"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 9:  March 3, 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.)
MIDI files are great for everyone.  If your computer can play
music, it can play MIDI music files.   It doesn't matter how
old or new your computer system is.  And you can download MIDI
music files from the Internet.  It doesn't matter how fast or
slow your modem is.
One of the nicest things about MIDI files is that they are
"mini" in size.  If a nice thing about MP3 music files is that
they are one-tenth the size of corresponding WAV music files,
a nice thing about MIDI music files is that they are one-tenth
the size of MP3 music files!  (This means, for example, that
if it takes minutes to download a MP3 file, a corresponding
MIDI file can be downloaded in seconds.)
What is "MIDI"?  "MIDI" stands for "Musical Instrument Digital
Interface."  Essentially, it's a standard format by which a
computer may talk with an electronic musical instrument.  That
musical instrument may be an electronic keyboard, a digital
piano, a music synthesizer, or -- surprise! -- the sound card
(and speakers) in your computer.
In one sense, MIDI music files are different in an important
respect from the other music files you'll find around for
computers, such as MP3 files, WAV files, and so on.  All of
these are generally what I call "microphone-music files."  To
create them, somebody played music, a microphone recorded it,
and the result was placed in a computer file.  When you play
the file, your computer does its best to reproduce the actual
sound that was recorded.
MIDI files are different.  They are what I call "player-piano-
music files."  No microphone was used to record them.  Rather,
the file is like a player piano roll.  It can be played back
on an electronic musical instrument that can act like a player
piano.  Remember:  your sound card (helped by the appropriate
software) can be that kind of musical instrument!
MIDI files thus cannot attempt to reproduce the sound as it
was originally recorded by a microphone, because there never
was sound recorded by a microphone.  Instead, essentially
the MIDI file is a set of directions (or, to change the
analogy, some sheet music) to be used to create the music.
And since MIDI is a "musical instrument digital interface,"
forget about voice.  (Yes, some computers can be taught how
to speak, but we don't have any electronic music instruments
yet that can sing words, as far as I know.)
To sum up, MIDI files make no attempt to supply detailed and
precise information to allow exact reproduction of music
originally recorded with a microphone.  Instead, MIDI files
simply provide sort of a player piano roll (or sheet music) to
your computer, and then your computer has to try to play the
music on its own as best it can.
With the right software, almost any computer with a sound card
can do this. The resulting music may vary considerably (just
as a player piano roll played on different player pianos will
vary more than, say, an audio CD played on different stereo
systems), but the approach means that file sizes can be very
small ("mini" in size) and thus the files are fast to download
and do not take up much space to store.  And many people (I am
one of them) find the music entirely adequate (but then again
I always loved player piano music, and we even at one time
owned a player piano).
By the way, don't let the player piano analogy fool you into
thinking that we're simply talking piano music here.  It's
more like a roll for a nickelodeon, because other instruments
(such as violins or guitars or drums) can also be involved.
MIDI files of Christian hymns, for example, will most often
sound like music played on an organ.
If you visit a Web page containing a MIDI file, you can
often play the file immediately using your Web browser (both
Internet Explorer and Netscape have this capability built in,
I believe).  To play the MIDI files off-line (that is, when
you are not connected to the Internet), you will need special
software to do that.  For those running Windows, the Windows
Media Player will do that just fine.  (A bit later I will
explain how to download MIDI files from the Web.)
The same warning I gave concerning MP3 files apply here as
well:  in obedience to the commandment "you shall not steal,"
you will want to avoid downloading any MIDI files that are
copyrighted unless appropriate permission has been granted
for you to do so.  Fortunately, most church music, classical
music, and ragtime music do not present a problem in that
regard, and the sample sites I'm suggesting in this article
fall into those three categories.
First, church music.  One of the best sites here is The Cyber
As their home page says, "This site has over 2,100 Christian
hymns and Gospel songs from many denominations. You’ll find
lyrics, scores, MIDI files, pictures, history, and more."
And they describe their copyright policy here:
Here is where they stand:  "We have tried to be extremely
careful to include only material...Which is in the public
domain...OR For which we have obtained the copyright holder’s
permission....  If we have inadvertently included a work with
a copyright still in force, let us know & we will remove it
Regarding the MIDI files, they say this:  "We do not claim
any copyright on the MIDI files themselves. So, as long as
there is no copyright notice on them, feel free to download
or reproduce them."
Let's download a sample file.  Go to the Cyber Hymnal home
Click on "Titles."  On the next page click on "A" at the left.
After the page reloads, click on "AMAZING GRACE" in the list
of titles at the right.  (You will probably have to scroll
down to get to it.)  At this point, you should be hearing
the music for AMAZING GRACE (and it should sound as if it's
being played on an organ).  But we are not finished yet.
