"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 2, No. 8: May 23, 2001. _______________________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: MORE ON THE WORD4WORD PROJECT 2. TRINITY HYMNAL, TRINITY PSALTER: WEB RESOURCES (PART 2) 3. EXXON/MOBIL BOYCOTT: EMAIL HOAX WITH HARMFUL INTENTIONS? 4. B.C. CENSORSHIP: SOME NEWPAPERS HAVE NO "HART" ON EASTER! 5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________ Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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. _______________________________________________________________ 1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: MORE ON THE WORD4WORD PROJECT Sorry for the delay in publication, but I've been continuing work on the Word4Word program mentioned in the previous two issues of CATI: Editor's Letter: Help with Word-for-Word Memorization? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati51.htm#1 Letter from the Editor: Progress with Word4Word Project http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati52.htm#1 As I indicated in those articles, Word4Word is designed to help people memorize word-for-word whatever they want to memorize, but especially Bible passages and catechism answers. When the program is finished and available for download, it will be announced here first. If you're interested in knowing more about Word4Word, keep reading this opening letter. If not, skip down to the next article (or to the article after that). Here are some comments that I shared recently with people who volunteered to beta-test the program: ________________________________ / I know. You've been wondering, "What's happening with the next version of Word4Word, and will it be worth the wait?" Well, I've been adding a number of significant features to the program (as well as performing a "search and destroy" mission to exterminate some bugs), so the next beta version is taking longer than I had expected (so what's new?). Here is what's being added (partly thanks to some excellent ideas from various beta-testers): (1) A very friendly "Edit Mode" which makes it very easy for you to create your own files or modify existing files. For example, if you want to create a new file, just choose "Edit Mode" (rather than "Quiz Mode"), tell the program that you want to create a "New" file, type in the first question, press enter, type in the first answer, press enter, type in the next question, press enter, type in the next answer, press enter, etc. When you're finished, "Save" the file. (Then you can go back to your normal "Quiz Mode.") (2) An "Auto Random" option which gives you the questions in random order (and will -- if you miss a question -- ask you it again some time later, until you have answered all of the questions successfully). (3) A remembering of your settings for each file that you use (e.g., the program will now remember that you were working on the 9th question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, say, testing yourself on the first letter of each word, but the 23rd Scripture passage in the NIV file, testing yourself on the entire word, including capitalization and punctuation, and will restore those specific settings the next time you use that file). (4) I'm still working on the details for this, but when you work through a file during a particular session Word4Word will be able to keep track of which questions you answered wrong and then give you the option of being re-tested on just the questions you missed. (Later I may add the option to print out the ones you missed on paper, but that may not happen this time around.) (5) A seven-day memory program that is scientifically designed to be the most efficient scheduling of review times. That may take some explaining. When you learn something, you start forgetting it right away, rather rapidly. Thus it's important to review it right away. Then you start forgetting again, but this time not quite so rapidly, so it's important to review the material again, but this time not quite as quickly. And so on. The point is that review times are most effectively scheduled over increasingly longer periods of time. After you have had seven days of practice (appropriately spaced), you should have a fairly permanent knowledge of the material. One research study suggested the following schedule as the most effective way to spend seven days of study: Learn the material, review it the next day, review it two days later, then five days, then ten, then twenty, then forty. (If you want to review more in addition to this, of course, that will not hurt you any, but we're talking here about what is the most efficient spacing for seven days of study.) If you want to learn, say, a Scripture verse, use the "Edit Mode" of Word4Word to put down what you want to learn and then choose "Save As .7dp." (The ".7dp" stands for "7 day program.) Word4Word creates (or adds to) files that are related to the appropriate dates. In "Quiz Mode," you simply choose "Today" on the File menu to review the scheduled material for that particular day. (The program knows what day it is from the clock in your computer, so you do need to make sure you have your computer properly set to the correct date.) You don't have to figure out any complicated schedule, since Word4Word schedules it all for you. You simply need to use Word4Word each day. (What if you miss a day? Well, the File menu also includes "Yesterday" just in case you forgot to review yesterday's material, as well as "Tomorrow" in case you want to