The Messiah is the Message

Marshall McLuhan, 1911-1980

Over at the Walrus, I have an assessment of Marshall McLuhan at the 100 anniversary of his birth, with a focus on him as a Catholic intellectual. You can read the article here.

An excerpt:

Indeed, his faith made him a more ambitious and far-reaching thinker. Belonging to a Church that gloried in cathedrals and stained glass windows made him responsive to the visual environment, and liberated him from the textual prison inhabited by most intellectuals of his era. The global reach and ancient lineage of the Church encouraged him to frame his theories as broadly as possible, to encompass the whole of human history and the fate of the planet. The Church had suffered a grievous blow in the Gutenberg era, with the rise of printed Bibles leading to the Protestant Reformation. This perhaps explains McLuhan’s interest in technology as a shaper of history. More deeply, the security he felt in the promise of redemption allowed him to look unflinchingly at trends others were too timid to notice.

3 thoughts on “The Messiah is the Message

  1. Thank Mark! I used to get linked on AL Daily all the time when I wrote for Lingua Franca and the Boston Globe but this is the first time one of my long Walrus articles has been linked, so its a happy occasion.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful article in Walrus. The comments below your article are priceless. Paraphrasing, Either McLuhan wasn’t so great, after all, or you must be mistaken about his Catholicism. OR… his Catholicism was unorthodox.

    As someone who was a Catholic teenager in the Sixties, and who read McLuhan “religiously,” and watched him on television whenever possible, I can assure you that McLuhan was considered very Catholic, very conservative, and very orthodox. He had more in common with William F. Buckley than with Liberation Theologists.

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