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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 Each hour-long show has been archived and is available for people who missed the live broadcast to listen to.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:
SHARE Wednesday, June 2, 2021 Michel Foucault on Ancient Western Christianity (REVIEW ESSAY)
Michel Foucault's new posthumous book Confessions of the Flesh, translated from the French by Robert Hurley; edited and with a "Foreword" by Frederic Gros (New York: Pantheon Books, 2021) is devoted to examining primary sources to discover the ways in which ancient Western Christians constructed a distinctively Western Christian self. But I see this process as involving the inward turn of consciousness (in Ong's terminology).
SHARE Sunday, May 9, 2021 What Makes Pope Francis Tick? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Because Pope Francis' 2015 eco-encyclical has been widely read, some people may wonder what makes the first Jesuit pope tick, so to speak. Fortunately, before the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013, he himself explained his religious beliefs that make him tick in a preached retreat that he gave to his brother bishops of Spain. A record in English of his presentations has been published.
SHARE Saturday, May 1, 2021 What Are Political Theologies of Sacred Rhetoric? (REVIEW ESSAY)
What are political theologies of sacred rhetoric? Examples of political theologies of sacred rhetoric would include Pope Francis' widely read 2015 eco-encyclical and various speeches and writings of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Steven Mailloux has operationally defined and explained the expansive term political theologies of sacred rhetoric -- referring to religiously motivated political speech and activism.
SHARE Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Louis Menand on Cold War Culture and Politics (REVIEW ESSAY)
Harvard's fashionable scholar Louis Menand's new book The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2021) is an accessible tour de force that is overflowing with colorful portrayals of persons in the twentieth century.
SHARE Thursday, April 15, 2021 Certain Values of Activists in the 1960s Went Mainstream in the Early 1970s (REVIEW ESSAY)
Ronald Brownstein's new 400-page 2021 book Rock Me on the Water: 1974: The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics (New York: Harper) is a love song to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. But it is also a valentine to certain values of activists in the 1960s: "suspicion of authority, greater personal freedom, more respect for marginalized groups, and increased tolerance of differences" (page 389).
SHARE Sunday, April 11, 2021 How Radical Will Biden and Yellen Be? (Book Review)
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic's economic fallout, Americans today are re-learning the radical lessons of Keynesian economics pioneered by the Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt. If you want a refresher about Keynesian economics, I recommend the American journalist Zachary D. Carter's accessible 650-page 2020 book The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (New York: Random House).
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 3, 2021 An Easter Meditation on Pope John XXIII (REVIEW ESSAY)
My Easter meditation is about the overweight Pope John XXIII (1881-1963; elected pope in 1958), the pope of my Catholic youth (my four high school years and my first year in college -- in Catholic educational institutions). Pope John XXIII was the pope during the scary Cuban missile crisis October 14-28, 1962. He also called and then convened the momentous Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church.
SHARE Thursday, March 25, 2021 John Cornwell on Pope Francis' Papacy and Its Controversies (REVIEW ESSAY)
The seasoned English Vatican journalist John Cornwell (born in 1940) has just published an incisive and admirably accessible 300-page book about Pope Francis' papacy and its controversies titled Church, Interrupted: Havoc & Hope: The Tender Revolt of Pope Francis (San Francisco: Chronicle Prism, 2021). One of its many strengths is that Cornwell includes sharply worded commentaries by both conservative and liberal Catholics.
SHARE Tuesday, March 16, 2021 Massimo Faggioli on Vatican II and on American Catholicism (REVIEW ESSAY)
After I published my OEN article "Massimo Faggioli on President Joe Biden, Pope Francis, and Catholicism Today" on February 20, 2021, I decided to take a look at Prof. Dr. Faggioli's 350-page 2015 book A Council for the Global Church: Receiving Vatican II in History (Fortress Press). It was published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, March 1, 2021 An Open Letter to Pope Francis: Upgrade Your Thinking!
