Jordan Peterson Chapter 2 Sermon Notes

Jordan Peterson Rule 2

“Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping”

The thinking in this chapter was a bit torturous; but I think I was following it well enough to lay it out in these sermon notes.

Many people do not take the medicines prescribed for them. About two thirds of patients will fail to take it or fail to take it properly. Why?

A bigger why! You have undergone uncomfortable dialysis for years and you finally get a transplant. You must take the drugs to help your body from rejecting the new organ. You don’t! Why?

Yet, we all make sure our pets get their medicine. Semi-conclusion: “people appear to love their dogs…more than themselves”.

Why? Let’s look at the two stories of creation in the bible (all the intelligentsia understand this).

A brief explanation of how the two stories got blended and then into the meat of the story of Adam and Eve.

But first a rebuttal of modern materialism using the idea of pain and stories to understand the true sense of reality verses chemical compounds moving around.

I preach this and Shakespeare I think said as much: “…that which we subjectively experience can be likened much more to a novel or a movie than to a scientific description of physical reality. It is the drama of lived experience…”

We come to the yin and yang of reality. Chaos and order. These two are accompanied by the third element of life: the navigating line between the yin and the yang and the chaos and order.

“It is our eternal subjugation to the first two that makes us doubt the validity of existence—that makes us throw up our hands in despair and fail to care for ourselves properly. It is proper understanding of the third that allows us the only real way out.”

I am assuming the whole book is about how to conduct ourselves along the third way.

Chaos: ignorance, unexplored territory, foreigners, monster under the bed, feeling of betrayal, dreams die, marriages end. “It is, in short, all those things and situations we neither know nor understand.”

“Chaos is also the formless potential from which the God of Genesis 1 called forth order using language at the beginning of time. It’s the same potential from which we, made in that Image, call forth the novel and ever-changing moments of our lives.”

Order: explored territory, hierarchy, structure, tribe, religion, home, country, flag, solid floor, currency, plans, classroom, clocks.

“In order, we’re able to think about things in the long term. There, things work, and we’re stable, calm and competent. We seldom leave places we understand—geographical or conceptual—for that reason, and we certainly do not like it when we are compelled to or when it happens accidentally.”

“You’re in order, when you have a loyal friend, a trustworthy ally. When the same person betrays you, sells you out, you move from the daytime world of clarity and light to the dark underworld of chaos, confusion and despair.”

“Order is the stability of your marriage. It’s buttressed by the traditions of the past and by your expectations—grounded, often invisibly, in those traditions. Chaos is that stability crumbling under your feet when you discover your partner’s infidelity. Chaos is the experience of reeling unbound and unsupported through space when your guiding routines and traditions collapse.”

Chaos and order are not material things—they are “elements of lived experience”.

For a billion years life has been divided male and female and through these evolutionary lenses we still experience life male and female.

Lots of mumbo jumbo on the evolution of thinking and perceiving. Forget about God speaking it into existence. Jordan’s “order” is evolution not creation. (The reality of God would throw his world into chaos; a chaos in which God could create a new order in his life). Every article that can be found that pertains to the early evolutionary development of thinking and perceiving is nothing but mumbo jumbo that includes lots of “could’s”,  “possibly’s”, “maybe’s” and a couple of “probably’s” just to make it sound scientific.

All to say order is masculine: masculine hierarchical structure, builders, Father-God, judge, soldiers, police, making life work corporately and politically.

And chaos is, you guessed it, female: origin, source, mother, it is what matters (mater), thought and communication, the mysterious realm of gestation and birth.

Throw in the “crushing force of sexual selection” and you can see why, et least men, perceive chaos as feminine. She can say no to a man’s advances. Talk about “chaos”.

Star of David: feminine triangle pointing down and masculine triangle pointing up. Same for the Hindu yoni and lingam covered with snakes. Egypt had Osiris, god of the state, and Isis, goddess of the underworld portrayed has two intertwined cobras. Finishing with Christianity or (Catholic Christianity) the virgin mother and the Christ child.

