Our dinner with the Petersons

Jordan and Tammy Peterson with Ron and Karin Dart. They were joined by (from left) Matthew Steem, Gregg Hurwitz and Lauren Southern.

I edited a book on Jordan Peterson, published in 2020 as Myth and Meaning in Jordan Peterson: A Christian Perspective. Then, in 2022, I contributed two essays to Jordan Peterson: Critical Responses.

Both before and between those books I have done many podcasts and interviews on Peterson. And plenty of my students and fellow faculty are pro and contra Peterson.

So, given my ongoing interest in Peterson, it was only fit and timely that we met Peterson, who was in Abbotsford to give a sold out presentation May 18.

My wife (Karin) and I hosted a dinner May 17 with Jordan and Tammy Peterson and Lauren Southern (who played a role in launching Peterson in Toronto in 2016). Also with us were Gregg Hurwitz (a much published American writer who did his thesis at Harvard with Peterson and was on the panel of Jordan’s series on Exodus) and Matthew Steem.

It was a feast of an evening at many levels, conversations animated and lively, poignant and political, literary, cultural, religious and educational – never a dull moment as the food of varied and diverse dialogues was inwardly digested.

We chatted about Jordan’s work on biblical exegesis and its application to the faith journey, his work on Babel, Canadian thinkers such as Stephen Leacock and George Grant, and C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, a book with much import and insight.

Needless to say, many were the hot button issues discussed in the area of politics, and given the upcoming provincial election in Alberta, I asked Jordan about his friendship, when both were young, with Rachel Notley. (Jordan and Rachel spent significant years in Fairview Alberta, where the Notley family embodied the NDP way and Jordan was well connected to the family.) Jordan had many kind things to say about Rachel when they knew one another many a decade ago.

Ron Dart

Jordan and Lauren sat side by side and had much to converse about, just as Karin and Tammy (both tender of heart and soul) went to kindly and deep places. Matthew and Gregg, alert to many an issue sat enthralled as they traversed much literary terrain.

I did my best to take in the conversational banquet, my attention more with Jordan and Lauren (so much being discussed between them given their controversial history and reactions to them by all sorts on the ideological spectrum).

The point to note and linger with is that all at the table were neither ideologically on the right or left – they have seen too much to uncritically genuflect to such tribes.

I gave Jordan a copy of my tome, The North American High Tory Tradition (2016) as he left – hopefully, he finds it of some use.

Matthew and Lauren lingered longer (Lauren having taken classes with me on George Grant, Canadian Intellectual Tradition and Augustine’s City of God) – she also brought fine desserts as did Matthew a lovely vase of flowers.

Karin brought the evening to a close with a harp lullaby (her golden concert harp a beauty of a sound). Matthew and Lauren left into the dark night by 10 pm, a full evening of discussions, music and much else now banked in our memories.

Ron Dart was on staff with Amnesty International before he joined University of the Fraser Valley in 1990. He will retire as Associate Professor at UFV in August.

He is the Political Science advisor to the Stephen Leacock Home/Museum, on the National Executive of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, and he has written on a wide range of people (and issues), including George Grant, Stephen Leacock and Thomas Merton. In all, he has published 41 books.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *