When Theologians Order Apple Pie


Not long ago I had a lovely lunch with my wife and my daughter at The Student Prince, the iconic German restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts. After I had completed my würst plate, the waitress asked me if I would like dessert, and I said, as I patted my stomach, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” She said, “Excuse me?” My daughter, who is a student at Yale Divinity School, shot me a look, and said, “She didn’t get your biblical reference, Dad.” “No thank you,” I quickly added, “I’m full.”

I don’t know why I do this. My family is habituated to my obscure asides. My own family of origin was a biblically literate outfit, and biblical references were sprinkled liberally into our conversation. Perhaps I am nostalgic for a day gone by. I started ruminating about Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative; his magisterial account of how we got from a society where people place themselves within the Biblical story to a society where most people don’t even know it. That got me thinking about one of Stanley Hauerwas’ probing questions: “What story do you tell yourself after you have told yourself you have no story?” Or something like that.

That got me thinking about what Stanley might have said to the waitress: “What kind of apple pie do I order after I have told myself there is no apple pie?” And, just like that, a new game was born called “When Theologians Order Apple Pie.”

Please feel free to add your own examples. Here are some of mine.

Waitress, “Would you like dessert?
Reinhold Neibuhr: “The apple pie here isn’t as good as people think it is!”

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
Karl Barth: “Yes . . . and no.”

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
Rudoph Bultmann: The widespread belief that it was an apple that tempted Eve is not in the text, which merely says fruit. It could have been a date or a pomegranate. We don’t know, but the mythic form of the pericope suggests it doesn’t matter. Do you have anything with dates?

Waitress: Would you like dessert?”
Marcus Borg: I know that the apple pie here isn’t really apple pie, but I believe it might be satisfying nonetheless.”

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
Walter Brueggemann: “I will eschew the apple pie, which symbolizes the hegemony of the American Empire, from which the church is, or should be, in exile. Just black coffee.”

Waitress: Would you like dessert?
Mary Daly: I choose to call you, not a waitress or a server, for those are demeaning andro-centric and hierarchical signifiers. You are a “pie BRINGer.”

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
Paul Tillich: “The apple pie represents our eternal human longing for a pre-lapsarian Eden, despite the obvious fact that apple pie cannot be turned back into apples.

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
Jonathan Edwards: “We can see in a piece of apple pie the deep essence of God’s love, a reflection of the love each of the persons of the Trinity have for one another. But, no, just a glass of water for me, thanks.”

Waitress: “Would you like dessert?”
P.T. Forsyth: “Whenever I eat apple pie, I am reminded that God the holy Father acted decisively in the atoning cross of Jesus Christ to overcome the great breach between God and humans caused by our sin. Do you have any shortbread?

OK, kids, you get the idea.  All you theo-bloggers and bored theological grad students who read too much and don’t have anybody that’s interested, here’s your chance to shine.  I want to see Rahner, Van Balthasar, Aquinas, Anselm and the Cappadocians before the week is out.  Best entries get to buy a piece of apple pie for themselves.

My Top Ten Reasons why Anne Rice would hate the United Church of Christ:


When writer Anne Rice recently said she’s done with church, the UCC Office of Communication in Cleveland started a Facebook page called “You’d like the UCC, Anne Rice.” But I am convinced that they are wrong, and here’s why:

1. We are not the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, we Reformed Christians do believe that we are included in “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” of the Creed, but don’t bet the farm that Anne Rice thinks that. When she says she is done with “the Church” she knows just what church she is done with. When Philosopher George Santayana said he didn’t believe in God, he clarified by saying, “And the God I don’t believe in mother’s name is Mary.” Anne isn’t looking for liberal Protestantism.

2. She would love all our social views, but hate our religious ones. Yes, we affirm science and tolerance toward women and gays, and affirm birth control, and other progressive stuff. She would like that. But she would hate our distrust of authority, our shoddy theology, our aversion to dogma, our rejection of the cross, our sloppy liturgies, our tortured language. She would do better to search the database for subscribers to the New York Times or the New Yorker or join a book group.

