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…]

Garrison Keillor and the test of a good religion

Garrison Keillor has stepped away from Prairie Home Companion.  Ethan McCarthy discusses his depiction of the Midwest and its values, which Keillor loves, though he often finds them annoying.  But you’ve got to read what McCarthy says about Keillor’s depiction of the church and Christianity (excerpted and linked after the jump), which, I suspect, many of you will relate to.

McCarthy closes with a quotation from G. K. Chesterton:  “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” [Read more…]

Talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation

Elizabeth Scalia quotes G. K. Chesterton on what happens when the “young generation” gets old, claiming that he is nailing us Baby Boomers before any of us were born. [Read more…]

Father Brown mysteries on BBC

G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, about a mild-mannered priest who solves crimes because he understands man’s sinful nature, is being televised on BBC.  It’s been so popular that it has been renewed for a second season.  Unfortunately, the series isn’t being shown here, not even on BBC America, and it isn’t available on Netflix.  Someday, we can hope, since BBC typically does a terrific job with material like that.  (Have you seen the BBC adaption of the Kurt Wallander mysteries by Henning Mankell, starring Kenneth Branagh?)  If anyone has seen the Father Brown stories, let us know how they are.  I know we have readers from across the pond.  (Details about the series after the jump.) [Read more…]

Journalism as a picture of exceptions

Mollie Hemingway, in the context of a post on how the media completely ignored a huge evangelical youth gathering, quotes the great G. K. Chesterton on the nature of journalism:

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. [Read more…]

Madness

More details come out about the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner’s insanity.  I was struck with this paragraph in a description of his delusions (none of which were apparently related to politics, despite what is still being said):

Slowly but steadily, his intelligence warped into a distorted, disconnected series of obsessions. He developed an illogical fascination with logic. Math, grammar, logic – the systems civilization has developed to make sense of the world became the means through which he expressed the confusion and pain in his increasingly lost mind.

via Friends, teachers tell of Loughner’s descent into world of fantasy.

This reminds me of G. K. Chesterton’s comment in Orthodoxy that a madman is not someone who has lost his reason, but someone who has lost everything but his reason.  Chesterton pointed out that madmen often carry a kind of logic to its extreme–circular reasoning, seeing evidence of conspiracies everywhere, closely analyzing ordinary occurrences and finding sinister meanings–but they lack normal human feelings and perspectives.