Jordan Peterson finds fellow travellers in the search for meaning

Jordan Peterson finds fellow travellers in the search for meaning, by Caroline Overington.

Peterson arrived in Australia this week for what, to their dismay, local organisers — a small company, True Arrow Events — immediately recognised is a too-short series of lectures in too-small theatres, on too few dates.

He is sold out everywhere.

People can’t get enough of the 55-year-old psychologist. So, what will you be missing? …

When the lights dimmed and Peterson strode on to the stage … the entire audience immediately rose as one and gave him a standing ovation. He hadn’t even said anything yet!

His first words were: “It’s three in the morning my time.”

They cheered that, too. …

He spoke for more than 90 minutes, with no notes. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, know this: he does not drone. …

He does not shout or insist.

He’s not a snake-oil salesman or a tub thumper.

He’s got his doubts, too. And depression.

There is also the manner in which he paces the stage, lean and hungry. All of Peterson’s clothes are new because he recently has lost more than 20kg by restricting his intake pretty much to moose, elk and steamed broccoli. …

In essence, his point was not a new one: in a million years, who will care that you lived? You will be dust, and so will everything you ever did and everyone you ever loved. “Given that, you can decide that everything’s pointless, and yet we don’t,” he said.

Human beings tend to live like there is a point to it all. Not just here in the West. Every society has its parables. We are apparently hardwired to accept that there is more. Which maybe means there is more? …

Peterson’s ideas are difficult to summarise but essentially he believes that heaven and hell exist in some form on earth, and anyone who has ever done a bad thing knows it. …

He was asked if there is a coming Christian renaissance — he thinks it likely.