Holy Smoke

Is Jordan Peterson about to move from Jung to Jesus?

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Is Dr Jordan Peterson about to convert to Christianity? If so, it’s a big deal. The earnest but sardonic Canadian psychologist is already the most effective advocate for the moral precepts of Christianity in the English-speaking media. But, until now, his penetrating exposition of the Bible has been inspired more by Jungian symbolism than by actual religious belief.

That may be about to change, albeit not in the happiest of circumstances. In recent months Peterson has suffered from a combination of medical conditions that have left him in wretched pain, both physical and psychological. This has left him wondering whether it’s time to submit to the dogmatic assertions of orthodox Christianity. He explains his complex reasoning in an extraordinary podcast, in which he presents himself to his friend Jonathan Pageau, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, as something close to a broken man. He certainly sounds and looks like one. The contrast with the Jordan Peterson who politely humiliated the sneering Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News is excruciating.

Peterson will survive his crisis, I’m sure. Whether he will convert is, of course, impossible to say; he doesn’t know himself. But my guest this week, Dr Gavin Ashenden, is well qualified to describe his dilemma. Gavin was himself a disciple of Jung before what he describes as an encounter with demons led him back to Christianity. He makes the point that, even if Peterson doesn’t take the leap of faith, he has already led more people into that faith than any number of dim-witted or intellectually cowardly bishops. Please don’t miss this episode.