Hello.

We are pleased to announce that we have made plans for the magazine to be available for purchase in some brick-and-mortar bookstores. If you would like to place a bulk order for resale or other purposes, please contact us at sales@thelampmagazine.com. Otherwise, subscriptions to the magazine can be purchased here for sixty dollars. If you can think of anyone in religious life who might enjoy a free copy or you have any questions about subscriptions, please send us an email at subscriptions@thelampmagazine.com.

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Last week we asked you some longer questions, so this week’s summary will be a bit longer as a result. First, we asked you to tell us something you regularly use for an unusual purpose. Our readers have found new uses for many regular items, such as:

Whipped cream as a reward for potty training
Country Life Magazine as a source for recipes
Apple Podcasts as an aid in praying the divine office
Binder clips as a tool for removing one’s cuticles
An old trombone mouthpiece as a paperweight
Lighter fluid to remove pesky stickers from objects (like books)
A hat as a container for gloves
Twitter as a source for Catholic gossip and news
A scarf as a table runner
A dental pick as a house cleaning tool
Baby wipes as general surface cleaners
A cheese slicer to cut cold, solid butter
The round ends of a paperclip as an ear cleaner
Embroidery thread scissors to trim one’s own hair
Large books as doorstops
A toy garden hoe as a gutter cleaner
Empty pretzel jars as compost bins
A glencairn glass to grow flower bulbs in water
An enamel canning pot to ferment batches of sourdough
A crockpot as a humidifier
Youtube as a music player
Glasses wipes as iPhone cleaners
A kitchen torch as a cigar lighter
The Internationale as a timer for one’s morning showers
The treadmill as a study tool (flashcards)

Next we asked some short questions. About eighty-five percent of you are right handed, twelve percent left handed, and the rest ambidextrous. Your favorite sections of this newsletter are: this poll (forty percent), the Numbers (twenty four percent), the Lines (nineteen percent), the mail (ten percent), and the news (seven percent). About half of you (fifty three percent) prefer sightseeing vacations to relaxing (which twenty two percent prefer); the rest of you like both, or to dine out, meet locals, and generally wander around.

Finally, we solicited from our readers any surprising practical advice they might have. They advise:

Hide snacks that last a long time in the jackets of coats.
Use Youtube for video tutorials to become handier around the house/car.
Make more decisions using random methods (like a coin toss).
Mark your next celebration at home with a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of champagne.
Turn your iPhone on black-and-white mode to make it less addictive.
Don’t arch your back during a shoulder press.
Use single-edge razor blades to clean glass stovetops and cheap counters.
When buying a home, request that the owner pay to have the indoor and outdoor air conditioning coils cleaned.
Use newspaper to clean glass—it does not leave streaks. Ink on your hands but nothing on the glass.
Get to know the old people in your community.
Always make your bed.
If your dumpster is far away, store kitchen waste in a bag in the freezer until you are able to take it to the dumpster.
If forced to spend the night at the airport, find the public chapel/worship area—they are generally darker and quieter than the rest of the airport, and sometimes have cushioned seats
When making funeral arrangements, buy everything you can at a nonprofit cemetery before seeing a for-profit funeral director.
Pray with your spouse every day.
One eighteen-inch pizza is larger than two twelve-inch pizzas combined.
Butter the bread, not the pan, when you make grilled cheese.
Be able to explain why you want a particular job you are applying for.
When performing bud grafts on your fruit trees, keep the bud you cut off your scion plant in your mouth as you prepare your root stock so your scion bud doesn’t dry out.
Always make extra dinner as leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. It’s cheaper and you’ll have a better lunch.
Meal-plan and grocery shop every other week on payday—you will find it easier to stay in budget.
Insurance covers a meal for mothers who have just given birth which is large enough for the father to eat as well.
Make a will and a healthcare power of attorney, no matter your age.
Spend more time with friends, and do not take them for granted.
Only read an email once and reply right away. If you don’t have time to respond, don’t open it.
Always check for toilet paper before you sit.
Can koozies in one’s back pocket can substitute for stadium seating.
When painting, mix in a small amount of a complementary color (like green to red) will desaturate (move closer to grey) the original color.

This week’s poll can be found here.

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As always, feel free to send us questions here or newsletter mailbag items (especially your prayer requests) here. Follow us on Twitter at @thelampmagazine.

Numbers:

• The Supreme Court of India has acquitted three-thousand seven-hundred people accused of sectarian violence, namely, the murder of one hundred Christians in 2008. These Christians were blamed for the death of a Hindu cleric (who was in fact murdered by Maoists).

• The Knights of Columbus have introduced a new initiation ceremony combining its first three degrees; this ceremony will be conducted publicly, not privately, as it was for the first hundred forty-two years.

• At least one-hundred seventy-one people have died of coronavirus so far.

• Automobile accidents involving the use of marijuana that result in deaths have doubled since the drug’s legalization in some parts of this country.

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News:

• Bishop Robert Barron has proposed a system whereby bishops would confer an official, approved-by-the-church designation on Catholic social media users.

• The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana has ruled against Notre Dame in a lawsuit filed against them by a group of female students who are seeking to force the university to provide free contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in its health plans.

• An Iowa man who sexually assaulted fifteen children aged between one and thirteen will no longer be incarcerated because his doctors claim that following a sex reassignment surgery his hormone levels have changed.

