The USCCB Meeting, Jordan Peterson, and the “Nones”

It appears that the mere mention of the name Jordan Peterson is enough to send some on the far-left end of the spectrum into irrational conniptions.

BY: George Dunlap. I have read Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life, and found it to be very enlightening. As Bishop Barron mentions below, ” in no way signaled a one-sided or uncritical endorsement of his teaching. Nevertheless, his emergence and his success are, I argued, indicators that we could get a serious message across to a wide audience. “ But I do agree what Peterson has to say is very worth while for our “Nones” in faith. We are raising a generation with out a spiritual compass. With a compass we all are lost in our faith and love to Jesus Christ our Lord and God.

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron responds to a reporter’s question during a news conference at the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore June 12, 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

June 18, 2019 Bishop Robert Barron The Dispatch25

Last week, I gave a presentation at the USCCB Spring Meeting in Baltimore. My topic was what I identified as the second greatest crisis facing the Church today—namely, the massive attrition of our own people, especially the young. I trust that the first—around which most of our discussions that week revolved—is obvious to everyone. Judging from the extremely positive reaction of my brother bishops and the lively conversation that followed my presentation, the talk was well received. I was also delighted it apparently prompted a spirited conversation on social media.

After laying out the rather dismal statistics regarding the “nones” or the religiously unaffiliated—50% of millennial Catholics now claim no religious identity, for every one person who joins our Church, six are leaving, etc.—I commenced to offer some reasons why so many are exiting. I told my brother bishops that these were not the fruit of idle speculation but rather of the many statistical and sociological studies that have been conducted regarding the phenomenon.

The number one reason—reiterated in survey after survey—is that young people are quitting the Church because they don’t believe in the teachings of classical Christianity. Moreover, the studies consistently maintain that this lack of belief is often because religion is seen as conflicting with science. Other factors, I continued, include the general secularism and moral relativism of the culture, the difficulty many young people have with the Church’s sexual teachings, and the supposed correlation between religion and violence.

Having presented these findings, I then shared what I take to be signs of hope. The first is that, among the unaffiliated, there are relatively few fierce atheists or determined opponents of religion. Most are indifferent to faith and have drifted rather than stormed away from the Church. A second indicator of hope is the massive presence of young people on social media platforms that trade in religious topics. I mentioned my own participation in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), which yielded almost 12,000 comments and questions, making it the third most discussed exchange of its kind last year. Even though many, if not most, of those who joined in that conversation proposed challenging questions, or made skeptical observations, the undoubted interest in matters religious is something to build on.

Finally, I referenced what I called “the Jordan Peterson phenomenon.” I was drawing my brothers’ attention to the rather extraordinary fact that a mild-mannered, soft-spoken psychology professor, speaking of serious matters in a sober way, could attract tens of thousands to arenas and millions to his social media sites. I told my fellow bishops that most recently Peterson has been lecturing on the Bible, causing armies of people, especially young men, to take a fresh look at the Scriptures. I explicitly said that my reference to Peterson in no way signaled a one-sided or uncritical endorsement of his teaching. Nevertheless, his emergence and his success are, I argued, indicators that we could get a serious message across to a wide audience.

The reaction to my talk outside the walls of the bishops’ conference ballroom was, as I say, interesting. Most reacted very positively to my observations and suggestions, but some, on both the extreme left and the extreme right, took exception to what I said. On the starboard side of the spectrum, there were comments to the effect that I had underplayed the importance of the clerical sex abuse scandals. Well, no one has been more vehement in his denunciation of these outrages than I (see my recent Letter to a Suffering Church for the details), but judging from the available data, it’s simply not the case that the scandals are a major driver of disaffiliation. They indeed appear as a factor, but not a significant one, certainly in comparison with the causes I named above. I get the passion around this issue, but it shouldn’t prompt us to draw conclusions not supported by objective evidence.

But I was especially surprised, and more than a little amused, by the overheated response from some on the far-left end of the spectrum. It appears that the mere mention of the name Jordan Peterson is enough to send some into irrational conniptions. Though I had unambiguously stated that my reference to the Canadian was in no way meant as an endorsement of the entirety of his thought, some commentators and combox denizens characterized me as a Peterson disciple, an apologist for his program, a lackey.

