“What If There’s No Hell?” asked Jon Meacham last week on the cover of Time, leading into a profile of Pastor Rob Bell, author of Love Wins, wherein the pastor argues that Jesus Christ got everybody into heaven, not just the goody-two-shoes and sinless shut-ins. Having long proceeded on the assumption that there was no hell, no heaven and no reason to read coverage of hinterland controversies in the newsweeklies, we turned our mind to other pressing questions.
What if there’s no $40 million to lose publishing Newsweek? It’s a question that must have been on Mr. Meacham’s mind this time last year, when he was still the magazine’s editor, and it returned last week with the death of Sidney Harman, the hi-fi baron who turned the dial to Tina Brown. Never deaf to the zeitgeist, Ms. Brown wrote a tribute to Harman this week under the headline “Big Love.” The show by that name may be over, and there was no polygamy or punning involved, but 40 million is a big number, at least to editors and writers. She also ran Harman’s posthumous “My Turn” column about receiving his acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis. “Newsweek,” he wrote,” has given me great new life. It will participate actively in the renewal and reinvention of media. It may well lead the revolution.” Maybe! If the revolution calls for lists, infographics, first-person celebrity vanity columns and ride-alongs with high-school strivers, Ms. Brown may have already won. Because certainly the revolution is not about breaking news.
Speaking of, what if there’s no Pulitzer Prize for breaking news? This year there wasn’t, because none of the nominees achieved a majority vote from the judges. If our elections ran that way, we wouldn’t have had a president from 1993 to 2001. No Whitewater, no Monica, no sax solos at the inaugural. Wait, isn’t there an election coming?
What if there’s no coverage of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in The New York Observer? A few people have been asking that lately. Enough already. There’s a story on page 20.
But what if there’s no sex? We did address this question, regarding the city’s youth, a few weeks ago (answer: at least there’s Facebook, Twitter and cocaine), and this weekend it was taken up by Meg Wolitzer in The New York Times, who concluded, in part, that she’d rather curl up with Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, than roll in the hay. It’s been a few years, but as we recall, there’s a fair amount of hay in that novel and even some sex. Forgive us if we prefer Hardy, who some scholars believe gave his wife syphilis that drove her mad, more as a poet than as a novelist.
And what if there’s no poetry? Most of the time it seems like there isn’t, but April is also National Poetry Month. “The lessons of language afforded by poetry can be a particularly valuable resource for any workplace,” we read in The Wall Street Journal. Oh, that’s what poetry’s for–capitalism! Call HR and get me a sonneteer! You, intern, go to Columbia and find me the next Hart Crane! While you’re up there, get us some corned beef.
But what if there’s no corned beef? We hear that Tom’s Restaurant on Broadway was out over the weekend. Now that sounds hellish.