3. We use grape juice at communion. C’mon.

4. We’re a tiny franchise. The Roman Catholic Church has 1.1 billion members. We have 1.1. million members (about half what we had when I was ordained) and are shrinking fast.

5. We are afraid of the Dark Side. Anne is a writer of Gothic vampire novels. What would she think of our chirpy optimism. How the church of Calvin and the Puritans came to have such a sunny view of human nature is one of those great imponderable mysteries, but Anne would hate it.

6. She would have nothing to push back against. Anne likes to fight with authority, but we don’t have any worth fighting with. She would hate that.

7. She would miss the thick texture of the Roman Church for our trimmed down decaffeinated Protestantism. Think about it: no Veneration of Mary, no stations of the cross, no fasting during Lent, no confession. Anne wouldn’t like it.  She just wouldn’t.

8. Our meeting houses have too much light. Anne is a “Gothic” novelist. Guess what kind of architecture she wants in her place of worship? Trust me on this one.

9. She would hate the New Century Hymnal. Why? Because she’s a writer and respects authorial intent and felicity of language.

10. She might get tired of hearing about how great we are because of our enlightened social views, and actually want some Christianity.

Ten Highly Effective Strategies for Crushing your Pastor’s Morale

In the past most congregations’ attempts to demoralize their ordained leadership have been haphazard and ad hoc, although still surprisingly effective. In the interest of bringing more rigorous and systematic approaches to these efforts here are some of my modest proposals:

1. Schedule a weekly meeting for your pastor to sit down with the treasurer (or, better yet, the assistant treasurer) to “go over” every business expense. Be sure to inquire if certain expenses are legitimate, such as the purchase of a Marilynne Robinson or Gail Godwin novel from the pastor’s book allowance (“Should we really be paying for your chick-lit?”) Or a long-distance call to a neighboring pastor friend from seminary. Do such expenses really profit the church? And what about this big expense for 14 volumes by this Barth guy? Do you really need all of these? And his title sounds so, well, dogmatic!

2. Plan a regular talk-back session after worship so that members can query the pastor about her sermon, or the worship service, or about anything else, for that matter. It is always good to question why the pastor chose scripture lessons that are so negative, referring to such old fashioned concepts as sin, unrighteousness and repentance. Suggest more uplifting themes in the future. “And, by the way, why don’t we ever sing Christmas carols in Advent?”

3. Make sure to have an annual customer satisfaction survey where every member of the congregation fills out an anonymous questionnaire about their views of the pastor’s performance during the previous year. Make sure all the negative (or ambiguous) comments are read aloud at several meetings, and publish them without attribution in the church newsletter.

4. Vote to hold all meetings in the living room of the parsonage during the winter as a way to save money on heat, but be sure to pitch the idea as good stewardship of God’s creation so your pastor will feel too guilty to protest.

5. Cut the mission budget to balance the budget. Better yet, ask your pastor to choose between a raise in salary or an increase in the mission budget. This would be a good subject for an extended conversation at a congregational meeting. You can never talk too much about clergy compensation at a congregational meeting.

6. Set up a pastoral oversight committee to regularly monitor the pastor’s performance. Focus attention on any negative (or ambiguous) comments from the questionnaire (see # 3). Make sure to put into place measurable metrics and target goals for new members received and money raised. Hourly work logs are always effective as well.

7. Whenever your pastor goes away and returns from denominational meetings or continuing education events never miss an opportunity to ask, “How was your vacation?”

8. Make sure the pastor is made aware of the two biggest complaints, namely, that he is never in the office, and he doesn’t make enough home visits. That the two cannot both be true will not diminish their use as morale crushers.

9. Tell the pastor that there are anonymous complaints that a. your sermons are too long; b. your voice is too soft to be heard (especially by the deaf); c. your spouse is not involved enough (or too involved) in the life of the congregation; d. your child shouldn’t have been given the lead in the Christmas pageant; e. your lawn needs mowing; and f. you were seen in shorts at the supermarket. This is just a sample list. Use your imagination.

10. Constantly compare your pastor to his long-tenured saintly predecessor, with special attention made to his never asking for a raise for himself or his staff.

If your pastor balks at any of these attempts, just mutter words such as “accountability,” “transparency,” “standards,” or “professionalism. Pastors are loath to appear to be against any of these concepts so cherished by the managerial class.

