Commercial media v. non-commercial [MMcLuhan Monday]

Southern Cross Hangout 1

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of discussing new media, recent news, and marketing with Southern Cross New Media Project – friends from Australia and New Zealand. We had a lovely time, and we look forward to scheduling some more conversations especially around the place of marketing thought in Catholic media.

For our Marshall McLuhan Monday, I thought I’d share a clip from McLuhan’s 1977 appearance in Australia. Does what he say here contradict what my Aussie & Kiwi friends and I said? Let me know what you think: Do sponsored programs pay more attention to their audience than non-commercial ones?

Two women sing Brown’s “Man’s World” in Japanese + Spanish + English

Man's World by women

Proven talent! That’s one reason why I prefer NBC’s The Voice over FOX’s American Idol.

Let me introduce you to two powerful women: Karina Iglesias, music teacher, and Judith Hill, former duet partner to Michael Jackson. These two are competing in The Voice, and recently battled each other singing “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. That’s the first video here. The second video showcases their multilingual abilities, as they adapt Brown’s song to their respective family languages…

I’m just sharing ’cause it’s inspiring, woman-powered music!


Japanese + Spanish = Japonespañol

It Changed the Way I Receive Eucharist

Beside me, Mary Jane Fox, co-founder of Pilgrim Center of Hope, and on the other side of Mary are my fellow luncheon speakers Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras and Nan Balfour.
Beside me, Mary Jane Fox, co-founder of Pilgrim Center of Hope, and on the other side of Mary are my fellow speakers Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras and Nan Balfour.
Beside me, Mary Jane Fox, co-founder of Pilgrim Center of Hope, and on the other side of Our Lady are my fellow speakers Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras and Nan Balfour.

Last Saturday, someone voted me for ‘first woman priest.’ (See how I responded here.)

That was interesting. God bless her.

But seriously, the Catholic Women’s Luncheon turned out to be a beautiful event, with powerful fruits. Women have overwhelmed me with kind words in response to my talk, “Lift Up Your Hearts,” saying that it changed the way they approach the Mass and receive Holy Communion. I’m so happy! All glory to God for his love..

Church: Primary, Immediate Agent of Evangelization [MM Monday]

The late, great Marshall McLuhan. Photo by Manuel Bidermanas.

Dear readers, as much as I enjoy Marshall McLuhan Mondays, they are taking over the blog! McLuhan’s personality and work will remain interests of mine, but my favorite things are practical tools and inspirations for you all who volunteer or work in the Church, with media. Therefore, I’ll be posting the last Marshall McLuhan Monday on the day after what would have been McLuhan’s 102nd birthday: July 22, 2013.

The late, great Marshall McLuhan. Photo by Manuel Bidermanas.
The late, great Marshall McLuhan. Photo by Manuel Bidermanas.

Michael W. Higgins notes the following, about Marshall McLuhan’s connection between our changing media eras and their effects upon humanity – and therefore, upon the Church. I want you to help me chew on this:

He commented on more than one occasion that the visual age had ended, and with it had ended the emphasis on centralisation, cataloguing, control from the core. Because that was collapsing all over the world and in the church as well and the church was largely unaware of it, it was ill-equipped to understand what was happening to it. But what was happening was actually freeing the church up to become a primary and immediate agent of evangelisation.

Whew! That’s quite a bit to unpack. We’ve previously discussed McLuhan’s thoughts on the decline of the Roman Curia. What I’m more curious to ponder is the idea that this whittling away at bureaucracy is “freeing the church up to become a primary and immediate agent of evangelisation.”

How is the Church becoming more 1) a primary agent of evangelization, and 2) an immediate agent of evangelization? What examples can you see in relation to this lessening of bureaucracy?

A tickle for your brain: Pope Francis has been emphasizing a more evangelical, less “self-referential” Church.

McLuhan: Media “in Luciferian conspiracy” [MM Monday]

Gosnell ignored

So, let’s explore!

In a Crisis Magazine interview, Fr. John Hardon, S.J., describes his discovering a remarkable ‘probe’ by the most famous media professor of all time:

Father Mole showed me the letter which he had just received from McLuhan, and in the postscript of that letter McLuhan wrote this statement, “The modem media are engaged in a Luciferian conspiracy against the truth.” Certain statements you never forget. And that was prophetic.

