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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; Ph.D.in 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 WALTER ONG'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO CULTURAL STUDIES: THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE WORD AND I-THOU COMMUNICATION (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2000; 2nd ed. 2009, forthcoming). The first edition won the 2001 Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology conferred by the Media Ecology Association. For further information about his education and his publications, see his UMD homepage: Click here to visit Dr. Farrell's homepage.
On September 10 and 22, 2009, he discussed Walter Ong's work on the blog radio talk show "Ethics Talk" that is hosted by Hope May in philosophy at Central Michigan University. Each hour-long show has been archived and is available for people who missed the live broadcast to listen to. Here are the website addresses for the two archived shows:
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Rabbi Heschel Writes With Moral Clarity That Pope Francis Lacks
On March 28, 2019, the Jewish columnist David Brooks (born in 1961) highlighted Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's 1951 book The Sabbath in a column in the New York Times. Subsequently, I read his short book. In it, he uses a time/space contrast with moral clarity to critique not only modern Western culture but also pre-modern cultures. He writes with moral clarity that Pope Francis lacks in his critique of modern culture.
Sunday, March 31, 2019 David Brooks Highlights Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's Book on The Sabbath
David Brooks highlights Polish-born American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's 1951 book The Sabbath in a recent column in the New York Times. According to Brooks, Heschel argues that Judaism "is primarily a religion of time, not of space." Even though Brooks does not explain what a religion of space might be, the American cultural historian Jesuit Walter J. Ong has alerted us to spatialized conceptualizations.
Sunday, March 24, 2019 Pope Francis on Evil and Satan
As the result of Pope Francis' discernment of spirits, he has concluded that priest-sex-abuse of minors and the cover-up by bishops were evil. He has also attributed a decisive role to Satan in tempting priests and bishops to engage in such evil. But his would-be critics are not likely to argue that priest-sex-abuse of minors and the cover-up by bishops are not evil, even if his critics disparage his references to Satan.
Monday, February 25, 2019 Perceptive Book About Gay Vatican Clerics (BOOK REVIEW)
The openly gay French sociologist and journalist Frederic Martel (born in 1967) perceptively explains gay Vatican clerics in his new book In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, translated by Shaun Whiteside (London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019). Pope Francis has figured out that certain Vatican clerics are hypocrites. But even he could learn a lot from this new book.
(3 comments) Monday, February 18, 2019 Are Homophobic Vatican Clerics Secretly Homosexual?
In a criminal trial in a court of law, the jury needs to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty as charged in order to convict him or her. But what about the court of public opinion? I want to set forth here a line of argument to persuade you to have reasonable doubt about Frederic Martel's claim that certain homophobic Vatican clerics are secretly homosexual.
Saturday, February 9, 2019 Our Political Polarization (BOOK REVIEW)
Do you want to be part of the outside forces that demand change from our politicians? Michael Tomasky does. Unfortunately, he frames his argument in his new book as an argument for changing the recent (1980-2016) 36% rate of political polarization to something closer to the 34% rate of polarization in the previous period (1933-1980). But with Trump as president, even such a modest change in polarization might be desirable.
Sunday, February 3, 2019 Michel Foucault's Late Thought about Certain Christian Practices (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the late period (1980-1984) of Michel Foucault's life (1926-1984), he repeatedly discussed patristic and medieval Christian thought about certain spiritual practices such as confession. In 2018, his posthumously published book The Confessions of the Flesh came out in French. The English translation could renew interest in Foucault's late thought -- which the Russian philosopher Sergey S. Horujy examines.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Walter J. Ong's Thought in Relation to Michel Foucault's Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
Gary Gutting in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame died on January 18, 2019. A frequent contributor to The Stone feature in the New York Times, he was an expert in the thought of Michel Foucault. Therefore, I will use his 2005 book Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) as a guide to Foucault's thought, as I outline how Walter J. Ong's thought can be related to Foucault's thought.
