Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

There Are Too Many Myths And Stories, It Can Be Confusing But It’s A great Opportunity.

Written by: on February 20, 2020

In most the African traditions, children were taught by their aunts and grand parents through stories which have been passed through generations, that help explain certain myths and traditions that are related to specific communities. Its common in Africa to have stereotypes that are related to particular tribes. Its through these stories that you can trace the roots of the common beliefs and taboos. It’s always an area of interest for me whenever I’m spiritually ministering to people as a pastor or counselling, I will always try to trace the roots of their issues in the traditions, beliefs and practices of their community (tribe) but also in their family tree. In most of the cases, I always find a way to relate the truth of the Word of God to the people by tracing the myths and stories that inform their “wrong” beliefs that have been passed on through generations.

Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the university of Toronto. Reading Peterson’s book[1], Map’s of meaning was not easy, mostly because I have never done psychology and philosophy in my undergraduate and graduate studies, but it made me develop a lot of interest in philosophy. I found myself searching through the internet to try and get my bearing and gaining some basic knowledge of philosophy and Wikipedia in some way helped me navigate through the maze that is philosophy. I must say that listening to the podcast of the interview between Stephen Hicks and Jordan Peterson was also very interesting and it also served to increase my hunger for more understanding of not only philosophy but also other disciplines like psychology, sociology, anthropology and theology and determined to look for the easiest way to have some basic knowledge in these disciplines as I pursue my doctoral studies and beyond.

Jordan Peterson draws from many disciplines in his book, to show how we interpret life through myths and stories that have been passed through the generations from our ancestors. He therefore concludes that people do not look at life objectively as if there are objects out there that we perceive, rather we inherit maps of meaning from our ancestors, through myths and stories. He uses neuropsychology and makes reference to scientific evidence to explain how human beings behave and suggests that people do not primarily experience the world empirically as “a place of things” that can be objectively tested and validated by multiple observers but rather phenomenologically as “a forum for action” composed of known territory (areas of experience where you know where you are, what you want, and what to do to get what you want), unknown territory (areas of experience that indicate you don’t [fully] know where you are, what you want, or what to do to get what you want), and the individual ( as they experience navigation within and between the territories, voluntarily and/or involuntarily). These pre-empirical representations structure all human behavior and it is what archaic minds of the past attempted to document in their mythologies[2]. Peterson then makes the case for how the brain categorize the known and unknown territory in ways consistent with mythological representation, and can voluntarily (re) categorize experiential anomalies – can transform “the ‘unknown and terrifying world’ into the comfortable, productive, and familiar”, through cautious exploratory behavior. It is this interplay of the known, unknown and the knower that appears in the various mythic imagery/motifs (taken from different cultures and time periods) and what implications these recurring themes should have on human behavior that Peterson uses to advance his argument. He argues that two phenomenological options constantly war for human embodiment through behavior and representation: arrogant (yet cowardly and childish) omniscience or humble (yet courageous and mature) inquiry, that is you can either choose to ignore anomalies ( anything you don’t expect/understand, including your mistakes) or you can cautiously approach anomalies until you successfully attain resources/behaviors/realistic desires that get you what you want. According to Peterson, these options constitute the mythic battle between the good and the evil and he argues that it is in your interest to be good. Peterson then makes the case for people to be more exposed to the unknown because in so doing they create more myths to guide future behavior and representation and will contribute to making the world a better place.

In my African context, I realize that there are many myths and stories that have been passed through generations that inform many of the issues that I encounter in ministry. In my country, there are 42 indigenous tribes with different cultures and languages and many more immigrants have settled in my country. As a Christian leader, this work by Peterson is very helpful in understanding human behavior but also helps me as a leader to know that I can influence others by how I behave and represent myself in society. I’m continually creating myths that will influence others, and there is no better way that to live for Christ as a witness to many.

[1] Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. (New York: Psychology Press, 1999).

[2] Ibid,…page 35

About the Author

Wallace Kamau

Wallace is a believer in Christ, Married to Mary Kamau (Founder and Executive Director of Missions of Hope International) and father to 3 Wonderful children, Imani Kamau (Graduate student at London School of Economics, UK), Victory Kamau (Undergraduate student at Portland state University, Oregon, USA) and David Kamau ( Grade student at Rosslyn Academy). Founder and Director, Missions of Hope International (www.mohiafrica.org), CPA, BAchelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Nairobi, Masters of Arts (Leadership) from Pan African Christian University.

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