Reading a radical Presbyterian, and a conservative Jungian (That’s Jordan Peterson)

Schoolyard name-calling: Obadiah noticed Christians getting upset at high fee schools being described online as “prestigious,” in the media (or wealthy, or any number of similar words.) Obadiah might be simple but it is clear that these schools do trade on providing things other cannot – true or false.

And they have consistently done that. Consider this description from William Broughton, Bishop of Austria about establishing the first independent school – which is still flourishing. The link between wealth and education was established from the start of independent schooling in Australia.

“The inheritors of even large property who are thereafter to take the lead in Society and occupy a station of importance in the Country are too often destitute of the requirements which should qualify them for such a situation. In too many instances I have heard of them sacrifice all their respectability and influence by associating habitually with their own Convict servants, Such a forgetfulness of what is due to themselves and to Society, I need scarcely remark, could not occur if their minds were duly cultivated.”

Quoted in David Marr Killing for Country, pp39,40 from a history of the school.


Charming: In the wake of comments by a former headmaster commenting on the murderer of Lilie James at St Andrews Cathedral School being “an absolute delight” and “not a monster” as a schoolboy at the school, Obadiah would like to point to a quote from a Domestic Violence resource about the danger of charm.

“Abusive men are often very charming. At the start of a relationship abusers may seem like Prince Charming, charming you, your friends and family. Abusers have times in which they can be very engaging, thoughtful, considerate and charismatic. Abusers may use their charm to gain very personal information about you which he may later use against you. Charm can be used to deceive you, your family and friends.” From “Charmed and Dangerous” produced by the Tweed Shire Women’s Services Inc. and distributed by Legal Aid.

Obadiah realises the headmaster may be struggling to process what has happened. The insights of experienced Domestic Violence workers can shed light. Let’s listen.


Satire and Presbyterianism can go together: When Obadiah quoted the radical Presbyterian John Dunmore Lang this week, it was to mixed reviews from some of the Presbyterians who read Obadiah’s stuff.

Well here is Dunmore Lang at his satirical best – besides founding the Presbyterian church of Australia he was a journalist and stirrer. And what’s wrong with that? This is his “Squatters Gospel” and it comes to you from John Harris’ One Blood, page 141.

“Dearly beloved brethren:

“I have hitherto been telling you that the great God who made the the moon, and the stars, the land and the salt water ‘hath made of one blood all the nations of men for to dwell upon al the face of the earth,’ that his white and his black children are all alike in his sight, and that he hath sent his Son from heaven to die for you, to bless and save you.

“But I have now to tell you that the great white Jin (Queen Victoria] beyond the salt water requires your country for the cattle and sheep of her tribe, and has given the whole of it from the river back to the mountains to her brother Mr. here; and you are not to ‘sit down’ or ‘walk all about’ over it, to hunt the kangaroo and opossum, or to gather bangwall any more.

“No doubt it is your own country, the place where you were bom. and you have no place eise to ‘sit down and walk all about’, to hunt and to gather bangwall; but remember the great white Jin is very strong and there are many soldiers in her tribe.

“Such are the ‘glad tidings” which the missionary was actually requested, in the instance under consideration, to proclaim to the heathen people people of his charge.

“Such is the squatters’ gospel to the Aborgines of Australia!”


Crossing the Jordan: The 170 Australians at the conservative ARC Forum conference in London may well have been to have been enthused by Jordan Peterson’s closing address. Lots of the attenders were. ARC is the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship a body that aims to present an alternative vision to the World Economic Forum (most famous for the Davos conference of political an business leaders.) And Davos deserves a but of competition.

It may be that Peterson’s speech, described as the most inspiring speech Peterson has ever given on an ARC account, is the JFK moment for those who were there. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” asked JFK seeking to imbue people with purpose. Peterson was after the same effect. He was preaching responsibility.

“I opened the conference by pointing out proposing that the two fundamental themes that we would address would be those of faith and responsibility. And I suggested that faith is the kind of courage that allows you to welcome the possibilities of the future with open arms. And I say possibility because the future is the manifestation of possibility into actuality. And the possibility of the future is what we contend with the unknown treasure house of what could be is what we contend with. And given that that’s what we eternally contend with, we might ask ourselves how best to contend with that. And one answer to that is with the faith that is simultaneously courageous, we put ourselves on the line to act out the proposition that existence itself being itself and becoming itself our intrinsically good. And that it’s incumbent upon us to act in accordance with that dictum come hell or high water… “

He goes on to identify a real problem: “We have so many people in the world who are lost in ways that are almost unimaginable with their absolutely fragmented identities, and they have no meaning in their life and they have no meaning in their life because strangely enough, the meaning in your life doesn’t emerge as a consequence of your pursuit of your proximal hedonic, subjective, narrow, purely self-serving goals and drives.”

Describing the responsibility and sacrificial action of parents in family life as giving meaning in life, and goes on to advocate responsibility a a fundamental principle for human flourishing.

“If we were wise and faithful and courageous and responsible, we could continue to spread that to everyone. We could eradicate absolute poverty. We could bring about time of abundance and opportunity for everyone. And we’ll do that. We can do that if we hoist the world on our individual shoulders and operate collectively in this harmonious manner and continue the struggle uphill toward the city of God. And that’s the truth. That’s the truth. It’s not some superstition. It’s not some primitive defence against death anxiety. It’s not the opiate of the people, right? 

“It’s the call to divine responsibility and to the degree that each of us acted out in the confines of our own life, we do what I suggested at the beginning of this conference, which is tilt the world towards heaven and away from hell.”

Question for ARC Forum attenders: Is the faith that Jordan Peterson wants everyone to have a Christian faith? What is missing? Is it a substitute for the gospel? How an we avoid confusing people? (Or has Peterson found faith? Greg Sheridan thinks he might have.)