A Russian has suggested “that the very hemispheric structure of the cortex reflects the fundamental division between novelty (the unknown, or chaos) and routinization (the known, order).”

“Everyone understands order and chaos, world and underworld…We all have a palpable sense of the chaos lurking under everything familiar. That’s why we understand the strange, surreal stories of Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty, and The Lion King, and the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, with their eternal landscapes of known and unknown, world and underworld.”

Understanding this helps us see the line or road in between the Yin and the Yang.

“The Way is the path of proper Being. It’s the same Way as that referred to by Christ in John 14:6: I am the way, and the truth and the life. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

This is the conclusion we are heading for: a proper Way of Being.

Summing up this proper Way of Being; here is (I think) Jordan Peterson’s definition: “To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure. When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes, and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos…ensuring the stability but also the expansion of habitable, productive territory, of space that is personal, social and natural. It’s the right place to be, in every sense. You are there when—and where—it matters.”

It is good to see Peterson get so much from the story of Adam and Eve. This is his proof piece of trying to get us through the chapter to explain why we do not take care of ourselves properly.

I liked this: “It just does not appear possible, even for God himself, to make a bounded space completely protected from the outside—not in the real world, with its necessary limitations, surrounded by the transcendent. The outside, chaos, always sneaks into the inside, because nothing can be completely walled off from the rest of reality. So even the ultimate in safe spaces inevitably harbours a snake.”

“We have seen the enemy, after all, and he is us. The snake inhabits each of our souls. This is the reason, as far as I can tell, for the strange Christian insistence, made most explicit by John Milton, that the snake in the Garden of Eden was also Satan, the Spirit of Evil itself. The importance of this symbolic identification—its staggering brilliance—can hardly be overstated.”

The story unfolds: “…wanting to know more, Eve decides to eat the fruit. Poof! She wakes up: she’s conscious, or perhaps self-conscious, for the first time. Now, no clear-seeing, conscious woman is going to tolerate an unawakened man. So, Eve immediately shares the fruit with Adam. That makes him self-conscious. Little has changed.”

Need to add: eyes opened, able to see the snake in the tree, able to see the ripe fruit vs. the unripe, the whole evolutionary reasoning behind the story is slipped in there.

The problem is they are naked and now they know it and cover themselves.

God goes walking in the garden looking for them. They are hiding. God calls and: “Adam immediately reveals himself, but badly: first as a neurotic; then, as a ratfink. The creator of all the universe calls, and Adam replies: “I heard you, God. But I was naked, and hid.” What does this mean? It means that people, unsettled by their vulnerability, eternally fear to tell the truth, to mediate between chaos and order, and to manifest their destiny. In other words, they are afraid to walk with God. That’s not particularly admirable, perhaps, but it’s certainly understandable. God’s a judgmental father. His standards are high. He’s hard to please.”

Peterson shows Adam blaming the woman and God. How cool! I can see why he is described as the “Gateway Drug to Salvation”.

Peterson gives us:

1 Tim 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

…without realizing it. “At least the woman had the serpent to blame, and it later turns out that snake is Satan himself, unlikely as that seems. Thus, we can understand and sympathize with Eve’s error. She was deceived by the best. But Adam! No one forced his words from his mouth.”

God dishes out punishments and…”And so we return to our original query: Why would someone buy prescription medication for his dog, and then so carefully administer it, when he would not do the same for himself? Now you have the answer, derived from one of the foundational texts of mankind. Why should anyone take care of anything as naked, ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, cowardly, resentful, defensive and accusatory as a descendant of Adam? Even if that thing, that being, is himself? And I do not mean at all to exclude women with this phrasing.”

“No one is more familiar than you with all the ways your mind and body are flawed. No one has more reason to hold you in contempt, to see you as pathetic—and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings. A dog, a harmless, innocent, unselfconscious dog, is clearly more deserving.”