(Picture:  “The Scream” by Edvard Munch)

Nebraska Football and a Parable of Sports and Priorities

I am a big sports fan, but I often feel guilty about it (so it’s OK). I recognize in NFL football or the fever of Red Sox Nation some of the same scary crowd impulses that are present in big nationalistic rallies (think Leni Riefenstahl’s movie Triumph of the Will, with a difference to be sure.)

I recall Karl Barth’s critique of big sports under the term chthonic, relating to the earth deities of ancient Greece whose cults often practiced ritual sacrifice.  And as a guy with a head injury, I am especially alert to the dangers placed on the NFL gladiators we send out week to week to do battle for us to enjoy vicariously.

For many, sports takes the place of church, in some cases quite literally.  The church management guru of a generation ago, Lyle Schaller, once commented in my presence that in America, NFL football was a significant problem for attracting men to Sunday worship, especially on the West Coast, where the 1:00 Eastern Time game was shown at 10:00 Pacific Time there.

Still, I have always been an athlete and continue to enjoy watching talented men and woman engage in competitive sports.  Can one take this too far?  Sure, and nothing sums up an outsized passion for sports better that a joke I read on Facebook this morning from my old friend Jerry, a former student of mine from 30 years ago when I was a seminary chaplain.

Jerry, as anybody who knows him knows, is from Nebraska, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, and a huge fan of their football team, the Huskers (from Cornhuskers. ) Recently, in one of those silly Facebook apps that asks you your favorite five sports teams, he put Nebraska football with three names (Nebraska football, Huskers, “Big Red”) as his first three, and then, since he now plies his ministerial trade here in the more civilized confines of New England, he put the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots as fourth and fifth.

Jerry is also a bit of a character and will exchange banter with the best of them. So when he put up a new profile picture wearing a Nebraska cap, I couldn’t resist commenting, “Nice picture, Jerry, what’s the N for, New Mexico?”

That started a flurry of comments about his love for Nebraska football that ended in him sharing this joke which I offer to you as a parable about sports and priorities. It is an all-purpose sports joke and, mutatis mutandis, could well be told about the Red Sox, Patriots, Packers, U of Michigan, or Manchester United, for that matter, if they have season’s tickets there:

A man had tickets for the Nebraska-Texas game. As he sits down, another man comes down and asks if anyone is sitting in the seat next to him. “No,” he says, “The seat is empty.”

“This is incredible,” said the other man. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Nebraska – Texas game, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?”

He said, “Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Nebraska-Texas game we haven’t been to together since we got married in 1957.”

“Oh . . . I’m sorry to hear that. . . That’s terrible. But couldn’t you find someone else – a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?”

The man shakes his head. “No. They’re all at the funeral.”

Thanks Jerry.  Go Big Red!

Funny poem: “’Twas the Day after Christmas”

This piece of seasonal light verse comes from the keyboard of Janet Batchler, the creative gal behind the now famous Church History in Four Minutes video.  Janet’s terrific blog is Quoth the Maven (Now sadly gone.)  Her poem, with only slight exaggeration  (we no longer have a dog), describes my house about now.  How about yours?


‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house
All the fam’ly was sleeping, yes, even my spouse.
The stockings were tossed by the chimney with flair
Some turned inside out, to make sure nothing’s there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Nintendo DSes tucked under their heads;
And I in my bathrobe, MacBook on my lap,
Was happy to know there were no gifts to wrap.

When out from the kitchen there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
I waded my way ‘cross a floor filled with trash
To a kitchen heaped high from our Christmas Eve bash.

The sun through the window, it gave quite a glow:
(Los Angeles Christmas: We never have snow),
It shone on the remains of the Christmas day cheer,
The leftover cheese ball, the dregs of the beer.
The un-put-away brownies as hard as a fossil,
And o’er on the stove, it shone down on the wassail.

I blinked as the sun blasted straight to my eye
And just in time glimpsed a brown streak passing by.
Four-footed and furry and dragging a ham,
Dodging around me and trying to scram.
And as he ran off with a peppermint cluster
I knew in a moment, it was my dog Buster.