(1 comments) Wednesday, December 12, 2018 Contextualizing the Apostle Paul (REVIEW ESSAY)
The conservative columnist Ross Douthat published a column titled "The Return of Paganism" in the New York Times (dated December 12, 2018). But the biblical scholar Paula Fredriksen contextualizes the Apostle Paul in the context of first-century paganism in her timely book Paul: The Pagans' Apostle (Yale University Press, 2017). From what she says about first-century paganism, it does not seem to me that paganism is returning.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 Camille Paglia's Provocations (REVIEW ESSAY)
Camille Paglia's aptly titled new book Provocations reprints 56 of her relatively short essays published since 1994. They are grouped under eight topics/themes: (1) Popular Culture; (2) Film; (3) Sex, Gender, Women; (4) Literature; (5) Art; (6) Education; (7) Politics; (8) Religion. If all you are looking for are provocations, you'll probably not be disappointed with her 56 selections. But how well informed is she?
(1 comments) Saturday, November 17, 2018 Are You "Fixed" or "Fluid" -- Or Mixed? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, two professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are psychological profilers interested in profiling American politics. In their new book Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), they discuss the responses to surveys over the years in which the four forced-choice questions were included.
Sunday, November 11, 2018 Garry Wills' Diagnosis of the American Catholic Bishops
The Pennsylvania grand-jury report in August 2018 about priest-sex-abuse and cover-up by certain American Catholic bishops prompted Garry Wills, himself a practicing Catholic, to diagnose the problem of the bishops and priest-perpetrators as stemming from the church's debatable teachings about sex and sex-related issues -- which he refers to collectively as The Big Crazy. But the bishops are now scheduled to meet in Baltimore.
Sunday, October 28, 2018 An Intellectual Biography of Pope Francis (REVIEW ESSAY)
Massimo Borghesi of the University of Perugia in Italy has published a carefully researched intellectual biography of Pope Francis: The Mind of Pope Francis: Jorge Mario Bergoglio's Intellectual Journey, translated from Italian by Barry Hudock (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press Academic, 2018; orig. Italian ed., 2017). Overall, it is an informative book.
Saturday, October 20, 2018 Is Kenneth L. Woodward Advancing a Conspiracy Theory About the Priest-Sex-Abuse Scandal and Cover-Up?
Kenneth L. Woodward, who served for thirty-eight years as the religion editor of Newsweek, has published an extraordinary commentary about the priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover-up in Commonweal, the lay-Catholic American magazine. But is he just advancing a conspiracy theory about alleged networks of sexually active gay clerics in the Roman Catholic Church? Commonweal is not known for publishing conspiracy theories.
(1 comments) Sunday, September 30, 2018 His Majesty, Baby Donald! (REVIEW ESSAY)
Invoking Melanie Klein as his muse, the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Justin A. Frank sings of the wrath of his majesty, baby Donald in his new book Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank has given us a profile of unresolved infantile wrath. Both our enemies and our allies should find Dr. Frank's profile informative as they try to figure out how to play President Trump's brashness.
Monday, September 24, 2018 Some Reflections on Jesuit Higher Education
The Rev. Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., an administrator at Fordham University, the Jesuit university in New York City, has published some reflections on Jesuit higher education in the Jesuit-sponsored magazine America. However, Fr. McCarthy fails to include the study of Catholic philosophy as a key component of Jesuit higher education. But without this, Jesuit higher education could degenerate into mere sophistry.
(1 comments) Tuesday, September 4, 2018 Pope Francis May Not Be Ready for Prime Time
According to the Vatican News Service, Pope Francis delivered a homily at Mass on September 3, 2018. According to the pope, the reading from the Gospel of Luke shows Christians that they should escape from the grip of the crowd threatening to harm them and pass through the crowd in silence and escape. But can the pope escape in silence from responding to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's explosive allegations?
Sunday, September 2, 2018 What Should Pope Francis Do Now?
Pope Francis has no clearcut good choices about how to proceed to respond to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's allegations. But Pope Francis has urged Catholics to engage in encounter and dialogue. Now, if he were to say anything publicly about Vigano's allegations, Vigano would no doubt reply online with a written rejoinder. That would be a back-and-forth exchange of views -- a kind of dialogue. But it would be risky for the pope.
(2 comments) Wednesday, August 29, 2018 Pope Francis Still Not Responding to Accusations of McCarrick Coverup
As I write, Pope Francis still has not responded to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's accusations of a cover-up by the pope and other church authorities about disgraced American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual abuse of young men (i.e., not minors). The pope does not want to dignify his accusations with a response. At time, it may be fitting not to respond to accusations. But the pope should respond about McCarrick.