NOTICE: Store prices and specials on the Banner of Truth UK site are not available for orders shipped to North America. Please use the Banner of Truth USA site .

Section navigation

Review: 12 Rules for Life (Part 1)

Author ,
Category Book Reviews
Date June 29, 2018

This article is the first of three parts of an extensive review of Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. It is not an endorsement of the book.

* * *

Jordan Bernt Peterson has recently become a YouTube phenomenon and a publisher’s dream. He has hundreds of YouTube films that have been watched well over 100 million times. This, his second book, (the first was Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief) has sold truckloads of copies and topped the bestseller lists since publication. Who is he? He is a 55-year-old Canadian from small-town Northern Alberta, ‘born Christian’, husband of Tammy, father of Mikhaila and Julian and currently a clinical psychologist, cultural critic and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

The Foreword

The book starts with an 18-page Foreword by Norman Doidge, a chum and fellow shrink of Peterson. It’s a lesson in both creative writing and moral insight. Here are some of its juicy quotations.

‘People don’t clamour for rules, even in the Bible.’

‘We are ambivalent about rules, even when we know they are good for us.’

‘God didn’t give Moses “The Ten Suggestions,” he gave Commandments.’

‘But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions – and there is nothing freeing about that.’

‘. . .the best rules do not ultimately restrict us but instead facilitate our goals and make for fuller, freer lives.’

‘We all have to deal with the unknown, and we all attempt to move from chaos to order.’

‘One of the most important themes of this book, is “set your own house in order” first.’

‘He [Peterson] alerted his students to . . . what every slightly worn-out adult knows, that life is suffering.’

‘It is because we are born human that we are guaranteed a good dose of suffering.’

‘. . .what he is saying meets a deep and unarticulated need. And that is because alongside our wish to be free of rules, we all search for structure.’

‘. . . millennials [are] the first generation to have been so thoroughly taught two seemingly contradictory ideas about morality, simultaneously.’

‘The first idea or teaching is that morality is relative, at best a personal “value judgment.” And the second idea is that the . . . emphasis on tolerance is so paramount that for many people one of the worst character flaws a person can have is to be “judgemental”.’

‘So right alongside relativism, we find the spread of nihilism and despair, and also the opposite of relativism: the blind certainty offered by ideologies that claim to have an answer to everything.’

‘Where the relativist is filled with uncertainty, the ideologue is the very opposite. He or she is hyper-judgmental and censorious . . .’

‘. . . human beings, by their nature, have a proclivity to make rules, laws and customs. The idea that human life can be free of moral concerns is a fantasy.’

‘And the foremost rule is that you take responsibility for your own life. Period.’

‘Because if you don’t reach for them [your demanding rules and ideals] it is certain you will never feel that your life has meaning. And perhaps because, as unfamiliar and strange as it sounds, in the deepest part of our psyche, we all want to be judged.’

This is fascinating and instructive stuff. Who could disagree? This Foreword is a great appetizer to the entrée.


In this section, Peterson explains the genesis of the book. It started in 2012 with a discussion website called Quora. There, his answer to the posed question ‘What makes life more meaningful?’ became a minor hit. To the question ‘What are the most valuable things everyone should know?’, he wrote a list of rules or maxims and it became a major hit. In 2013, he decided to film and upload his university and public lectures – millions and millions have since watched them. He developed an obsession with the great myths and religious stories of the past and their moral content. In other words, he focused not on a scientific, descriptive worldview, but rather on how a human being should act in a world of order and chaos. Order is social structure, explored territory and typically portrayed as masculine, whereas chaos is the new and unexpected and regarded as feminine – in his mind a sort of yang and yin. Radio broadcasts expanded his thinking and a book was muted to be centred on his Quora list. He was fascinated about the nuclear stand-off of the Cold War – why would people risk global destruction for their belief systems? Shared belief systems enable people to communicate and cooperate while they also regulate and control us. Such value systems stabilize human interaction and in their absence people simply cannot operate, nihilism beckons. So far, so good. And then there is a weird section on ‘Being’ with a capital “B”, à la Martin Heidegger plus a somewhat equivocal footnote, which defines the term as ‘the totality of human experience’. And there are Peterson’s dreams – ‘My dream placed me at the centre of Being itself, and there was no escape.’ Come back, Jordan. And thankfully he does. This book was originally envisaged as short essays tackling his 40 answers on Quora and his publisher accepted that idea, but in reality they became 25 and then 16 and finally the current 12. See, all writing benefits from severe pruning. And the title? It reflects our need for standards and values. We require routine and tradition – that’s order. On the other hand, chaos can swamp us, so we drown. Both can become excessive and that’s not good. Therefore, ‘we need to stay on the straight and narrow path. Each of the twelve rules of this book – and their accompanying essays – therefore provide a guide to being there. “There” is the dividing line between order and chaos. It’s there that we find the meaning that justifies life and its inevitable suffering.’ This is the way, in Peterson’s words, ‘to live a meaningful life.’

