"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 2:  January 14, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)
Welcome to the first "regular" issue of a new free newsletter 
devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI" for short,
pronounced "Katy")!  (It was preceded by a sample issue.  If 
you did not get a copy and would like one, I'll be happy to 
send one to you.  Simply send me an email at cati@traver.org,
including "Request for Free Sample" in the Subject line.)
The newsletter title ("Christians And The Internet") accurately
describes its purpose.  Although the editor is "Reformed" in 
orientation, being, in fact, an ordained Presbyterian minister
(and that Reformed perspective may be evident at times in the
newsletter), I'd like to make it clear that CATI's intended 
audience (or readership?) is Christians in general.  That's why
the newsletter is called "Christians And The Internet" rather
than "Reformed Christians and the Internet."  (Besides, "RCATI"
is simply too difficult to pronounce!)
Similarly, the newsletter is concerned with the Internet, and
not just the World Wide Web.  That is, in addition to covering
the Web, you can expect CATI to include articles relating to 
email, Usenet newsgroups, chat, FTP, and more.  The Internet is
an INTERnational NETwork of computers, and it allows people to
be "connected" in many ways, some of which you may or may not
have considered before.
What are my personal credentials for publishing a newsletter
devoted to "Christians and the Internet"?
As for the "Christians" part, I am a committed Christian and,
as already mentioned, I am an ordained Presbyterian minister.
(For those who are curious, I earned both the M.Div. and Th.M.
in New Testament degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary,
Philadelphia, and am a minister in a small denomination known
as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.)
And as for the "Internet" part, I've been active in the world 
of online services and the Internet for many years.  (Starting
as a "SysOp" for the "TI FORUM" on CompuServe and a Bulletin
Board Manager for the "TI RoundTable" on GEnie, I went on to
become Bulletin Board Manager for the following:  "Homework 
Helper" on Prodigy, "Electric Library" on MSN, "Research Zone"
on America Online, and researchpaper.com on the Web.)
As for writing and editing, I've had articles published in
many computer magazines (Computer Shopper, Vulcan's Computer
Monthly, 99'er Home Computer Magazine, The Smart Programmer,
Super 99 Monthly, MICROpendium, etc.), and for years I edited
my own "diskazine" or magazine-on-disk (the Genial TRAVelER).
I'm looking forward to this new venture, and I hope you are
as well.  Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever
(Heb. 13:8), and the God of Christianity is the God not only of
the first century and the twentieth century, but also of the
twenty-first century as well, for He is the God of all time
and eternity.
As we as Christians make progress in mastering the Internet
in the year 2000 or beyond, we are fulfilling the "cultural
mandate" to "subdue the earth" (Gen. 1:28) as well as the
Biblical command to "take captive" everything "to Christ" 
(2 Cor. 10:5).
Two more thoughts:
(1) Since people live busy lives, the general approach in CATI
is to provide basic information on a topic.  For those who
are interested in pursuing a subject further, often links are
provided to appropriate Web pages.  This allows CATI to be
"lean" and "clean," while yet making available access to more
details for those who want such.   
(2) All links in CATI to Web sites are checked and working at
the time of publication of the issue in which they are found.
The Web is always changing, however, so it should be understood 
that not all of the links will necessarily continue always to
work.  When it is possible, future issues of CATI will include
updates and corrections when such are available, but it is the
nature of the Web to be changeable (much in contrast to the God
of the Bible, who is "infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in
His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and 
truth" --Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 4).
                                         --Barry Traver, Editor
The sample issue of CATI contained information on how you could
get Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 (one of the better
secular encyclopedias on CD-ROM) from Beyond.com (one of the
better software stores on the Internet) for free (or almost,
after the rebates).  Basically, you would pay $35 for Encarta
later get back $25 from Microsoft and $10 from Beyond.com.
Well, thanks to CATI subscriber Mark Mondl, we now have even
better news for you!  Here's what he shared in a recent email:
"Regarding your news on Encarta.  I went to our local Staples
office supply.  They were selling it for $24.95 and the $25 
rebate coupon was inside.  So, it cost me some sales tax and
$0.33 for the rebate redemption stamp...."
If you have a Staples office supply store near you, you may
want to check it out.  Or check their online store on the Web
at the following address:
Do a product search for Encarta, and you'll get more details.
