The following books and courses, while not an exhaustive list, have had an enormous impact on my intellectual development:
Friedrich Nietzsche - Thus Spake Zarathustra!, The Twilight of the Idols, The Genealogy of Morals
S. Kierkergaard - The Present Age, The Sickness Unto Death
Arthur Schopenhauer - The World as Will and Idea
Albert Camus - The Stranger, The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus
Ayn Rand - Capitalism
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
Joseph Campbell - The Hero With A Thousand Faces, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, Occidental Mythology, Myths to Live By, The Power of Myth (interview series with Bill Moyers)
John Dominic Crossan - The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant
Eric Fromm - The Dogma of Christ
Robert M. Price - Holy Fable: The Old
Testament Undistorted by Faith
Richard Carrier - On The Historicity of Jesus
S.G.F. Brandon - Jesus and the Zealots:A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity
Reza Aslan - Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Robert M. Price - The Old Testament Undistorted by Faith
Houston Smith - The World's Religions
Ken Wilber - A Brief History of Everything, The Spectrum of Consciousness, The Marriage of Sense and Soul, Up From Eden, Eye To Eye: The Quest for a New Paradigm, The Eye of Spirit, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Boomeritis
Jordan B. Peterson - Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life
Carl Jung - Psychology and Religion
Eric Neumann - The Origins and History of Consciousness
Milton Friedman - Free To Choose
Friedrich Hayek - The Road to Serfdom
Robert Heilbroner - The Worldly Philosophers
Classic Lit. -
George Orwell - 1984, Animal Farm, The Road to Wigan Pier
Herman Hesse - The Glass Bead Game, Siddhartha
Lewis Carroll - Alice in Wonderland
C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia
J.R.R Tolkein - The Lord of the Rings, The Samirillion
Ayn Rand - The Fountainhead, Altas Shrugged
Clive Barker - Imajica, Weaveworld
Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcylce Maintenance
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter cycle
Robert Pullman - His Dark Materials trilogy
Lev Grossman - The Magicians trilogy
Raymond Feist - Riftwar Saga
Gary Zukav - The Dancing Wu Li Masters
Carl Sagan - The Demon Haunted World
Landmark Education- Landmark Forum (three day educational intensive seminar using insights from existentialism, Buddhism, and other traditions to unlock personal responsibility and meaning-making)
Social Capital Society
The Social Capital Society is an attempt at applying Peter's overall approach to living well to the realm of community relationships, interaction, and development.
The Social Capital Society Creed
The most authentic experience of Being is available through the action of pursuing the highest value we can imagine. The path toward this value is illuminated by the apprehension of meaning. To discover meaning, we must take responsibility for our place in the world. To do that, we must tell our truth in every moment- especially when the path forward is unclear.
Truth - Responsibility - Meaning - Value - Action - Being
Social capital is the currency with which individuals and groups build appreciation, admiration, acknowledgement, commitment, and reciprocity of action toward one another in the shared desire to pursue meaningful lives. The Social Capital Society operates in tandem with The Peter Benjamin Music Workshop and focuses on building individual, relational, and communal integrity through principles derived from collective action and dialectic process among those who participate. This dialectic is performed through the sharing and distribution of ideas, experiences, insights, knowledge, skills, and expertise. Put more simply, we come together to share our experiences, skills, knowledge, and insights in order to create a healthier world.
The SCS seeks action, partnership, and service with a wide range of people and organizations. Here are just a few of the groups and organizations that we are involved with.
Meetings and activities -
Life, Labor, & Work - Discussions on how to integrate what you do for a living with what you do for life.
We live in a time of significant economic and social change. As a expression of this change, the connection between our jobs, our relationships, our habits, and our health is perhaps more confusing than ever. The life, labor, and work discussion group is a one-on-one and/or group dialogue designed to give you tools and strategies on how best to optimize life's most important things. Contact Peter at to see how you can participate!
Reflection, Value, & Dialogue - Identifying and orienting yourself toward your highest value.
The religious act of worship is essentially one of acknowledging and orienting ourselves to the thing(s) we value most highly. For traditionally religious people, this highest value is understood as God. However, whether or not we consider ourselves religious, we all have a set of values that we arrange into some kind of hierarchy, whether or not we realize it. For some, it might be family.* For others it could be work. For still others it might be art, music, or some other creative pursuit. It's important to realize however, that any action in pursuit of our highest values is religious in nature. Unfortunately, many people are oriented toward the pursuit of things that aren't good for them or those around them. Perhaps we can re-identify and reformulate what we most value and reorient ourselves in pursuit of them such that our lives have the greatest possible meaning.
The Reflection, Value, and Dialogue program currently takes place Sunday mornings and is interactive educational group meeting focusing on the discussion and development of the core ideas and values out of which we can live the most authentic and productive human lives. The group focuses on biblical narratives as well as a diverse range of sources including academic, literary, film, music, and philosophical to more fully contextualize the stories that form the foundation of our shared civilization. This program is geared toward families,* groups, and individuals who may not have a strong doctrinal commitment within a church but who are interested in the foundational narratives and teaching of the biblical canon. Peter approaches The Bible and other sacred writings, narratives, and texts as a studied and informed lay-philosopher and experienced educator and whose lifestyle is heavily bent toward religious ideas and practice, regardless of their historical or cultural origins.
* In my experience, one of the most powerful driving forces behind the loss of meaning in our lives has to do with the disappointment and dysfunction around the relationships within our own families. Humans understand and experience the fundamental realities of the world in large part through the personalities or images of the father, mother, and child. If our experience of these basic personalities of nature becomes somehow damaged or otherwise pathological, we will struggle to exist fully and authentically in the world as adults. Simply put, strengthening and repairing family roles and relationships is a major part of improving our lives.
Contact Peter at to see how you can participate.
Useful websites, Podcasts, & Content Creators:
Daniel Schmactenberger- The Consilience Project, Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, Jordan Peterson, The Portal with Eric Weinstein, Paul VanderKlay, Jordan Greenhall, Academic Agent, John Vervaeke (Cognitive Scientist, University of Toronto), Rebel Wisdom, The Boyce of Reason, Making Sense with Sam Harris, Zero Books with Douglas Lain, New Discourses with James Lyndsey, Po the Person, The Critical Drinker, MythVision Podcast,
Peter Benjamin Schatz earned a Bachelor of Musical Arts from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 where he studied under renown composers, choral directors, philosophers and theologians. He supplemented his music studies with a broad range of philosophy, religion, and humanities courses. His time at PLU was a seminal moment in his intellectual and artistic development.