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Issue X

From Groundhog Day to Ash Wednesday. The temperament swings quickly on this page. Kinda like its talent level. It's now the penitential season, of course. It's made particularly more difficult by Mardi Gras excesses (those Catholics are always sticking it to you somehow: eat and drink and party, then suddenly give it all up; talk about swinging quickly). TWE will display its own form of penance by talking a little bit more about God and religion during the coming weeks. You can do your penance by reading everything here twice.

Actually, you can do a random act of kindness by forwarding our website URL to your friends and family. Weekly viewers are increasing, and we've noticed that other websites are beginning to link to us. We're pleased with our progress and hope you're willing to spread the TWE word. If you're not sure how to approach it, you can use this sample e-mail letter: "Dear _______: This blog (insert URL here) isn't wholly worthless. If you have five minutes to spend every week, it's worth a bookmark."

Many thanks.

Number Eleven
We ran ten quotes about money last week, then we came across this one: "Beware of money and the desire for ease and comfort, for it will turn your heart from God, Mother Teresa taught them. 'One loses touch with God when one takes hold of money.'" This from David Scott's new Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa (Loyola Press, 2005), possibly the best devotional book of the new millennium. We'll discuss it at greater length in a future issue.

Just finished Hugh Hewitt's Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation (Nelson Books, 2005). For information about the blogging phenomenon, we doubt it can be beat. It provides history, trends, ideas, tips. Worth the price.

One highly annoying feature, though: Hewitt is an evangelical Protestant with an apparently severe distaste for things Catholic. He lists many Christian blogs, but none of them are Catholic. More troubling, he repeatedly (repeatedly, repeatedly) and gleefully (gleefully, gleefully) analogizes the current blog reformation to the printing press revolution that fueled the Protestant Reformation. His recount of the Reformation is so one-sided and simplistic that it could be cut-and-pasted into a strident Protestant sixteenth-century history book for seventh graders. It's filled with partial truths and shots at the Catholic Church--most of which could've been omitted without compromising his analogy. We suspect he was merely padding his narrative to turn what would otherwise be a mere essay into a book (there are other instances of padding throughout this volume). Then again, it might be simple anti-Catholicism. He never mentions shortcomings among the Reformers, and he doesn't talk about social, economical, and historical factors that would soften the theological accusations, all of which would be about as relevant to his information reformation analogy as most of the negative commentary about the Catholic Church.

Regardless, it's a decent book. Hewitt is a gifted writer who's easy to understand. If he could've written about blogging without flirting with historical bigotry, or if such things don't bother you, we would recommend it. (And yes, we're painfully aware that this review might irritate both our Catholic and Protestant readers, Catholics because we recommend the book and Protestants because we condemn Hewitt's characterization of the Reformation.)

My Mudda Was a Mudda
The Associated Press reported earlier this week that a female member of a National Guard military police unit was demoted for indecent exposure after a mud-wrestling party at the Army-run Camp Bucca detention center in Iraq. We've mostly opposed women in the military, but this wasn't one of the things we feared. Distracting romantic dealings among officers and enlisted, sexual abuse against female POWs, demoralizing men in combat. Yup. But indecent exposure during mud wrestling? That escaped our fevered imagination.

Stoic's Porch
"No one should feel pride in anything that is not his own." Seneca

Christian Bastards
Muslims who convert to Christianity put themselves at risk: bricks through windows, cars rammed and torched, possessions vandalized with insulting graffiti ("Christian bastard"), physical assaults, kidnapping, and credible death threats. And that's in Britain. Here's the complete story from the 2/5/2005 issue of the Times Online.

Laughing All the Way to the Stake
Funny guy, that St. Lawrence. When ordered by the Roman emperor's men to turn over the Church's wealth, he showed up with a retinue of the destitute. The emperor's men roasted him for it. Since then, he has laughed with the saints instead of crying with the poor and the sinners.

The Myth of Pornography Release
Daniel Bergner recently wrote an extensive report on child molesters for The New York Times. Fascinating piece, but the part we found particularly interesting is the part about the effect of pornography. The NYT isn't typically known for its anti-porn stance, but some moral and spiritual common sense made it into Bergner's piece. He believes the evidence is inconclusive whether Internet pornography increases the chance of child molestation, but when he talked to therapists who work with child molesters, their opinion was rather adamant. One therapist's "normally tempered voice nearly rose to a yell when I asked whether online porn might provide a safe outlet for otherwise destructive erotic drives: a man masturbates; the craving subsides. 'No!' he replied. He was thinking of the [child molesters in his group therapy sessions]. 'That's like an alcoholic saying I'll only have a couple of drinks, I'll only have low-alcohol beer.' And then he was thinking of everyone when he said that pornography 'desensitizes people so extraordinarily.'

Stray Kittens
These sayings are cute, but what are they good for?

Blanket skepticism is the redneck's substitute for wisdom.

Detest witch burnings, but detest even more the idea that witches ought not be burned.

Progressivism necessarily denies the Fall of man. It is not possible to convince people that mankind can build an earthly paradise if it could not even sustain the one given it.

Sex education without instruction in virtue and morality is like hand grenade training without instruction on throwing.

The average person isn't the standard, unless Hell is the goal.

Sin makes a person nervous.

Anti-Gay in Gotham
While filming the forthcoming romantic comedy "Hitch" on the streets of New York, Will Smith leaned over to kiss Kevin James. Smith plays a professional matchmaker who must teach clients romantic moves. There's nothing homosexual about the scene, but one New Yorker pedestrian, seeing it start to unfold, screamed out, "Hell no, brother! Don't do that!"

The Last Word
Matutinal: pertaining to, or occurring in, the morning; early. "Matutinal praise for another day is always appropriate."