Living without religion in Chicago

69 016Names can be deceiving. As it turns out, Spirit has nothing to do with religion. That's the name of the in-flight magazine for the no-frills entrepreneurs at Southwest Airlines. (Actually, there are several magazines called Spirit, but that's another issue.)

And, truth be told, the magazine called The Believer doesn't have anything to do with religion either, at least not in an ongoing, intentional manner. Here is a recent Chicago Tribune blurb describing that publication:

The Believer. A monthly magazine in which length is no object, it vows to focus "on writers and books we like. We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt." The design is remarkable; the paper stock is thick and satisfying, and so is the writing.

I am bringing all of this up because of a fascinating item on the Dallas Morning News religion-news blog, posted by Bruce Tomaso (and we thank him for his kind email alerting us to it). Tomaso spotted an interesting ghost in a recent Chicago Tribune feature in which the members of the elite newspaper's Living staff served up the annual list of their 50 favorite magazines in the whole wide world.

Tomaso noted what was missing in this lifestyles list, as well as what was included in it:

I read through the list twice. Unless I overlooked something, there's not a single religious or faith-oriented magazine on it.

Glamour made the list. Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine made the list. MAGIC made the list. Psychotherapy Networker made the list. Heck, Us Weekly made the list.

But not The Chrisitan Century, or America, or Moment, or Sojourners, or Body & Soul, or Science & Spirit, or Relevant, or First Things, or Books & Culture, or Christianity Today, or Tricycle, or ...

The point isn't that these are all great magazines, or that those on the Tribune list are not. But this list may be one more tiny bit of evidence that lots of people in the media don't share the values or the cultural perspectives of lots of people whom they would hope to include in their audiences.

Note that this means the features staff at the Tribune does not even include anyone who is reading -- or, at least, seems to enjoy readying -- the powerful, influential, excellent religious magazines that are published in the Chicago area, magazines that have great influence across the nation and around the world. I refer, primarily, to Christianity Today, Touchstone and The Christian Century, and I am sure I am missing several others (help me out here).

But US Weekly?

Now, to their credit, the Tribune lifestyle staffers have asked readers for input on what they missed in life. Actually, they asked readers to send in the names of their own favorites, which is not quite the same thing. However, feedback should be offered at this address --

Just do it. Broaden their horizons.

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