"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 1, No. 4: January 28, 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. EDITORIAL THOUGHTS ON "BUNNIES" AND "GIRAFFES" 2. A CHRISTIAN WEBRING: REFORMED WOMEN SERVING CHRIST 3. EMAIL ETIQUETTE: PROTECTING PEOPLE'S PRIVACY 4. SOME COMPUTER MAGAZINES ONLINE 5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER ________________________________________________________________
1. EDITORIAL THOUGHTS ON "BUNNIES" AND "GIRAFFES"
When I was a student at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, I was privileged to take courses in "apologetics" (that is, the philosophic defense of the Christian faith) from the late Dr. Cornelius Van Til.
I still remember the first class I took from Dr. Van Til. He pointed out to us that the mixture of students included both "bunnies" (with little background in philosophy) and "giraffes" (who may have been philosophy majors in college). (I think I identified somewhat with the "bunnies.")
I don't remember the full details of his comments, but I do remember that it was important for the "bunnies" on one hand to be accepting of the "giraffes" and for the "giraffes" on the other hand to be accepting of the "bunnies." There would be something of benefit there for all of us.
This newsletter is, in some ways, similar to that classroom. Some readers may feel like "bunnies," and some may feel like "giraffes," but I hope that all will find something here that is useful or interesting.
It does mean that "bunnies" need to be tolerant of material here for the "giraffes" (besides, they can come back to it later when they've become "giraffes" themselves), while "giraffes" need to be tolerant of material for the "bunnies" (since "giraffes" were "bunnies" themselves at some point!)
Actually, there is no sharp division between "bunnies" and "giraffes" here (much of the material in this newsletter should be appropriate for both). My point is that reading this newsletter is like being at a super-smorgasbord: you will probably find more food than you can eat, so go for what you want and ignore the rest.
Do, however, feel free to make suggestions on what I might include or cover in future issues if you do not think that there is enough provided in a certain area (and don't be shy if you are a "bunny"). Feedback is important to any editor, and I do appreciate hearing from subscribers. (Just send a note to me at email@example.com.)
--Barry Traver, Editor
P.S. Apologies for all of the misspellings in the previous issue of CATI ("FIlled" instead of "filled," "theologican" instead of "theologian," "Interneet" instead of "Internet," "Ephesian" instead of "Ephesians," "reseponsibilities" instead of "responsibilities," "disagress" instead of "disagrees," and "telphone" instead of "telephone"!).
In order to avoid the appearance in the newsletter of special formatting characters which some email programs cannot read, I write the newsletter using not a fancy word processor, but Notepad, which is a simple text editor. So far, so good. But Notepad doesn't include a spell checker. To check the spelling I need to import the text into Microsoft Word, which -- in the rush of things -- I somehow neglected to do for the last issue.
As is evident, reading and re-reading what was written is no guarantee of finding spelling errors. You see what you meant to type, rather than what you did type. Sorry for the errors. I'll try to be more careful in the future. (And when I do make a mistake, please let me know!) ________________________________________________________________
2. A CHRISTIAN WEBRING: REFORMED WOMEN SERVING CHRIST
When you browse the Web, sooner or later you will come across something called a "Webring." A "Webring" is really something quite simple: it's a "ring" of Web sites that display similar interests or a common orientation. Look for links near the Webring symbol. From aht site you can move to the next site in the ring, from there you can move to the next site in the ring, and so on, until (if all goes well) you end up back where you began! Thus, in a sense, a Webring is really a "circle of friends," literally as well as figuratively.
Are there Christian Webrings? Yes, there are! For this issue, I'm mainly confining myself to discussion of one Webring in particular: Reformed Women Serving Christ. It's not the best example perhaps, but it's also not the worst, and from it you can see what Webrings are all about (including their weaknesses as well as their strengths). You will find the starting point of this particular Webring (can a circle have a starting point??) at this address:
There you will find a description of this Webring as well as the detailed requirements for those Web sites that want to be part of it. In fact, here are the descriptions of the twelve sites included at the present time, provided by themselves:
JoyPals, Design for Life: http://www.joypals.com/ (click on "Webrings" in left frame) or http://www.joypals.com/rwsc.htm (as mentioned earlier) Bible-based ministry to women with emphasis on salvation through Jesus Christ, devotions, prayer, theology, church (OPC) and music. Life focus on marriage, children, home and family. Creative skills, design, hobbies, graphics, dolls. Home of the "Reformed Women Serving Christ" Webring. Home of children's ministry "LittlePals."
