I picked up Jordan B. Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018; Random House Canada), at the library completely by random. I’d never heard of him. Well, this is a very interesting book. He’s much smarter than me and I’m sure that many smart people have written all sorts of commentary about this book. Although I’m only about halfway through I would recommend it. I don’t even know what I think about his rules. What I love is how he uses scripture — this is basically a secular book, a philosophy book. And he weaves in writing and wisdom from other faith traditions and literature and so on. It’s really an amazing work. But he uses scripture respectfully and interestingly and well, maybe brilliantly isn’t too far to go. I really don’t know enough to evaluate this book!
Page 33 he explicitly starts his discussion of Genesis 1-2 and order and chaos. On page 44, “Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are learning what you still need to know.”
While my focus is far more on Genesis 1, he goes into Genesis 2 and for me — and I have heard quite a number of lectures and explications — this was really interesting stuff.
And here on page 57: “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. … And this is an amazing thing: the answer is already implicit in Genesis I: 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.”
In my poor words: to trust (despite serpents and poison ivy and endless war and horror) that there is an order, that things are fundamentally supposed to be good, that we can care for ourselves (not in a let’s-eat-cake way, in a truly healthy way), that we can truly care for others, that the tension between order and chaos can be bridged in a beautiful, affirming, and generative, and creative way; in some small way even by each of us.
In many ways, because Dr. Peterson is a psychologist and a professor and so on, while this is written for a lay audience like me it is also clearly academic and …for lack of better words … deep and rich. His writing is so clear and yet the thoughts evoked inside me later sort of exploded like thought-bombs. It is completely possible that someone who truly has studied this book and these thoughts will be smacking their head going oh-my-she-does-not-understand!
Maybe in a way it is an echo from the TV show “Angel” — when the brooding vampire with a soul, Angel, says something like “If nothing you do matters [world is still going to have evil to fight, still going to be full of death, still going to be suffering], then all that matters is what you do.”
Show up and join in for building the Kingdom of God, in purely Christian language, eh? Which is “already and not yet” here.
So eat something healthy. Get a good night’s sleep. Take your medicines. Exercise.
Love your neighbor.