In this article, Ong argues that the reason Newman decided not to become
a religious when he converted to Catholicism was that remaining outside
the life of a religious enabled him to do the work God saw fit for him.
Ong also asserts that although there is ample evidence to support the idea
that Newman was resistant to the religious way of life from the beginning
of his conversion, he actually did consider this type of life as an option
but ultimately decide not to accept it. Instead, Newman chose to
remain closer to the way the English public perceived him, as an individual
rather than as someone connected to a particular institution; in Ong's
opinion, this choice by Newman proved to be for the best. Had Newman
become a religious, Ong believes, the English public would not have been
as receptive to his Apologia as they were.
This article illustrates Ong's tendency, from his earliest works, to
show the complexity of issues in language and literature by acknowledging
two sides of a scholarly dispute and then breaking down those two sides
by placing himself on middle ground, where the complexity of the issue
is most evident. This approach seems to anticipate the deconstructionist
approach so widespread today in literary studies.