Click on the words "John Newton" to the right of the picture.
A window should load which includes interesting biographical
information about John Newton as well as links to two dozen
other hymns for which he wrote the words.
Close that window and go back to the "AMAZING GRACE" window.
A moment ago, you (left-)clicked on the phrase "John Newton."
Looking this time at "Music" rather than "Words," right-click
on "MIDI" (not left-click as you did before).  You should see
a "pop-up" menu.  If you're using Internet Explorer, click
(that is, left-click) on "Save Target As."  If you're using
Netscape Communicator, click on "Save Link As."  (If you're
using another Web browser, you may see something different.)
At that point you'll have an opportunity to save the MIDI
file for "Amazing Grace" to disk (or simply click on "Cancel"
if you choose not to do so at this time).
The name of the MIDI file is newbrita.mid.  The "newbrita"
part of the filename refers to the fact that the tune for
"Amazing Grace" is sometimes known as "New Britain," but the
part I want to say something about is the "mid" part.  As you
probably know, "mid" is short for "MIDI" (short, because DOS
and Windows before Windows 95 could only handle three letters
maximum after the period as well as, for that matter, eight
letters maximum before the period, which is the explanation
for "newbrita" rather than "newbritain" in the filename).
Anyway, MIDI files can ordinarily be recognized by their file
extension (that is, the letters after the period).  Just as
MP3 filenames ordinarily end in .mp3, so MIDI files ordinarily
end in .mid (which you may or may not see if you are using
Windows 95 or Windows 98 -- it depends on whether you have
your computer set to show or not show file extensions).
Here's another site where you'll find MIDI church music:
Favorite Hymns
The advantage (for some) of this site is that the hymns are
all keyed to the 1990 edition of the Trinity Hymnal, which is
a hymnbook used by many Presbyterian and Reformed churches (as
well as by some Baptists and others).  If you choose "Amazing
Grace," you can download to your computer the MIDI music file
by right-clicking on the words "AMAZING GRACE" in the top
right corner and proceeding accordingly as before (although
you'll see a different filename this time).
Let's move on to classical music.  In my opinion, if you like
classical music the best place on the Web to find good MIDI
files is the Classical Music Archives site:
At that site you will find not only an outstanding collection
of classical music, but also some good software, including
MidiGate, a MIDI player that I use myself on a regular basis
(although I have not gotten around to upgrading my registered
copy to the Windows 95-98 version supporting long filenames). 
Here's their policy on copyright:  
"Every attempt possible has been made to verify that the
sequences contained in The Classical MIDI Connection are
free from any copyright infringement...."
Do you like Debussy's "Clair de Lune"?  Do you like "Jesus
Loves Me"?  If you answered "yes" to both questions, then I
have a real treat for you!  Go to the following page:
Then try out "Bradbury/Debussy "Jesus Loves Me" (arranged by
Fred Boch).  You'll hear the children's "Jesus Loves Me" in
the style of Debussy's "Clair de Lune."  (I know, it boggles
the mind:  you have to hear it to believe it!)  Also on that
page be sure to try out "Happy Birthday!" (near the bottom
of the page).
You'll also find lots of "normal" classical music on the site
as well, of course.  In addition to general alphabetical
listings, there are special sections devoted specifically to
J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Byrd, Chopin, Debussy, Handel,
Haydn, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Scarlatti, Schubert,
Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.  Consider, for example, the music
of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  Check out these Web
Johann Sebastian Bach:  Main Page
Johann Sebastian Bach:  Sacred Music
Johann Sebastian Bach:  Cantatas, Motets, Passions, Oratorios,
    and Complete Chorales
(Remember, however, that these are all instrumental versions,
since MIDI files cannot include voice.)
Incidentally, J.S. Bach was a great Christian composer (some
regard him as the greatest composer ever!) who wrote music to
the glory of God.  If you're interested in exploring Bach
further, check out the J.S. Bach Home Page at this address:
And you can also find some good classical MIDI files at the
Classical MIDI Connection:
Here are some of the kinds of music you'll find there:
Twentieth Century
You can find classical music and ragtime music in MIDI format
at the Primetime MIDI Library:
Here's where you'll find their main ragtime page:
You'll find lots of music there by many ragtime greats:
Scott Joplin
James Scott
Joseph Lamb
Charles L. Johnson
Eubie Blake
Jelly Roll Morton
Here's where you'll find some interesting Swedish ragtime:
And here's where you'll find another page on their site,
this one with nearly 300 additional rags:
Another good site for ragtime music is Warren Trachtman's
Ragtime Piano MIDI Files:
And on that site you'll find many of the ragtime greats:
Scott Joplin
James Scott
Joseph Lamb
Ferdinand ("Jelly-Roll") Morton
James Hubert ("Eubie") Blake
Charles L. Johnson
Tom Turpin
For various other ragtime composers on the same page, check
out this link:
If you look around the site, you'll also find references to
some contemporary syncopators.
