Scruton and Peterson on Apprehending the Transcendent

Every other Friday, I will offer subscribers of this blog videos, articles, and podcasts on the subject of culture creation. These are people who inspire with their mind, who humble with their talent, and who point a possible way forward for the creation of a Christian culture.

This week, I’m happy to begin with a discussion between Sir Roger Scruton and Jordan Peterson in Cambridge University. This is a fascinating glimpse into two very different minds and experiences that  come to agreement beautifully. I recommend that you especially pay attention around minute 43:00.

At that point, the moderator addresses the reality of our world’s increasing fragmentation. He asks both of them how we can help inspire people with a vision of a common culture. Not surprisingly, their answer involves literature. Also tune into the third minute of the second hour, when both provide interesting answers about how to practically help people apprehend the transcendent. All of it is really, really good.


If you subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box below this article, you’ll receive some more recommended reading for this week, including:

  • The Enduring Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle
  • Divine Providence in Babette’s Feast
  • The Pilgrimage of Malcolm Muggeridge
  • The Applicability of Story

And more.

Just sign up below and you’ll receive a bi-weekly email with inspiring resources that I hope will help all of us visualize and bring about the creation of a new Christian Culture. I will also share reading lists and other exclusive gifts. I hope you’ll join up below.


  1. I was familiar with Jordan Peterson and have listened to many of his lectures, but have not previously heard of Roger Scruton. A great dialogue indeed from both sides and very insightful. Thank you for posting it.
    Roger Scruton has also a lot to say about the loss of European Christian culture in other pod videos. and how sad it stands. .
    Grasping the transcendent in the natural order of things is like Intercourse and carries with it great dangers if not properly advised, educated and matured. Many seek it for pleasure alone and not prepared to pay the price and responsibilities that come with it, or should I say they seek what they do not know or its mandate/purpose.? May there be peace to rebuild what has been torn down thru oppression and war efforts on the spiritual… is every generations task. God still remains God respectively.. MAN CAN NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE……perhaps when the economy fails us, people will have time for each other, community and time for reflection to include God again. Maybe then they will Value what they’ve destroyed in their drunken state of greed (self- destructive). Lessons from the past, and it defies my imagination that it has not been taught or past down. Stories of real life, man, God and renewal. Ugliness, Vengeance, Death, Pain, Sufferings, Loss etc., recovering to become more compassionate, loving, caring awaken human beings with a responsibility to awaken the rest of the world of the consequences. It has not done so,…but God watches over his own. .

    1. I agree with much of what you’ve said. I especially agree about the dangers of grasping the transcendent through created things, except I would argue that most of us have become so materialistic that capturing a semi-pagan appreciation for the living power of the created world is almost a prerequisite for apprehending the transcendent more generally. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov met God in the forests outside his family estate at an early age, and that was enough for him to commit to monasticism.

      1. Does your last statement contradict the general Orthodox belief that you can only meet God in the church and thru the Eucharist? But I agree with you, one can meet God anywhere at any time and experience a lifelong stable lifeline that marks and sustains you. But for many a monastery is not the answer. Living with the knowledge, but only visible in the changes of you from others, is harder to come to terms with when the outcome is mostly rejection of the natural spiritual encounters that has changed and sustained you thru the knowledge gained. Though this process happens in the natural life too thru out your life, from kinder-garden on, but the transcendent changes you in a dramatic and overwhelming way. It has you but you don’t have it. It sounds paradox, but it is true. Kind of like the song….He walks with you and he talks with you…..etc. such is the delight of children and childhood., fluidity as a natural state.

        1. You certainly can’t simply stop and wallow in Natural Revelation, no. It’s an important first step. The importance of the life in the sacraments is, at least partially, that it focuses that energy you’re talking about into a way that allows you to encounter God directly, with less possibility of self (or demonic) delusion.


    Psychology of Redemption in Christianity. A very good lecture too by Jordan Peterson, And so much comprehensive understanding. Love it and hope you don’t mind me sharing it. Not meant to take away from your excellent posts and essay’s on Orthodoxy, but to compliment. It ties into the narrative of, Nation Creation, Culture , and stories creation etc.

  3. What an amazing conversation! I love what Sir Roger Scruton said about Bach’s mass containing memory. That is such an important aspect of music, lyrical (I would exclude modern “music”) or instrumental. It floods us with a wealth of memory and teaches us empathy. Just like when we read a story and place ourselves in a character and learn to feel compassion for them, so music places us in memories of the past, whether personal memories or memories from before our time. Tolkien made great use of this in most of the races in Middle Earth, especially the elves. It seems that often the songs are a personification of the race. The elves’ is long and lyrical, sometimes sad, sometimes happy; the hobbit’s is usually short and jovial. Yet all still have songs of melancholy remembrance. Thank you for sharing!

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