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Jordan Peterson. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

“We Who Wrestle with God”: Jordan Peterson discusses religion in book, speaking tour

Jordan Peterson, the acclaimed Canadian psychologist and author, was in Kansas City recently as part of his 51-city “We Who Wrestle with God” tour. In a previous tour stop, he said nonbelievers wrestle with God as believers do when they are morally outraged at suffering in the world.

“That’s an emotional argument,” he said, according to Religion News Service. “And it’s the kind of emotional argument that you would mount against someone that you are in relationship with.”

Many of Peterson’s fans are traditionally religious, while others have been inspired by his vacillating but consistent affinity for Christianity. Several commentators have even identified the Jordan Peterson Effect, a path of religiously unaffiliated people listening to his lectures, then seeking a church to attend and converting.

“I read online comments from many atheists who said that before listening to his YouTube lectures on the Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories: Genesis, they thought the Bible was a ridiculous old book that had nothing to teach the modern mind,” Catholic author Christopher Kaczor said. “But after they listened to his lectures, they concluded that the book of Genesis, indeed the Bible as a whole, is an immensely rich and profound storehouse of wisdom for living today.”

Religion has always been a central concern for Peterson. After becoming a viral sensation discussing Genesis on YouTube in 2017, he published “12 Rules for Life,” a series of essays with such prosaic titles as “Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back,” and “Tell the Truth — or at Least Don’t Lie,” but which declared “The Bible is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western civilization, of Western values, Western morality and Western conceptions of good and evil.”

“We Who Wrestle With God,” the new book and lecture series, builds on “12 Rules,” as well as its 2021 follow-up, “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life,” although religion clearly has become more personal than philosophical. Peterson’s wife, Tammy, who recently announced she will finish a conversion to Roman Catholicism at Easter this year, opened for her husband, talking candidly about her cancer and about suffering, praying and grieving her father’s death.

“She said, I need to reestablish my relationship with what’s highest,” Peterson said of Tammy. “I need to realign my aim away from bitterness and resentment toward only that which is optimally good. That’s the definition of God.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

Photo attribution: Gage Skidmore: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

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