The New Yorker Goes to Church
The New Yorker recently reported on the Pences visiting Manhattan. The Stream reports on two New Yorker editors visiting the Midwest.
Editor 1 and Editor 2 of the celebrated New Yorker magazine were headed back to Manhattan after a very successful “Silicon Valley Supports the Venezuelan Revolution” fund-raiser when a vicious storm forced them to land in the Midwest.
“Where in the name of Elena Ferrante are we?” Editor 1 asked, wandering the food court, aghast at the paucity of Starbucks.
“I don’t know,” replied Editor 2. “I think it’s Wyoming or Indiana or one of those states where they let you buy guns but you can’t find a perfectly good abortion for love or money.”
“How long are we going to be here? I haven’t had my booster shots. Plus, I’m starved.” She stopped a local. “Excuse me, sir? Can you point me to a good restaurant? Oh, you know what I’m in the mood for? Quinoa stuffed peppers.”
“There are plenty of places to eat not far,” said the maintenance technician. “I’d try Jimmy’s. Best porterhouse in the state.”
“Steak? I’m vegan!” cried Editor 1. “Meat is death,” he explained.
“They take all kinds,” replied the tech.
Editor 1 and Editor 2 headed out of the airport and grabbed a cab. “Take us to your Downtown area, you know, some place where we can see some tall buildings and theaters and libraries and, most important, restaurants,” instructed Editor 1.
“Yes, you know—civ-il-iz-ay-shun,” enunciated Editor 2.
The driver stared in the rearview mirror a moment and pulled out into heavy traffic. After what seemed like an eternity to the New Yorkers, the cab finally stopped in front of what looked to them like a folk museum. They paid their fare and walked somewhat warily inside. “Oh, it’s one of those retro lounges with the vintage placards,” said Editor 2, relieved.
An usher approached. “Welcome to Church of the Redeemer. Is this your first time?” he asked.
“First time for what? As I told the driver, and he was not very nice about it, we don’t carry cash, only ApplePay,” said Editor 2.
“We don’t ask guests to give an offering.”
“Offering? Is there some kind of sacrifice going on here? You know, like in that Mel Gibson movie?” said Editor 1.
“You mean The Passion? We do worship the crucified and risen Lord.”
“No, I was thinking Apocalypto.”
“I didn’t see that one,” said the usher.
“Is this one of the Zen monasteries? We’re not going to have to shave anything, are we? Or do I just take off my shoes? I will want a receipt. They’re Kenneth Cole.”
As a piano introduced the first hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” the usher showed the Editors to a pew up front. The New Yorkers squeezed by what looked to them like a propaganda poster promoting fertility in 1930s Germany.
Editor 2 dug into his jeans and pulled out a five. He reached over the intervening congregants and tried slipping it discreetly into the usher’s hand. The usher, quizzical, pushed the bill away, handed Editor 2 a bulletin, and walked to the back of the church.
The Editors’ gaze was drawn to an overhead screen, on which were projected verses of the hymn:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
“How morbid,” whispered Editor 1.
“It must have been written during the Bush administration,” replied Editor 2.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
“I knew I should have taken my Zoloft before we landed,” said Editor 1.
“Blood blood blood. We’ve wandered into some kind of abattoir day camp.”
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
“I think they’re climate deniers,” said Editor 2.
“I feel unwell,” said Editor 1. “There are too many white males in this space. You know one of them is going to open fire at any moment and just spray the place with bullets.”
“Calm down. We’ll stay a decent interval, then ask to use the restroom. Then we’ll Uber back to the airport, assuming Uber even operates in this burg,” and with that he began swiping through the apps on his phone.
“Good morning,” said the Reverend Alan Trench, stepping forward to the lectern. “Welcome to Church of the Redeemer. We want to extend a warm welcome to all first-time guests.”
Editor 1 and Editor 2 looked around them. Smiling faces beamed back, some nodding, some mouthing, “Welcome” and “God’s peace.”