Well, that's it on MIDI files this time around.  Enjoy!
If you are trying to find a particular person, there are a
number of Web sites that may help you, not only to track down
an email address (if that person has such) but also to locate
a residential address or phone number (even if the person is
not on the Internet and does not even have an email address).
One such site is Bigfoot:
Bigfoot lets you search for email and residential addresses
at the same time.
Or you can try Yahoo! People Search:
Yahoo! People Search may help you find an email address, a
residential address (and a map of the area!), or a phone
number.  (If you'd like to get driving directions, go to
http://maps.yahoo.com/ , click on "Driving Directions," fill
in the information for "starting address" and "destination
address," and click on "Get Directions.")
Or you can try the WhoWhere? People Finder:
At WhoWhere? People Finder you can also get maps or driving
directions if the person's address is found.
Or you can try other sites, such as the following: 
[try the Reverse Lookup by Address, put down your street
without a house number, and you may be able to learn all
the names of your neighbors!]
AnyWho Directories
Freeality Internet Search:  Reverse Lookup, Email and Other
      Lookup Tools
Internet Address Finder
Many of these are hit or miss, because people move around and
a site's records may be incomplete or inaccurate, but you may
find out that these Web sites may indeed be successful in
helping you locate that person you're trying to find.  (If
one site doesn't work for you, try another, because databases
and other features may vary from site to site.)
First, let me say that there are Christians who as a practice
avoid watching films (unless they were made by Christians for
a Christian audience), and I respect that choice (just as we
respect some good friends who have chosen to get rid of their
television set).  Our time is limited, and each person must
decide for himself or herself how best to use that time.  And,
most people would admit, many or most movies may not be worth
Still, there are many Christians who have chosen to include
watching films among their activities, and the Traver family
is included in that number.  There are many reasons for this.
For example, like art, music, and literature, films display
man's creativity.  In the beginning God created mankind in
His own likeness, and part of that likeness is that man was
created not to be a mechanical robot but to have the ability
to be creative.  (Yes, man is still a creature rather than
the Creator and man cannot create ex nihilo, that is, out of
nothing, and yet man can in a real sense create a populated
world, and that is true in film even more than it is in
literature.)  A good film is a work of art, from which we
can derive enjoyment and instruction.
Even when done by non-Christians, films can display certain
"common grace insights" (universal Scriptural truths) from
which we may benefit (although the Christian will want to
test everything by Scripture).  For example, the film "A
Simple Plan" powerfully demonstrates the reality that the
love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (see 1 Tim.
6:10).  In addition, movies often not only reflect our
culture (or at least reflect the "media elite" of our
culture), but also greatly influence our culture.  Thus it
is to our advantage to be informed about what people are
watching if we want to interact with them in an informed
and intelligent way.
But that's our perspective, and your situation and calling
may be different.  My wife and I, for example, teach high
school students, so it helps to know what our students are
watching.  In addition, watching films is something we enjoy
doing, just as some other people spend their time watching
sports events, an activity we avoid.  But whether you choose
to watch films or not (or to allow your children to watch or
not), you can find lots of helpful information about films
on the Internet.  (As a parent, for example, you may need
to make a decision on whether one of your children will be
allowed to see a particular movie.)
So let's take a look at some Christian sites (and some other
sites) where useful film reviews can be found.  One good
starting point is Christian Spotlight on the Movies, which
claims to be "the Web's most popular movie review site for
Christian Spotlight on the Movies
Suppose you have a particular film in mind, say, "Life Is
Beautiful."  One way to find it is to click on "L" in the
alphabet that lets you find it "By Title."  When you get to
the "L" page, click on "Life Is Beautiful."  You'll see that
Christian Spotlight on the Movies gives the film a "moral
rating" of 3 out of 4 and a moviemaking quality rating of
4 out of 5.  The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)
rating is "PG-13" ("parents strongly cautioned; some material
may be inappropriate for children under 13"), and the primary
audience is "teen to adult."  The film is about the Holocaust
and "reminds us that modern man is neither basically good nor
particularly evolved."
You'll find more film reviews at a Web site of Focus on the
Family (Dr. James Dobson):
Plugged In:  Film Reviews:  Recent
Plugged In:  Film Reviews:  Archives
Basically, the "recent" films are still in the theatres,
while the "archives" are the ones on video.
