Surfing the Divine: McLuhan looks at Religion looks at McLuhan

Technology and Religion Seminars

The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St Paul’s College

University of Manitoba

Surfing the Divine: McLuhan looks at Religion looks at McLuhan

The Internet and Prayer


“Surfing the divine: McLuhan looks at Religion Looks at McLuhan”, an international seminar

probing the effects of the Internet on Prayer, will take place on May 7.

Contributors to the seminar represent a broad array of perspectives:

Nora Young Host and Creator, Spark, CBC Radio, Toronto

Anthony G. Roman Asst. Professor, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines

Thomas M Rosica, csb CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, Toronto

Patrick Leinen Co‐Founder and Project Manager, Little iApps, South Bend, IN

Eric McLuhan, PhD Director, Media Studies, Harris Institute for the Arts, Toronto

Thomas W Cooper, PhD Professor, Visual and Media Arts, Emerson College, Boston

Mary Coswin, osb Director, St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Centre, Winnipeg

Gerard K Whelan, sj Professor, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

Rev. Mario Gaulin Baptist minister and military chaplain, Winnipeg

Ian B Bell, PhD Assist. Professor, Religious Studies, Siena Heights University, Michigan

The seminar, designed as an innovative hybrid on‐campus and online format, is part of the Religion and Technology series sponsored by The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. The Initiative is inspired by a commitment to honour, celebrate, and extend the life’s work of Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980), who grew up in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Manitoba, and became a professor of English literature, prophetic poet, satirist and renowned communications theorist/visionary and media commentator. Drawing on methods of enquiry used extensively by Marshall McLuhan, the Initiative probes the relationship between specific communications technologies and particular religious practices.

Four of McLuhan’s primary notions underpin the probes:

 The Laws of Media

 The Medium is the Message

 The relationship between Figure and Ground

 The Global Village

The upcoming seminar will probe questions such as these: Does the Internet affect the manner

and time in which people pray, alone and in community? Does it expose people to new forms of

prayer, new ways of praying? Or does it distract people away from prayer? Does the Internet build community, which is essential to communal prayer? Or does it isolate people and make them more introverted and self‐centered? Has the Internet, itself, become a medium or an object of prayer? Is this a new idolatry? If the Internet, as a technology, is an extension of a human inclination towards communion with the Divine, which characteristics of the Internet can be regarded as prayerful?

The seminar is open to:

Technological thinkers – interested in exploring the social effects of new technologies

Communications specialists – media people and academics

Religious practitioners – in ministry, pastoral work or theology of all Christian and other faith traditions

Others – curious about the latest developments of modern society and/or the juxtaposition of

two topics that do not, on the surface, seem to be related to each other.

The perpetual, online version of the seminar will premiere at on July 11, 2011, the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth.

For further information, please see the attached Fact Sheet (PDF format), visit, or contact the seminar facilitator:

RJ (Richard) J Osicki Director, Marshall McLuhan Initiative, St. Paul’s College


Phone (204) 475‐0202


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