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A udrey Santo was a four-year-old who fell into her backyard pool and suffered brain damage. For the last 10 years she's been lying comatose in her bedroom. This could be the story of any of hundreds of tragic pool-drowned children, except for one small thing: Audrey's parents have reported a number of "miracles" in their house -- all of them attributed to their daughter. As a result, thousands of Catholics and other spiritual seekers make pilgrimages to Audrey's bedroom year-round, hoping to be blessed by proximity to this silent saint. Want to see her yourself? Sorry, the waiting list is filled up all the way to 1999.

What does it mean? How could a common household accident transform itself into a religious freakshow? This article attempts to tackle these questions. The answers, of course, reveal more about psychology than they do about religion. From a parent's perspective, a child's senseless near-death must seem a lot less senseless when you can convince yourself it was preordained by God and serves an important purpose.

Besides the Audrey Santo article, this week's Weekly Wire is a bit light on news stories, though these pieces about the "new" global economy and an unlikely black-and-white friendship certainly hold their own. But we've still got our unusually diverse selection of columns, from Smith to Cap'n Opinion to Walter Jowers's always-unpredictable Helter Shelter. I used to believe Helter Shelter was about home repair; boy was I ever off. It's about everything but home repair. You want a miracle? Look through the archives and see if you can locate two Helter Shelter columns that are even remotely similar in content. Now that would be a miracle.

Now What?
Can't get enough news? You're in luck -- more news is created every day. Our Now What? page offers a plethora of recommended links to help keep you living in the present. [12]

Volume I, Issue 30
December 29 - January 5, 1998

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The Strange Case of Audrey Santo
The faithful of Worcester, Massachusetts are attributing miracles to a comatose 14-year-old girl, but the church isn't so sure. [2]
Ellen Barry

Trade Marks
There's a myth that we're moving into a "new" global economy. There always was a global economy. [3]
Emil Franzi

Small Texas Tolerance
How an educated black man and an East Texas redneck became best friends. [4]
Jon Garrett

Woody Eargle, Free at Last
Woody Eargle's last ride. [5]
Steven Womack

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Scrooge Rules
Why you should tell those wealthy creeps to stick it in their ears. [6]
Jeff Smith

Death to the Plants
Angry young man or cranky old fart? You decide! [7]
Cap'n O

Hearth & Soul
Suzy's farewell column. [8]
Suzy Banks

You Go, Girlfriends
Walter Jowers revisits his old girlfriends for Christmas. [9]
Walter Jowers

Odds & Ends
Timed-release news capsules from the flipside. [10]
Devin D. O'Leary

Mr. Smarty Pants
Our resident know-it-all unearths the latest trivia. [11]
R.U. Steinberg

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