Eric McLuhan, son of the famous Marshall McLuhan, was a renowned scholar of media in his own right, and used his expertise to help the pro-life cause. Eric McLuhan, a former columnist for The Interimand popular pro-life speaker, passed away May 18 in Bogota, Colombia, where he had just delivered the inaugural speech for the Doctorate in Communication at University of La Sabana.
McLuhan received his Bachelor of Science in communications from Wisconsin State University in 1972 and his masters and PhD in English Literature from the University of Dallas in 1980 and 1982. He co-authored books with his father including Laws of Media: The New Science in 1990. He taught in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto and was Director of Media Studies at the Harris Institute for the Arts in Toronto for 17 years.
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim, that McLuhan generously offered his expertise to help the pro-life movement. While his wife Sabina was the paper’s editor, he was a columnist and writer, covering the pro-life issue as a cultural, philosophical, and religious phenomenon, and deconstructing events and arguments in fine detail. Hughes said, Eric McLuhan “knew a lot about everything” and “every news item had some different twist that made you think about that in a new way.”
McLuhan also advised Business for Life at its founding and spoke to pro-life conferences. He was also master of ceremonies at the retirement dinner of Toronto Right to Life president Laura McArthur in 1991.
Hughes knew McLuhan because they went to the same parish and lived in the same neighbourhood in the Beaches in Toronto. Because McLuhan “had the ability to look at problems from various angles,” Hughes would regularly pick his brain in developing pro-life strategies. Hughes praised his prophetic abilities – in the 1980s, McLuhan predicted the end of newspapers within their lifetime – which allowed CLC to prepare for future challenges before they were evident to many within the organization.
McLuhan was a voracious reader and Hughes recalled he would miss his stop on the streetcar because he was engrossed in a book. He would recommend the CLC leader read various books or articles, “but most of the time I didn’t understand them,” Hughes confessed.
Hughes said McLuhan was “faith-filled, a rare attribute in a person so learned.” In many of McLuhan’s writings on abortion and euthanasia, he would return to the fact that man is made in the image of God.
McLuhan leaves his wife of 44 years, Sabina, and his daughters Emily and Anna and son Andrew, and four grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings Mary, Teri, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Michael.