The Virgin Mary, Liberated Women & Family [Marshall McLuhan Monday]

Father Patrick Peyton interviews Marshall McLuhan

With all the talk about Mary these days (it’s Advent), let’s hear more of Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts on our Blessed Mother. In an interview with Father Patrick Peyton on EWTN, McLuhan spoke about the forthcoming role-playing age, in which Mary could serve as a prime role model:

I think of her as a very liberated woman indeed. The Mother of God is, after all, a fairly liberated person. […] I think that women have become the victims of, as they say, “a man’s world” but a man’s world at the last gasp of its old pattern of extreme specialism and fragmentation. The world that we are leaving behind us—the old nineteenth-century world of hardware and industrial specialism and job holding—all this kind of world is yielding to a new world of role-playing and joyfulness and fulfillment in depth, rather than in the superficial, functionary pattern of the job holder.

Women today are caught between these two worlds. They want to be liberated from the old world. They want to be initiated into the joys of the new role-playing and the new depth involvement in a great and exciting life.

Actually, it’s obvious to me that the family represents a much richer role for all members of the family than anything else that is available to man. The family as a means or as a situation for role-playing and involvement is not only immemorial but is profoundly natural to man and profoundly necessary for his daily nourishment and comfort.

If you’re confused about McLuhan’s term “role-playing,” you’ll want to review this previous MMM post. I’m fascinated that McLuhan saw our present-day multitasking, idea-driven economy on the horizon, and he recognized that it’s much more in line with the way women are ‘wired.’ Women’s brains process information as all-connected & all-involving.

What’s Mary got to do with this? She “pondered all these things in her heart,” Luke says. Mary’s femininity allows her to engage with everything in a more all-involving way. She ponders many things at once. She surely prayed while working and caring for her Son — we’ve all seen women do this all-involving multitasking so well.

Mary’s freedom from the stain of original sin since conception, liberates her from the weight of sin. At the Annunciation, she knew her identity as a Daughter of Israel, and precious in God’s sight. No lies blinded her. She trusted God. In all that knowledge, she said, “Yes,” to this all-involving role, Mother of God. Truly, she is liberated.

Let’s strive to be as liberated as she.


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