(LifeSiteNews) — This is a long, varied article. I have tried to write it for LifeSiteNews readers to share the experience of being at an event with this internationally renowned Canadian.
Following are comments, observations, and highlights of the evening, the text of the inspiring introduction to Dr. Peterson by Peter Stock, notable quotes from Peterson’s at times mesmerizing speech and responses to questions, a few brief, powerful Peterson videos, and then a list of some longer, highly recommended, Peterson videos that I have watched.
About the event
When I discovered that tickets were available for the June 15 Canadian Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF) dinner to present their George Jonas award to Jordan Peterson in Toronto, I knew had to purchase them right away. This was going to be an event not to be missed. Tickets were almost immediately sold out.
I had started to listen to more Jordan Peterson talks and podcasts only in the past few months. Prior to that, Peterson critics overly influenced me. Most of them were either not aware of how much he has grown, are too skeptical, had not bothered to listen to him, can’t stand his certainty, or possibly just can’t trust someone who has not yet fully committed to be a Catholic or otherwise Christian, no matter how far along that path he has already come.
On the other hand, there is justified criticism, especially regarding Peterson’s apparent acceptance of homosexuality, gay “marriage” and use of IVF during a Dave Rubin show. That might be seen to undermine and contradict everything else that he says and does. But during that interesting conversation and search for difficult answers, he does bring up many valid concerns for Rubin to consider about gay parenthood. The dialogue is a sincere search by both of them to determine what is right or wrong and possible or not possible.
We at LifeSiteNews have for years known about the serious, long term problems with same-sex couples trying to play mother and father. The evidence, from many personal testimonies from homosexuals who have parented and from persons who were raised within and suffered from being in such disordered “families,” has indicated that Bob and Jack cannot possibly replace Mom and Dad – and for an extensive range of reasons. Defying the natural order of life always has grave consequences.
What their conversation was obviously missing is the enlightening of the mind and knowledge of God’s Natural Law that true faith in God brings to such admittedly difficult conversations. To me, Peterson and Rubin did a lot of floundering because of that, but they were sincerely trying their best and that should be praised.
Otherwise, I have found Dr. Peterson to be exceptionally and uniquely thought-provoking, knowledgeable, and helpful on many subjects. He often leaves listeners astonished, sometimes even gasping by his unique insights.
I have found there is much to appreciate about Jordan Peterson, especially now that I have met him, listened to his speech and answers to questions that evening, and observed how he interacted with the 400 people present in the hall. During that time he did not make any questionable comments, nor have I heard any in his various videos that I have listened to.
What is missed from not listening to Jordan Peterson
Not listening to Jordan Peterson can be like not listening to a wonderful symphony because you are not familiar with the composer or you have not yet acquired a taste for that quality of music. Peterson is a world-class master of thinking and learning about many aspects of life.
He is, in my opinion, a unique type of still developing Christian evangelist. See the links at the end of this article to two videos of his presentations at Franciscan University of Steubenville a year ago to understand why I say that. While there, he attended Mass with the students. In fact, while researching this article I came across a photo and article about Peterson attending a Traditional Latin Mass.
For now, he says he “tries to live as though God is real,” and in this interview he gives his rationale for saying that. He seems to generally understand Christianity and the implications of being a genuine follower of Christ better than many Christians.
He really gets people thinking about the purpose their life, about death, about the lessons from Genesis, Exodus and the Book of Job in the Old Testament, about Christ’s words in Scripture, about sin, about meeting God, about the reality of Hell, about facing one’s weaknesses, about how well one loves and about how one does or does not meet their responsibilities to their fellow man. He makes listeners squirm and look very deeply inward. You don’t expect most of this from a clinical psychologist.
Dr. Peterson challenges his listeners and challenges leaders about their duties to those they are supposed to serve. It is amazing how many topics he takes on and that he somehow masters their essence. He might be the Elon Musk of thought and personal reflection. That is, many are amazed that he can be so perceptive and influential on such widely varied topics and give so many incredible talks and be invited onto numerous, diverse programs. Meanwhile, Peterson is exceptionally and painfully aware of the reality of the battle between good and evil in the world and in each person’s soul.
