Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and mythology enthusiast, has exploded onto the scene, becoming the world’s most popular intellectual figure in just a few short months. Who is he and what should you know about him? And why have his ideas gained so much traction, especially young men? Over the next couple episodes, Bishop Barron and Brandon Vogt discuss the Jordan Peterson phenomenon and reflect on his work from a Catholic perspective. A listener asks whether it’s fine to use secular mindfulness meditation to relieve anxiety.

BONUS: Learn more about the first ever Word on Fire National Conference for Priests >> http://wordonfire.org/priest

Topics Discussed

  • 0:04 – Introduction, Bishop spends time with Jim Caviezel
  • 4:45 – How did Bishop Barron first come to know Jordan Peterson?
  • 7:20 – Who are some of the philosophical influences of Jordan Peterson?
  • 10:40 – Why does Jordan Peterson place such an emphasis on the Bible?
  • 14:10 – How does Peterson view Nietzsche and our reaction to life’s suffering?
  • 24:05 – What is Jordan Peterson’s reading of the Garden of Eden in Genesis?
  • 28:15 – What is Jordan Peterson’s take on Buddhism and Christian redemptive suffering?
  • 30:00 – Why does Jordan Peterson believe you should absolutely never tell a lie?
  • 33:00 – Why has Jordan Peterson become so popular especially amongst young men?
  • 37:30 – Listener question: Is it okay for a Catholic to engage in secular mindfulness meditation in order to relieve anxiety?

Bonus Resources


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37 comments on “WOF 117: Who Is Jordan Peterson?

  1. James B. Mar 5, 2018

    Could you do an episode on Solzhenitsyn? I really enjoyed Joseph Pearce’s biography which gives a good tour of Solzhenitsyn’s life but also his thought.

  2. I’m glad to hear you speak of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one of my intellectual and spiritual heroes. I’d encourage you to read more, and I believe you will find in him a kindred spirit of great depth. His Orthodox faith is essential to understanding him. yet he was excited by the election of Karol Wojtyla as pope. (The two of them met before Solzhenitysn returned to Russia. I would love to have been a fly on the wall!)

    For access to Solzhenitsyn’s thought, I’d suggest two essays that can be read in a sitting: His Nobel Prize Lecture, and an open letter called “Live Not By Lies.” Both can be found online, or conveniently in The Solzhenitsyn Reader.


  3. Msgr. George Brubaker Mar 5, 2018

    My brother-in-law Michael was a former Redemptorist priest from New Zealand who died a couple of years ago from Mad Cow’s disease. My sister asked me to speak at his “celebration of life” which was attended by several of his colleagues who were also ex-priests from New Zealand. Michael was a psychologist with his own practice. He also had taught locally and had been very interested in the publication of Jung’s Red Book toward the end of his life. I had also obtained a copy because of his interest in Jung. I looked into it and found Jung’s recounting of his spirit guide Philemon. I was very struck by that and spoke at Michael’s service of St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon urging him to accept Onesimus back, not as his slave but as a brother in Christ. I intended my reflection as a tribute to Michael who had labored to help people find their freedom in the midst of suffering. Thank you for steering me toward Jordan Peterson. I have been looking at many of his videos and can see how he is getting such a positive response from many young men. He reminds me a lot of my brother-in-law Michael. I think of him as an ally in the new evangelization, maybe even as a brother in Christ.

  4. Denis jackson Mar 6, 2018

    Mindfulness has been around in the Christian tradition for centuries
    In Mysticism . So I don’t see a problem using it at all .
    It has become an accepted treatment in the field of mental health and pastoral care .

  5. Denis jackson Mar 6, 2018

    Isn’t it a little odd and one sided to keep emphasising that Peterson is appealing so much to ‘young men’ ! ?
    What about all the young women ?

    Surely many women are finding Peterson’s work attractive too .

  6. We assist the healing of emotional, emotional and real trauma through Psychotherapy , Bodywork , Yoga , and Mindfulness in Harley St, London W1. Pertaining to applications of mindfulness training that have received empirical help, research now needs to examine practical dilemmas surrounding their implementation, distribution, and dissemination. Tom Pedulla regularly co-leads groups in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Boston area. The language of mindfulness might appear confusing on novice because the term has three denotations: a situation of brain, a character trait and a practice. However, looking for mindfulness treatment your city” also needs to bring up numerous providers besides. The Atlanta Mindfulness Institute holds an eight-week MBCT class for 10 individuals at the same time. Once the familiarity with mindfulness practices is developed, those in therapy are motivated to integrate mindfulness within their day-to-day lives, especially in non-clinical surroundings. write custom essays

  7. Marsha Kearney Mar 8, 2018

    I had just heard of Jordan Peterson this afternoon, and was listening on my phone to a podcast on You Tube of a Catholic interviewing him, while at the same time I was also checking Facebook and encountering your podcast. . Peterson seems like he should be Catholic, but he said that he found it valuable to be an outside observer. I suppose we’ll have to pray and see how things develop. Maybe we could make him an honorary Catholic, somewhat like we do with C.S. Lewis.