You, Pope Francis, are the first Jesuit pope. However, unfortunately, your Jesuit education was not excellent, to say the least. In addition, you failed to complete the doctoral dissertation in theology that you started. Consequently, at your advanced age now, you need to upgrade your thinking by carefully studying the mature thought of the American Jesuit Walter J. Ong (1912-2003; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University, 1955).
SHARE Tuesday, February 23, 2021 Heather McGhee on Progressive Alternative Thinking (REVIEW ESSAY)
The African American activist Heather McGhee (born in 1980) of the progressive American think-tank Demos has just published her first book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone [in the United States] and How We Can Prosper Together (New York: One World/ Random House/ Penguin Random House, 2021), a work of non-fiction in which some names and identifying details have been changed. I highlight and comment on her book.
SHARE Monday, February 15, 2021 Rutger Bregman's Hopeful Evolutionary History of Humankind (REVIEW ESSAY)
If you like truth in advertising, you should like the English title of the Dutch journalist Rutger Bregman's book Humankind: A Hopeful History, translated by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore (New York, Boston, London: Little, Brown, 2020; orig. Dutch ed., 2019). Starting with our pre-historic hunter-gatherer nomad ancestors, he constructs a hopeful evolutionary history of our human species, which I highlight here.
SHARE Friday, February 12, 2021 Pollster Ronald F. Inglehart on the Recent Decline in Religion (REVIEW ESSAY)
The American pollster Ronald F. Inglehart celebrates the decline in religion in his new 2021 book Religion's Sudden Decline: What's Causing It, and What Comes Next? (Oxford University Press). By religion's sudden decline, he means the decline in polling indexes between 2007 and 2020 -- the year in which the coronavirus pandemic emerged. But between 1981 and 2007, most countries polled in the indexes had become more religious.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 24, 2021 Timothy Snyder's 20 Lessons for Recovering Trump Voters (REVIEW ESSAY)
On January 6, 2021, President Donald ("Tweety") Trump incited a mob of domestic terrorists to storm the Capitol. As a result, five people died, including one police officer. But are there now any Trump voters who are ready to undertake the hard work of recovering from Trump and rehabilitating themselves as attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible Americans committed to our democratic republic and the rule of law?
SHARE Friday, January 22, 2021 President Joseph R. Biden's Inaugural Address Highlighted
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., delivered a somber assessment of our cascading problems in his edifying inaugural address at the Capitol on January 20, 2021. But his edifying fantasy about unity may not materialize in the near future.
SHARE Monday, January 18, 2021 Yale's Timothy Snyder on the Trump Terrorists at the Capitol
Yale history professor Timothy Snyder has published a perceptive op-ed commentary in the New York Times Magazine (dated January 17, 2021) about the Trump terrorists who stormed the Capitol. If you have not already read Snyder's lengthy op-ed, I can assure you that reading it is a suitable way to commemorate the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
SHARE Sunday, January 10, 2021 Will Our American Democracy Die or Survive?
In the 2018 book How Democracies Die (Crown), the Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt alerted us to the threat that President Donald ("Tweety") Trump poses to our American democracy. Recently, he incited a mob of domestic terrorists to storm the Capitol, resulting in five deaths, including the death of a police officer murdered by the terrorists. Will our American democracy now die -- or survive?
SHARE Tuesday, January 5, 2021 The Spirit of Contesting -- in Life and in Politics
For better or worse, President Donald ("Tweety") Trump excels in contesting behavior. Therefore, I propose to survey here the thought of two scholars about the spirit of contesting behavior in life and in politics: (1) the American Jesuit cultural historian Walter J. Ong (1912-2003) and (2) the self-described conservative Harvard political scientist Harvey C. Mansfield (born in 1932).
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 31, 2020 Walter J. Ong Tells It Like It Is
With all the Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations in 2020, combined with all the antics of President Donald ("Tweety") Trump, I am happy to see 2020 draw to an end. To ring out the old year and ring in the new one, I want to urge you to read Dr. Joanna Gardner's online essay "The Politics of Literacy and Orality," in which she draws on Walter J. Ong's summative 1982 book Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of Word.