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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Friday, October 09, 2009

On Reading The New Yorker

My best guess is that I have been reading The New Yorker magazine for 50 years. I remember it most from 1980 to the present, 28 years. I read it off and on in the years before that.

I read it because I love all things New York. The liberal positions reflect my own more radical thoughts and feelings. I learn from the economic and political views. I read these carefully while I read newspapers hastily and skimmingly without much trust.

Overviews of politics and governmental issues are very helpful and contribute to my knowledge. I trust the facts and judgments provided by the varied writers.

I never had much interest in economics but I have taken to The Financial Page and it has awakened my interest in the gloomy science.

I enjoy the fiction but I wish they had more stories set in New York City whereas the magazine gives us work from many countries and cultures. Sometimes they are informative but also they are obscure. I have often said, “I like best stories about adultery in Manhattan.”

Occasionally I read a poem but I am impatient with poetry. I like what I read to be obvious to me. I have a slim imagination except for sex, religion, food and gossip. I love to read about people, the good and bad things that happen to them. I learn from their experiences and they often remind me of me.

I love the cartoons, they make me laugh, tweak my sense of the absurd and criticize all the self-righteous pomposities of the human condition. Lawyers, business people, executives, clergy, doctors, rock stars etc. deserve all the exposure to the wit of the fine cartoonists. I like them so much that I use The New Yorker Desk Diary so I get a new cartoon every week.

Now I will be accused by some of being an anti-Semite, but I don’t care. I know I am not. I would make a bet that a huge number of Jews are subscribers to the magazine. Where would business, commerce, the arts, music and culture of New York be without Jews? They clearly and happily have replaced the stuffy, moneyed, wasp aristocracy of the city. The magazine will emphasize things Jews are interested in.

Stories featuring prominent people usually mention if the person is Jewish. Stories of non-Jews seldom mention the person’s religion or ethnicity. Larry Summers is identified as Jewish in the issue of October 12, 2009. In the same issue financier Martin Armstrong’s religion or ethnicity is not mentioned. Frankly, I am interested in people’s backgrounds when they are written about. Those traditions may influence how people act and think.

The New Yorker’s editorial policy on Israel and the Palestinians is very balanced. I sense a slight tipping, not much, but in favor of Israel. I however, think Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians smack of cruelty and apartheid.

I really like the reviews of books. They are plenty long so I get a lot about the background and lives of the authors so that the review of the book’s content has depth. Many's the time I have rushed to the library to read a book based on a review in the magazine.

I tend to skip sport stories, reviews of plays, dance, rock music and opera. When I read them they are fine but I have little or no interest in those areas and prefer not to clutter my mind with what I call extraneous stuff.

I look forward to the arrival of The New Yorker each week and feel sad when I forgot that double issues come along from time to time and I miss my weekly meditation on the magazine.

Thanks The New Yorker for being there.

Robert Warren Cromey is a priest of the Episcopal Church, retired, and has lived in San Francisco since 1962. Born in Brooklyn is a graduate of New York University and The General Theological Seminary in Chelsea, NYC and was ordained in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine also in New York.

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