More rapid than eagles he streaked ‘cross the floor
Buster grabbed what he wanted, and came back for more:
More cheesecake, more truffles, more bagels and lox,
More chocolate chip cookies, more scotch on the rocks.
He smashed and he scrambled, bumped into the wall,
Then dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all.

“I should have cleaned up when the guests said good-bye,”
I moaned to myself with a pretty big sigh.
After two days of feasting, the kitchen looked grubby
I scrounged in the sink, tried to dig up the scrubby–

I searched quite in vain for a halfway clean towel
When out from the living room came quite a howl.
I set down the saucepan all caked thick with goo,
The glaze for the ham which had now turned to glue.

I skipped to the living room, limber of foot
And inched past the fireplace, dripping with soot.
Unraveling ribbons clung fast to my shin
As I looked round the post-Christmas scene with chagrin.

A mountain of presents all covered the floor
They looked so appealing when bought at the store.
Now gift wrap was ripped and the tissue was crumpled,
The new shoes abandoned, the new tank tops rumpled.

I picked my way round all the presents caloric,
The baskets of chocolate to make me euphoric,
Strange foods so exotic that no one would try it
(And don’t my friends know, New Year’s Day starts the diet?)

And just then I heard from the top of the spruce
The pitiful cry of a dog on the loose
I lifted my eyes from amidst the debris —
Old Buster had climbed to the top of the tree.

The angel crashed down as the Christmas tree swayed,
The ornaments flew in a sparkling cascade–
The puppy leapt on me, I felt his claws rip,
And then right behind, the tree started to tip–

The lights all exploded as down the tree crashed–
The pine needles shredded, the presents were smashed–
And I said as I landed on top of the pup,
“Happy Christmas to all– Someone else can clean up!”

(Janet Batchler, Quoth the Maven, December 26, 2009)

The Humor of Karl Barth

Those of us who have drunk deeply from the well of Karl Barth’s theology are sometimes accused of taking things too seriously.  There is a quite mistaken but still lingering reputation that his theology is lacking in humor.  But just because Barth’s theology is deadly serious doesn’t make it deadly, and I often find passages that are downright playful.  So I was delighted to see this mention of Barth’s humor in a 1986 editorial in Theology Today by Daniel L. Migliore:

“It is well to be reminded, therefore, that for Barth theology was not primarily a heavy burden but a joyful activity. While it is certainly correct to speak of his theology as Christ-centered, to say that it was rooted in a life-long, uninterrupted conversation with the Bible, and to note how important prayer was in his life and theology, all such characterizations of Barth’s work would still miss something essential if they overlooked his remarkable freedom and playfulness. Laughter was deeply etched in Barth’s theology and spirituality. He was a theologian with a rare sense of humor.

Humor often arises from the experienced discrepancy between reality and appearance, from the distance between what we pretend we are and what others know us to be, or between what others imagine us to be and what we know of ourselves. Humor thrives on incongruity, disproportion, the sometimes bizarre disparity between assumptions and facts, protocol and performance, the imagined past and the real past, the awaited future and the experienced present. The quality of humor-whether it is harsh or gentle, destructive or humanizing-depends on whether these contradictions and incongruities are held to be eternal and inescapable or provisional and redeemable.

If disproportion and incongruity are the stuff of humor, the life of faith and the work of theology are fields ripe for the harvest, a fact that seems to have been more readily apparent to the children of the world than to theologians. Witness Woody Allen’s description of God as an underachiever; or the prayer of Tevye, the poor milkman in Fiddler on the Roof asking God kindly to bestow the undeniably high honor of election for once on some other people than the Jews; or the unlikely defense of God by Yossarian’s lady friend in Catch 22 who, although herself an atheist, is so shaken by Yossarian’s devilish indictment of God’s ineptness or malevolence that she breaks into tears and retorts: “I don’t believe in God, but the God I don’t believe in is a good God.”As theologians go, Barth was uncommonly appreciative of the rightful place of humor in human life in general and in Christian life in particular. He wondered why the modern apologists for the uniqueness of humanity, who had forgotten the meaning of the creation of men and women in the image of God, had never even mentioned the fact that apparently human beings are the only creatures who laugh. For Barth, humor was a symptom of being human, and it frequently found expression in his conversations and actions.