Women of Grace Weekly Devotional: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/3239/ A weekly devotional for Christian Women explicitly from a Reformed view. Devotions deal with being Godly wives and mothers.
Saved By Grace: http://www.geocities.com/~mykidzmom/saved.html This page has my testimony plus links to a few reformed resources on the Internet. On the rest of my website you can find info on subjects such as pregnancy, childbirth, vaccinations, and infant care.
LittlePals: http://www.joypals.com/hilittlepals.htm A ministry to our covenant children. Littlepals is a very special place for LittlePal Girls and LittlePal Boys with Bible Stories, Music, Games, Beanies, Dolls, lots of great places to visit and lots to share. Come on in and be a LittlePal. LittlePals is a safe-kids site! LittlePals love Jesus!
Cornerstone: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ridge/1989/other/webrings.html This site is dedicated to applied Christianity. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world." In a world where many Christians are looking more like cleaned up versions of their secular neighbors, this is a call to be different. Topics include family values, parenting, breastfeeding, homeschooling, civil government and Biblical law.
The Titus 2 Woman Today: http://members.spree.com/ttrails/titus/index.htm The Titus 2 Woman Today gives information for reformed women to better face the changing world today while striving to raise their family in a Biblical manner. May these pages prayerfully serve to edify and encourage you in His Sovereign Grace.
Lorri's Awesome Home Page: http://members.home.net/azmillerfam/lorriindex.htm My homepage; everything close to my heart, from A to almost Z.
Home of the Hugeont: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/6765/ Home of the Huguenot has history of the French Reformed Huguenots, wonderful links to reformed pages/articles, Chat room on ICQ, Linked to women pages with recipes, submission page, Godly woman page, poetry and pictures of the entire Bergeron family.
Reformed Women: http://www.suite101.com/splash.cfm/4065 At this site we hope to do one thing. It is our desire to lift up Jesus Christ - to direct your gaze toward Him. We believe that when we constantly meditate upon His works and His person, we are strengthened and encouraged to live the sacrificial life that He has called us to.
Cornerstone Resource Center http://macweb.macol.net/~SevenPillars/CornerstoneResourceCenter.html Home of Cornerstone Home Academy. Information and resources about classical Christian education, home education, reformed faith, books - literature from our home library that we enjoy, own, recommend and books we have for sale or trade.
Christian Quote of the Day: http://chrqotd.hypermart.net/ Christian Quote of the Day provides a daily quote (six days a week) via the web site or email. Quotes come from great Christians, past and present, including John Calvin, Martin Luther, Matthew Henry, Charles Finney, Charles Spurgeon, J. I. Packer, R.C. Sproul and more!
Hope Ministry Counselling Services: http://members.xoom.com/hministry/index.htm Hope Ministry is a Christian site, for counselling women Biblically, helping them grow.
Now on to some strengths and weaknesses of Webrings.
One of the strengths is that Webrings can build community and bring people of similar interests and convictions together. Once you find a site you like, if it is part of a Webring you will often find other sites you like by exploring the circle of links. If you happen to be "Reformed" in your Christian convictions, discovering one site in the Reformed Women Serving Christ Webring may lead you to discovering other worthwhile sites of similar orientation that you might not otherwise have found.
One weakness of Webrings is that almost any Webring is a "mixed bag" in the quality of the sites represented and perhaps sometimes even their full relevance to the purpose of the Webring. Be careful in what assumptions you may make concerning the various sites that make up a particular Webring.
For example, The Christian Quote of the Day site indicates that its "quotes come from great Christians, past and present," but you'll be misled if you assume that all of the quotes on this Reformed Women Serving Christ Webring site are from Christians that are Reformed in viewpoint (Charles Finney was an important American evangelist, but he was certainly not Reformed in his outlook, as the essay "The Theology of Charles G. Finney" by the late Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield makes clear). (By the way, I heartily recommend the other Christian authors mentioned in the description!)