look at material a day ahead of time.) \________________________________ I'm telling you the details, because CATI subscribers may be wondering what I'm doing that prevents me putting out CATI on a more regular basis. Now you know. If you're interested in Word4Word, you'll be glad to hear that I hope to have the next beta version available within the next week or so. As soon as that version is debugged, I expect to make the program publicly available (and will announce that here in CATI as soon as it happens). (Yes, I do have ideas for some additional features beyond what I've mentioned, but I expect to add them in another version after I have made available the version I've described to you.) Word4Word will NOT be free (except to the people who have been helping with the beta-testing). I am hoping that it will be the source of some financial income, which will give me more time to spend on CATI, which I intend to keep going as a free email newsletter, even though it has been suggested that I charge a small amount for CATI, something I do not intend to do. CATI is "free," and I hope it will remain that way. Word4Word is intended not just for CATI subscribers (although you will be the first to know when it's publicly available), but for anyone who knows the importance of "hiding the Word in your heart" (cf. Psalm 119:11). As a bonus, the program can also help with other memorization projects (the sample files for the beta-testers included a list of presidents, chemical elements and their symbols, and even an Abbott and Costello comedy dialog, although the program is primarily designed for the learning of Bible passages and catechism answers). How much money is involved? Ah, here's the unique part, as I explained in an earlier issue. You decide how much money the program is worth to you (and you're not expected to set the figure unreasonably high), divide by two, and if you want to send me a check for what you come up with, I won't refuse it, however small the amount. (What about the other half? Feel free to keep it, or to donate it to your local church, if you like!) If you're not interested in Word4Word but are interested in CATI, you'll be glad to hear that more regular publication should take place after I've finished and released the Word4Word project (assuming that it's a success). (Feel free to pray that Word4Word will not only provide some needed income for me, but also will be used of God to His glory and to the advance of His kingdom.) _______________________________________________________________ 2. TRINITY HYMNAL, TRINITY PSALTER: WEB RESOURCES (PART 2) If you don't use the Trinity Hymnal or Trinity Psalter, you may still find this series of articles of value, because whatever songbook you use, you probably sing some Psalms or hymns that are in the Trinity Hymnal or Trinity Psalter. Here's where you can find the first article in this series: Trinity Hymnal, Trinity Psalter: Web Resources (Part 1) http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati52.htm#2 In that article, I mentioned to you that you will find lots of resources related to the Trinity Hymnal at this location on the Web site of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Trinity Hymnal http://opc.org/books/TH/ Incidentally, the MIDI files on the OPC site were prepared by Bill Bacon, who is an Elder at Westminster OPC in Hamden, Connecticut. When you play them, you hear (your computer's imitation of) a piano. Interestingly, the music was not originally played on a MIDI piano or keyboard, but scanned in from the hymnbook, and then the MIDI files were created through using appropriate software. In this article, we'll mention some other resources on the Web related to the Trinity Hymnal as well as provide more information about the Trinity Psalter. The OPC site has resources for the old (blue) Trinity hymnal, but what if you're using the new (red) Trinity hymnal? Well, the resources are more limited (since over 150 of the hymns in the new Trinity have an active copyright and thus cannot be posted on the Internet without permission), but you'll find some helpful material related to the new (red) Trinity Hymnal at this site: A 21st Century Puritanism http://www.planetkc.com/puritan/ Click on "Hymns" on that page, and you'll be brought to this page: Favorite Hymns: Titles http://www.planetkc.com/puritan/hymns.htm Hymns are sorted by title or first line, and when you choose a hymn, you'll be provided with not only the words (and the number of the hymn in the new Trinity hymnal, if it appears in that hymnal), but also a MIDI file that can be played (I'll say more about the MIDI files later). Click on "Psalms" and you'll see a listing of Psalms (in numerical order), click on "Authors" and you'll see a listing of hymns by author (alphabetical by last name), and click on "Tunes" and you'll see a listing of hymns by tune name (again, in alphabetical order). (Click on "Composer" and you'll get a message, "This page is under construction.") The Webmaster for the nicely-done 21st Century Puritanism site is Mitch Cervinka, an interesting person with some distinctive (and interesting!) views. I hope to give a more extensive overview of his site in a future issue of CATI, but in this issue we will restrict ourselves to a consideration of the "Hymns" section of his Web site. Concerning his policies, he has this to say on his "Welcome" page: "I have tried to avoid putting any copyrighted material on the website. If you find anything (hymns, tunes, articles, etc.) which you