Wisdom of the Ages: Email, Jordan Peterson, and a Latte

Wisdom of the Ages: Email, Jordan Peterson, and a Latte July 20, 2022

A visual representation of the souls of my children when they start lecturing me about my failings.

I finally worked up the wherewithal to start looking at my pictures from our trip. Matt had the better idea of posting big chunks of them every Sunday and then going back offline, whereas I thought, foolishly, that I would come home and sort them and then post them systematically. I added “Post Pictures” to my “List Of All The Things I Will Do.” I got home and started working down the list. Part of my magical thinking was that if I could just get to the end of my inbox, and do all the other miscellaneous “admin” (that’s what I call it to myself) that always sits there, like the laundry, weighing on my conscience, I would be really happy.

So, I kid you not, I did just that (less the pictures). I coped with my inbox. I went through and paid all kinds of school fees. I found my stamps and mailed my letters. I–seriously, sit down and put down your iced coffee–got to the end of my list. I crossed the last thing off on Monday night and then sat back and waited for the flood of relief and joy that I knew, as certainly as night follows day, would overwhelm me.

But nothing happened. Nothing at all, except that I looked back at my phone and found I had three new tasks “magically” appear in my email that I didn’t even know were going to hit me. And I was just as anxious as ever. And no feelings of happiness or relief whatsoever illuminated my soul. It was a huge and terrible disappointment.

And so, in the spirit of Solomon and all his experiments in temporal “joy,” let me just warn you off even trying. Do Not Devote Yourself To Admin. Don’t. Don’t make responding to email your full-time job. You’ll do it all and you’ll still be stressed out. I mean, I’m not suggesting you not do it at all, but, as the person who wrote Deep Work said (I think), shove that baby back in the corner. Admin should be confined to a small box, like a yapping angry dog. It shouldn’t be let out to wander around and take over everything. Like the laundry, which should live in its own dismal room and be shoved back in whenever it spills out or whenever anything more interesting comes along, email and other sorts of tasks should be forced back into their desolating corner in favor of more satisfying pursuits, like pulling up weeds, arguing with your children about Jordan Peterson, and trying to recreate the Coffee With Milk that you ordered once in Portugal.

Not a very good picture, I admit, but stopping to fix it is really beyond my abilities right now. To put any nice pictures here I’m going to have to go back and resize everything and I’m not sure how. Hopefully, it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Meanwhile, as I said, my children have had a lot of things to say about Jordan Peterson. Apparently, a lot of them watched his short lecture to the church (I haven’t had a chance to yet) and were both bemused and incensed. For some reason, most of them are big JP fans. The oldest is working her way through his lectures on the Bible and can often be found, headphones plugged in, smiling and shaking her head. They are interesting, but, as she says, he so often misses the point. As to what the church should be doing, my children wanted to give Jordan Peterson some advice. Of course, he is right that young men are being cast off and that the church should particularly invite them in and affirm their biological realities. But (and this is the advice bit) it would be helpful if Professor Peterson would take the trouble to discover what the church is for. And he could do that by reading more Christian writers and–they were quite adamant about this–giving in and going to church himself. If CS Lewis could submit himself to the mediocrity of the C of E on an ordinary Sunday morning, and Jesus himself could go to the Synagogue for his whole earthly life–and my goodness, what must it be like to sit there and listen to one dubious and confused biblical exposition after another, oh wait, God does it still! He is there in every worship service in every corner of every country through all time–than even Jordan Peterson can, and should, go. Because it is only by going and submitting one’s impressive intellect to the mercies and grace of the ordinary gathering of faithful worshippers that the point of the exercise gradually becomes clear. And that is that Jesus saves us from ourselves and unites us to him. That’s a message that young men need, but also older ones, and women as well.

My children pointed their fingers at me and practically shouted–Go to church, Jordan. The young men–and young women–of today who listen to you insist.

And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go have my morning walk in this hideous thousand-degree weather. And after that, I have no idea. I probably need to go buy a latte since I can’t make a good one myself and I can’t crop my pictures either. Have a nice day!

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