My purpose is not to criticize the site for quoting someone not Reformed: I consider myself to be Reformed, and I often quote people who are not Reformed. My purpose is simply to warn against assuming that the presence of a site in a particular Webring is an endorsement of everything on that site (a point with which the Christian Quote of the Day site would likely agree).
Links lead to links, and you'll find some sites you really like and some that you may not be so enthusiastic about, especially when different Webrings start interconnecting. For example, the Women of Grace Weekly Devotional site is on the Reformed Women Serving Christ Webring. It is also on the Christian Women on the Web Webring. If you click on the "Next" site in the latter Webring, you'll find yourself on a "Ring Page" with five or six Webrings listed of varying perspectives (including The Lastdays Net Ring, which at the present time has no members -- is there something I don't know about?).
My point is that when you follow links on the Internet (even when they are links that are part of Webrings), you should not assume that you'll end up at a site you're happy about just because you started at a site you're happy about. You need to exercise some thought and intelligence (and perhaps some charity) in your travels. Having said that, let me say that the Reformed Women Serving Christ Webring is a worthwhile endeavor and can be a useful place to do some exploring of the Web.
Webrings -- like less organized "lists of links" -- have their value, and I trust that Christian women reading this issue of CATI will find some worthwhile sites as a result of exploring the Reformed Women Serving Christ Webring (and I say that, regardless of whether you consider yourself to be "Reformed").
If you have comments to share concerning your discoveries on the Web (positive or negative), please feel free to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and perhaps I can share them with CATI readers in a future issue! ________________________________________________________________
3. EMAIL ETIQUETTE: PROTECTING PEOPLE'S PRIVACY
Let's suppose you receive an email containing a great joke, a very inspirational poem or essay, or whatever. It's so good, in fact, that you decide to forward it to all your friends (and even to some people who may be only acquaintances).
Now let's suppose that some of the people to whom you forward this email message like it so much that they similarly forward it to all their friends and acquaintances. Before you know it, not only this great email message, but also (quite possibly) all of the email addresses associated with it are being passed all around the Internet.
This scenario is not theoretical, but actually frequently takes place. Not long ago, for example, I received a forwarded email message that was like Chinese boxes: the original message had been forwarded five times, and -- like Chinese nested boxes -- one message was inside another, which was inside another, which was inside another, and so on ... and each message included the heading which listed the email addresses of all of the intended recipients (almost a hundred total)! And that's not a good thing, for reasons to be explained shortly. (Sad to say, I did not myself respond with the best manners when I responded to this email from a favorite niece, but that's another story for another time.)
I run the risk of stepping on a few toes with this article. It is sometimes dangerous to talk about what is considered to be "Christian courtesy" or good "netiquette" (i.e., etiquette on the Internet), but this is a friendly newsletter, and a real friend will tell you if you're violating what is considered to be proper practice. (Besides, you're probably already going by the rules. This article is thus for other readers.)
Here's the basic principle: In general, because of a regard for considerations of privacy, it is considered good manners NOT to pass around email addresses of people who don't know one another without the okay of the people whose email addresses you are passing around.
Because of the problem of "spam mail" (get-rich-quick scams or even invitations to pornographic sites), many people consider their email address at least semi-private. They do not want to end up on a bulk mailing list. Some people regard their email address as perhaps similar to having an unlisted telephone number, something to be shared only with friends and family and certainly not something to be passed around to strangers.
Alas! There are people in this world who sell CD-ROMs full of working e-mail addresses. You do not want your address to appear on such a CD-ROM. Trust me. Nor do you want to play a part in a friend's email address going into general circulation and getting put on such a mailing list. Privacy is something that we should protect, and we should think about the privacy of other people as well as our own privacy.
Here's some good advice on "Sending Mail to a Group of People" from the book Harley Hahn, Harley Hahn Teaches the Internet (Que, 1999), page 133:
"You can send a message to more than one person simply by putting more than one address in the To, Cc or Bcc lines in the header.... People commonly do this when they want to share information. For example, someone mails you a collection of grapefruit jokes, and you decide to forward a copy to all your friends. In such cases, do not send a message with a whole bunch of addresses on the To line and the Cc line."
