Marshall McLuhan, conservative Catholic

5571845609_c077117223_oMarshall McLuhan, who basically invented the study of media, became an icon of the 1960’s with his praise of the new information technology and his predictions of the new tribalism that it would make possible.  McLuhan arguably predicted the effects of the internet before the internet was invented.

And yet, as Jefferson Pooley reminds us, McLuhan got his start as a conservative cultural critic who, influenced by G. K. Chesterton, became a traditionalist Catholic who opposed the reforms of Vatican II.

I would argue that his criticism of the printing press and the thought-forms it made possible is connected to his opposition to the Reformation, which he called “the greatest cultural disaster in the history of civilization.”  And that his “global village” that he thought the new electronic media would usher in represents his yearning for Medieval Catholicism, with its visual images and its corporate unity.

Read Pooley’s piece on McLuhan, started after the jump. [Read more…]

Gift idea:  Christianity Today’s 2017 book awards

Christianity Today has announced its 2017 book awards.  The list of winners in all of the different categories might give you some good ideas for Christmas presents.

I like book editor Matt Reynolds’ introduction to the list.   He surveys how, thanks to the new printing press, Luther’s Reformation in 1517 was tied to the reading of books.  Reading popularized the Reformation, and the Reformation popularized reading.
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Why the Pope likes Luther

At the joint Catholic/Lutheran service in Sweden, commemorating Reformation Day, Pope Francis was said to have “issued some of the most positive language ever used by a pope to describe Martin Luther and his beliefs.”

The Pope said that the doctrine of justification “expresses the essence of human existence before God.”  The Reformation “helped give greater centrality to sacred scripture in the Church’s life.”  And in his teaching that salvation is “by grace alone, ” Luther “reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.”

The Pope also signed a commitment with the head of the Lutheran World Federation to work towards full intercommunion between the two theological traditions.

After the jump, a news story about the developments from a Catholic publication.  For the full text of the Pope’s remarks, go here.  For the Communion agreement, go here.  See also my thoughts on the matter.

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All Saints’ Day, the Reformation, and the shadow of Death

As he mourns a death in his family, Mathew Block brings together the Reformation and All Saints’ Day.  [Read more…]

The Reformation as a restoration of catholicity

Even some Protestants are saying that we shouldn’t celebrate Reformation Day.  Why celebrate the breakup of the catholicity of the Church?  In his excellent Reformation Sunday sermon, our pastor quoted the distinguished seminary professor and theologian Norman Nagel, who maintained that the Reformation was actually a restoration of the Church’s catholicity.

Read why after the jump.

UPDATE:  Dr. Nagel made a rare mistake in crediting Irenaeus for the quotation when it should have been St. Ignatius of Antioch.  (HT:  Steve)

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Pope praises Luther

Pope Francis is set to celebrate Reformation Day in a joint service with Swedish Lutherans.  A story from NPR quotes him praising Luther.

It’s appropriate for Catholics to celebrate Reformation Day!  As Pope Francis says, the church had become extremely corrupt.  Without the Reformation, there would be no Counter-Reformation, which is where much of today’s Catholicism and Catholic lay piety comes from (the Rosary, frequent Communion by the laity, Catholic schools, the Jesuits, etc.). [Read more…]