Many years ago – long before I was a Catholic – I was presented with an opportunity to sit down and have a discussion with Marshall McLuhan and his wife at their home in Toronto. It could only have been the intimidation factor that led me to decline that invitation. I certainly now regret not having taken advantage of it.
Aside from his stature as the preeminent prophet of media culture at the time, McLuhan was a devout and intellectually convicted Catholic who understood both how very true the Church's teaching is and how very counter-cultural Catholicism is.
McLuhan was converted to the faith in 1937 while studying at Cambridge and as a result of reading G.K. Chesterton. In 1935 he wrote his mother: "Had I not encountered Chesterton, I would have remained agnostic for many years at least". At the news of his intended conversion, his mother was inconsolable, convinced that it would damage his career.
McLuhan's faith was quite a private matter for most of his life, though on occasion he revealed to intimates that the Virgin Mary had provided intellectual guidance for him.
On one occasion during a retreat I was on, Father John Hardon, S.J. quoted McLuhan as having said that: "The modern media is involved in a Luciferian conspiracy against the truth."
All this is leading up to telling you that July 21st was the centenary of Marshall McLuhan's birth and Father de Souza has a fitting tribute to that great Catholic Canadian below.