Marshall McLuhan thought my tribe (re: Protestants) was to blame for the ills of the modern world. As he once wrote his mother, “I need scarcely indicate that everything that is especially hateful and devilish and inhuman about the conditions and strain of modern industrial society is not only Protestant in origin, but it is their boast(!) to have originated it.”

First, ouch. Second, probably true! Third, I’d normally take offense to such swipes but I’d forgive McLuhan just about anything. He was, after all, the greatest thing to ever come out of Canada. Sadly, too few Americans (especially the younger generations) have been exposed to his weird genius.

Fortunately, the Canadian magazine The Walrus has a good intro and an explanation of how Catholicism made McLuhan “one of the twentieth century’s freest and finest thinkers”:

On moral matters, he remained very conservative. He was adamantly anti-abortion, for example. But part of his achievement as a mature thinker was his ability to bracket off whatever moral objections to the modern world he might have had and to concentrate on exploring new developments — to be a probe. Indeed, although he joined the Church as a refuge, his faith gave him a framework for becoming more hopeful and engaged with modernity. This paradox might be explained by the simple fact that as he deepened in his faith he acquired an irenic confidence in God’s unfolding plan for humanity. In a 1971 letter to an admirer, McLuhan observed, “One of the advantages of being a Catholic is that it confers a complete intellectual freedom to examine any and all phenomena with the absolute assurance of their intelligibility.”

Read more . . .

(Via: Gene Veith )

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