"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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.) _______________________________________________________________
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. WELCOMING COMMENTS FROM THE EDITOR, BARRY TRAVER 2. UPDATED NEWS ON MICROSOFT ENCARTA 2000 REBATE OFFER 3. "IT TAKES GUTS TO SAY 'JESUS'" AND OTHER EMAIL HOAXES 4. THE MP3 MUSIC REVOLUTION ON THE INTERNET: THE BASICS 5. FREE MP3 FILES FROM APOLOGETIX, THAT CHRISTIAN PARODY BAND 6. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR FREE NEWSLETTER ________________________________________________________________
1. WELCOMING COMMENTS FROM THE EDITOR, BARRY TRAVER
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 email@example.com, 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 ________________________________________________________________
2. UPDATED NEWS ON MICROSOFT ENCARTA 2000 REBATE OFFER
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). ________________________________________________________________
3. "IT TAKES GUTS TO SAY 'JESUS'" AND OTHER EMAIL HOAXES
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 software.)
And here are some other useful sites that provide information on computer virus hoaxes:
Antivirus Hoax Encyclopedia http://antivirus.about.com/library/blenhoax.htm?pid=2827&cob=home (the preceding needs to be on one line to work)
Computer Virus Myths http://www.kumite.com/myths/
HoaxKill (a useful site for warning others about hoaxes) http://www.hoaxkill.com/index2.shtml
Computer Virus Hoaxes http://urbanlegends.miningco.com/msubvir.htm?TMog=61280090662653m&Mint=413897570104530 (the preceding needs to be on one line to work) at Urban Legends and Folklore http://urbanlegends.miningco.com/
"Computer Viruses: Myth and Reality" by Bill Macrone http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/issues/1520/pcmg0032.htm
"Internet Hoaxes" page from the U.S. Department of Energy http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/
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 Reno:
"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 interference."
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:
http://urbanlegends.about.com/culture/urbanlegends/library/blhoax.htm (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> ________________________________________________________________
4. THE MP3 MUSIC REVOLUTION ON THE INTERNET: THE BASICS
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 page:
(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 time!).
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 format):
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 firstname.lastname@example.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: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764505858/travertabletalk
Guy Hart-Davis and Rhonda Holmes, MP3! (SYBEX, 1999) You can also get this book from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0782126537/travertabletalk
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! <grin>)
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>). ________________________________________________________________
5. FREE MP3 FILES FROM APOLOGETIX, THAT CHRISTIAN PARODY BAND
"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! ________________________________________________________________
6. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR FREE NEWSLETTER
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)