One particularly hysterical observer had me “basing my apologetics” on Jordan Peterson! Oy vey. As I have made clear in my own articles and videos, Peterson reads the Bible through a Jungian, psychodynamic lens, and hence, by definition, does not read it adequately. It is not even evident that the Canadian believes in God in the accepted sense of the term. “Basing my apologetics” on him?! Give me a break.

What is particularly sad to me is that the commentariat, especially in regard to religion, has become so polarized and ideologically driven that the most elementary distinctions aren’t made and the most broad-brush analyses are commonplace. What makes it sadder still is that these distortions and projections stand in the way of addressing the vitally important issue under consideration. As left and right defend their respective ideological bailiwicks, the Church continues to hemorrhage young people. If we want to get serious about a problem that ought to concern everyone in the Church, it would be wise to attend to objectivities.


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About Bishop Robert Barron 156 Articles Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, “Catholicism” and “Catholicism:The New Evangelization.” Learn more at www.WordonFire.org. PreviousEritrean Catholic Church denounces government seizure of health clinicsNextUS Supreme Court will soon decide ‘Peace Cross’ First Amendment case

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Unplanned is this generation’s Matrix

Sohrab Ahmari 9 April, 2019

  • By George Dunlap, May 24, 2019. Matrix the question was “red pill or blue pill”, today’s generation’s question is, ” …is abortion killing a living child, or, just removing a mass of “nothing”” . Like I said, Red Pill or Blue Pill. Sohrad Ahmari is a good writer and has thought this issue out very well. This is a good read….. if you dare?

The movie reveals the culture of death that lies at the core of our secular-liberal modernity. We cannot look away

This spring marks the 20th anniversary of The Matrix. It was 20 years ago that the hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) picked the red pill over the blue, and was given an unforgettable glimpse of a world in which robots enslave untold billions of human beings, extracting their life force to fuel their evil empire. The Matrix drew on a well-worn science-fiction trope, as old as Metropolis, in which the hero discovers the hideous truth lurking just beneath the pleasant surface of daily life.

“The Matrix is everywhere,” Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) tells Neo. “You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth.” Everyday reality, in the Wachowskis’ startling vision, is an illusion designed to mask the process by which robots quite literally turn human beings into disposable batteries.

Unplanned – the new movie based on the memoirs of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee of the year turned pro-life activist – is this generation’s Matrix. Abby Johnson (ably played in the movie by Ashley Bratcher) is our Neo. As for the empire of intelligent machines that has pulled a veil over its dehumanising activities, well, that would be Planned Parenthood.

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The New Pro-Life Moment

By George Dunlap, May 20, 21019, Do we stand and watch or say “enough is enough”! As many of you know this is a topic very dear to my heart as a Catholic and Citzen of the World. We have the power and we must pray to God to bless us the mental strenght to Say NO! We must not wait for permission, but pray for action.

By Robert Royal Monday, May 20, 2019

Something out of the ordinary happened this past week. On Saturday, over 10,000 people walked the streets of Rome in defense of children in the womb. Italian lay people have organized a march for nine years now, and it grows – despite no support from the Italian bishops – including the pope. On Friday, Francis did encourage members of the Catholic Medical Association to “defend life,” though so vaguely that you couldn’t tell whether he was talking about abortion, euthanasia, immigration, climate, poverty – or all of them (more of this below). But as usual no Italian bishops participated in the Marcia– they’ve been saying that they don’t want it to be seen as only “Catholic,” though why is not clear. And that they prefer to work through elected officials rather than public protest (though they seem to support other public demonstrations, e.g., on immigration and poverty, and don’t have any natural partners in government now that the Christian Democrats have splintered). Italian television, accordingly, didn’t even mention the march occurred. The lone Italian prelate in the past, Archbishop Viganò, was missing, for good reasons. None of this was out of the ordinary. And neither, basically, were the large pro-life marches in London last week and Ottawa. There are marches in many other countries in Europe and Latin America as well, though we rarely hear about them outside of the Catholic press, and not very much even there. No, the real novelty is that Alabama essentially banned abortion last week with a  bill that was passed by the legislature and signed into law by governor Kay Ivey who, like large numbers of women, believes abortion is the taking of innocent human life.

