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September marks the premiere issue of Good, a magazine founded and funded by Ben Goldhirsh (son of media-multi-millionaire Bernie Goldhirsh). Good is for the “growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a shared interest,” writes Goldhirsh in a letter to potential readers on the magazine’s website. “This revolves around a passion for potential mixed with fierce pragmatism and creative engagement. We sum all this up as the sensibility of giving a damn. But to shorten it, let’s call it GOOD. We’re here to push this movement and cover its realization. For while so much of today’s media is taking up our space, dumbing us down, and impeding our productivity, GOOD exists to add value.”

Described as falling between “New Age meets new money volunteerism meets the consumerist imperative,” by NY Times reporter Sharon Waxman in her article “A Magazine for Earnest Young Things,” the magazine has no explicit religious ties or motivations–though Waxman describes the magazine’s headquarters by saying, “Yoga mats are neatly arranged in little cubbyholes next to the bar. The staff generally gathers for yoga classes out on the narrow balcony about three times a week.”

Also absent from Good? Irony and sarcasm. “The founders say they were motivated by a desire to contribute to society and express something on behalf of their generation…. One thing that distinguishes Good from other young magazines is its wholly unironic tone…. Mr. Schorr believes that his generation is looking for a little earnestness.”

To entice subscribers–of which I plan to count myself one as soon as I finish this post–Good boasts an offer that seems almost too good to be true: the entire $20 six-issue subscription fee will go to one of the 12 charity organizations listed on its subscriber page–and you choose which one. Charities include: City Year, Donors Choose (Katrina Aid), Teach for America, UNICEF, and the World Wildlife Fund.

How good is that? Now the only question remaining is to which organization should I assign my subscription?

It may be #10 on the Top Ten list of things Jews and Christians shalt not do, but not coveting thy neighbor’s house, other related property, and just generally not coveting things that are not yours still made the tablet. And yet a new MySpace-like online community has sprung up with the sole purpose (or so it seems) of baiting us to break commandment #10.

Zebo.com, launched last week, is devoted to building community based on personal profiles that list all your possessions and reveal your deepest desires for that which you do not have but desperately want. Zebo.com allows members to make friends, invite others to join (and a host of other Friendster- and MySpace-like functions), yet with the sole purpose of giving everyone a little peep show into what you have (or at least, claim to), as well as the ability to go poking around in the contents of your friends’ closets, drawers, and other private places normally reserved for personal viewing only.

“If the Internet encourages people to share with the world the contents of their souls, Zebo encourages them to share the contents of their homes. It is ‘MTV Cribs’ for the masses. Minimalists need not log in,” writes NYTimes reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom in her article, “A Sense of Belonging Among Belongings,” about the site.

Rosenbloom interviews Roy de Souza, Zebo’s founder and chief executive, who offers the following mantra about the generation sure to make his site a success: “For the youth, you are what you own,” [de Souze] said. “They list these things because it defines them.”

Apparently, according to Rosenbloom, the biggest draw to the site is not simply getting to show of your own worth in stuff, but getting to see what everybody else has and craves themselves. Though Rosenbloom’s overall assessment of Zebo is that–at least at this point–the site seems almost “wholesome,” her final words sum up Zebo quite succintly: “Its members’ primary vice is coveting.”

Zebo is clearly for Christians and Jews whose Commandments only go to 9.

Sure, we’re happy to see Matthew Perry return to television, especially alongside those enjoyable “West Wing” folks like Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield. But the biggest reason many of us will be tuning in tonight to the premiere of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”–NBC’s new behind-the-scenes look at a fictional late-night sketch show–will be the man who puts the words in their mouths: writer/producer Aaron Sorkin. And I am happy to say that tonight’s premiere of “Studio 60” provides Sorkin aficionados with great acting, lush sets, and the joyous return of “walk and talks”–witty banter matched with long tracking shots that are typical of the storytelling style Sorkin and his directing partner Tommy Schlamme have perfected.