Each chapter of the 12 Rules for Life is about 30 pages long. They vary in complexity and application – several sections are quite exceptional. My aim is not to critique their entire content, but rather to note what I found interesting, pertinent and sometimes disagreeable, and thus to produce a decent overview of Peterson’s work. There are scores of exact quotations from the book – above all I wanted to let Peterson ‘speak’. Other segments are my précis. And I’ve avoided tediously citing chapter and verse for each. I am acutely aware that this article is mine, what I found noteworthy – of course, others will read the book differently and draw their own conclusions. Whatever – let’s go!

RULE 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

This chapter begins with his famous and oft-repeated lobster analogy. The crustacean’s neurons and brain are comparatively simple and not unlike a wren’s or even a human being’s in structure and function. Peterson’s inference is that all such species inhabit a dominance hierarchy and because territory matters conflict is inevitable. The trick is how to establish dominance, while risking the least amount of possible fighting and damage – lobsters do it, and so do we. Moreover, whether a lobster is confident or cringing depends on its neural ratio of serotonin to octopamine hormones – the winners have a high ratio. Serotonin makes a lobster flex and look tall and dangerous – depressed human beings are often prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Prozac even cheers up lobsters!

And it’s winner-takes-all in the world of lobsters and in human societies. This is the brutal principle of uneven distribution. It occurs in the financial realm – the top 1% own as much as the bottom 50%. In the scientific realm – most papers are published by a small group of researchers. Relatively few musicians and authors are commercially successful. Most orchestral music performed publicly is by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. And 90% of communication uses just 500 words. This phenomenon is known as Price’s Law, after Derek J. de Solla Price’s observations in 1963, though Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian polymath, had noted it a century earlier. It is also called the Matthew Principle (Matthew 25:29) after a seemingly harsh saying of Christ. The ultimate outcome is that the top females flirt and mate with the top males. Yet the dominant males need their lower-status compatriots to continue the hierarchy – the obvious political ploy is the ancient art of baby-kissing. Why is any of this relevant? Because dominance hierarchies are primeval and because neural structures and neurochemistry are how the world processes information about status and society.

There are three erroneous mistakes we make about nature. First, nature is static – no, it is both static and dynamic. It is a truism of biology that evolution is conservative – bats’ wings, whales’ fins and human hands are structurally alike. Evolution works largely through variation and natural selection. Variation occurs through gene-shuffling and random mutation. But what exactly are ‘nature/natural’ and ‘the environment’? Nature is both static and dynamic. The environment – the nature that selects – itself transforms. The yin and yang are akin to chaos and order, which in turn are interchangeable – there is nothing so certain that it cannot vary. OK, the Christian will interject that the nature and attributes of God are immutable (Hebrews 13:8). Nevertheless, so the theory goes, nature selects on the basis of fitness, the matching of biological attribute to environmental demand. But nature is not simply dynamic either. There is variation – leaves change more quickly than trees, trees change more quickly than forests. It’s chaos within order, within chaos, within higher order. The most real order is not necessarily the most easily seen but rather the most unchanging – dominance hierarchy cannot be ‘seen’ at all. Second, nature is not romantic. The environment is not pristine and paradisal – it is no longer Eden. It consists of malaria, guinea worms, droughts and AIDS. Third, nature is segregated from social constructs – no, a longer lasting attribute is more natural because it has been selected more often, permanence is the evidence. And dominance hierarchy has been around for ages – it’s permanent and real and not merely a human construct. Peterson maintains that it is older than trees.

