Since I mentioned the article on the Catholicism of Marshall McLuhan , I’ve been apprised of two more worthy essays about the Canadian thinker.

In The New Atlantis , Alan Jacobs asks why we should bother with McLuhan :

I have been reading McLuhan off and on since, at age sixteen, I bought a copy of The Gutenberg Galaxy. His centenary — McLuhan was born in Edmonton, Alberta on July 21, 1911 — provides an occasion for me to clarify my own oscillating responses to his work and his reputation. I have come to certain conclusions. First, that McLuhan never made arguments, only assertions. Second, that those assertions are usually wrong, and when they are not wrong they are highly debatable. Third, that McLuhan had an uncanny instinct for reading and quoting scholarly books that would become field-defining classics. Fourth, that McLuhan’s determination to bring the vast resources of humanistic scholarship to bear upon the analysis of new media is an astonishingly fruitful one, and an example to be followed. And finally, that once one has absorbed that example there is no need to read anything that McLuhan ever wrote.

And at CERC, Fr. Raymond J. De Souza argues that religious thinking is essential to understanding McLuhan’s work :

McLuhan’s famous dictum noted how something is communicated – the medium – has its own effect on the message, independent of what is communicated. A text message may contain words of lapidary import, but the medium empties them of the significance they would assume if they were literally lapidary, carved in stone.

In the person of Jesus Christ, a divine person with a human nature, McLuhan saw that God reveals that He is personal, and that He freely implicates Himself in the full breadth and depth of the human experience. The incarnate God chose a medium – our human nature – that contains its own message, namely that God loves His creation, enters it, suffers for it and redeems it.

Articles by Joe Carter

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