Their Web site does indeed list the price for Encarta 2000 as
$24.95, and they indicate that the "$25 mail-in rebate from 
Microsoft expires 10/15/00" (I trust that "00" means "2000"
rather than "1900"! <grin>)  Encarta contains "19 million 
words of text in over 36,000 articles," so it's a very useful
reference (especially if you can get it for free or almost).
If you get an email message that tells you, "pass this along to 
EVERYONE in your address book...," it is almost always a hoax.
It is important to check out the facts before you distribute
the message further, even if it came from a good friend.  (The
friend, after all, unlike you, may not have had the advantage
of subscribing to this newsletter.)
The Christian is to have a high regard for the truth and is, in
fact, commanded, "Do not bear false witness."  This commandment
applies to the email messages we pass around, just as it does
to other forms of communication.  Unfortunately, all too often
Christians do not take time to ascertain whether email messages
they receive are true before they pass them along to others.
Thus a hoax (or lie?) continues to thrive.
One hoax that has been around since 1998 and is still going
strong is the "It Takes Guts to Say 'Jesus'" hoax.  The email
message usually goes something like this:
"If you receive an email titled 'It Takes Guts to Say "Jesus,"'
DO NOT open it.  It will erase everything on your hard drive.
Forward this letter out to as many people as you can. This is a
new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it.
This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM;
please share it with everyone that might access the Internet.
Once again, pass this along to EVERYONE in your address book so
that this may be stopped."
Perhaps the reason why "not many people know about it" is that
it isn't true.  Needless to say, IBM did NOT announce this 
virus (that was a lie), but IBM on its Web site does have a
warning against this particular hoax:
There are indeed genuine computer viruses around (such as Melissa
and Bubbleboy), but this is not one of them, and we should not
waste our time (or the time of other people) by passing such a
hoax around further, however good our intentions may be.
One good place where you can check on computer virus hoaxes is
the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center:
In particular, you may want to visit their Virus Hoaxes page:
(Symantec is the company that puts out the popular Norton
AntiVirus program.)
You can also take a look at the McAfee Anti-Virus Center:
In particular, you may want to visit their Virus Hoaxes area:
(McAfee is the company that puts out the popular McAfee
VirusScan program.)
Or you can take a look around the Data Fellows site:
In particular, you may want to visit their Hoax Warnings page:
(Data Fellows is the company that puts out F-Secure and F-Prot
antivirus software.)
Or you can take a look around the Stiller Research site:
In particular, you may want to visit their Hoax News page:
(Stiller Research is the company that puts out Integrity Master
And here are some other useful sites that provide information
on computer virus hoaxes:
 Antivirus Hoax Encyclopedia
  (the preceding needs to be on one line to work)
 Computer Virus Myths
 HoaxKill (a useful site for warning others about hoaxes)
 Computer Virus Hoaxes
  (the preceding needs to be on one line to work)
 at Urban Legends and Folklore
 "Computer Viruses:  Myth and Reality" by Bill Macrone
 "Internet Hoaxes" page from the U.S. Department of Energy
Some of the preceding sites also make available information on 
genuine viruses.  I hope that you find this list of sites to
be useful.
By the way, there are other hoaxes going around besides virus
hoaxes.  For example, not long ago someone sent me an email
which attributed the following quote to Attorney General Janet
"A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the
Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies;
who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause;
who home schools for their children; who has accumulated 
survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment;
and who distrusts big government.  Any of these may qualify a
person as a cultist but certainly more than one of these would
cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family 
as being in a risk situation that qualified for government 
This comment was allegedly made in an interview on 60 MINUTES
in June 1994.  The problem is that (according to CBS) Janet
Reno did NOT appear on 60 MINUTES in 1994, much less make
such comments!  Now, I am no fan of Janet Reno, but Christians 
have an obligation to be truthful.  To pass around such a
report without checking out the accuracy is to bear false
witness, even if done unintentionally.
Although somewhat opinionated at times, the following resource
may be helpful for checking out hoaxes, email or otherwise:
 (the preceding needs to be on one line to work)
So before you forward that email message that warns that Madalyn 
Murray O'Hair is asking the FCC to ban religious broadcasting
or that claims that by forwarding the message you can help
"save a dying child" (named variously Timothy Flyte or David
"Darren" Bucklew or Jessica Mydek or David Lawetts or Tamara
Martin or Rick Conner) or wants you to pass some other sort of
"urgent" information, stop and check it out.  It's likely that
it very well may not be true.  ("Thou shalt not bear false
witness" does apply to email as well as speech!)
