Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"Tell the stories" -- Herbert Marshall McLuhan

Ever heard or used the words "the medium is the message," or "the global village."? Those are just two of many concepts expanded by Marshall McLuhan.

Born in western Canada, educated there and in England, McLuhan spent much of his life as a professor at St. Michael's College, which is part of the University of Toronto. (For more about him, see his official web site,

Among other things, McLuhan converted to Roman Catholicism while in England. He was active in his local parish in Toronto.

In the mid 1960s, the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church brought major change, and controversy. Among other things, there was a new emphasis on better communication, particularly in homilies at Masses.

Subsequent to Vatican II, "the faithful" and the clergy in local parishes were coming to grips with all the changes. McLuhan was invited to have supper with the parish priests one night. The question at supper: "Dr. McLuhan, can you give us any tips on how to communicate better with our people?" McLuhan put down his knife and fork, thought for a moment, said, "Tell the stories," and went back to his meal.

In our churches, sometimes the teaching and preaching isn't that great. We preachers sometimes get wound up in explaining the transient vicissitudes of non-somnambulistic hypnopaedia. And people nod off -- mentally, if not physically. But tell a story -- a good story -- and everyone's "right there."

People understand stories. Stories from their family history. Stories from books, the theatre, and movies. Stories in the news media (if they're done well). Stories shared by bloggers -- the new media leaders. Stories that need no explanation (except some background, perhaps, to give them context). Stories are our life.

(To be continued)


Natalie said...

Exactly. Stories can be the threads that weave generations together. Think family History for example. :D

Natalie said...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." * ~Theodore Seuss Geisel

The Blog Fodder said...

Good post. A great message. Tell the stories. I am trying to do that in my report just now. lay off jargon and tell it like it is in English. Hard to do.

contemporary themes said...

Yes. Stories save us, I believe!