Peterson frequently refers to the necessity and good of suffering. He has endured extreme suffering and was very close to death not long ago. He was tempted to accept euthanasia and admits that he thinks, albeit not morbidly, about his own death “all the time.” It shows on his face and how he responds to certain questions. See below his moving 12-minute response to his wife Tammy’s question on assisted suicide.
Dr. Peterson keeps growing, questioning, and sincerely trying to find truth. And above all, he is deeply and sincerely committed to helping others to find truth, truth that has saved his life from depression and despair. But some truth sadly still eludes him. He often admits what he does not know and seems fully aware of his flaws and the temptations of his international fame. Jordan Peterson is someone of whom Canadians should be rightly proud.
There is more to be said, but let me first explain about the award, why they gave it to Dr. Peterson, and then about what happened that evening when my wife Bonnie and I were able to enjoy a few minutes with him.
The George Jonas Award
The following text is from the JCCF organization:
George Jonas (1935-2016) was a stalwart Canadian who knew firsthand the dangers of totalitarianism, having lived under both fascism and communism. The ideals of liberty and the free society permeated his writings as an author, poet, and National Post columnist.
A refugee who came to Canada from communist Hungary in 1956, George Jonas played a key role in assisting the Justice Centre through his service on the Board of Directors of the Aurea Foundation, which provided generous grants to the Justice Centre in its early years.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is committed to defending free expression. In January 2023, he shared that the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) has “demanded that [he] submit to mandatory social-media communication retraining,” or else face a disciplinary hearing, and that the CPO threaten his professional license because of his commitment to free speech.
Peterson was a natural to receive the award. He is an ardent, outspoken foe of Communism and totalitarianism in general and one of the most erudite and convincing freedom advocates in our time. His relatively short talk on The Communist Manifesto, for example, provides an excellent primer on Communism for all those who were never properly taught about it, if at all, in our modern, liberal indoctrination education system.
JCCF’s introduction to Jordan Peterson
JCCF board chair Peter Stock gave me the notes he used for his inspiring introduction to Peterson. I asked for the notes because they so well described Peterson and why he deserved this award. It is instructive reading. I wish I could have recorded it:
As a society we have always placed great value on the performance of deeds of valor and defence of our collective freedom. We single out and honor our military heroes – our Billy Bishops – for conspicuous gallantry. We venerate individual acts of courage both rightly and necessarily as we need the example such leaders provide to end the wars we fight.
As we have learned over the last few years, if we did not recognize it before, we are now in the hands of another Titanic struggle for our very freedom.
While our present fight for freedom is not an actual shooting war, the consequences of losing it are no less severe. Over the last few years we’ve been given a preview of what losing our free society will look like; frozen bank accounts, termination of employment, coercive medicine, corrupt professional colleges (whether law, medicine, or psychology), loss of travel rights, closed borders, police checkpoints, government tracking of cell phone locations, detention hotels and detention camps, neighbours becoming government informers, a complacent or even compliant judiciary, and a criminally deceptive legacy media.
And, although the mandates have recently been lifted, new threats to our freedom continue to appear as governments accelerate their agenda to compel certain speech while passing laws to censor other speech. Meanwhile, digital ID and central bank digital currencies which will grant our governments truly totalitarian power are close to being implemented here in Canada and other Western nations. In times like these, we need heroes to lead us forward.
Our George Jonas freedom award recipient is, truly, a great man. His reputation is global – a public intellectual who has taught at elite universities and sold #1 bestsellers. His pronouncements set off massive public debates and influence policy development in any number of governments. Literally millions follow him, and he has profoundly impacted the lives of countless people, young men in particular.
But, while all that rightly made him a household name, that isn’t why he is great. He’s a great man because he’s a good man: a man of true character and integrity. Our award winner is a man who exhibits the virtues, not the least of which is his tremendous courage.
