Passion and Precision: The Faith of Marshall McLuhan

passion and precision the faith of marshall mcluhan

The Catholic Church does not depend on human wisdom or human strategies for survival. All the best intentions in the world can’t destroy the Catholic Church! It is indestructible, even as a human institution. It may once again undergo a terrible persecution and so on. But that’s probably what it needs. – Marshall McLuhan Precision This is a [...]

Did McLuhan’s Deeply Held Roman Catholic Convictions Bias His Scholarship?

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“He was a very religious man and, as a matter of fact, that was the only thing that helped him through the 15 months after his stroke. That was the core of his being – his religious strength. – Corinne McLuhan, Marshall’s wife (McLuhan, C. 1988).” McLuhan’s religious beliefs did not bias his scholarship or [...]

The Railing Principle

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Who was that guy—that first guy who thought, “I’m going to use my roof as a second floor”? When did it occur to him that the ceiling over his head could become a new floor beneath his feet? Was he lying in bed in the pre-dawn? Was he staring up at the ceiling with his [...]

Through the Looking Glass of an iPhone

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The call of Pope Francis to take the Gospel to the streets also includes the digital ones. The first message of Pope Francis for World Communications Day is consistent with the Holy Father’s concern for reaching individuals where they are. Today that often means the virtual confines of the digital environment. The Holy Father’s message [...]

Conscience of a Machine

conscience of a machine

Gary Marcus has predicted that within the next two to three decades we would enter an era “in which it will no longer be optional for machines to have ethical systems.” Marcus invites us to imagine the following driverless car scenario: “Your car is speeding along a bridge at fifty miles per hour when errant school [...]

The Marriage of Religion and Technology: Reading Apple’s Allegorical Advertising

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Steve Jobs invited a number of lofty comparisons during his career. The New York Times likened him to Thomas Edison. Others have called him the Leonardo da Vinci of our generation. Jobs also had a lot in common with the early American philosopher-inventor, Benjamin Franklin. He inherited Franklin’s “Protestant ethic” of mixing morality and capitalism [...]

Present Shock and Paul

present shock and paul

In haste, I broke open my fortune cookie, discarding the cardboard tasting shell, searching for that slip of paper of banal wisdom.  But to my surprise, there was nothing inside.  Thinking I must have missed it hidden within the folds of the golden-ochre pieces, I double-checked to no avail.  I had no fortune.  Maybe this [...]

Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing! The End of Progress and the Beginning of a Third Way

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At times I feel like George Jetson rotating round and round on my treadmill outside the Skypad apartments. I want to scream, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!” I have this gut feeling that something is very, very wrong with the world. I am not just referring to the problem of evil or what theologians call original [...]

Drones: Deliver Us From Evil?

drones deliver us from evil

Until Sunday a week ago, drones had a pretty poor reputation. Evoking dark visions of “death from above,” they were seen as killing machines, armed with bombs and bullets, guided by the hands of remote pilots seated comfortably at a military base with a joystick and a video-game-like console. Even the term, “drone,” connotes a [...]

The E-Book and the Surveillance Society

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When I embarked on a reading of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, in the spring of 2013, a commercial e-book version was not yet available. I located a bootleg PDF copy online somewhere. It was an interesting artifact, not well formatted but possibly useful for copying passages to paste into another document. I could have read the [...]