believe to be copyrighted, please let me know.... I retain rights for the overall design of the website.... [But] Please feel free to copy and distribute articles or hymns, or to link to them from your website." http://www.planetkc.com/puritan/welcome.htm And here are some further comments on the MIDI files from an email letter I received from him: _______________________________ / "I created most of the Trinity Hymnal MIDI files, as well as the music I have personally written (see "New Hymns" listing). I borrowed files from the Cyber Hymnal in the first few months when I started to build my website, but since that time (3+ years ago), any new files have been created 'by hand'. I would guess that perhaps 10% of my files are from the Cyber Hymnal site.... [T]he webmaster of that site seemed to be perfectly willing to let me copy any files I wanted.... "One way to tell what's what is by listening to the instruments used. The Cyber Hymnal files always have the same voicing: Voices for the accompaniment, and grand piano for the lead.... I tend to use all organ or all piano for both parts. The rule is: If it's voice + piano, it came from Cyber Hymnal. Anything else is something I did. (BTW 'voice' doesn't necessarily sound like real voices--it all depends on your sound card).... "Nearly everything listed in the "Trinity Hymnal" index was transcribed from the (Red) Trinity Hymnal." --Mitch Cervinka, personal letter, March 27, 2001 \_______________________________ BTW, "BTW" stands for "By The Way." As Mitch mentioned, a good musical resource is indeed the CyberHymnal site: CyberHymnal http://www.cyberhymnal.org/ It is not specifically referenced to the Trinity Hymnal (or to the Trinity Psalter), but you will find many Trinity tunes at that site. Another Web site that has some helpful resources is the "Grace Alone" site, which is "promoted" by "members of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church ... in Whippany, New Jersey": Grace Alone http://www.gracealone.com/ On this site (a site which seems to be very much "still under construction" although it also contains some very helpful material), the emphasis is upon the Psalms: Grace Alone: Psalms from the Trinity Hymnal http://www.gracealone.com/midifiles/psalter.htm By Trinity Hymnal here, once again what is in view is the old Trinity Hymnal (a version which this page rightly points out "was republished by Great Commissions Publications in 1998," so it's not so "old" after all). On this page, you can "Click on the Psalter Name and see the words and hear the midi" (at least if you're using a PC -- allegedly you will not hear the MIDI on a Mac). The ones to which I listened sounded like (my computer's version of) a piano. Both the Trinity Hymnal and the Trinity Psalter are given attention at this site, because here you'll also find Grace Alone: Samples from the Trinity Psalter http://www.gracealone.com/trinitypsalter/TPsalms_.htm On this page, you can "Click on the Psalter Play button and see the words and hear the midi file." The ones to which I listened sounded like a piano (sometimes accompanied by the computer's simulation of the human voice). Although this site subscribes to "exclusive Psalmody" (i.e., the view that only Psalms should be sung in formal worship), it offers some helpful background material on the Trinity Hymnal and the Trinity Psalter, and it presents a fairly objective summary of the discussion of the use of "song in worship" in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church: _______________________________ / "The Trinity Psalter was created for those that use the Trinity Hymnal and would like to add more psalm singing to their worship. With this in mind the Psalter committee created this Psalter using many of the tunes from the Trinity Hymnal thus making it easy to learn.... "It is well known in reformed [circles] that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church has two reports from 1947 regarding song in worship. Both reports started by reaffirming that The Regulative Principle of Worship is Biblical and confessional. However, after this very important confirmation that 'the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself' (WCF 21.1), the reports departed into two directions. "The Minority Report was written by Professor John Murray, and holds to an exclusive Psalmody position. While this is the Westminster confession's position it is held by only a tiny number of congregations in the OPC. On the other hand, the Majority Report teaches that Psalms are not necessarily to be used exclusively, and that a congregation may sing uninspired songs.... "From one vantage point these two views appear totally opposite. However, after careful study we can see some common ground. I would like to note that the Majority Report is not indifferent to the psalms but instead encourages psalm singing and has been compared by some OPC ministers with Dutch Reformed worship. The Dutch position is that 'psalms must be frequently sung in public worship and hymns may be sung'. While the Majority Report allows for hymns it also echoes the OPC directory’s thoughts and then asserts that God desires the frequent use of the Psalms in worship." http://www.gracealone.com/trinitypsalter/index.htm \_______________________________ Here's where you can find the OPC Majority Report on "Song in Worship": OPC Majority Report on Song in Worship http://www.gracealone.com/trinitypsalter/majorityreport.htm And here's where you can find the OPC Minority Report on "Song in Worship": OPC