I remember seeing this drawing by artist Saul Steinberg when it appeared on the cover of The New Yorker in March 1976. I’ve thought back to it many times over the years because it seemed such an apt and brilliant metaphor for the way we view the scope and relative importance of unfamiliar places, institutions, and world views. Over the past decade, I’ve been reaching out to conservative Catholics on their web- and blogsites, trying to break into discussions that are usually happening in echo chambers, as happens when New Yorkers are talking about New York. Most of my blogging on these sites has been about homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and my hope has been to direct the bloggers’ attention to a point of view that differs from their own—in other words, to have a conversation with them and maybe to expand their horizons. In the process, of course, I’ve had my own horizons expanded, and that is all to the good. What never ceases to amaze me is how oblivious each of us can be to world views that are fundamentally different from our own. It is as though these views were just sketched out in the most general terms, as caricatures or place-holders or mere labels lacking any meaningful referent, as in Steinberg’s drawing.
The World as Seen From New York City