And our position in the dominance hierarchy is regulated by a master control system, which integrates our values, thoughts, actions, and so on. Thus, when we are defeated, our posture droops, we face the ground, we feel threatened anxious and weak, just like a losing lobster – we can become chronically depressed. Low serotonin equals decreased confidence, more pain, less happiness, more illness and a shorter lifespan for humans and crustaceans. This master controller, this primordial calculator, monitors your position in society. If you are top grade, then you are an overwhelming success at work and play – serotonin flows, you are calm and confident, you stand tall and straight. If you are of lowly status then your home, food, physical and mental conditions are terrible – ‘the physical demands of emergency preparedness will wear you down in every way’ – stress is a common outcome. But the master counter can go wrong – erratic sleeping and eating habits are frequent causes of malfunction. Peterson asks his clinical clients first about their sleep and then about their breakfast. Malfunctions can create feedback loops which may be destructive and can lead to mental illness – addiction to alcohol and drugs are common loops demanding more and more of the stuff – a hangover is alcohol withdrawal and the alcoholic ‘cures’ it with more booze. Similarly with agoraphobia – anxiety-induced retreats make the self smaller and the world larger and more dangerous. And with depression – feeling useless and burdensome leads to withdrawal which leads to feelings of more uselessness and burdensomeness. Yet there are some people who can’t fight back. Perhaps they are physically weaker. And some won’t fight back because they are often compassionate and self-sacrificing by temperament and thus often naive and exploitable – some self-protective anger is necessary to defend themselves. ‘If you can bite, you generally don’t have to.’ People who are pushed around need anger to spur them to say or do something to hold the tyranny at bay – such actions protect everyone from the corruption of society.

Sometimes the bullied need awakening to see the seeds of evil in themselves before their fears can decrease and their self-respect increase – ‘. . . there is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character. This is one of the most difficult lessons of life.’

‘Maybe you are a loser . . . if you slump around . . . people will assign you a lower status . . . your brain will not produce as much serotonin. This will make you become less happy, and more anxious and sad, and more likely to back down when you should stand up for yourself.’

But, ‘Circumstances change, and so can you.’ It’s the good fruit of Price’s Law. If your posture is poor you will feel small and defeated. ‘If you start to straighten up, then people will look at and treat you differently.’ [It’s why I often wear a suit and tie!] All this involves posture but also spirit. ‘You will rise to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe.’ ‘It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order.’ ‘It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).’ ‘Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.’ ‘. . . let your light shine, so to speak, on the heavenly hill, and pursue your rightful destiny.’ ‘Then you may be able to accept the terrible burden of the World, and find joy.’ ‘Look for your inspiration to the victorious lobster.’ ‘Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.’ It’s good for lobsters, and for you, and me!

RULE 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Why don’t people take their pills? Apparently for every 100 people prescribed drugs, 33 don’t even bother to get them from the chemists and 34 don’t take them as directed. Yet if a vet prescribes treatment for your dog, you are scrupulous in following the instructions. Why? Peterson reckons it’s because people love their dogs, cats, ferrets, and so forth more than themselves. How come? To unravel this conundrum Peterson goes to the Book of Genesis – well, that’s a bit of an unexpected resource. In fact, much of this chapter is shot through with an analysis of Genesis 1-3.

His take on Genesis is not exactly orthodox, evangelical exegesis. Indeed, he considers there are two different, interwoven stories as a younger ‘Priestly’ (Genesis 1) and an older ‘Jawhist’ (Genesis 1-11) account. Yet he has some interesting comments. For example, of Genesis 1 he insists that ‘[God’s] speech is the fundamental creative force.’ It is the emergence of order from chaos. He takes us back to the pre-scientific age to demonstrate that reality then was less fact-based and more subjectively experienced, like a novel or a movie. So the scientific world is one of matter – atoms, molecules, etc., whereas the world of experience has different constituents – chaos and order and consciousness. The first two drive us to despair and a failure to care for ourselves, while consciousness mediates between the two and leads to ‘the only real way out.’ Chaos is the domain of ignorance, it’s unexplored territory, it’s horror, fairytale and myth. ‘It is in short, all those things and situations we neither know nor understand.’ It is ‘. . . also the formless potential from which the God of Genesis 1 called forth order using language at the beginning of time. It’s the same potential from which we, made in that Image, call forth the novel and ever-changing moments of our lives.’ By contrast, order is explored territory, the structure of society, tribe religion, hearth, home and country. In this domain things behave as God intended – we like to be there. Well, isn’t that a fascinating take on Genesis 1?