Minority Report on Song in Worship http://www.gracealone.com/trinitypsalter/minorityreport.htm Most churches do not restrict themselves to singing only the Psalms in formal worship, so the position of "exclusive psalmody" may be unfamiliar to many readers of CATI. I am not myself convinced that Scripture requires such a position, but I have a great respect for those who do hold to that position. If you're interested in reading some interesting material from that perspective, you may want to take a look at these articles by G.I. Williamson, who is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church: The Singing of Psalms in the Worship of God http://www.reformed.com/triangle/t_giwill.html Trinity Hymnal, or The Content of the Book of Praise in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Part I http://trueworship.netfirms.com/Singpsalms.dir/williamson/hymnal1.html Trinity Hymnal, or The Content of the Book of Praise in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Part II http://trueworship.netfirms.com/Singpsalms.dir/williamson/hymnal2.html Although a minority position in the OPC, it is the official position of the RPCNA (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America) and of some other conservative denominations in the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition. Again, whether or not we are agreed that songs other than Biblical Psalms ought to be sung as part of formal worship, I believe that all should agree that Psalms ought to be sung (and, in many churches, ought to be sung more often than may currently be the practice!). _______________________________________________________________ 3. EXXON/MOBIL BOYCOTT: EMAIL HOAX WITH HARMFUL INTENTIONS? Email hoaxes is a topic that we have looked at in previous issues of CATI: "It Takes Guts to Say 'Jesus' and Other Email Hoaxes http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati02.htm#3 A Little More on MP3 Files and on Email Hoaxes http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati03.htm#2 Email Hoax: The "Madeline" Murray "O'Hare" Petition http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati11.htm#2 NASA Computers Prove Joshua's Long Day: Another Hoax? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati18.htm#2 George W. Bush After-Dinner Story: Another Email Hoax? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati47.htm#1 Email Warning About Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO): True?? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati48.htm#2 Yes, Virginia, There Are Genuine Email Computer Viruses! http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati49.htm#1 The Madalyn Murray O'Hair Email Hoax: The Latest News http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati49.htm#2 Viruses, Worms, & Trojan Horses: "Live" Computer Threats? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati51.htm#3 Here's one version of yet another EMAIL HOAX (it was going around last month -- April 2001 -- in this form): _______________________________ / "Subject: FW: FW: Gasoline Prices "Clark Howard @ W.S.B. Radio has announced this on his show. "Subject: Let's keep Gas prices down! "THE FOLLOWING WAS SENT BY AN ECONOMIST WITHIN THE FUEL INDUSTRY. "ANOTHER ECONOMICS PROFESSOR AT CAL REITERATED THE SAME LAST WEEK. I THINK IT IS WORTH TRYING. "I got this from a reliable source & the website listed is legit. We heard today from a man who is very savvy about the economy, namely, Clark Howard, and he says that the gas prices are going to start going up again and will be high this summer - $2.00 and up. We need to do whatever we can, and do it NOW!!!! "Gasoline Prices "This makes more sense than the don't buy gas on a certain day routine that was going around last year re: Gasoline Prices. Whoever started this has a good point. By now, you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.49 is cheap. Me too, as it is now $1.58 for regular unleaded! "Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at less than $1.50, we need to try an aggressive response. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take ACTION! The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we don't buy it. But, (as the gas companies know full well, and are counting on), that's not really a practical option since we all have come to rely on our cars. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together. "Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, don't purchase gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), namely EXXON and MOBIL. You see, if they are not selling, they should be inclined, (i.e., "forced"), to reduce their prices. And, because of their size, and hence market share, if they reduce their prices the other companies will too. (They would HAVE no choice!). Isn't that a "juicy" prospect? But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of users. But it's do-able! "I am sending this note to 42 people. If each of you send it to at least 10 more ... and those 10 send it to at least 10 more and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth iteration, we will have reached over one million consumers. Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on, or one you compose, to at least 10 more E-mail addresses. PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO BELOW $1.28 - $1.29 AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK! "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention! \_______________________________ Another (and shorter) version of this EMAIL HOAX omits the opening paragraphs and starts with the words "This makes more sense...," ending in this way: _______________________________ / ... please pass this message on, or one you compose, to at least 10 more E-mail addresses. PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO BELOW $1.28 - $1.29 AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK! Katherine Doyle WASHTENAW COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION IS Department 555 North Zeeb Ann Arbor, MI 48106 734.327.6679 If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention! \_______________________________ The important thing to know is that whichever form you may see this message in, it is an EMAIL HOAX. Here are the facts, as described by David Emery of the "Urban Legends and Folklore" site at About.com: _______________________________ / "Although variants of this chain letter have been circulating since the summer of 2000, steeply rising gasoline prices in April 2001 sparked a sudden surge in its popularity. The text not only resembles but explicitly cites previous email-driven protests, the so-called 'Gas Outs' of 1999 and 2000 — miserable failures, both of them.... "Nevertheless, the text in question purports to have been written by one economist and approved of by another (both unnamed). What do economists really think of it? John Edgren of Eastern Michigan University says it simply won't work.... "The email text also refers to consumer advocate and radio personality Clark Howard, as if he has given his approval to the scheme. He has not. According to a notice on Howard's Website: 'The email is not accurate. Clark did not write the email message, nor does he favor boycotts.' "Another version of the text circulating since October 2000 carries the signature file of Katharine Doyle, an employee of the Washtenaw County, Michigan, Road Commission. She did not, however, author the message, nor was it sanctioned by the Commission. Doyle told the Detroit News that her electronic signature was copied and affixed to the message by person(s) unknown without her knowledge or approval. The resulting flood of email and phone calls was so overwhelming that Doyle was forced to change her email address and phone number." http://urbanlegends.about.com/science/urbanlegends/library/blgasboycottb.htm \_______________________________ Another site dealing with email hoaxes raises an interesting question concerning this one (but makes no attempt to answer the question): "Gas Out - don't buy gas from two companies on these days.... Exxon and Mobile sell gas to others, have stations under other names and have other interests as well. But why pick on these two?.... Even if I buy gas from ... a Mom & Pop operation, I may be getting Mobile or Exxon gas. They have to buy it from someone and I have to buy gas.... One other tidbit of info: this current message is similar to the call for a 'gas out' in both 1999 and 2000. The difference is that the previous messages urged people not to buy gas on certain days in order to punish OPEC. It was a dumb idea that would never really do any harm to them. Gasoline is just one product of the oil industry. The new twist in this message is disconcerting in that it asks us to boycott specific oil companies. Does anyone smell a rat here?" Christians United For the Truth http://www.heavenlyminded.org/truth/gas_out.htm I doubt that we will ever know who was the author of this email hoax message, and before I go further, I want to make clear that I am not making any suggestions or accusations in that regard. First, I do not think it especially important to know the identity of the author, because his or her improper actions do not thereby discredit any movement or cause with which he or she may be associated. Just as pro-life people would condemn someone who bombed an abortion clinic and would point out that such an action is in fact the very opposite of being "pro-life," so also a movement or cause with whom the author of the hoax letter might be associated would, I trust, condemn the hoaxer's deceptions. Second, since those who receive such an email message are being asked to boycott specifically Exxon/Mobil, it may be helpful to know who likes Exxon/Mobil and who does not (and for what reasons) before we make any decision as to whether we wish to join in on such a boycott of this particular company. (Later we'll consider briefly whether it makes sense to join in on a boycott at all in such a situation, so far as economic and other considerations are involved.) On the one hand, we find that the Family Research Council seems to like Exxon/Mobil (according to the December 12, 2000 special year-end issue of CultureFacts, which is a publication of the Cultural Studies Department of the Family Research Council): "Despite what might seem like a tidal wave against the culture, the pro-family movement did have some major victories in the realm of business, the most important being the Exxon-Mobil merger. Exxon carried its family-friendly policies into the merger and became the second corporation -- after Ross Perot Systems, Inc. -- to rescind benefits for the sex partners of homosexual employees. Exxon-Mobil also was first major corporation to retract 'sexual orientation' from its non-discrimination policy." http://www.ucgcalgary.org/Culturefacts/factsdec29.html If you're unfamiliar with the Family Research Council, it may interest you to know that the FRC was formerly led by Gary Bauer and is endorsed by James Dobson, John