In the "archives" section, you'll find a review of "Life Is
Beautiful."  That review (like some others) is divided into
the following sections:  "Premise," "Positive Elements,"
"Spiritual Content," "Sexual Content," "Violent Content,"
"Crude or Profane Language," "Drug and Alcohol Content,"
"Other Negative Elements," and "Summary."  Here is the
"Roberto Benigni is not the first to recount the atrocities of
the Holocaust through film. It is a painful piece of history--
not soon to be forgotten. While acknowledging and respecting
this reality, Benigni manages to do something no other writer
has done. He injected this horrific time period with a story
of hope, joy and an almost surreal optimism. He captured a
love more precious than words. A dedication beyond all
expectations. Despite its English subtitles, American
audiences are still sure to be drawn in by the underlying
brilliance of Life Is Beautiful. Rarely has an Oscar award
winning picture been so worthy of such recognition." 
Although it is not specifically a Christian site, parents
may find this site to be worth a look:
Kids-in-Mind:  Movie Ratings That Actually Work
The site provides helpful information on the sex, violence,
and profanity a film may contain, telling it by the numbers. 
The alphabet at the top of the home page lets you find a
film by title.  Click on "L," and you'll see that "Life Is
Beautiful" is rated 2.3.0 (that is, on a scale from 0 to
10, 2 for sex, 3 for violence, and 0 for profanity).  Click
on "Life Is Beautiful," and you'll get the details, as well
as some other brief comments:
"A Jewish family tries to survive the horrors of a World War
II concentration camp with lots of love and humor....  In
Italian and German, with English subtitles. SEX/NUDITY 2 Some
sexual innuendo and kissing. VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A man is
shot to death off-camera. A man sees a huge pile of human
skeletons. Threatening with guns. Several scuffles, falls
and chases. PROFANITY 0 - None. ADULT ISSUES - The Holocaust,
1940s Italy, World War II, being Jewish, falling in love,
family relationships. MESSAGE - Love will protect and save
If you're not so much concerned about whether a movie is
suitable for children and are more interested in its value
for adults, here is a Christian movie review site that I
find especially worthwhile and thought-provoking:
Hollywood Jesus
The site is very professionally done, and very "visual" (in
comparison with most other movie review sites).  Do not
expect to agree with all of the comments, but do expect a
stimulating experience.  (You have to search the site a bit
to find it, but discussion of the movie "Life Is Beautiful"
is at http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/lifeisbeautiful.htm .)
Most movie review sites are free, but here are three Christian
movie review sites that have a subscription charge for full
access <sigh>:
MovieGuide (Dr. Ted Baehr)
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
The Movie Reporter:  Film & Movie Reviews from a Christian
You'll have to decide whether it's worthwhile to subscribe to
any of these.  (We do subscribe to MovieGuide, but we get the
reviews through the mail rather than accessing them on-line.)
Here are some other movie and video review sites that you may
find helpful:
 and http://www.christianityonline.com/ct/current/
[check page for link to "Film Forum" article]
[also check CT Archives for past issues]
Michael Elliott's Movie Parables
["The Christian Critic" -- note the Web address!]
    Movie Reviews and Commentary
    Video Reviews and Commentary
FamilyStyle Movie Guide
FilmValues:  Film Reviews for Responsible Parents
Grading the Movies:  Helping Families Find Entertainment
    with Values
Michael Medved
[then click on Movie Reviews]
Screen It!: Entertainment Reviews for Parents
And, finally, here's a site for people who would rather read
movie reviews than watch movies:
Movie Review Query
If you are interested in reviews of a particular movie, you'll
probably find links at that site to more reviews than you'd
ever want to read.
Again, whether or not you go to the movies is your choice, but
either way, if you want useful reviews of movies and videos
(either for the benefit of your family or your own benefit),
there are many Web sites that should be helpful, and I hope
that I have suggested some of value to you.  Don't bookmark
them all, but decide which particular ones you may like to
check in the future.
These two addresses at the Mount Zion site did not seem to be
working for a couple of days, but I'm happy to report that
whatever problems existed have apparently been fixed:
C.H. Spurgeon:  An Audio Archive
Pilgrim's Page:  A John Bunyan Archive
The address for the C.S. Lewis and the Inklings site was not
working, but I was able to contact Dr. Bruce Edwards (who is
now in Africa on a Fulbright scholarship) and he gave me a new
working address:
C.S. Lewis and the Inklings
This is the ninth 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 
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Privacy policy:  The information in the "Christians And The 
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Past issues:  you'll find archives of past issues of CATI
available online at http://traver.org/cati/ .  ("It's not a
pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.)
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.)