Tonight’s pilot episode (10.00 p.m., NBC) finds the “Saturday Night Live”-style comedy sketch show “Studio 60” in more than a bit of trouble this particular Friday night. The fictional NBS network’s standards and practices rep is pulling the plug on the intended opening sketch, intriguingly titled “Crazy Christians.” This leads to an on-air “Network“-inspired tirade by the show’s producer, which, of course, gets him fired and leads to major national news coverage. In an effort at damage control, the new network president, Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), tracks down the famous writing/producing duo of Matt Albie and Dannie Tripp (Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford) to offer them a chance to return to “Studio 60” after being fired from the show a few years before.

But just as Sorkin’s “Sports Night” was not simply about a sports broadcasting team, and “The West Wing” was not only about people working in the White House, “Studio 60” is about much more than the cast of a floundering comedy show. Whether it’s references to Pat Robertson as a bigot or psycho-religious cults who thrive on boycotts, Sorkin is clearly taking some thought-provoking shots at the cultural and spiritual divide in America. But he’s doing it with the help of a Christian.

That’s right: Imagine my surprise when I found out that “Studio 60” has, at the center of its cast, a character who is clever, funny–and just happens to be a devout Christian without being completely annoying, as so many TV Christians are. Harriet, a longtime cast member and ex-girlfriend of Matt Albie, is a thinly-veiled homage of some kind to Sorkin’ s ex-girlfriend, Kristin Chenoweth, a Christian who became a Broadway star and was also a “West Wing” regular in its last season. But that doesn’t dampen my excitement over the possibility of a primetime show portraying a Christian without resorting to stereotypes. A perfect example of this is when Harriet defends the “Crazy Christian” sketch, while the less-tolerant Albie confesses that he let Harriet’s appearance on Robertson’s “The 700 Club” become justification for ending their tumultuous relationship.

All indications point to Harriet’s faith continuing to play a significant part in future episodes of the show. And while I am not convinced that Harriet will continue to serve as an accurate mouthpiece for us moderate evangelical types, I am looking forward to the spirited–and spiritual–discussions “Studio 60” is going to generate around watercoolers everywhere this season.

Website-creator turned author Janice Taylor brings her food-obsessed, playful, confessional ourladyofweightloss.com to the printed page, with a new book titled the same: “Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings From the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal” (Viking Studio).

As someone who grew up in a house filled with saintly paraphernalia and an all-too-pervasive knowledge of the, count-em, 6000 or so saints that make the Catholic holier-than-thou grade, I’m all for coming up with new saints for such difficult wordly tasks as weight loss. And Taylor–a weight-loss coach by profession–more or less masquerades as the Lady herself. NY Times book reviewer Liesl Schillinger explains that Taylor’s weekly e-letter includes “confessions” of dietary transgressions sent in by the weight-struggling–which Our Lady of Weight Loss promptly and kindly forgives: “For instance,” writes Schillinger about one e-letter. “When a woman admits that she wolfed down an egg biscuit and hash browns at McDonald’s–‘I sullied myself for the sake of convenience’–Our Lady is merciful: ‘All is forgiven. Move on.'”

Truth be told, Our Lady of Weight Loss seems a bit more New Age than Catholic as far as spiritual persuasions go, and certainly not without humor, as evident in Taylor’s site describtion of this saint of fat removal: “Our Lady of Weight Loss is dedicated to those who are drawn to The Art of Weight Loss. Our Lady encourages all to lighten up in every way. Have fun, laugh at yourself, enjoy a healthful lifestyle, and redirect those ‘feeding’ energies into something creative and more fulfilling than any bowl of ice cream could ever be.”

Taylor’s inspiration that started it all?

Janice’s [Taylor] epiphany came one day in 2001 when she dragged herself to a weight loss center “where people obsess about weight and food,” she recalled. “I weighed in and nearly keeled over. The scales of injustice were heavy indeed. It was all so dreary and depressing. I thought, ‘I’m never going to make it.'” Then she heard The Voice (who later revealed herself to be Our Lady of Weight Loss), “If you think you’re never going to make it, you never will. You’re an artist. Make weight loss an art project.” And she did, becoming America’s first weight loss artist.

Well, at least “The Voice” part sounds very Catholic!