Ashcroft, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), Marvin Olavsky (editor of World Magazine), R.C. Sproul, and D. James Kennedy, among others. Here's where you'll find the home page for the Family Research Council: http://www.frc.org/ If the Family Research Council likes Exxon/Mobil because of its support of traditional heterosexual marriage, then it is not difficult to figure out that those who are in favor of redefining the family so as to include same-sex relationships might not like Exxon/Mobil. (There are also others who have called for an Exxon/Mobil boycott. Stay tuned.) For some background, see, for example, Steven Long's article "Oil Giant's Policy Fuels Gays' Protest: Activists rally ExxonMobil for recognition of same-sex-partner benefits," which appeared in the January 27, 2000 issue of the Houston Post (right after the merger of Exxon and Mobil): _____________________________ / "If Houston's gays and lesbians have their way, a rally ... could have a big impact at the pump for petroleum giant ExxonMobil.... "Prior to the December merger of Mobil and Exxon, gay and lesbian Mobil employees and their partners enjoyed full benefits just like their heterosexual co-workers. Exxon workers did not.... "Mobil workers who were signed up for the benefit packages will continue to get them. Same-sex partners for everybody else ... are left out in the cold.... "Houston's Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus passed a resolution condemning the company's policy. And rally organizers are asking ExxonMobil customers to cut up their credit cards...." http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/2000-01-27/news2.html \_____________________________ That boycott, which began right after the merger of Exxon and Mobil, continues. Here's one example of a Web page that shows that the gay and lesbian boycott of Exxon/Mobil is still on: "In 1999, Exxon, which had a nondiscrimination plan in place, merged with Mobil Oil, at which point, it rescinded the fairness policies protecting its GLBT workers. Read more about it. And don't quit--BOYCOTT EXXON-MOBIL!" The Armchair Activist http://gratefuldread.net/act/ You may be unfamiliar with the GLBT acronym. The Armchair Activist is part of the "Baltimore GLBT [Web] Ring." That ring's hub indicates that "The Baltimore GLBT Ring offers sites of interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, [i.e., GLBT] and queer-friendly folks in the Baltimore Metropolitan area and surrounding environs." That is, The Armchair Activist and related sites exist primarily to benefit those who support or engage in the sexual activity described in (and condemned by) the Bible in Romans 1:24-27. The Bible's view of human sexuality (and, by inference, of marriage) is not restricted to evangelical Protestantism, but can be found worldwide, as Focus on the Family notes: "The five major world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism recognize and uphold the natural, heterosexual understanding of marriage. By contrast, these religions teach that homosexual behavior is sinful or wrong." http://www.family.org/cforum/research/papers/a0013152.html Focus on the Family believes, however, that such a statement needs to be put in a proper context: _____________________________ / "Focus on the Family believes that all expressions of sexual intimacy outside the bonds of heterosexual marriage are both unbiblical and immoral. This applies equally to heterosexual and homosexual relationships.... [A]s the Bible states, 'all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.' More importantly, we believe that Jesus [came] to redeem and free all people from the particular forms of bondage in which they find themselves. "...While echoing the Biblical message of compassion and forgiveness and redemption for individuals, we nonetheless stand firm in our objection to social policies that have the effect of legitimizing homosexual behavior. We reject and oppose the attempts of pro-homosexual activists to legitimize homosexuality through such matters as the redefinition of the family [and] the legalization of same-sex marriages.... We believe such policies ... undermine the welfare of society. Therefore, as citizens we speak and act to block the political agenda of pro-homosexual movement, but we harbor no ill will toward ... those who disagree with us concerning the morality of homosexuality.... "[In fact,] Focus on the Family calls upon all Christians and, indeed, all citizens to recognize that moral opposition is not a license to engage in any form of slander, harassment or violence against those with whom we disagree. Morally and legally speaking, a crime against a homosexual is no less a crime against humanity, and deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law." http://www.family.org/cforum/research/papers/a0002963.html \_____________________________ IMPORTANT: Gays and lesbians may have been the first to call for a boycott of Exxon/Mobil after the merger, but they are not alone. They have been joined by other groups on the political left (and for a different reason), as this BBC news story makes clear: _____________________________ / Consumer boycott to 'stop Esso'.... By the BBC's business reporter Mark Gregory.... "Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are asking consumers to stop buying petrol and other products from Exxon Mobil, which in Britain trades under the name Esso, until the company changes its stance on climate change.... "Campaigners say that lobbying by Exxon