28 July 2005

McLuhan on Intercourse in the Church. "In the Beginning Was the... Oh My Word!"

A few days ago I dashed off this bit of tongue in cheek. Imagine my surprise when I came across the following in a collection of McLuhan essays and interviews on religion in The Medium and the Light:
This is just a note about the ordination of women, which concerns "formal causality," i.e., structural form which is inseparable from "putting on" one's public. The writer's or the performer's public is the formal cause of his art or entertainment or his philosophy. The figure/ground relation between the artist and his making is an interplay, a kind of intercourse. This interplay is at its peak in all performance before the public and is characteristic of role-playing in general. There is, as it were, a sexual relation between performer and public, which relates specifically to the priest or minister. The congregation is necessarily feminine to the masculine role of the priest. (This is characeristic also in medicine, of the surgeon who is only exceptionally a woman.) It is, therefore, this inherent sexual aspect of the priesthood that makes the ordination of women impractical and unacceptable to a congregation in their feminine role.
This provides a fascinating insight into the (or, more correctly, I should say, "a") doctrinaire Catholic mind, revealing a major aspect of the psycho-social dynamics behind the rejection of women priests.

They just can't stand the notion of "woman on top!"

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