• Sex selectivity in infanticide continues to increase in the United States.

Lines:

How can I call the lone night good,
Though thy sweet wishes wing its flight?
Be it not said, thought, understood —
Then it will be–good night.

— Sʜᴇʟʟᴇʏ

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There is a category of Fantastic Books most delightful, and never to my thinking overdone, which deals with journeys to worlds beyond the earth. I confess that I care nothing whether they are well written or ill written; so long as they are written in any language that I can understand I will read them; and to day as I write I have before me a notable collection of such, every one of which I have read over and over again. I remember one called the Anglo-Saxon Conquest of the Solar System or words to that effect; another of a noble kind, called Thuka of the Moon. I only mention the two together by way of contrast; and I remember one in which somebody or other went to Mars and went mad, but I forget the title. Be they as well written as the First Men in the Moon, which is or will be a classic, or as ill written as a book which I may not mention because there is a law forbidding any one to tell unpleasant truths, so long as they concern voyages to the Planets they are worth reading.

Then, also, there is the future. The Time Machine is, perhaps, the chief of them; but writers who travel into the future, good or bad, are all delightful.

You may say that they are also always a little boring because they always try to teach a lesson or to prophesy. That is true, but when you have comforted yourself with the firm conviction that prophecies of this kind are invariably and wildly wrong the disturbance which they cause in your mind will disappear. I have among my most treasured books one of the early nineteenth century, called Revelations of the Dead Alive, in which the end of our age and its opinions upon that age are presented, and it is all wrong! But it is very entertaining all the same. Most ridiculous but not least entertaining of such books are the Socialist books, the books showing humanity in the future all Socialist and going on like sticks. There is, indeed, another type of mournful Socialist book much more real and much more troubling, in which Socialism has failed, and the mass of men go on like slaves; but no matter. A prophecy (when it is scientific) is always and invariably absolutely and totally wrong:—and a great comfort it is to remember that!

Yet another sort of Fantastic Book is your Journey to Hell or to Heaven. There is one I have read and re-read. It is called The Outer Darkness. I shall never cease to read it. It is a journey to a sort of Hell, and these are as a rule more entertaining than the Heavenly journey, though why I cannot tell. Does the same hold true of Dante?

Lastly, and much the most rare and much the most valued of all are the books which are fantastic, though they cling to the present and to things known. In these I would include imaginary people in the Islands and in the Arctic, and even those which introduce half-rational beasts, for such books depend for their character not upon the matter of the fantasy, but upon the manner. There is a book called Ninety North, for instance, which is all about a race of people at the North Pole, but the power of the book resides not in the distance of the scene, but in the vision of the writer and in the little irony that trickles down every page.

Who collects them or preserves them—the Fantastic Books? No one, I think. They are not catalogued under a separate Heading. They puzzle the writers of Indices; they bewilder Librarians. They must be grouted out of the mass of rubbish as Pigs in the Perigord grout out truffles. There is no other way.

Also, in the Perigord, truffles are hunted with Hounds.

— Bᴇʟʟᴏᴄ

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‘Tis time, I think by Wenlock town
The golden broom should blow;
The hawthorn sprinkled up and down
Should charge the land with snow.

Spring will not wait the loiterer’s time
Who keeps so long away;
So others wear the broom and climb
The hedgerows heaped with may.


Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge,
Gold that I never see;
Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge
That will not shower on me.

— Hᴏᴜsᴍᴀɴ

One reader writes: “I wrote in a few months ago asking for prayers for the three men in my breakfast group, who together had just had a birth, a miscarriage, and news of a new pregnancy. The last was my family’s. And in recent weeks it seems that you have regular included general prayer requests for expectant mothers and unborn children. I can tell you they were answered. My son was born January 6, and not without drama. After some complications right at the end of an otherwise normal labor, our son was born gray, limp, not breathing, and unresponsive. He had only a weak pulse. The nurses rushed him to the warming table and began working on him as my wife and I feared the worst. In the moment I grabbed a cup of water and baptized him. As I returned to my wife’s side to tell her, he cried out. Thank God, everything is fine, and there’s no permanent injury or disability. So, I’d like to ask the readers for prayers in thanksgiving for our son, for all those expecting to have a safe and healthy delivery, and for dads to have the knowledge and will to act to baptize their children if it appears their lives are in danger. Today, they’re the only ones in the room that can be counted on to know what to do to baptize and actually do it.”

Another asks: “Please, I beg you if you can ask for prayers for my newborn nephew, Nacho María Baltasar (January 6), who has a critical illness that might finish his life at a very early age, also for his parents, Aleix and Isabel, a very young couple, and his two brothers who love him so much already and have been longing to meet him.”

From another: “I never know what to write here. I have no idea who reads these responses. My life is a mess. I can’t remember the last time I was happy without the help of drugs. Can you pray for me?”

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More from the mailbag:

• A correction to one of our news items: ”France doesn’t have federal laws.”

• ”I voted ‘Lines’ as my favourite [section of the newsletter], but I really like all the pieces. Thank you for reintroducing me to poetry—not something I easily pick up and read.”

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We ask readers to pray for all expectant mothers, especially one dear friend of the magazine, for affianced persons, for women religious, for all children recently born and baptized, for those suffering from illness, for the poor, for all seminarians, and for the intentions of the Holy Father.

— W.B., M.W.