Looking back on McLuhan’s statements about what modern media have accomplished, we find a few items which perhaps McLuhan considered, especially from his Catholic perspective, indeed “Luciferian” –

  • modern man’s experience of being “a kind of disembodied spirit”
  • loss of private identity
  • communities “destroyed”
  • families reduced to “bare-bones”, under tremendous “stress”
  • “state becomes religion”

etcetera. Is that to say we can find nothing laud-worthy about modern media? Not in my view — McLuhan’s words were, after all, “…engaged in a Luciferian conspiracy…” rather than “…are a Luciferian conspiracy…”

Consider: This past Friday, “Gosnell” was trending on Twitter, due to public outcry against mainstream media outlets for (clearly) avoiding the trial of Kermit Gosnell.

Consider: McLuhan’s probes / statements listed above are all regarding the various media themselves, rather than their contents.

Fascinating, then, isn’t it — to consider the desperate, Luciferian attempts to use both media and message to sabotage man, identity, community, family, religion, and – as McLuhan so smartly quipped – truth? We fail to recognize these attempts. As Catholics would say: What is Luciferian is often ignored or mistaken for good. That’s the danger.

And that’s my probing for today.

Pope Francis Search Engine – Search his addresses!

Pope Francis speaks homily Easter Vigil 2013

Catholic geek alert! If you’re like me, you wake up in the morning, go straight to and read the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis. (Great way to start the day.)

NOW, thanks to Catholic Cross Reference – which has brought us the Catechism Search Engine, Summa Theologiae Search Engine, and Church Fathers Search Engine – you can search the pontiff’s words at  “Pope Francis Search Engine“!! Updated daily, this searches everything from his homilies, addresses, even his tweets!

How helpful is this?!?

Your (New Media) Advice for a (Somewhat) Seminarian

"The Catholic Mass" by Fyodor Bronnikov (1869)
“The Catholic Mass” by Fyodor Bronnikov (1869)

Dear Readers,

One of my bestest friends is currently in formation with a young religious community and is working his way toward priesthood. I’d love to get your help in answering a question he sent me today:

Are there any Catholic websites or magazines that discuss theological and cultural and pastoral issues? I’m not looking so much for current events as the current spirit of the Church in this country and the challenges it faces and things that are being done about it.

I suggested to him two things – blogs & podcasts. Particularly, I recommended the Patheos Catholic Channel and the Catholic Underground podcast. Bear in mind that he doesn’t have unlimited free time OR computer time (that’s community life for ya).

Keeping in mind my friend’s state in life and goals, what would YOU recommend?

Marshall McLuhan and the Annunciation [MM Monday]

"Annunciation" by Maerten van Heemskerck (1546)
"Annunciation" by Maerten van Heemskerck (1546)
“Annunciation” by Maerten van Heemskerck (1546)

In the 2004 anthology,  At the Speed of Light There is Only Illumination: A Reappraisal of Marshall McLuhanwe find an essay-collection edited by Paul Tiessen, “‘Shall I Say, Is It Necessary to Restore Dialogue?': Wilfred Watson’s Encounter with Marshall McLuhan, 1957-1988.”

Tiessen’s piece gathers together a multitude of the Canadian poet’s impressions of McLuhan over decades. Watson became a self-declared student/disciple of McLuhan, but only after criticizing and wrestling with McLuhan’s ideas.

Eleven days after McLuhan’s death, Watson wrote:

As a saint, MM was rather like the medieval, scholastic saint, than like Mother Teresa. His sanctity arose out of his learning. If saints have guardian angels, MM’s angel was St. Gabriel, the angel of annunciation.

Interesting that Watson made this connection, since McLuhan himself had a devotion to the Blessed Mother, under her title “Our Mother of Good Studies.” He shared this reflection with Fr. Patrick Peyton:

I think of Our Lady as a perpetual means of aid in my studies. I think of her as Our Mother of Good Studies all the time. […] This seems to me, at a time like this, as a very great role for her to play, because the things we now have to study in the world are rather tremendous and new.

“…rather tremendous and new.” Doesn’t that describe the Annunciation so well?

Happy Feast Day, everyone. May you always call on Her aid in the face of all that is tremendous and new.

If the New Evangelization had a theme song…


If the New Evangelization had a theme song — from the late 1970s/early ’80s (since that’s when John Paul II coined the phrase) — it would be this little ditty…

We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. (Pope Francis to priests, 2013 Holy Thursday)

(Doobie Brothers: “Takin’ It to the Street” and “Jesus Is Just Alright”)

Full disclosure: When I am not preoccupied with faith or tech or myself, I am either thinking about classic rock, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars IV-VI, art, tea, desserts, or my family. (For the most part.)

Any more suggestions? What other song could be the ‘theme song’ for the New Evangelization?