As a preacher, Barth could acknowledge that some of his sermons were real clinkers, like the one on the sinking of the Titanic which he later noted was as great a disaster as the original event. In the midst of the German church struggle, indeed in the midst of his trial for refusing to practice the Nazi salute at the beginning of his classes, Barth suggested to the court that like Socrates many centuries earlier he actually deserved a reward rather than a punishment from his fellow-citizens. The gesture was of course a complete failure, as one might have expected in the dreadfully humorless world of Nazism.

Barth was also able to laugh about his work as a theologian, recognizing that every theology is a human endeavor with all the limitations and need of continuous revision which this implies. He remarked that when he got to heaven, he would want to have a long conversation about theological method with Schleiermacher-say, for a couple of centuries. He imagined that the angels giggled among themselves when they saw old Karl pushing his cart-load of Church Dogmatics.

Recalling Barth’s humor is not a human interest ploy or a curiosity of merely biographical significance. It is certainly not intended to obscure or trivialize the thunderous prophetic criticism which Barth often directed against both church and society in the name of the Word of God. The point is that Barth had not only a sense of humor but a theology of humor, and it was of a piece with his whole theology and practice of Christian freedom in response to the grace of God. His theology of humor can be briefly summarized as follows. First, humor for Barth is often and perhaps primarily self-directed. “Humor is the opposite of all self-admiration and self-praise” (CD III/4, p. 665). There is, in other words, such a thing as Christian freedom to laugh at ourselves, to recognize the incongruity and disproportion between the sinners we still are and the saints we prematurely claim to be, and thus to recognize ever and again the miracle of our being graciously accepted, valued, and honored by God. When one can laugh at oneself, then one can also rightly laugh at others-never bitterly or cynically, never in the superficial spirit of carnival or the poisoned laughter that expresses hatred for, or superiority over, another.

Second, for Barth true humor, far from being an escape from the realities of suffering and evil in the world, is “laughter amid tears.” True humor “presupposes rather than excludes the knowledge of suffering” (Ethics, 511). As the child of suffering, humor takes suffering seriously but refuses to give it the last word. It is remarkable, Barth observed, how fundamentally humorless the rich and powerful and self-satisfied of this world are, and how, by contrast, genuine humor often flourishes among the poor. The refusal to become resigned to the reign of suffering and death in the world has enormous personal and political significance.

Third, and most decisively for Barth, humor is grounded in the grace, faithfulness, and promise of God. Humor is part of the freedom which is ours to exercise, thanks to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. It is a sign of liberation and release rather than bondage and resignation. Grace creates “liberated laughter,” laughter made possible by the memory of God’s faithfulness, the present foretaste of God’s new creation, and the hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises. To put this another way, humor for Barth is rooted in the glory and beauty of God and is an expression of the delight and pleasure which the God of the gospel evokes in human life. The grace of God in Jesus Christ is beautiful, and it radiates joy and awakens humor (II/1, p. 655).

Of course, it is necessary to distinguish between the time of humor and the time of unambiguous joy. Joy is experienced now, but not continuously or totally. “Joy is anticipatory,” it has an “eschatological character” (III/4, p. 377). Humor, like art and human play generally, is oriented to God’s future, and can only be properly understood in that context. In Jesus Christ, God’s mighty Yes to us has been spoken, and this event signals the beginning of the end of the contradictions of Yes and No, of life and death, of friendship and enmity. Barth’s humor points beyond irony or satire, and certainly far beyond ridicule or gallows humor, to the free laughter of children and friends in God’s new creation.

So understood, humor is different from, though intimately related to, joy. Joy arises out of the partial presence of the promised Kingdom which has erupted in Christ and in the work of his Spirit. Humor arises out of the still partial presence of this Kingdom, leaving the undeniable incongruity and disproportion between what we and the world still are and what God’s grace in Jesus Christ promises that we and the world shall yet become. Joy will find its fulfillment in God’s new heaven and new earth; humor belongs to a world between the times.” (Daniel L. Migliore, “Reappraising Barth’s Theology,” Editorial, Theology Today, April 1986)

The Onion will make you cry


Just kidding. More likely The Onion will make you laugh, but that isn’t nearly as cool a title for a blogpost.  Looking over this month’s posts got me wondering if I might be taking myself just a tad too seriously, so here’s some comic relief.  My apologies to my international readers who may not find all of the American references quite as funny as I do.

