font selection for applications like emacs

Long ago as a UNIX user I learned how to select fonts for applications such as emacs by use of my .Xdefaults file and the xrdb utility. Now that I'm operating under LINUX (Fedora core 2) and GNOME, I find that something in the system capriciously re-sets my defaults while I'm working. In particular, emacs often comes up with the wrong font, at which point I have to exit emacs, re-run xrdb, and get back into emacs. I don't know if it's something in GNOME or elsewhere that corrupts my xrdb settings. I'd appreciate pointers on how to fix (or where to find info on how to fix) this behavior.

Thanks,  Pierre

Pierre Kleiber, Ph.D       Email: pkleiber honlab nmfs hawaii edu
Fishery Biologist            Tel: 808 983-5399 / (hm)808 737-7544
NOAA Fisheries Service - Honolulu Laboratory    Fax: 808 983-2902
2570 Dole St., Honolulu, HI 96822-2396
 "God could have told Moses about galaxies and mitochondria and
  all.  But behold... It was good enough for government work."

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