played a major part in President Bush's subsequent decision not to ratify the [Kyoto] protocol.... [which] would have obliged the US to cut emissions of ["greenhouse"] gases, which some scientists believe to be the cause of global warming...." http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_1318000/1318360.stm \_____________________________ Global warming is a controversial topic (scientists differ in their opinions) as is politics in general. Those who approve of President Bush's energy policy may see no reason to boycott Exxon/Mobil (indeed, they may see Greenpeace's opposition to oil drilling in Alaska to be part of the reason for today's high gas prices), while those who are on the political left and are in agreement with the views of Presidential candidate Al Gore on the environment (see his book Earth in the Balance) may see a number of reasons to boycott Exxon/Mobil. Which side are you on? That may depend partly on whether you identify more with the Family Research Council and President Bush on the right or with Al Gore and various left-of-center environmental groups (e.g., Greenpeace) and with the gay and lesbian movement. But I'm afraid we've wandered far from the original EMAIL HOAX. IMPORTANT: Note that the reason provided in the letter with which we began is NOT related to gay/lesbian matters or to environmental issues, but to the high price of gas. It is argued that a boycott of one particular company will bring down gas prices. Even if the letter is a hoax, is there any validity to that argument? The Break the Chain Web site offers, I think, some common sense comments on the matter: _____________________________ / "The idea of voluntarily singling out a company, or even a day, to not buy gas simply won't work for the following reasons: "Most people don't care. High gas prices are an inconvenience, but changing our driving/buying habits is more inconvenient. "A multi-billion dollar, multinational corporation like ExxonMobil has lots of other ways to make money besides their gas stations. If they can't sell their gas at their own stations, they'll sell it to their competitors. "Major shipping/trucking companies will not change their fuel accounts in a vain attempt to lower prices. Business (a large portion of a gas company's sales) will go on uninterrupted. "Just as in a war, the real victims of a strategic strike will be those on the frontlines, the independent gas station owner/operators and their employees, who could be laid off or driven out of business by a boycott.... "If you really want to influence gas prices, take real action: write your congressman, slow down on the freeway, plan your outings to get everything in one trip, walk more, and trade in that gas-guzzling SUV for an economical compact car. But most of all, don't waste your time forwarding this useless e-mail - Break this Chain!" http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/exxon.html \_____________________________ The Virus Hoaxes and Netlore site offers similar arguments: _____________________________ / "Oil giants like Exxon, Mobil and the like are multi-national with diverse holdings. Nor do they make all their money at the pumps. If you look at the annual reports of some of these giants you'll see they have tremendous holdings in the chemical business, to say nothing of how much they make off natural gas.... "Mainly, your beef is with OPEC.... [So] Exxon, Mobil,... etc. are not the main culprits in this "higher price gas plot". But if you think one or two days of buying no gas, or 8 or 9 months of a Mobil boycott will even be felt by OPEC then you are really grasping at straws. And remember they are supplying oil all over the world, not just to America.... "Also, remember there are many other uses for oil that have nothing to do with gasoline. Not only is it a lubricant, but it is used in various paint, plastics and chemical businesses the world over. If this isn't bad enough, let's say you succeed and Mobil decides to drop its prices to attract more customers. It is a maxim in economics that lower prices will drive demand. A sudden increase in demand will cause a drop in supply which will bring back (you guessed it) higher prices.... "If you want to make the oil companies nervous and start OPEC members losing some sleep worrying, then there is something you can do, and it isn't 'don't buy Mobil's products'! I have your answer: Stop buying SUV's, pickup trucks, and giant gas hogs and instead pick small, gas miserly cars.... Stop driving your car to work and take the bus. Get after your Congressmen, in force, to promote mass transit in your city. There's your real protest, if any of us had the guts to make it!" http://hoaxinfo.com/gasout.htm \_____________________________ I think I'll stop at this point. I've probably been driving you crazy with this lengthy article, and, besides, I've run out of gas.... <grin> _______________________________________________________________ 4. B.C. CENSORSHIP: SOME NEWPAPERS HAVE NO "HART" ON EASTER! I've mentioned Johnny Hart and his popular "B.C." and "The Wizard of Id" comic strips in past issues of CATI: Christian Humor on the World Wide Web http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati32.htm#1 Some Good Comics on the Web: Where to Find Them http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati35.htm#1 Here's where you'll find his comic strips on the Web: Johnny Hart: B.C. http://www.creators.com/comics/bc/ Johnny Hart: The Wizard of Id http://www.creators.com/comics/wiz/ And here's