Yet chaos and order are not inanimate things, they are ‘. . . perceived, experienced and understood . . . as personalities.’ We see or perceive chaos and order before we see them as objects – ‘we see what things mean just as fast or faster than we see what they are.’ It’s because we have a “hyperactive agency detector” within us. These personalities include male and female, parent and child – they are deeply embedded categories for us. From a Darwinian perspective [and yes, I’m still a creationist], nature, reality, the environment is what selects. Our categories are far older than our species – our most basic category is sex, male and female. Order, according to Peterson, is symbolically associated with masculinity. At first glance, this looks like a dubious assertion. But it was/is men who build cities, who engineer bridges and chop down tree. But then Peterson makes this seemingly unwarranted jump with, ‘Order is God the Father, the eternal Judge, ledger-keeper and dispenser of rewards and punishments.’ I sort of get it, but it’s a leap too far for me. Then, of course, Peterson maintains that chaos is feminine. This is partly because all known things were born of mothers – chaos is mater, origin, source. Chaos is also the crushing force of sexual selection. ‘Women are choosy maters . . . most men do not meet female human standards.’ It is, ‘Women’s proclivity to say no . . . [that] has shaped . . . the creatures we are today.’

Peterson finds this female/male duality in all religions, from the Star of David, Osiris and Isis, Fuxi and Nuwa to Mary and the Christ. And it’s in our brains too. Thus, ‘Everyone understands order and chaos, world and underworld.’ Hence we understand the real and unreal stories like Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio – we’ve all been in both places. And all this is not just descriptive, it drives us from the is to the ought. It drives us to act – it is the Way. And you were not expecting this, ‘It’s the same Way as that referred to by Christ in John 14:6. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14.’ We eternally inhabit order surrounded by chaos – they are the transcendent environment of the living. ‘To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure.’ ‘That is where meaning is to be found.’ I think I get Peterson’s thesis. A life merely of order, being stable and unchanging is dull and boring and not enough. Yet a life of chaos is too much – to be continually swamped and overwhelmed is ghastly. To navigate between the two seems right.

The next subsection is headed The Garden of Eden. Here we have the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve, the serpent, Paradise and all the other accoutrements of Genesis. Peterson sees Paradise as ‘habitable order’ and the serpent in the ‘role of chaos’. There is some unorthodox exposition including whether our primogenitors were conscious or self-conscious and whether the apple was the transitioning agent, but Peterson’s denouement is this: ‘The worst of all possible snakes is the eternal human proclivity for evil.‘ When Adam and Eve wake up they discover some terrible things – they knew that they’re naked. Naked means to be vulnerable, to be judged for beauty and health, to be unprotected – their faults stood out. No wonder they hid – they were now unworthy to stand before God. And then the hideous consequences of the Fall – the serpent is cursed, childbirth will be painful and the man will rule over Eve, but will have to work and battle against thorns and thistles. Adam and Eve are finally banished from the Garden and into the horrors of history itself. And Peterson returns us to his original question – why do we give our dog medicine but deny it ourself? His conclusion is, ‘Why should anyone take care of anything as naked, ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, cowardly, resentful, defensive and accusatory as a descendent of Adam? Even if that thing, that being, is himself.’ That’s a pretty comprehensive answer! ‘No one is more familiar than you with all the ways your body and mind are flawed. No one has more reason to hold you in contempt . . . and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings.’

