So many ideas. So many feelings. So many voices.
So many Gods.
But I wonder, as many of us who have spent an intimate evening courting YouTube over a bottle of wine: Is there anything useful in all of it?
And if there is, who gets to say what useful even means?
Maybe… Jordan Peterson? At least, he seems to have come up with 12 Rules for Life that are a very useful antidote to Chaos. They’ve been pretty damn useful for me. I mean, I’m not vanquishing Tia-mat or anything, but it’s been about a month since I finished his book, and I’m making my bed every morning, shaving more regularly, and I’m quite pleased to say that I’m making more effort than I ever have to keep a clean room.
Dammit, don’t ask me if it’s clean.
But it’s more than any of that. Some little grain of Uncle Peterson’s alchemical Stone has fallen into the smelted ore of my Soul. I won’t say that my Lead is all turned to Gold, but…something is happening. I have been tinged by a redness I wasn’t expecting, and it’s causing me to answer questions I thought I had dismissed years ago — causing me to go back and finish my college degree, causing me to give more to my mundane job, causing me to get smart as I sacrifice more time to my kids.
And dammit if it isn’t working out so beautifully.
New life has been breathed into things that had fallen sick and died inside me. Something calls me to remove the stone which separates my life from the things I have put behind me. I am unwrapping things I had once loved, but that had stopped breathing.
Lazarus, come forth.
And it’s not just happening to me. We feel it in our collective Soul. To use an alchemical metaphor, the world consciousness has been melted by the burning, broiling, boiling fire of collected ideas and contradicting opinions. We stir and bubble, our impurities and imperfections rise to the surface. Is there any Gold underneath?
Then along comes someone like Jordan to scrape off the slough and throw something magical into the melted mettle.
I think we all know, at least subconsciously, why what Jordan Peterson is offering is something useful. What he’s presenting the World is speaking on all levels at once. It’s very highly intelligent — intelligently spiritual even — emotionally stirring at times for better or for worse. But the reason why former zombies like me just can’t argue with what he says is that it’s just so damn practical.
And of course he begs the question:
“Just what kind of Christian is Jordan Peterson?”
Some of us might — quite paradoxically — find ourselves saying, “He’s my kind of Christian.” But whoa, whoa, wait, what am I saying!? — I’m not even Christian anymore. Am I?
For the past seven years now, I’ve left the Religion of my Birth. Christianity and Christ had become something that was no better nor inspiring than a High School football game in which you only vaguely wanted your team and quarterback to win.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been the sportsy-guy type.
That is to say, Christianity had become something which uninterested me. Spiritually, I was unaroused.
Okay, fine, whatever.
No, not FINE. <– (Spoken in true, disagreeable-canadian, Jordan Peterson-esque style)
If a man can’t get aroused, then he becomes infertile. And naturally speaking, if he is infertile, than he is a nonviable genetic candidate. He ends. He does not continue. He is as good as dead, something which Tolstoy spoke all about in his wonderful little book called My Religion.
At any rate, though I did thirst for…something, I eventually had decided that Christianity was just a story — just another story — a hugely powerful and popular and increasingly infamous story like so many others in the world, which offered a team-like support group of some morals to live by, a God to follow, and routines to carry out.
But last year, when my Mother died, I found myself wanting to be able to reconcile my former Religion with… something… well, with something more modern, and in that sense, something more current — more alive. Mom’s death had really tightened the bond between me and my siblings — most of which were still Christians, my oldest brother presiding over the tri-state group of my former church’s congregations.
So, if I wanted to reconcile myself with my Family, in a weird way, it felt like I was undertaking the very task of reconciling all aspects of This with That; Young with Old; East with West; Left with Right; Red with Blue; Spirit with Matter…
Life with Death.
I had learned a lot in my Eastern Studies after leaving Christianity. I was hungry for Spiritual “food” as they say and wanted to see if I couldn’t find something more to my taste. It all tasted great for a long time. Feast. More stories upon stories. More groups of morals — many similar. More Gods — many identical in archetype and purpose, but different in name. And more routines to be followed — yoga anyone? Yeah I know, some might say even that is getting old.
So, to use the Bilbo archetype, I had gone on an unexpected journey, there and back again. I had seen dark creatures, met foreign people and gods. I had learned about the very foundational things which protect the golden borders of the peaceful Christian Shire from the evil Dragon — and an even scarier searing Sauronic Chaos.
But there’s this bitter sense of “letting them win” that washes over my inner palate when I think of resettling in to Christianity in any way, shape, or form. Maybe it’s a phantom of some kind of guilt which the proud Hobbits would want me to feel for having ever left in the first place.
Then again, maybe it’s really just the hesitation which the hero feels before he carries his riches back into town after slaying the dragon. Will anyone believe him? Will they respect what he has won? Maybe he should just put on his ring and disappear…
I’m not saying I could ever be Christian like I was before. I certainly can’t be the kind of Conservative Republican that I was before. I can not be a Fundamental Totalitarian Literalist who excludes all that are not on my team, like I was before. I’m just not the Hobbit I once was. But, as the name of this blog suggests, I have taken some kind of a Red Pill which is ultimately forcing me to go back into my former life, and liberate it.
Maybe now, like Frodo, I see a greater danger at play in the World at large. Maybe like Jordan Peterson, I’m ready to go to any lengths to destroy my ring of anonymity, which ring, in the hands of tyranny, is the very ring to rule us all. Maybe I’ve got to be ready to reenter a place in the Middle of my Earth where I do not want to go.
After all, there might just be something good left in the Shire which is worth saving…
In the end, seasons change, and fruit which was once “ripe” and fed us well, falls off the vine.
So, fruit’s fallen. Tree is bare. Winter is cold and I spent it staying warm in the East.
But in the Spring, I can’t help but keep looking at the ground where that fruit fell, and sometimes I think I see something Green sprouting.
What do you think?