  8. Kyle V. Mar 8, 2018

    I would love to see a conversation between yourself and Dr. Peterson, Bishop.

  9. Walter Mar 10, 2018

    I swear on the Bible that I’m serious about what I now write.

    The Roman Catholic Church should offer Jordan B. Peterson the Papacy after a year and a day training period. This is a condensed, expedited formation period but Peterson is smart and probably learns quickly. He preaches the way of Logos. Here is the formation path.

    2 months basic training in a monastery in Europe (Monte Casino?). 1 month deacon at parish. 4 months parish priest. =7 months. Then be a Bishop 2 months, Hermitage retreat 1 month. = 10 months. Then be made Cardinal and sit in the consistory for 1 month. Family visitation 2 weeks. Retreat for 2 weeks. 1 day crowned Pope.

    He needs to be put into an RCIA program ASAP and enter the Church Easter 2018. His first communion should be given to him by the Pope. Peterson would then hug his family and then be driven to the monastery for the 2 month basic training. Next Easter (2019) he’ll be crowned Pope.

    This would be world changing for the better and prove that the Roman Catholic Church is truly open minded and ecumenical. I literately believe that this would change history in ways unfathomable and I have faith it would make the world a better place.

  10. Thanks for keeping up with my posts Beth!

  11. Yesterday I listened to a talk given by Fr Richard Rohr on his book, “Falling Upwards”. Some of your points in this discussion echoed his main topics: Falling Upwards in our lives………the need for Elders………….our society stuck in a “first half” state, i.e. defining me by what I am not.

    It would be a wonderful event to have Bishop Baron, Fr Rohr and Mr. Peterson come together to discuss how it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

    • Kathy Mar 12, 2018

      I agree…this would be a very interesting dialogue. 3 big spiritual thinkers/teachers!

  12. Annemarie Mar 11, 2018

    Dear Bishop Barron,
    I urge you and your listeners to read Susan Brinkman’s new book ‘A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness’ concerning the dangers of this practice. There was a recent article promoting the book in the NC Register and Dan Burke interviewed Ms Brinkman on Divine Intimacy Radio recently.

    Thank you for the work you do for all of God’s children.


  13. Kathy Mar 12, 2018

    I really enjoyed listening to this…thank you for this program, as I am curious about Peterson.
    I was disappointed in Bishop Barron’s response to a seemingly unrelated listener’s question about practicing mindfulness and yoga. I am a life long Catholic, and my meditation and yoga practices have deepened my relationship with God and enhanced my prayer life. I have particularly felt the the presence of the Holy Spirit during Savasana, which is the resting and meditative phase of yoga after a series of postures is completed. I incorporate prayer and Christian music into my yoga practice and am always surprised by the fear based warnings that this practice is Buddhist based. I am thankful for this gift brought forward by our Eastern brothers and sisters. Yoga and meditation are vehicles to a contemplative practice.

    To suggest that yoga may be OK if only focused on the postures is missing the whole point of yoga. The postures support the meditative (or prayerful) practice of opening our hearts to our Lord, the Divine!

  14. Denise Mar 14, 2018

    Thank you Bishop Barron and I must thank Jordan Peterson also for bringing light to the lies told to Canadian youth and all people there. As an ex-patriot of Canada now living in my native U.S. I have seen the tremendous shift of the secular culture to once Jewish/ Christian base. I wonder how this current government can be allowed to weave and foster these sinful acts to a once truthful culture. The Christian faith in Canada was founded by the great saints, martyrd St. John de brabeouf that came to this culture to its native people from a rich back ground of theological education and spoke more than 5 languages, lived in honor in his native Europe but chose to do Gods will in Canada and survived the harsh treatment and weather. How can Canada ignore God’s will and turn back to a barbaric culture of legalizing abortion, euthanasia, legalized drug use and blocking moral teaching? I am concerned, that they are looking the other way for the verbal minority and leaving families to scramble and shamed if they know the truth but do not voice their opinions because of being shunned. The martyring of these theologians should not be in vein and I pray the voice of the moral be heard, soon. I would love to help bring this moral voice back to Canada, and am asking God to show me a path. I just learned St. Joseph is the patron saint of Canada, so I am praying for his intercession. Thank you and God Bless. Denise.

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