And if that isn’t enough we are next fated to contemplate morality itself. Yes, it’s Good and Evil, what else? When Adam and Eve had their eyes opened they knew more than nakedness and toil – they also knew good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Dogs kill, but they are hungry, not evil. Man kills and he is evil. Why the difference? Because man has self-consciousness, we know where, why and how to hurt. ‘Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering’ – that is Peterson’s best definition of evil. ‘And with this realization we have well-nigh full legitimization of the idea, very unpopular in modern intellectual circles, of Original Sin.’ ‘Human beings have a great capacity for wrongdoing. It’s an attribute that is unique in the world of life.’ ‘What then’, the author asks, ‘is to be done?’

God creates paradisal order from a precosmogonic chaos, by decree, by fiat. And we are in His image. Peterson poses a proposition: ‘perhaps it is not simply the emergence of self-consciousness and the rise of our moral knowledge of Death and the Fall that besets us and makes us doubt our worth. Perhaps it is instead our unwillingness – reflected in Adam’s shamed hiding – to walk with God, despite our fragility and propensity for evil.’ Are those the words of a psychologist or a preacher? And there is more. ‘The entire Bible is structured so that everything after the Fall – the history of Israel, the prophets, the coming of Christ – is presented as a remedy for that Fall, a way out of evil.’ ‘And this is the amazing thing: the answer is already implicit in Genesiis 1: to embody the Image of God – to speak out of chaos the Being (remember, ‘the totality of the human experience’) that is Good – but to do so consciously, of our own free choice. Back is the way forward.’

‘If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves – but we don’t, because we are – not least in our own eyes – fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth – then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it towards Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.’

This is unexpected and strong stuff – without crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of biblical theology, it is the essential message of the Word. True, Christ seems painfully absent, but wait – here he comes. Peterson continues, ‘It is true that the idea of virtuous self-sacrifice is deeply embedded in Western culture . . . Christ’s archetypal death exists as only an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically – how to walk with God despite the tragedy of self-conscious knowledge.’ Disappointingly, Peterson is regarding Christ as just the human Example, not as the only Mediator, the sin offering, the King, the Second Person of the Trinity. Though he would probably protest, Peterson’s Christianity is about being strong and nice – standing up and speaking up for yourself and for others. As he states, ‘. . . it is always wounded people who are holding it together. They deserve some genuine and heartfelt admiration for that.’ Thus, ‘You deserve some respect. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.’ Oh, where is the transcendent, the supernatural? I’m getting more and more disappointed. But wait! Here he comes again, ‘But every person is deeply flawed. Everyone falls short of the glory of God.’ That may read like true, supernatural religion, but it soon degenerates into ‘Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself.’ And then the evangelical expectation and hope rise again, ‘That would atone for your sinful nature and replace your shame and self-consciousness with the natural pride and forthright confidence of someone who had learned once again to walk with God in the Garden.’ And finally, ‘You could begin by treating yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping.’ I think that Peterson says more than ‘Live the good life and do your best’. But here is no mention of, or need for, a redeeming Saviour here. And without a Saviour there can be no salvation. I am profoundly disappointed.

RULE 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Peterson grew up in Fairview, Alberta, a town of 3,000 people and 400 miles from the nearest city. It was bitterly cold for much of the year and dark too. As Peterson says, ‘Then your friends mattered. More than anything.’ He describes some of them. There was Chris, who ‘despite his intelligence and curiosity he was angry, resentful and without hope.’ And there was Ed, ‘a tall, smart, charming, good-looking kid.’ Both were on a downward trajectory – for them life was cars, parties with a premature cynicism and world-weariness, and their marijuana habit didn’t help. They took no responsibility for themselves or others. They did nothing. ‘Doing anything wasn’t cool.’ They rotted in Fairview, Alberta.

But Peterson and others wanted to be elsewhere – by the age of 12 they knew they would leave Fairview, Alberta. They wanted out and onto university and so they took personal responsibility and their opportunities. Peterson moved to Grande Prairie Regional College and met like-minded people who were aiming upward and that bolstered him too. Then onto Edmonton. Chris and Ed and their pot-head friend Carl visited Peterson there. They were without energy and ambition – they wanted nothing more than teenage kicks in this city of opportunities. Professionally, Peterson has long been deeply worried by such wanton young men. He asks, ‘What was it that made Chris and Carl and Ed unable (or, worse, perhaps, unwilling) to move or change their friendships and improve the circumstances of their lives?’ ‘For every individual driven to achieve, there is another who is indolent.’ Why do some continually choose friends, who, and places that, were not good for them? Freud called it ‘repetition compulsion’. And it often leads to a motivated refusal to learn.