And if you discover that an email message you've received is a 
hoax, it may be good to inform the person who sent the email
message to you (and that person may have a moral obligation to 
send around a retraction to those people to whom he or she sent
the misinformation).  You can even suggest that they subscribe
to this newsletter so that they will be as well-informed as
you! <grin>
Simply put, MP3 files are compressed sound files (mostly of
music), with near-CD quality.  In a moment, I'll explain why
MP3 files have caused such excitement on the Internet (and
off it as well).
First, however, let's start with two IMPORTANT things to keep
in mind:  (1) It is both illegal and immoral (a violation, in
fact, of the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal") to obtain or
distribute copyrighted material except in a manner specifically
permitted by the copyright holder.  (2) Even if permission has
been granted, some material is not worth either obtaining or
distributing further.
You should know that many MP3 files on the Internet are illegal 
copies of copyrighted music.  If you're not sure whether you
have permission from the copyright holder to download the file,
don't download it!  Also, many MP3 files -- even though legal
-- are not worth downloading, so don't waste your time on the
questionables.  There are so many MP3 files currently available
that my advice is to concentrate on those that are not only
legal (a required condition for the Christian) but also likely
to be worthwhile hearing.
Why the excitement about MP3 files?  Here's why.  In the early
1990s, the band Aerosmith made news by releasing a single as a
sound file in WAV format.  It wasn't big news, because the file
was very large (35 or 40 MB), which would take about four hours
to download (the fastest speed then was 28.8 kbps).  Thus not
many people bothered with the file.
MP3 changes matters dramatically, because that same sound file
takes up one-tenth the space in MP3 format!  Also, modems and
computers are faster, and storage space is less expensive.
Yes, many of the artists represented in MP3 format are not
well-known, but some are worthwhile getting to know.
It is true that MP3 offers near-CD quality rather than real CD
quality sound, but what's left out is what a dog can hear and a
human being cannot (i.e., very high and very low tones).  So 
canines may not be satisfied with MP3, but human beings are in 
general very satisfied!  (Besides, did I mention that almost
all MP3 files are FREE?)
To play MP3 files, you'll need a fairly recent computer with a
sound system.  If you have a PC, you may get by with a 486 (but
a Pentium is better), and Windows 95 or Windows 98 is nice to
have (although DOS players for MP3 exist).  (If you have a Mac,
it should be running at least System 7.)
You may already have (or can easily) get software to play files
in MP3 format.  Microsoft's Media Player -- Version 6 and above
-- will play MP3 files.  This version did not come with Windows
95 or Windows 98, but you can download it for free at this
(Mac users may be glad to hear that Quick Time from Apple and
RealPlayer G2 from Real Networks can play MP3 files.)
The best MP3 player for Windows, however, is Winamp, available
at the following address:
Another worthwhile Windows MP3 player is Sonique, available at
this page:
(Mac users may want to explore MacAMP or SoundApp.)
Unless you have DSL or cable Internet access (most people do
not), rather than trying to listen to an MP3 file while you
are online it is better to download the file to your hard
drive and listen to it offline.  And -- assuming that you are
accessing the Internet at 28.8 kbps or 56 kbps -- it may still
take you perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to download a typical MP3
file (not as bad as than four hours, but still a chunk of
Where can you find MP3 files?  The first and largest site of
legal MP3 files is MP3.com:
You'll find quite a variety of music in the 100,000 MP3 files
available there:
  Alternative (Punk, Industrial, Ska)
  Blues (Rock, Acoustic, Electric)
  Books & Spoken (Interviews, Storytelling, Poetry)
  Children's Music (General, Spiritual)
  Classical (Piano, Symphonic, Film Music)
  Comedy (Satire, Political)
  Country (Bluegrass, New, Blues)
  Easy Listening (New Age, Love Songs, Mood Music)
  Electronic (Techno, Trance, House)
  Hip Hop/Rap (Dirty South, East Coast, Old School)
  Jazz (Smooth, Acid, Swing/Big Band)
  Latin (Salsa, Rock En Espanol, Pop/Balada)
  Metal (Heavy Metal, Metalcore, Gothic)
  Pop & Rock (Psychedelic, Acoustic, Surf)
  Urban/R&B (R&B, Funk, Gospel)
  World/Folk (Celtic, Folk, Reggae)
Much of this you may (and should?) choose to avoid, but it is
in some ways little different from shopping in a regular CD
store:  you need to know what you're looking for and avoid the
trash.  (Perhaps in a future issue of CATI we'll have specific
recommendations for you, but in the meantime use common sense
and discretion:  some categories, like classical, should be
fairly safe, while some other categories, like comedy, may be
somewhat risky.)
