Adulterers, deadbeats and proselytizers

KidmanCruiseI know it's like choosing a pack of nacho-flavored Slim Jims and two cans of Mountain Dew for breakfast, but I often start reading the Sunday newspaper with Parade magazine. The "I hit rock bottom before I learned to believe in myself again" cover stories, the earnest teenagers of Fresh Voices, the fawning celebrity profiles of Jim Brady's In Step With -- all make for a potent brew of hathos and glurge. As Catherine Seipp wrote for Salon in 1997, Parade is -- for some of us, at least -- an irresistible guilty pleasure.

The most hathotic of Parade's hathos-laden pages, though, is Walter Scott's Personality Parade, which Edward Klein has written since 1991. Klein is best known, lately, for his voyeuristic biography of Hillary Clinton.

In this morning's edition of Parade, Klein endorses the folk wisdom that one must never discuss God with an eye toward changing anyone's mind. He uses what tmatt has often called "the p word," which these days sounds like a synonym for brainwashing. The occasion for this wisdom comes from reader Betty F. of Houston, who writes with the socially urgent question of whether Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are romantically involved. Klein responds:

Sorry, but there's no scoop. Fellow Aussies Kidman, 38, and Urban, 37, say they're "just friends" who enjoy each other's company. Just friends or not, Urban -- voted Top Male Vocalist at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards -- is an improvement over some of Kidman's past hookups: He's never been married, never fathered a child out wedlock and never proselytized his religious beliefs.

A note to believers of all types: Next time you're inclined to discuss why you believe your faith is true, remember that such behavior places you in the company of that serially married Scientologist, Tom Cruise, and deadbeat dads. Thanks for the guidance, Mr. Klein.

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