Whether facing down the woke mob, correcting the cancel culture media’s perverse narrative – live and on air –or injecting common sense into a parliamentary hearing, he pulls no punches in courageously speaking the truth regardless of what hostility he faces.
He is a man of obvious confession, having dedicated his life to ministering to broken souls both in his counselling practice, and now more widely to a seeking public.
And he is transparent and even painfully honest. He not only admits when he doesn’t know the answer, but, as we have witnessed many times, he will ride off in pursuit of it.
And when it comes to freedom – both mine and yours – he is unquestionably a leading defender of it. He is one of the great foes of the creeping totalitarianism that is increasingly infecting the institutions of Western society.
And what motivates him to fight for freedom?
Certainly anyone who has studied Solzenitsyn’s account of the gulag, as he has, will have a deep and abiding hatred for the evils of totalitarianism.
But for the professor, I believe, it goes even deeper than that. Not unlike Solzenitsyn, he is clearly possessed of an unshakable conviction, even a compulsion, that he must speak the truth, no matter the personal cost.
There are few people I count as heroes. And fewer still that I will listen to for hours on end, still left wanting more…
My notes on the evening
The event began at 5 pm. Bonnie and I were there early for the VIP ticket holders. I wanted the chance to talk to him. Dr. Peterson arrived at 5 with his wife Tammy and came upstairs to meet his guests. We casually lined up to greet him. It was a relaxed crowd of mostly like-thinking and impressive conservative doers and thinkers.
While we were waiting, the Hungarian ambassador to Canada, Mária Vass-Salazar, was introduced to Dr. Peterson, and they chatted for a while. She invited him to meet with her in Ottawa, and he accepted the invitation. Considering the great things Prime Minister Orban has been doing to defend the freedoms and Christian family culture of Hungary from the totalitarian EU, and to prevent NATO from pushing us all into WWIII with Russia, it was natural for Dr. Peterson to take this opportunity.
Then I heard Dr. Peterson mention that the forever Liberal Toronto Star had published something critical of Justin Trudeau. That is when I spoke up, stating it was incredible that what we called “the Red Star” would actually do such a thing. Peterson turned to me and said, “Yes, isn’t that something?” I introduced myself to him as one of the co-founders of LifeSiteNews. He recognized the organization and was positive about it.
I explained all the dark global issues we tackle, in many cases similar to those he addresses, and that many of us really appreciate what he does. I told him I especially appreciate how he forces people to think and that our work is so difficult because much of the public does not know how to think anymore. Schools and universities are not teaching good critical thinking. He certainly agreed with that.
I introduced my wife Bonnie, and we got into how many children and grandchildren we have. There was laughter and sincere complements about that. I asked if he could appear at one of our events and if we could interview him. I gave him my business card. He was positive and gave me an email address to send my requests to. It was a brief but memorable encounter.
As the evening went on, right up to 9:30 pm, Dr. Peterson seemed to have talked to every one of the 400 people there. He was impressively giving of himself throughout the evening. I have met many prominent people over the years but rarely encountered any who did what he did then. He gave time and close attention to each person and was consistently gracious. It was as if it were a family gathering.
Mind you, security was tight because of the threats that Dr. Peterson gets. The location was kept secret for ticket buyers until three days before it occurred. Nothing outside the old movie theater, now a banquet hall, where it was held indicated what was going on inside. The huge cinema sign advertised an old movie instead of a dinner. I laughed. Everyone had to undergo a wand security check.
Special guests who were there
To my amazement, Vera Charav, the tiny but mighty Jewish lady who produced the video series Never Again was there. That high quality production, which LifeSiteNews reported on, warns the world about the similarity of the WWII Jewish Holocaust to what is happening now, but this time threatening everyone, not just the Jews, some Christians, and the imperfect, chronically sick, or unwanted.
She really wanted to meet Dr. Peterson and did. We had a good chat about how to get her crucial video production more public exposure.
Then there was EU member of Parliament Christine Anderson. While in the Toronto region, she had found out that Dr. Peterson was going to be at this event and arranged to get a ticket. They, too, had a good chat. I took a selfie with her and explained who I was and that we have covered her heroic presentations in defence of freedom at the EU.
Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich was also there. I introduced myself, and she immediately expressed gratitude for all our positive reporting on the truckers’ convoy. We exchanged hugs and appreciation for each other. What a gracious, pleasant, cheery person she is!
Dr. Peterson mentioned during his speech that he had just that day finished a wonderful interview with her and expressed how impressed he was with Tamara’s attitude. He was astonished that she said, “I’m having the adventure of my life” enduring the unjust criminal charges, imprisonment, persecution, and slanders for what she did rightly did with the truckers. Peterson emphasized to us all, “You get that adventure by telling the truth. You could embark on the great adventure of your life by refusing to lie.”
Because of Peterson’s contract requirements I could not record his talk, so I took what notes I could. Following are some quotes from what was an amazing talk and Q&A session that followed with JCCF president John Carpay. There was a lot more, but this is the best I could do. Some of the quotes may not be 100% accurate, but they capture the essence.
Dr. Peterson was blunt and emphatic about the need for everyone to face reality, their fears and inadequacies, no matter how difficult that may be, and the dire consequences for not doing so. Necessary personal growth, he challenged, is impossible without doing that, but the rewards are worth it.
As already mentioned, he has himself gone through very dark times in recent years and was near death. Those few years of deep trials played a large role in making him the profound, empathetic speaker that he is now.
Peterson emphasized “the importance of dialogue involving others so that we don’t die.” That is, in communications with others, telling the truth is crucial and if we do not, we figuratively in this life, and spiritually in the next, “die.”
Regarding free speech: “It’s about power. If you think it is about speech, you are losing the war. It’s about every single element. There is no such thing as ‘free’ speech.” He was “using philosophical terminology” here.
Peterson is “struck by the negativity of classical liberals regarding free speech” and told conservatives “if you don’t allow free speech, it will descend into physical conflicts” — that is, violence, war, physical tyranny. “There is a segment of society who opposes the freedom to speak for whom the descent of culture into the Hell is precisely their aim.”
Dr. Peterson frequently mentions Hell in a philosophical and physical sense but seems to indicate it as a spiritual reality as well.
In that context again he warned, “You bloody well better tell the truth. We must be determined to do it no matter what.” In saying that, Peterson reinforced what has also been a firm LifeSiteNews policy: we must always be truthful in our reporting.
“The suffering is an unavoidable consequence” of telling the truth. That has certainly been true from my own experience.
See the 5-minute video below in which he responds to the question “How do we make sense of suffering?” during his visit at Franciscan University of Steubenville:
“Any objection to free speech is an objection to scientific truth and the divine commandment. The alternative is genuine Hell!”
“… Get on your knees and pray that God does not take you where you need to go to learn your lesson.”
“It is better to concentrate on waking yourself up in response to the question of trying to wake up media-blinded people. It isn’t up to you to convince them to be good.”
This was in response to a question about how we convince people to accept truth.
“… That’s not up to you, you are trying to convince someone. That’s not up to you. You don’t know all about them. It is like trying to force them to change.” We cannot force people to change, to accept, to believe, and should never try to do so or appear to be doing so.
“Maybe if he’s not listening to you, maybe it is time for you to listen.” We frequently misjudge others. It is more important to change yourself than to change others. So many do not actually live what they preach. How we live has more influence than what we say.
“…Just let people talk, and you listen to them. They will sort themselves out.” That is what he does as a clinical psychologist. He says it works very well.
“Don’t worry about convincing them. If they don’t listen, move on to someone else.”
Peterson frequently mentioned “serpents” in scripture and their meaning and the harmful serpentine scheming of liberals and totalitarians.
“…You do not want to underestimate the pleasure some people take in bullying people. In East Germany one-half of the people were informers.” They were “serpents” “using compassion as camouflage,“ or rather the supposed excuse for what they did.
