CBMW invited me to write something on the subject of Jordan Peterson’s appeal to young evangelical men, which has just been published here.
Listening closely to what both Peterson and his appreciative male followers have to say, a few things especially stand out to me. Foremost among these is the fact that Peterson displays a genuine compassion and concern for young men, and for young men as particular persons, not just as an abstract class. Peterson, as someone who is fiercely critical of ideology in general, observes and challenges much of the ideological flak to which young men are exposed by the culturally regnant orthodoxies of feminism. However, unlike many others, Peterson isn’t driven by some countervailing ideology so much as by a palpable compassion for the victims of established ideologies, young men who have been stigmatized, told that they are toxic and patriarchal, stifled, and who are increasingly marginalized or discarded by society and its institutions. I have seen countless figures on the right who want to score petty ideological points against feminists raise the issues of young men: it is Peterson’s compassion for young men as particular persons that sets him apart.
We all, conservative Christians as much, if not more, than others, are in danger of theologies and ideologies that eclipse persons, reducing them to (actual or potential) avatars of—or obstacles to the outworking of—our abstract ideological systems. People recognize this and close themselves off to us. Foregrounding persons in their concrete particularity and unfeignedly desiring and seeking their good is hugely important, not because it matters for ideological persuasion, but because people matter. Men respond to Peterson because he does this for them, but this is a posture that desperately needs to become characteristic of our relationship to every person.
Read the whole thing here.