Review 2305

The first thing I noticed about Digitalbranch.net is the strong Christian lean that’s evident from the introduction
splash page. The weblog describes itself as “One man’s thoughts, poetry, and writings – an attempt to reach
humanity and the people of God” and there’s a quote from Jeremiah as well as several Christian oriented webring
memberships. The site is owned by Mark Jedrzejczyk and it’s been online for quite a while.

The archives dates back to October 2002, but the “first” post on the 8th of October goes into the hosting
troubles that Mark has encountered, resulting in the site being offline for a period of time. The pre-October 2002
archives are not fully up yet, but Mark has done a good job in re-posting several of the more noteworthy entries.
He’s also clearly marked the re-posts as such (usually with a header detailing the original post’s timeframe) and
I found this to be a nice touch.

The blog posts are mostly about issues related to Christianity and Mark’s poetries and stories, which also
tends to have a biblical motif, from my subjective opinion. This can limit the site’s potential audience, but I
found it interesting to read about Mark’s struggle with depression during the end of 2002 and early 2003 (from
what I can see) and his ways of dealing with it within a Christian context. Mark might take exception with this
though, as he mentions that “sad” would be a better adjective and “wanderer” an even more suitable one in his 9th April 2003 post.

I’ve also found his commentaries to be interesting, particularly the one in February 2002 regarding
“apostolicity” and his views about atheism and the meaning of life in May 2003. I consider myself a Christian and
I’m fairly familiar with the scripture, so I can relate to Mark’s posts, although his views are slightly more
fundamentalist than mine. Unfortunately, the blog does not get updated very often, each month averages about 10
posts, but most of the posts are well thought out writings, and that somewhat makes up for the irregular posts.

Besides the main blog, there’s also a sidebar with links to articles, poetry and stories that Mark has
written. There’s a very nice feature in those individual categories where the “last updated” date is listed on the
top. This is a good way of telling if the menu items have been recently added to, and it certainly seems to be
something that will be appreciated by the readers.

The articles are further subdivided to General Writings (issues related to Christians), General Textual
Studies (Mark’s writings on various books in the bible), General Topical Studies (history of Christianity and
other related issues), and Mark’s senior paper. There is an article in General Writings titled “The Problem of
Christian Apathy” which I felt was a very interesting read. I can see that this is a common occurrence in many
Christians today, including myself, and I was moved by this article because of the strong resonance the subject
has with me.

Revelation is my favorite book in the bible (as can be seen from my site’s URL) and I enjoyed Mark’s studies
on that book entitled “Exegesis of Revelation 13:1-8” in General Textual Studies. Most of his writings have a
bibliography at the end, which is another nice touch as interested readers can follow up the topic based on his
citations. The poetry section is nicely populated as well, but I can’t really comment on poetry since I don’t have
any background in this. The stories section has a couple of stories, and I recommend that interested readers take
a look at “Anguish”, which I interpreted as a metaphor for life after death.

The other links from the right hand sidebar is a Recommended Reading list and a message board. I actually read
Mark’s recommendation on C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” before reading his blog, and that was where I first
noticed Mark’s experience with sadness (to use his term). I have heard a lot about this book, but unfortunately,
my readings of C.S. Lewis’s works is limited to his Narnia series that I read during my childhood. The message
board is a good feature, but it’s not being used much by the readers of the site. The final items on the sidebar
are links to webrings, an awards section (where Mark lists the web awards his site has acquired) and a search
feature.

The design of Digitalbranch.net is clean and efficient, I liked the small sidebar and the “directory style”
browsing feature. By this, I’m referring to the hyperlinks that appear at the top when browsing into the
categories (eg Articles / General Writings / How to Pray). This allows for fast and easy navigation even when
browsing “deep” into the menu items. This is a very nice touch indeed.

The site is also optimized for users with a lower screen resolution, which is a rarity nowadays. The only
“flaw” I could find in the design is that I was expecting the large banner on top to be clickable and I’ve clicked
on the static image in vain several times before realizing that navigation to the main page is provided by the
“Home” link in the sidebar and also the top of blog pages. Design is not my forte, but I feel that the large
banner would be an ideal anchor to the main page.

Well, the site’s emphasis on Christian related issues would limit the appeal to readers who’s interested in
those issues, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mark has thought about expanding the site’s focus to include
more subject matters, but decided that doing that will involve writing about “issues are not generally near and
dear to my heart”. I respect Mark’s decision and I agree that having a strong focal point on Christianity has its
appeal to similar minded readers. I recommend that everyone clicks through to Digitalbranch.net if you’re even
slightly interested in religion (and even if you’re not). At the very least, it’ll be an insight into Mark’s
devotion, which I’ve found to be nothing less than impressive. I’m giving it a 5 for the unique content and the
interesting articles and stories.

Digitalbranch.net

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