Similar to that, he noted, has been the many people ordering others to wear masks and to get vaccinated and reporting to authorities those who did not comply during the COVID years. False “compassion” was their justification for being “serpents” who bullied others.
Peterson has repeatedly asked liberals he has interviewed, “When does the left go too far? No Democrats would answer including Kennedy (RFK, Junior).” He was surprised by that. He expected Kennedy to be more honest when he interviewed him.
Most are “very naive when it comes to snakes. Fellow Democrats are psychopaths using compassion as camouflage.”
“Conservatives cower away in fear and let the left walk all over them.” Peterson was disgusted by this and by how few brave people there seem to be.
On Canadians: “We lead the world in woke stupidity. Exceed Australia and New Zealand.”
On the media: “The media is dead. The legacy media are dead. CNN” – he tells them – “you people don’t exist. You are in airports. People walk by you, and you count them as viewers. CNN lies themselves into oblivion.”
On the Book of Job: “Horrifying, a terrible story. We are called in the deepest manner to maintain our faith, our moral compass. Faith is a form of courage. Faith in the essential goodness of being. Believe in the resurrection of the human spirit. Do not despair.”
On the “ trucker convoy miracle:” he had high praise for the Canadian trucker convoy and its international positive influence.
On evil: “I used to tell my students about what happened in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and that if they were there they would likely have been on the side of the perpetrators.” Most people today do not realize how they would respond to temptations to do evil.
“Deep is that proclivity for evil. There is an equal proclivity for good. Align yourself with that one. There are not that many heroes.”
“Each of us is a locus of divinity. Every society that holds that we are dispensable disappears. The other thrives. You tell the truth so that you don’t go to Hell and take everyone with you.”
The “serpent is compassion.”
That is, the serpent, Satan, disguises himself as compassion to justify all kinds of evil deeds. Or, we use compassion for serpentine purposes – to tempt ourselves or others to do what we should not do, as though we are doing good. It is all a lie to justify evil.
As you can see from the above, which are only some excerpts from what Dr. Peterson said, it was a powerful and, at times, mesmerizing talk and Q&A. I am certain most left the building that night pondering their own lives for quite some time and what they have done and what they can do to make their lives and the lives of the ones they love better.
At the end of this article are just a few online Dr. Jordan Peterson talks or interviews that I strongly encourage readers to listen to. Some are long, but they are totally worth spending the time you will need to listen to them. He will train you to think in a way that you may never have thought of thinking before, to face yourself much more honestly and deeply and to make connections that never occurred to you.
I have found Jordan Peterson to be best when he gives a talk or is being interviewed by someone else. During his own interviews of others, I find he often annoyingly interrupts his guests too much to insert his own thoughts and information into what they are trying to complete. His interview with Canadian Trucker Convoy leader Tamara Lich is like that, but that interview is still well worth listening to as are most of Peterson’s other interviews of guests.
For those who say they are concerned about whether Jordan Peterson might lead them or others away from their faith, I suggest the Jordan Peterson of today is generally more likely to bring them closer to it. See How Jordan Peterson Led Me to the Catholic Church.
Of course, Peterson is a flawed human, as are we all. He unfortunately uses foul language at times and wrongly uses the name of Jesus Christ as an expletive. During one interview I heard him comment about the command to not take God’s name in vain allegedly not referring to what he sometimes does. For me, that was an indication Peterson needs more instruction on Christian principles and their rationale. I suggest we need to be charitable about these instances and take the good, of which there is a great deal, and pray for his personal growth where it may be lacking.
Peterson is not yet with us on some issues. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, he oddly appears to accept homosexuality and gay “marriage” although that is not 100% certain from what I heard so far. That is no small problem if he does accept those. There was a lot of psychology talk that could have been more exploration rather that affirmation.
It does make one wonder how such a brilliant mind does not yet see how mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually damaging homosexuality is and the many suicides that result from this violation of Natural Law. LifeSiteNews has published numerous personal testimonies from homosexual persons confirming this. We have learned more from these people than anyone else on this issue.
