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February 6, 2019 • Culture, Personal Growth

Who I Learned From in 2018

2018 has wrapped up and it was a very good year. I got married, which is the greatest triumph for the year. Aside from that part of my life, intellectually, I also had a very good year.

It was probably the year that so many beliefs and concepts came alive and really transformed from mere knowledge to pure knowledge.

Jordan Peterson

I started the year off excited about married life and taking a break from ministry. Being as young as I am, ministry is sort of a weird world to try and be in. How much do I really have to offer?

I learned early on in life that at least I can stack chairs and sweep up the ground after events at church. I could learn how to use the sound system. If I were to really be dependable, I could be given a key to the church and let people in for events when they had a room reserved. I could create marketing materials and maintain the website so that as many people as possible could hear about the church.

There are thousands of tiny but helpful things that any of us could do that would be of great service to our churches. Not just young people, but all people should use their gifts, hobbies, passions, and quirks to serve the local bodies that we have ended up in.

But, I always dreamed of something a bit different. I always held this ideal that I wanted to teach. I wanted to preach. Look at the Bible throughout the week and then spill it out before people on a Sunday. But for so long I felt like I had too many questions myself.

Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. He has reached massive popularity over the course of the last two years because of his massive amount of uploaded content (lectures, Q&A’s, and keynote addressments) and the unique quality of his content in helping people live a life of meaning.

Many people have also sounded off and shared how much Dr. Peterson has helped them with various things from being a more consistent person, being more truthful, being more conscientious, and more religious (an interesting result of a murky, or at least not traditionally compartmentalized religious creed).

For me, he helped me understand some basics about how to best operate in the world.

Those who are more dilligent with their work have higher incomes and potentially find more meaning at work.

Those who take massive responsibility for the things around them (in a non-stoic way) are the ones who really change the world for good– there aren’t moments too small to do the right thing and there is always the right thing to do.

He showed me that people often lie to themselves, about the fundamental reality of who they are, and it is okay and necessary, to be honest with myself. So, never say something that when you really think about it you hate and that makes you feel weak or deceitful.

Jordan also opened up a world to me that put my religious faith on an observable field of human experience. I had, up to this point, accepted that faith is faith, and at the end of the day you either have it or not.

While I still think this is true, Dr. Peterson helped me realize that more of my religious thought is actually valid. It is right that it exists (I never cared too much what people thought of my faith, but he made me realize that there is more credence to having faith that the culture currently accepts).

Faith is less a hidden reality had by most but more a fundamental aspect of human life, and probably the most real form of life, even when considered alongside of skeptical philosophy and science.

Paul Vanderklay

For many, this man is a virtual unknown. In his denomination, the Christian Reformed Church or North America, he is well respected and known. He pastors a small church in California and served as an abroad missionary in the Dominican Republic.

I found him just months after I was gobbling down Jordan Peterson videos. Paul, a protestant pastor, was also getting his hands on all the content from Jordan Peterson and related topics. Paul, in his 50’s, has the sort of thought life that I really appreciate. Honest. Well read. Doesn’t take himself too serious. Full of perspective.

He started making videos, as long or longer than Jordan’s, but was explaining what he had watched and learned through his pastoral lens. He brought in C.S. Lewis, great clinicians, N.T. Wright, Calvin, Luther, ancient creeds, Tolkien, popular theology, unpopular theology, and really synthesized much of what has been rolling around in my head. He taught me words like epistemology, axiology, about the modernist/fundamentalist divide, beauty, and what meaning for the Christian truly is.

He is obnoxiously funny. Witty and just cranks out long form videos bi-weekly. I literally purchased Youtube Premium so that I could download and easily play hours upon hours of JBP and PVK.

C.S. Lewis

People always said they liked his work. I always thought that Lewis was like a popular book writer, you know those fluffy ‘Christian living books’, but when I began to actually read him I found something much different. I also found great, helpful videos that visulized what he wrote.

Lewis was keen on many things. One of those, that I appreciated, was that he wasn’t so concerned with the fundamentalist movement that invaded Christian thought. I think this is something that is good to realize if you have the time to study. John Machen was much the same in this regard.

Pretty much, when science really started to enter the mainstream in modern thought, religious people saw this as a threat. They did one of two things but ironically both most of the time.

Firstly, they assumed that science was something scary and had to fortify their faith from it. They had to make sure that everything that they enjoyed about their faith was rooted in scientific fact, assuming that scientific fact was all there was to be.

Also of note was how much materialism slipped into the church. Not like wanting processions, but materialism as in everything that exists is matter. Suddenly, every Christian reality had to be grounded in matter. All prayer had to actually be answered in the world or it didn’t work and your faith is lacking. Heaven became a place ‘we go to when we die’. And churches turned to pyshcology and pop-culture to attract people into the building.

Secondly, they pulled back from science and criticized it when every they could. Evolutionary thought was in it’s prime so Christians had to sort out an obvious, factual, scriptural claim against it. If science made an advance, then Christians everywhere knew that it couldn’t be true.

Lewis had a grander vision of the Christian life. A more full and beautiful one, although much more mysterious.

ASU Leadership and Organizational Classes

This is in a bit of a different vain. Currently, I am in my alst 2 semester of my undergraduate degree. I am pursuing a BA in Organizational Leadership.

So far, there has been a lot of practical knowledge that I have been acqainted with. From project management, to leadership, to finance, to small group performance. A lot of really great stuff.

My journal is now chalk full of assessments, important notes about how to run meetings well, ideas about how to inspire people, and hundreds of little ideas that seem meaningless, but are somewhat cool to me. Like Game theory.

I use to have the perspective that I was just trying to get this degree over with. Now that I am nearing the end of it, I am actually really enjoying the content and trying to digest it well. This new perspective, and the extra time that I have had has really helped me understand some fundamental aspects of leading organizations that I can’t wait to apply in the real world.

What are your thoughts?