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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/13/21

Rabbi Dennis S. Ross on Martin Buber (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) December 13, 2021: My favorite scholar is the American Jesuit Renaissance specialist and cultural historian Walter J. Ong (1912-2003; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University, 1955). Over the years from the fall semester of 1964 onward, I took five courses from Father Ong at Saint Louis University, the Jesuit university in St. Louis, Missouri.

Later in my life, when I taught at the University of Minnesota Duluth (1987-2009), I regularly taught an introductory survey course on the Bible as Literature.

Ong characterized his mature thought from the early 1950s onward as phenomenological and personalist in cast. In his mature work, he never tired of invoking Martin Buber's famous book I am Thou (1923). By invoking Buber's 1923 classic, Ong signaled the personalist cast of his thought. In addition, Ong discusses Buber's 1957 book Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation Between Religion and Philosophy in his 1967 book The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History (Yale University Press, pages 16 and 288-289), the expanded version of Ong's 1964 Terry Lectures at Yale University.

I honored Ong's frequent invocation of Buber's 1923 classic in the subtitle of my introductory survey of Ong's life and eleven of his books and selected articles, Walter Ong's Contributions to Cultural Studies: The Phenomenology of the Word and I-Thou Communication, revised and expanded second edition (New York: Hampton Press, 2015; first edition, 2000).

My Buber-Related OEN Articles

Now, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, frequently invokes Buber's terminology about encounter and dialogue, as I discussed in my OEN article "Pope Francis Urges Encounter and Dialogue" (dated October 29, 2014):

Click Here

In addition, I have discussed Buber's thought in the following four OEN articles (in chronological order):

(1) "Celebrating Martin Buber's Life and Thought" (dated May 18, 2019):

Click Here

(2) "Martin Buber's Legacy for Americans Today" (dated May 31, 2019):

Click Here

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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