"Here is why: Each person who receives the message will see all the addresses on the To line and the Cc line. Some of your friends, however, may want their email addresses kept private. Moreover, out of all the people who receive the message, some are going to forward it to friends of their own, and ... they will not bother to edit out the header of the original message. If the information in the message is interesting, it will be forwarded again and again, and in a short amount of time, the names and addresses in the original message will be spread around the Net."
"In such cases, the best thing to do is to address the message to yourself, and send blind copies to all your friends. (A blind copy is one in which the recipient's address does not appear....) In other words, put your address in the To line and put your friends' addresses in the Bcc line."
Incidentally, Harley Hahn may or may not be what his publisher claims (viz., "the best-selling Internet author of all time"), but he has written a very helpful book. Here's where you can check out some reviews (or even order a copy, if interested):
The easiest way to use "Bcc" is actually not to "Forward" the message, but to do the following: (1) "Copy" the body of the original message (NOT including the header), (2) start composing a brand-new email message, and (3) "Paste" the body of the original email message into your brand-new message. Then follow Hahn's hints about putting your address in the "To" line and your friends' addresses in the "Bcc" line.
If, of course, you're sending the message to friends all of whom already know one another, it's not as important to take such precautions (although it may still be a good idea). At any rate, "protecting people's privacy" is an accepted part of "email etiquette," and you may want to consider adopting it as your own practice on the Internet.
(By the way, in case you're someone on whose toes I've stepped, are we still friends?) ________________________________________________________________
4. SOME COMPUTER MAGAZINES ONLINE
For most of us, it is not good stewardship to spend the time or money involved in subscriptions to the many computer magazines that are out there. Instead, we may browse some of the more helpful ones in the library, perhaps reading a few notable articles here and there. Or, more accurately, we may not do that, since a trip to the library takes more time and effort than we sometimes have available.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could do our magazine browsing in the convenience of our own homes? Well, we can, because -- in the hope that it will persuade you to subscribe -- many computer magazines make available their best articles online!
You wouldn't be interested in all of these magazines, but here is a convenient list of some of the computer magazines that you will find online:
Christian Computing Magazine http://www.gospelcom.net/ccmag/
Computer Shopper http://www.zdnet.com/computershopper/edit/cshopper/
Family PC http://www.zdnet.com/familypc/
PC Computing http://www.zdnet.com/pccomp/
PC Magazine http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/
PC World http://www.pcworld.com/
Windows Sources http://www.zdnet.com/wsources/
Yahoo! Internet Life http://www.zdnet.com/yil/
Note well: Of the magazines on the list the only one that is explicitly Christian is Christian Computing Magazine. Other magazines may contain at times very helpful information, but do not look to them for a Christian perspective on computers and computing.
Note also: All of the preceding except for Christian Computing Magazine and PC World are published by Ziff-Davis, Inc., which publishes even more computer magazines. You'll find details at this address: http://www3.zdnet.com/findit/mags.html .
It would be foolish to try to keep up with all the computer magazines, but you may find one or two on the list that you may like to check from time to time. My personal favorites are PC Computing, PC Magazine, and PC World, which together enable me to keep up with what's happening in the computer world, but my situation (e.g., teaching computer science and publishing this newsletter) means that I need to keep up on things more than most people in this area.
Unless you're a computer nerd or computer geek, you may find a more helpful magazine to be something like Family PC or maybe Yahoo! Internet Life (in addition, of course, to taking a look at Christian Computing Magazine to see whether it contains material of interest to you).
Or perhaps computer magazines aren't really your thing: that's also a very reasonable position to take. As I mentioned a bit earlier, we are called to be good stewards of our time as well as of our money, and computers are to be our servants rather than our masters. We need to keep things in perspective.
If a magazine like Family PC can help us in our family life, that is something good. If, on the other hand, we find that computer magazines (and computers) are taking us away from quality family time, then it's better to forget about the computer and the computer magazines (even if we can access them conveniently on the Internet).
It's all about choices. This newsletter helps you be aware of the choices, but it would not be a good idea to try out every possibility mentioned here. For those who would read computer magazines anyway (and have good reason for doing so), the information here about computer magazines online may be helpful. For others, other articles in this magazine may be more useful and beneficial. Read and make your own choices before God! ________________________________________________________________
5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER
This is the fourth 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.)