Next up: “The story continues, in all its catastrophe and tragedy, and the people involved (that’s us) must contend with yet another painful awakening. We are next fated to contemplate morality itself.”

“…and ye shall be gods, knowing good and evil”. What could this possibly mean…Well, simple context indicates that it must have something to do with gardens, snakes, disobedience, fruit, sexuality and nakedness. It was the last item—nakedness—that finally clued me in.”

Animals can be predators. It is their nature. But what about us?

“We can feel pain, and self-disgust, and shame, and horror, and we know it. We know what makes us suffer. We know how dread and pain can be inflicted on us—and that means we know exactly how to inflict it on others. We know how we are naked, and how that nakedness can be exploited—and that means we know how others are naked, and how they can be exploited. We can terrify people, consciously. We can hurt and humiliate them for faults we understand only too well.”

“Only man could conceive of the rack…Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering. That is the best definition of evil I have been able to formulate…And with this realization we have well-nigh full legitimization of the idea, very unpopular in modern intellectual circles, of Original Sin.”

He is making his argument about why we don’t take care of ourselves properly.

“Human beings have a great capacity for wrongdoing. It’s an attribute that is unique in the world of life. We can and do make things worse, voluntarily, with full knowledge of what we are doing…Given that terrible capacity, that proclivity for malevolent actions, is it any wonder we have a hard time taking care of ourselves or others—or even that we doubt the value of the entire human enterprise?”

The answer: “A Spark of the Divine”

Peterson: “The Gateway Drug to Salvation”

“In Genesis 1, God creates the world with the divine, truthful Word, generating habitable, paradisal order from the precosmogonic chaos. He then creates Man and Woman in His Image, imbuing them with the capacity to do the same—to create order from chaos, and continue His work. At each stage of creation, including that involving the formation of the first couple, God reflects upon what has come to be, and pronounces it Good.”

“The juxtaposition of Genesis 1 with Genesis 2 & 3 (the latter two chapters outlining the fall of man, describing why our lot is so tragedy-ridden and ethically torturous) produces a narrative sequence almost unbearable in its profundity. The moral of Genesis 1 is that Being brought into existence through true speech is Good…This goodness is terribly disrupted by the events of the fall (and of Cain and Abel and the Flood and the Tower of Babel), but we retain an intimation of the prelaspsarian state.”

You have to remind yourself he is still answering why we don’t take proper care of ourselves.

“Their goodness was something bestowed, rather than deserved or earned. They exercised no choice. God knows, that’s easier. But maybe it’s not better than, for example, goodness genuinely earned. Maybe…free choice matters.”

“So, here’s a proposition: perhaps it is not simply the emergence of self-consciousness and the rise of our moral knowledge of Death and the Fall that besets us and makes us doubt our own worth. Perhaps it is instead our unwillingness—reflected in Adam’s shamed hiding—to walk with God, despite our fragility and propensity for evil.”

Our gateway drug: “The entire Bible is structured so that everything after the Fall—the history of Israel, the prophets, the coming of Christ—is presented as a remedy for that Fall, a way out of evil.”

“…the answer is already implicit in Genesis 1: to embody the Image of God—to speak out of chaos the Being that is Good—but to do so consciously, of our own free choice.”

“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves—but we don’t, because we are—not least in our own eyes—fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth—then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.”

He deals with a Christian perspective of self-sacrifice in terms of “loving your neighbor as yourself”. Here I think is the point: “If I am someone’s friend, family member, or lover, then I am morally obliged to bargain as hard on my own behalf as they are on theirs. If I fail to do so, I will end up a slave, and the other person a tyrant. What good is that? It is much better for any relationship when both partners are strong.”

“In my clinical practice I encourage people to credit themselves and those around them for acting productively and with care, as well as for the genuine concern and thoughtfulness they manifest towards others.”

“Some people degenerate into the hell of resentment and the hatred of Being, but most refuse to do so, despite their suffering and disappointments and losses and inadequacies and ugliness, and again that is a miracle for those with the eyes to see it.”

“We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.”