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Conversation between Eric Metaxes and Peter Kreeft Author, Symbol or Substance.

By George Dunlap, May 6, 2019. This conversation between Eric Metaxes and Peter Kreeft, Author, Symbol or Substance, on the Eric Metaxes Radio Show, is about the book Symbol or Substance, just released, a possible dialog between. C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and Tolkien. It is more than an explanation of what transubstantiation is; it’s a more refined explanation in a dialog form, of the different understandings of what truly (a Catholic truth…) transubstantiation represents in the House of God at the alter. This you tube conversation is more that a conversation about a book, it’s a conversation about why we as Catholics are truly unique in our faith, yet as Christians we all are Blessed in Jesus Christ.

Peter Kreeft with Eric Metaxes

Truth-Telling and Big Abortion

By: George Dunlap, May 2, 2019 Reading this article by George Weigel I begin to understand how all those Germans must have accepted the death camps in their towns, as the Nazis, during WW II, killed millions of Jews, and others. They accepted then, as we accept today, that if I close my eyes…..it’s not real. By the Grace of God, forgive us Dear Lord. George Weigel’s article below is something…..we all need to fully understand, Unplanned is a battle cry to millions of fellow Catholics that we must stop this KILLING with the TRUTH. Please join me in prayer….

By George Weigel, May 1, 2019, TRUTH-TELLING AND BIG ABORTION

For over a half-century, what styles itself the “pro-choice” movement has thrived because of its extraordinary ability to mask what it’s really about—the willful taking of innocent human lives in abortion—through various rhetorical deceptions. 

Planned Parenthood clinicians ask frightened and often ignorant young women, “Would you like us to restore your period?” Legislators in thrall to Big Abortion dollars vie to keep sidewalk counselors away from abortuaries, in order to maintain the pretense that what goes on inside those chop-shops involves no more than unwanted “tissue.” The governor of New York celebrates the passage of a bill that would legally permit abortions up to the moment of birth because this is all a matter of “women’s reproductive health.” The governor of Virginia babbles about letting children who survive abortions die, thinking himself humane because he insists that the victims will be kept comfortable. Last month, a Georgia state senator decried legal protection for unborn children who display “what some call a heartbeat.”

George Orwell, call your office.

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As Winds That Blow Against A Star – Joyce Kilmer

George Dunlap April, 24, 2019

Poetry as an art form seems to be lost in the mire …compared to the great painters, poetry is a beautiful art form. I enjoy reading poetry when my mind is troubled and in disarray. Joyce Kilmer is a new favorite of mine.

Joyce Kilmer, is one of Sam Guzman’s favorite catholic poets, and is one of America’s own Catholic poets. He is the American Chesterton or Belloc.

As Winds That Blow Against A Star

Now by what whim of wanton chance
Do radiant eyes know sombre days?
And feet that shod in light should dance
Walk weary and laborious ways?

But rays from Heaven, white and whole,
May penetrate the gloom of earth;
And tears but nourish, in your soul,
The glory of celestial mirth.

HS_KilmerAJ1918_01

The darts of toil and sorrow, sent
Against your peaceful beauty, are
As foolish and as impotent
As winds that blow against a star.

Joyce Kilmer

When most of us think of the Catholic literary giants of the last century, we think of Englishmen like J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, or Hilaire Belloc. But the Englishmen were not the only great men of letters— an American, Joyce Kilmer, should be included among them.

Kilmer was a soldier, essayist, prolific poet, and literary critic, and while he is largely forgotten today, he was considered one of the greatest literary figures of his time. Interestingly, like many other great Catholic literary giants, Joyce Kilmer was a convert to Catholicism. He is largely remembered for his poem Trees, and many of his poems deal with his faith or with the beauty of nature. He died in 1918.