zambia. This takes place with the blessing of the church. Mrs. Nyoni had been injured and Mr. Nyoni wanted to stay close to her with his work. They worked with him to put him into Kafue about an hour away. But, it was time to move him again and they wanted to move him far away. He refused. He was described as one of the dangerous ones. We laughed. He went to a special board meeting to plead his case. Unheard of in Zambia. They transferred him to Choma with a promotion about 2 hours south of here.

Mrs. Nyoni has been Joan’s partner in child training. She champions the cause with her own children and is always willing to impart the knowledge to another. Her youngest son is on the platform at church playing the guitar. They have dreams of a farmer’s retirement; we are believing for them.

I pay our bill that afternoon. We will be allowed to go to church come back and pack and check out at around 14 hours (2). We will then have our Easter Seder at 15 hours and try to leave for Lusaka in daylight at 17 hours to spend the night at the Intercontinental before catching a shuttle to the airport the next day.

Church is getting better and better. Tonight’s service would end with call for salvation and then a call to move forward and make your life better – from Jordan: what one thing could you start doing today that would make your life better tomorrow. I am assuming I will have an altar full of people responding to doing something to make their life better; but everyone is frozen, finally, one woman comes forward bringing almost everyone with her. After praying, I give a word to our first woman, she seems village to me, and I talk of wanting to teach and help others grow in Christ, she lets everyone know that pastor is exactly right. The next day she would testify in Tonga with a string of verses. I had hit teacher paydirt. I prayed for one more man who I knew; a quiet pillar in the church, encouraging him to speak words of encouragement to others, and that we would test him the next Sunday after I am gone. I looked at Alfred and realized I could probably pray and give a word to every person there. I remember my first visit to Russia where I gave everyone a word. Sergai was in Sokal and Glen Ruptian was the Canadian in Vologda. That trip was followed with a visit to Zambia where Pastor Bowman encouraged me to pray for folks (he had followed me to Russia and since came to Lusaka). I started praying for people and after service they were lined up waiting for a word from heaven. Mazabuka could use a gift bearing preacher. I chose not to go there this night. I felt like the church was ready for our Easter Sunday.

There is one theme of Christianity that has had the most impact upon my understanding of it: blood covenant. I lean on Trumbull’s book. I have yet to discover anything else that even comes close and I have looked for it. I remember preaching covenant sermons before my current level of understanding. I just knew there was more to it. I find blog posts every once in a while and the good ones are just repeating the thoughts of Trumbull. Life is in the blood and the sharing of blood is the sharing of life. We are partakers, through blood covenant, with the life of Jesus Christ. We are moving to a special meal this Sunday afternoon. The highlight is the third cup of fruit of the vine that Jesus declares to be his blood, the blood of the new covenant. The Sunday morning sermon and the meal are meant to seal us together in blood covenant relationship with each other and Jesus Christ through His blood. It is blood covenant that brings power to the words “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. I don’t get it all. Why can’t I walk with the same power that Jesus walked? (lepers healed) What about false brethren and covenant breakers? How can church be reduced to a game of picking nits off each other? Why is the word “love” ignored? How do we miss this so easily?

I preach a blood covenant sermon that Sunday morning. Is it my imagination or did God do something? We have a big crowd. How many will return for the cherry on top, the meal?

Joan and I return to the room. We have been given a gift of clothes that we will wear at the meal. Pastor Tembo has given me a love offering. We really emphasized the importance of all sitting down together at 15 to partake of the meal together. The ladies have been making nshima, beef dish, chicken dish, rake (spinach) and beans with a slice of orange as a garnish. We show up looking at two long rows of tables (benches and desks) some covered with table clothes and church benches on each side of the two rows. The women have served 175 dishes that are now placed out on the tables along with our first cup of the fruit of the vine. We are all taking turns washing our hands as we prepare to sit together. We all take our seats and Mr. Nyoni prays over the first cup: the cup of blessing. We begin to eat using our hands and we even have serviettes on the tables. The food is delicious. We have testimonies. Mr. Kennedy then prays over the second cup: the cup of thanksgiving (there is a fluidity to these names). As we finish eating I will pray over the third cup: the cup of redemption. This is the cup that Jesus used to signify his blood of the new (and everlasting in Hebrews) covenant. When Jesus took the bread the second time after giving out the sops he was breaking tradition for no more food was to be eaten after the lamb. I spoke of redemption and covenant and we drank the cup. We communed at the tables a bit and Pastor Tembo prayed with the fourth and final cup: the cup of praise. We had agreed to three songs after his prayer to finish things up. Joan had voiced her desire to hear some of the old songs that included the moves of Zambia. I asked Bedford if he could accommodate her and we finished off with three of the old songs. We finished with pictures, pictures and more pictures and at 17 we made our way towards Lusaka. Bright and Themba accompanied us to the Total Station where they topped off the vehicle for the trip. Our last good bye as we headed home.

It ended well! Next time!

One last note: Isaac Sox had asked me when I was flying out. I told him. He said he would see me. I was thinking that he was going to come and say good-bye. I told him he didn’t have to. He let me know that he was actually going to be on the same flight. He had got a job with an Australian company mining nickel in the Mazabuka area. The mine would shut down because of the ministers squeezing them. Isaac was one of several Zambians that were asked to continue working with the company. He is flown to Saudi Arabia. He works in a gold mine 21 days and then returns home for a week. This kid was 13 years old when we met him 19 years ago. Now he is a 32-year-old man with family flying to work on the same flight with us as we leave Zambia. Too cool!



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