“What’s happening?” asked Editor 1. “Why are they looking at us as if we’ve just won the Powerball?”
“They’re trying to communicate in some kind of code. You speak more than one language.”
“I know French and a little Mandarin. These people look neither French nor Chinese.”
“What does ‘French’ look like? I think you’re being very racist.”
“Oh don’t start with me. You know what I mean: that Gallic haughty disdain, as if you’d just tried to order a Pissaladière by means of a cheap phrase book.”
“That one over there could be French.”
“Never. Anatolian maybe, but never French.”
Announcements were read and another inscrutable but possibly sanguine hymn was sung. Editor 1 sucked the life out of a Mentos. A young woman walked to the lectern, Bible in hand.
“Our reading this morning is from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. ‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’”
“I knew it,” said Editor 1, muffling a scream. “We’ve wandered into some kind of domestic terrorist cell when all I wanted was an adzuki bean and walnut burger. They always blame the poor Muslims, but look. Home-grown hate preachers out in the open like so much Kardashian booty.”
“Keep calm,” said Editor 2. “We can negotiate with them, like the president did with Iran. Saved the world from another war, for goodness’ sake.”
“Yes but I don’t happen to have $400 million cash on me.”
“Um, excuse me, I-I hate to interrupt—no offense we assure you—but we believe there are better ways to work out our political differences than through violence.”
“Yes, there are sit-ins, marches, tagging of private establishments—”
“Social-media harassment, gaslighting—”
“Mockery, satire, gross misrepresentation of everything the other side believes—”
“Economic boycotts, denial of employment, demands for a national dialogue but with only one side allowed to speak—”
“We can help you with that. We represent a venerable and elite publication that reaches over a million readers—”
“With an average income of $109,877 according to our last survey, in 2009.”
“It’s gone up since then!”
“And who no doubt would sympathize with your bitterness, frustration, and envy—”
“And your reliance on comforting premodern myths. After all, who doesn’t indulge in the odd horoscope now and then.”
“So let us go and we’ll be back with A-list writers and photographers.”
“Does anyone here know what ‘long-form journalism’ is? Long-form? As in more words than are in a comic book? We do that.”
“Yes. But—but, don’t misunderstand. We also have cartoons. We’re famous for our cartoons.”
“Like Dilbert?” someone asked from across the aisle.
“No, not like Dilbert. Nothing like Dilbert,” replied Editor 1.
“We are not the enemy,” said Editor 2. “In fact, we are your only hope.”
“But we put our hope in Jesus,” replied a soul in the far reaches of the sanctuary.
“He is God in the flesh, the hope of glory, our savior and redeemer, a friend in every trial, our eternal life.”
“But how many Pulitzers does he have?” asked Editor 2. “They don’t give those things out like candy, you know.”
“We won three of them this year,” added Editor 1.
“OK. If I don’t get something in my stomach more substantial than red dye number 4, I’m going to pass out,” she said. “Let’s get out of here.” She sidled her way into the aisle, pushing Editor 2 before her like a battering ram. “Do your worst, you know-nothing hayseeds,” she declaimed to the congregation. “Destroy what you can’t even begin to understand—but remember this. You may have your phony-baloney religion and pie-in-the-sky god, but we have something more precious than a false consciousness, more potent than all your bigoted fear-mongering. We have more National Magazine Awards than any other periodical in history.”
And with that they scurried to the waiting Uber.
“The airport,” said Editor 2.
“Airport’s closed. Bomb scare. Someone yelled that, what is it, ‘Babaloo Akbar’ or whatever, only the bomb didn’t detonate. Some mess. Cops everywhere.”
Editor 2 sat staring, mouthing words only hockey players could interpret.
“I feel like Margaret Mead among the Arapesh,” said Editor 1.
“Weren’t they pacifists? Those people didn’t look too pacific to me.”
“Oh all her findings were baloney anyway. What does it matter what people really are, so long as they’re not one of us?”