If you like "contemporary Christian music," you may want to
take a look at the MP3 page at CCM Magazine (but avoid the
Liquid Audio downloads unless you're familiar with that file
Well, there's lots more that could be said, but what's here
represents "the basics" on the MP3 revolution.  If you have
specific MP3 files to recommend (or, for that matter, to warn
against), feel free to drop me a note at cati@traver.org!
P.S. For those who are very serious about learning more about
MP3s, here are the best two books I've seen on the subject:
Andy Rathbone, MP3 FOR DUMMIES (IDG Books, 1999)
 I picked up my copy at 50% off from our local Barnes & Noble!
 Or you can also get this book from Amazon.com:
Guy Hart-Davis and Rhonda Holmes, MP3! (SYBEX, 1999)
 You can also get this book from Amazon.com:
Each book includes a CD-ROM containing related software (plus,
in the case of the SYBEX book, 150 MP3 files).  If you're after
either book, you may perhaps find a better deal elsewhere (as I
did for the IDG book).  (I only suggest Amazon.com, because if
you use these links I'm supposed to get a small commission!
For most people, there's no reason to buy a book.  You should
find all you need to know right here in CATI (he said very
modestly <grin>).
"Billy Graham Meets Weird Al":  That's how someone described
a Christian contemporary band known as ApologetiX, "That
Christian Parody Band."  My son, John Calvin, a recent college
graduate, had been a Weird Al Yankovic fan for years, and he
says that the lyrics of ApologetiX are even more clever than
Weird Al's!
So you've never heard of them?  Nor had I until recently, when
I heard them "live in concert" in Philadelphia, and -- like my
son -- was impressed by their professional talent.  Like Weird
Al, ApologetiX does parodies or "take-offs" of modern popular
songs.  (Their most recent album, Biblical Graffiti, in fact, 
makes use of Weird Al's drummer for seven of the songs.)  But
there's a difference:  the music sounds like the original, but
the words are explicitly Christian (therefore the description
"Billy Graham Meets Weird Al").
Not everyone appreciates contemporary music or parody, but if
you're one of those who do (and have not yet had opportunity
to hear ApologetiX), I have some good news for you:  you have
permission to download TWENTY-FOUR COMPLETE SONGS in MP3 
format from their Web site!
Here's the location of the Web site for ApologetiX:
And -- although the situation may change -- right now (January
2000) here are the songs (you can download them for your own
personal use, but don't post them to the Web without letting
them know):
1.  Hotel Can't Afford Ya 
    Parody of "Hotel California" by the Eagles
2.  Go Right Now 
    Parody of "All Right Now" by Free
3.  Apostle Me 
    Parody of "Rock n' Me" by Steve Miller Band
4.  Jesus (Sermon on the Mount) 
    Parody of "Venus" by the Shocking Blue and Bananarama
5.  Temple Physician 
    Parody of "Pinball Wizard" by the Who and Elton John
6.  Love & Kisses 
    Parody of "Rock and Roll All Night" by Kiss
7.  Parable Guy 
    Parody of "American Pie" by Don McLean
8.  I'll Prepare For You 
    Parody of "I'll Be There for You" (Theme from "Friends")
     By the Rembrandts 
9.  I Have to Die First 
    Parody of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
10. Didn't Just Die
    Parody of "Live and Let Die"