But some people sometimes choose bad friends because they want to rescue them in order to proclaim the injustice of this world. And who can assess whether a potential friend truly wants help or is happy to exploit a willing helper? Moreover, the attempt to rescue someone can be fuelled by vanity and narcissism – Peterson illustrates this from Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. Indeed, we all know inflated, self-important social workers and counsellors who need serious help themselves. And then Peterson throws this into the mix, ‘But Christ himself, you might object, befriended tax-collectors and prostitutes. How dare I cast aspersions on the motives of those trying to help? But Christ was the archetypal perfect man. And you’re you. How do you know that your attempts to pull someone up won’t instead bring them – or you – further down?’ Now that is a good question and Peterson backs it up with the well-documented scenario of the addition of a scrimshanker to a high-flying team. ‘What happens? Does the errant interloper immediately straighten up and fly right? No. Instead, the entire team degenerates. The delinquency spreads, not the stability. Down is a lot easier than up.’ And Peterson then brutally questions the motive of every good helper ‘who wants to do the right thing. But it’s also possible – and, perhaps, more likely – that you just want to draw attention to your inexhaustible reserves of compassion and good-will.’ Phew! And his advice? ‘Assume first that you are doing the easiest thing, and not the most difficult.’

And, ‘Before you help someone, you should find out why that person is in trouble. You shouldn’t merely assume that he or she is a noble victim of unjust circumstances and exploitation. In my experience – clinical and otherwise – it’s just never been that simple.’ ‘It is far more likely that a given individual has just decided to reject the path upward, because of its difficulty. Perhaps that should be your default assumption, when faced with such a situation.’ Peterson wonders whether he is being too harsh. Yet he still maintains that, ‘Vice is easy. Failure is easy too. It’s easier not to shoulder a burden. It’s easier not to think, and not to do, and not to care. It’s easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today, and drown the upcoming months and years in today’s cheap pleasures.’ ‘Success: that’s the mystery. Virtue: that’s what’s inexplicable.’ So, what’s to be done? Peterson draws on the thinking of Carl Rogers, the famous humanistic psychologist, who believed that it is impossible to help a person who does not want to improve. The sad upshot can be, ‘Thus, I continue helping you, and console myself with my pointless martyrdom.’ Oh, how we can fool ourselves! And Peterson adds a caveat: ‘And none of this is a justification for abandoning those in real need to pursue your narrow, blind ambition, in case it has to be said.’

‘Here’s something to consider: If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself?’ That is not perhaps a Christian motivation and Matthew 6:1-4 comes to mind.

‘Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to support someone who is making the world a worse place.’ Peterson insists that, ‘You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse. It’s a good thing, not a selfish thing, to choose people who are good for you. When you dare aspire upward, you reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise of the future. You play Abel to their Cain. Don’t think it is easier to surround yourself with good healthy people than with bad unhealthy people. It’s not. Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.’ ‘Make friends with people who want the best for you.’

This review is to be continued.

This is the first part of a review of 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. John Ling is a  retired lecturer at Aberystwyth University and author of a number of books on medical ethics. His personal website can be found at

Latest Articles

How to Read a Soul-Improving Book 20 June 2024

The following, which appeared in Issues 611–612 of the Banner of Truth Magazine (Aug–Sep 2014) is from John Angell James, The Anxious Inquirer After Salvation Directed and Encouraged*. We are grateful to Mr Martyn Jolly for bringing this extract to our attention and supplying the text. It may seem strange to some persons, that I […]

The Real Evidence about Scripture and Homosexual Practice 1 June 2024

1. Jesus Claim: Jesus had no interest in maintaining a male-female requirement for sexual relations. What the evidence really shows: Jesus believed that a male-female requirement for sexual relations was foundational, a core value of Scripture’s sexual ethics on which other sexual standards should be based, including the ‘twoness’ of a sexual union. Jesus predicated […]