So what is The Onion?  It began humbly enough as a satiric newspaper with only local distribution in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1988 by two University of Wisconsin students, it was distributed free and had cut-out coupons for local Madison eateries.  From the beginning its genius was the send-up of the rich, famous and powerful with stories that were so funny that they were to good to be true, and, in fact they weren’t true.  Think Jonathan Swift, Punch, early SNL, or the Colbert Report.

I know that in a recent post I quoted Marilynne’s Robinson’s displeasure at people getting their news from comics like Leno and Limbaugh, but the Onion is more than the arbiter of attitude about which she was speaking.  The Onion uses humor to deflate big egos, point out injustices, and generally humble the exalted.

Not that The Onion isn’t cool. It is way cool, and that is why it spread beyond Madison.  From the beginning it had a near cult following on college campuses, and its availability quickly widened to other university cities, mostly in the Midwest.  Eventually it had a national distribution. The print addition is still distributed free in Madison and several other major cities, and is available by subscription and sold in bookstores.

The Onion added a website in 1996 and now has monster of a site that mimics such real news sites as CNN, ESPN, and C-Span with it ersatz replicas, namely ONN, O-Span, and OSN.

The Onion News Network (ONN) has video clips that look like real news stories.  They have actors playing politicians in solemn assemblies. They have down the look and sound of some of the more soul-deadening congressional debates. Take a look at this send-up of Congress in the clip “Breaking News: Bat Loose in Congress.”

Or this one, in which a Congressional hearing has the girlfriends of America arguing the economic benefits of cohabitation: “Nations Girlfriends Unveil New economic Plan: “Let’s Move in TOGETHER.””

Or my favorite, the Food and Drug Administrations first approved depressant drug for the chronically upbeat: “FDA Approves Depressant Drug for the Annoyingly Cheerful.”

ONN also has a regularly scheduled show called Today Now that is a send-up of vacuous morning talk shows.  It has two attractive, clueless hosts, John Haggerty (played by Brad Holbrook) and Tracy Gill.  Brad Holbrook was actually a real anchorman on one of our local Albany TV stations for several years which gives Today Now an eerie believability.  He’s definitely better at The Onion.

Check out the episode:  “Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids” where a mom talks about stalking her son on-line.

You can become a fan of The Onion on your Facebook Page and each new story will appear there.  Some days when there is nothing in the real news to laugh about the Onion will find a way.

My Top Ten Suggestions for Red Sox Fans with Time on their Hands

The Boston Red Sox failure to advance from the divisionals means some of us suddenly have time on our hands. So here’s my Lettermanesque top ten things to do with your time:

Remember that book you always wanted to read, but never did? Then they made it into an iconic movie, and you didn’t want to see the movie until you’d read the book, but never did? Now’s your chance. I’m reading The Remains of the Day.

2. Re-read something you really love. I’m re-reading The Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson and it’s even better the second time.

3. Climb a mountain. Around here Mt. Greylock, while technically not a mountain, is pretty impressive this time of year.

4. Watch a Python movie. We rented Holy Grail the other night and it is still funny, although the VHS from Blockbuster quit about 3/4ths of the way through.

5. Make chili. Here’s a recipe.

6. Read a good blog. My blogroll is over on the right, and it has some good choices. No farther down. Yeah, there.

7. Go to Nejaime’s, the best wine store in the Berkshires, or your local equivalent, and buy a mixed case without any cabernet or chardonnay in it. Try the Spanish reds. That’s the sweet spot these days.

8. Work on a political campaign. They always need help and this is the time of year.

9. Support efforts to get a Berkshire Bike Path from Connecticut to Vermont. We can do it. And should do it.

10. Catch up on your magazines. Never made it through the summer’s New Yorkers? Now is the time. Perhaps a poor choice in this context. How about Field and Stream?