     By Guns N' Roses and Paul McCartney 
11. Died and Rose 
    Parody of "China Grove" by the Doobie Brothers
12. L.S.F. 
    Parody of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
     by the Beatles and Elton John
13. Spirit Inside
    Parody of "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum
14. Walk His Way 
    Parody of "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith
15. You May Be Bright 
    Parody of "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel
16. John 1:1 
    Parody of "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys
17. Narrow Way to Heaven
    Parody of "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
18. Fakey Shaky Parts
    Parody of "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus 
19. Even Though
    Parody of "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam
20. Love Ain't Nothin'
    Parody of "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers
21. Ignorant song
    Parody of "Immigrant song" by Led Zeppelin
22. Sounds of Silas
    Parody of "Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel
23. VeryNice City
    Parody of "Paradise City" by Guns 'n' Roses
24. Enter Samson
    Parody of "Enter Sandman" by Metallica
To get these files (or whatever is available at the time
you visit), go the following Web page:
If you're using Internet Explorer as your Web browser, just
right-click on the song you want to save to disk and choose
"Save Target As."  If you're using Netscape as your Web
browser, right-click on the song you want to save to disk and
choose "Save Link As."  (By the way, unless they change their
site, you're better off using the link I supplied for the
songs rather than going to http://www.apologtix.com and
clicking on the MP3 link.  Like other links on their site,
that brings up an annoying window that cannot be resized or
maximized.  I hope they decide to change that approach.)  
The amazing versatility of ApolgetiX can be seen from the list
of artists parodied here:  Aerosmith, Bananarama, the Beach 
Boys, the Beatles, Billy Joel, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Doobie 
Brothers, the Eagles, Free, Norman Greenbaum, Guns 'n' Roses,
Elton John, Don McLean, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney,
Metallica, Pearl Jam, the Rembrandts, Shocking Blue, Simon and 
Garfunkel, Steve Miller Band, Survivor, and the Who!  To do a
Christian parody without trivializing the gospel is a difficult
goal, but (in my opinion) ApologetiX does it surprisingly well.
CAUTION:  If you object not only to the content of contemporary
secular music, but also to its style, you will probably want to
avoid this music.
It should be recognized, however, that even non-Christian music
may testify to the fact that God made man in His own likeness.
The first thing we are told about God is that He is a Creator
(Gen. 1;1), and the first thing we are told about man is that
he was created in the image (or likeness) of the Creator God.
Now, unlike God man cannot create anything ex nihilo (i.e., out
of nothing), but the only reason man (even fallen man!) has the
possibility of being creative is that God created him that way.
Thus wherever we see creativity, it testifies to what Francis
Schaeffer called "the mannishness of man," viz., that man is
not an accidental result of matter plus chance plus time but
was the personal creation of a Personal God who made man able
to create.
Incidentally, you can read a thought-provoking discussion of
the creativity of man as reflecting God as Creator in the book
THE MIND OF THE MAKER by Dorothy L. Sayers, a friend of C.S.
Lewis and herself known for her creative Lord Peter Wimsey
detective stories, some of which were shown on MYSTERY on
educational TV.
Like it or not, our culture is shaped by contemporary music
of many different forms.  Some years ago, songwriter/singer
Larry Norman asked, "Why does the devil have all the good
music?"  This is a controversial area (and I realize that
subscribers will vary in their views here), but if you don't
mind some of the styles of contemporary music (including
country music -- see "Fakey Shaky Parts," an affirmation of
the trustworthiness of the Bible as well as a parody of 
"Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus!), you should enjoy
listening to ApologetiX (and if you're familiar with the 
originals, you may enjoy it all the more!).
Incidentally, J. Jackson in the group wrote the lyrics (which
are broadly evangelical rather than specifically "Reformed").
Parodies I especially enjoyed include "Didn't Just Die" and
"Sounds of Silas."
If you like their music, you may want to purchase some of their
CDs.  Here's where you can find information on how to order
them online:
And here's a list of some stores that carry ApologetiX CDs:
Again, their music will not be to everyone's preference or
taste, but I expect that some subscribers will appreciate
these 24 complete songs in MP3 format available for the
downloading.  Enjoy!
This is the second issue of a free newsletter devoted to
"Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," 
but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the 
"Internet").  If you are not yet a subscriber and would like 
to become one, send an appropriate note to cati@traver.org.
Privacy policy:  The information in the "Christians And The 
Internet" mailing list will NOT be sold, rented, or given to
others.  (Let them make their own lists! <grin>)
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)