From the G-spot to a God slot: Cosmo discovers religion
Nov. 30, 2003
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday December 1, 2003
The new appointee – Hannah Borno, a 32-year-old journalist with no known religious background – will act as an alternative to the magazine’s traditional agony aunt, dispensing advice to young women in a regular spiritual section that will begin next February.
Among the subjects that will be addressed in the new column are an exploration of Buddhism, the existence of guardian angels, and the reliability of mediums, as well as other “religious needs” of women.
The magazine’s metamorphosis from missionary position to missionary zeal has led to accusations from family welfare campaigners that the publication is promoting “designer spirituality” and a “consumerist” attitude to matters of faith.
Lorraine Candy, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, which has a monthly circulation of 460,000, nevertheless insisted that the appointment of a spirituality editor was a necessary response to the growing number of young women searching for “something deeper”.
“We get hundreds of letters every month from successful young women looking for something outside their material success to make them happy,” she said. “From our own research and anecdotal evidence, it seems that more women are praying than ever before, more women are joining the Alpha course [which introduces people to the basics of the Christian faith], and more women are phoning psychic lines or going to Tarot card readers.
“Young women today are spirituality seekers, whether that be adhering to a formal religion or something a bit less dictatorial.”
Miss Candy added: “Women don’t live near their parents any more, so there is a lack of emotional support. There is also a growing realisation that being at the top of a career might not make you happy in the way that marriage and children might do. The choice is overwhelming.
“We will be looking at what is behind this spiritual trend so that we can inform our readers. For that reason, I don’t think this is ‘consumerist’ or ‘designer’ spirituality, or that we are doing this for purely commercial purposes. That is nonsense. Women are searching for greater meaning and if you don’t inform them, they will be taken advantage of.”
Lynette Burrows, an author on children’s rights and a Catholic family welfare campaigner, claimed that Cosmopolitan had “nothing to offer” beyond its traditional content of relationship advice and sex tips. It was, she suggested, merely using religion as a gimmick.
She said: “Cosmopolitan sees spirituality as a consumer desire, to be satisfied according to the tenets of political correctness. Appointing a spiritual writer is like redecorating a brothel: it doesn’t change what’s inside.”
The Church of England, however, gave a cautious welcome to the news. A spokesman said: “The more widely these issues are discussed the better. Certainly we have heard anecdotal evidence of more young people expressing an interest in religion in a wider sense. Often they will shun institutional religion in favour of a ‘pic ‘n’ mix’, uncritical and chaotic approach to spirituality.
“However, if these issues are tackled as ‘designer spirituality’ for the magazine market, then clearly that would belittle the whole subject.”
Cosmopolitan was founded in the US in 1886, but it was not until the appointment of Helen Gurley Brown, the author of Sex and the Single Girl, as editor in 1965, that it developed its reputation for speaking frankly about relationships and sexual issues in print.
It was launched in Britain in 1972 and for its second issue, printed a male nude claiming that it was “striking a real blow for equality”. Today, Cosmopolitan is published in 28 countries and sells more than four million copies a month worldwide. In Britain, it is the second best-selling glossy magazine in the country.
Hannah Borno, the new spirituality editor, has previously conducted undercover investigations for Cosmopolitan – including hiring a bi-sexual female prostitute and going (naked) on a naturist holiday – but has no official religious qualifications. According to her CV she “managed a psychic shop during her days at Oxford University” and has previously written articles on psychic phonelines and “soulless sex among young women” for Cosmopolitan.
Miss Borno will edit her first section for the March 2004 issue, which will be on sale in February. She was last night said to be enjoying a “silent retreat” – a period of seclusion and meditation – and was unavailable for comment.
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