Second verse, same as the first. This doesn't happen very often. The folks at the Chicago Tribune's features staff have done it again, leaving me in an interesting position. Once again, they have named their favorite 50 magazines and, once again, their view of life in the modern world (and Chicago) does not include a single magazine dedicated to faith issues.
Let's be clear, again. They are not listing what they believe are the best magazines, or the most powerful or the most popular, in terms of circulation. The goal is simple, which is for this circle of journalists to list their own personal favorites. The newspaper notes:
Once again we've gathered around the magazine racks in our minds and pulled out our favorites. We are a mixed bag of folks, and the list reflects that, ranging from the inevitability of the New Yorker to the surprise of G-Fan, a magazine for Godzilla aficionados. We like magazines that instruct, entertain, take us places we'd otherwise never know. So here's our list. Let us know what we've missed: email@example.com.
It's an interesting collection and a whole lot of fun.
However, this does, in my opinion, offer an open window into one journalistic room -- the room that represents the worldview of the Chicago Tribune features staff. Or, perhaps, this gap stands for some other factor on which I cannot put my finger.
Anyway, as I wrote the last time (and make sure you check out the interesting comments thread on that one):
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).
There are signs of "religion" in the new list, broadly defined. If opera (small niche) and sports (giant niche) are not secular religions for many Americans then I do not know what subjects deserve the label.
It is possible that religion is simply too hot to handle. If you name one religious magazine, that would imply some kind of preference for that flock of believers, whether evangelical or hip, edgy American Buddhist. Or how about kind of tweedy hip, smartly edgy evangelicals -- in greater Chicago?
This is an interesting and symbolic ghost. Again. And, again, the Trib people have asked for feedback on holes in their list. So, please carry on.
Photo: Chicago magazine stand. Michael Payne's picture of the week.