I am willing to be patient and prefer to see the glass half-full (indeed, now much more than half) with Peterson. That is, the good far outweighs the bad. I suggest he will eventually improve his views on this, if he has not already done so. He may be overly empathetic to some who instead near firm guidance to amend their life. At LifeSiteNews, Peterson is on our lengthy staff morning prayer list. We pray for him to become even more the man who God wants and has made him to be.
One thing Jordan Peterson is not, is a hypocrite. What you see is what you get. He is deprecatingly honest and willing to endure death itself, it does seem, for telling the truth.
There are numerous Jordan Peterson talks and interviews on the Internet, on a very wide variety of topics including the Ukrainian war, science topics and – you name it. There is only so much that one can listen to, but the large majority, if not all of what he says is helpful and enlightening.
Jordan Peterson is uncomfortable about being idolized because he knows how dangerous that is for him. He just wants to share what he has learned and continues to learn each day and is obviously sincere about that. It takes a lot of courage to do what he does and he has often gotten hammered for his honesty.
Dr. Peterson has rapidly become a person of astonishing international renown who is sought as a guest on the most prominent programs and at special events. Highly influential persons now seek his views on many issues to help them make their own decisions. He knows the snake pit that can be.
But Peterson also knows the world desperately needs help today to understand the natural obligations of each person to themselves, to others and to those they should be serving.
He is keenly aware that the world, especially the West, is in a terrible mess with potentially catastrophic outcomes that must be faced and dealt with.
See below his I Told You Something is Coming and Now It’s Here… | Jordan Peterson 2023 6 min. March 20, 2023 – A very important, well-informed warning to the world:
Dr. Jordan Peterson’s primary role seems to one of convincing and helping those he interacts with to fully understand how and why they must face the demons, flaws, and challenges in their lives and in the world. To a significant degree, that has also been the LifeSiteNews challenge for the past 25 years.
We understand how incredibly difficult that can be. It seems to me he does an amazing and unique job of succeeding in doing that with his audiences. He has overall been a huge help to those of us trying to awaken the public to current realities and the need to respond with one’s whole heart and soul to save our civilization from those who want to destroy it and each one of us.
Now if he can just get it fully right on homosexuality, gay “marriage” and IVF. He is still learning. He has come a long way, but not far enough yet. Peterson is not helping the Dave Rubin’s of the world if he gives the impression he is affirming them in their harmful sexual perversity. But then, it may be that was not what he was doing during their conversation, although it was jarring to hear such a brilliant man repeatedly refer to Rubin’s “husband.” That defying of reason was probably meant more to not offend rather than express acceptance. Rubin is so sincere and open about his personal struggles and trying to do the right things that Peterson probably thought it better to just be charitable.
If only Peterson can just make the final step of accepting the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. That is between God and him, but if he does do it a whole new world of truth will suddenly open up to him. At least that is what happened to many of us on the LifeSiteNews team at some time in our lives. We must pray for Dr. Jordan Peterson.
Recommended Peterson videos
The following are only some of the few that I have listened to. It is easy to find many more Peterson talks and interviews on YouTube and on other social media including Spotify:
On Claiming Belief In God: Discussion with Dennis Prager 4 years ago – 53 min.
Jordan Peterson: Life, Death, Power, Fame, and Meaning | Lex Fridman Podcast #313, 10 months ago – 3 hours, 3 min. Long, but very good, especially at the beginning and end. 11 million views on YouTube alone. It is also on several other social media platforms.
Jordan Peterson’s Critique of the Communist Manifesto 2 years ago 30 min.
We devastated Ukraine & we kept it out of the hands of the West – Brief YouTube Peterson short that stuns Piers Morgan
Jordan Peterson’s FULL Interview With Piers Morgan – 1 hour, 20 min. 8 months ago
This Lesson from the Bible will Make You Unstoppable | Franciscan University | EP 252 – 1 year ago. 58 minutes
You Probably Should Have Read the Bible | Franciscan University | EP 251 – 1 year ago 54 minutes
How Jordan Peterson Led Me to the Catholic Church w/ Daniel James