“Everyone falls short of the glory of God. If that stark fact meant, however, that we had no responsibility to care, for ourselves as much as others, everyone would be brutally punished all the time.”

“To treat yourself as if you were someone you are responsible for helping is, instead, to consider what would be truly good for you.”

“You need to consider the future and think, “What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly? What career would challenge me and render me productive and helpful, so that I could shoulder my share of the load, and enjoy the consequences? What should I be doing, when I have some freedom, to improve my health, expand my knowledge, and strengthen my body?’. You need to know where you are, so you can start to chart your course. You need to know who you are, so that you understand your armament and bolster yourself in respect to your limitations. You need to know where you are going, so that you can limit the extent of chaos in your life, restructure order, and bring the divine force of Hope to bear on the world.”

“You must determine where you are going, so that you can bargain for yourself, so that you don’t end up resentful, vengeful and cruel. You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play. You must discipline yourself carefully.”

Our man’s inner theology: “You need to determine how to act toward yourself so that you are most likely to become and to stay a good person. It would be good to make the world a better place. Heaven, after all, will not arrive of its own accord. We will have to work to bring it about, and strengthen ourselves, so that we can withstand the deadly angels and the flaming sword of judgment that God used to bar its entrance.”

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care of yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”

Directing people to your defined heaven verses your defined hell: “You could devote your life to this. That would give you Meaning, with a capital M. That would justify your miserable existence. That would atone for your sinful nature and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.”

“You could begin by treating yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping.”

You read his conclusions and you can hear a voice crying out for redemption. The burden is to heavy; does he know it?

Text: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

  1. The Way

Summing up this proper Way of Being; here is (I think) Jordan Peterson’s definition: “To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure. When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes, and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos…ensuring the stability but also the expansion of habitable, productive territory, of space that is personal, social and natural. It’s the right place to be, in every sense. You are there when—and where—it matters.”

We read “I am the way” and many of us trap ourselves in thinking that the way is living as Jesus lived. Muslim Sharia law is all about copying the way Muhammed lived. We don’t know the intimate details of how Jesus conducted himself. We get much of who He is from His message.

“I am the way” is so much more than a pattern on how to live. Peterson can help us figure out a pattern to live by. Jesus can come into our hearts.

John 10:9-10 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  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.

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Cor 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

2 Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Remember Peterson is looking at a humanity that doesn’t see itself as worthy. God sees a humanity that is worth the sacrifice of Jesus His Son.

II. Truth

“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves—but we don’t, because we are—not least in our own eyes—fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth—then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.”

He writes this knowing that the world has jettisoned the idea of truth.

Jesus is not talking about objective truth just like he was not talking about an objective path of righteous living. He is talking about Himself. Jesus is the truth.

Peterson is struck that in the beginning God spoke order out of chaos.

As Pilate said “What is truth?”

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

This is the word that God spoke order out of chaos.

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

We all understand the biblical admonitions to be honest and not lie. Any advice column can help us to tell the truth and not lie. Jesus is the truth; now that is something that goes beyond instruction and takes us into the supernatural. The logos was used to speak order out of chaos. That truth is alive in us.

III. The Life

Everything that Peterson says, I have preached in one way or another using bible verses to help people live a life in Christ.

These were his concluding remarks of the chapter: “Directing people to your defined heaven verses your defined hell: “You could devote your life to this. That would give you Meaning, with a capital M. That would justify your miserable existence. That would atone for your sinful nature and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who has learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.”

“You could begin by treating yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping.”

Without a vision the people perish combined with write the vision on the tablets so we can read and run with it.

Once again, Jesus is not talking about a lesson on vision. Paul was not disobedient to that heavenly vision could line up with Peterson’s conclusion.

Jesus is saying: He is the life.

John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

1 Peter 1:22-25 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,   24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Conclusion

What does it profit a man if he gets his act together and lives a life with one foot in order and the other in chaos and lives out his days properly dealing with the issues of life but he loses his own soul?

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

 

 

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About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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