where you'll find an interesting article about him, written by Les Sillars and originally published in the April 8, 2000 issue of World Magazine: "Widely Read and Widely Censored: Happy culture warrior Hart continues thrilling readers and infuriating editors" http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/04-08-00/national_5.asp For my article, I'd like to quote some brief biographical information from Lambiek.net. Here's their main home page: Lambiek.net: http://www.lambiek.net/ Note that from that point you can choose between an "English home page" and a "Dutch home page." That's because "Gallery Lambiek in Amsterdam was the first comics shop in Europe, and creator of the Comiclopedia of comic artists," which is "a searchable gallery of comic artist biographies and artwork examples" that can be consulted online. Here's what Lambiek.net tells us about Johnny Hart: _____________________________ / "Johnny Hart (b. 1931, USA) "After his military service in Korea, Johnny Hart started drawing B.C, a funny view about life in the stone age which was published on February 17th, 1958, for the first time. Before that he made his debut in 1954 by publishing a comic strip in the Saturday Evening Post. "In 1960 Hart developed new strip idea which he worked out together with the cartoonist Brant Parker: The Wizard of Id - a strip about a forsaken kingdom ruled by a cruel and nasty king who was flanked by his knight Brandolph and the Wizard, which was distributed for the first time in 1964 by Publishers-Hall Syndicate. Hart is an author who can mix dazzling humour and hilarious originality. In 1981, Johnny Hart received the NCS's [i.e., National Cartoonists Society's] Elzie Segar Award for his work." http://www.lambiek.net/hart.htm \_____________________________ What that brief biography doesn't tell us, however, is that Johnny Hart is an evangelical Christian who is often censored when he lets his religious convictions be seen in his comic strip. That most often happens around Christmas or Easter. (Comic strips are not usually censored because of profanity, sex, or violence, but for some reason many newspapers seem to feel the need to censor a strip if it expresses the faith of its creator.) Well, it happened again this past Easter! David Bruce's Hollywood Jesus Newsletter (which discusses "pop culture from a spiritual point of view") told the story in the April 18, 2001 issue. David Bruce calls Johnny Hart "the most widely read writer on earth," which is a bit of an exaggeration, but he defends it by quoting others who have expressed the same or a similar opinion: "He is the most widely read writer on earth." --Washington Post April 4, 1999 "Hart, whose combined work on B.C. and Wizard of Id makes him the earth's most syndicated comic author...." - Time Magazine April 19, 1999 "He is the most widely read cartoonist on the planet." -- World Magazine April 8, 2000 Here's David Bruce's account of what took place this year: _____________________________ / "...for Easter Johnny Hart wanted to do something very different and special. He states, 'I noticed one day that the center section of the Menorah -- the sacred symbol of Judaism -- bore the shape of the cross. I wanted everyone to see the cross in the Menorah. It was a revelation to me, that tied God's chosen people to their spiritual next of kin -- the disciples of the Risen Christ.'... "On Easter Sunday 2001 this cartoon appeared featuring the seven last words of Christ on the cross with the Menorah. There had been an effort to get newspapers not to run it.... And so it was that several [many?] papers did not carry B.C. on Easter." http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/newsletter022.htm \_____________________________ And here are some of Johnny Hart's comments on that act of censorship: _____________________________ / "Comic strips are printed one or two weeks in advance, and somebody who objected to the strip alerted hundreds of newspapers a week before publication, falsely claiming that it was anti-Jewish. The Jewish Defense League held a press conference urging newspapers not to run the comic strip. "There is something afoot here. For all during the week preceding Easter, phones have been ringing off the hook and E-mails by the hundreds have been pouring in, inquiring and objecting to a comic strip that hadn't been published yet. "Now, if you see censorship as I do, i.e., the blotting out or prevention of ideas from being seen or heard -- this is an across-the-board classic violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Namely, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion." http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/newsletter022.htm \_____________________________ Not everyone who was Jewish felt the same way. One person who defended Hart was Binyamin L. Jolkovsky, who (as Bruce comments) "is the editor in chief of the daily webzine JewishWorldReview.com and a former contributing editor of the national Jewish weekly, Forward. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest and New York magazine." You can read Jolkovsky's article in full online at the Web site for The Jewish World Review (and I recommend that you do so), but here is some of what he had to say on April 13, 2001: _____________________________ / "Across the length and breadth of this nation, public displays of faith are under attack -- whether it be ... dusty Ten Commandments plaques that have been fixtures at courthouses for decades or, as was recently the case in Ohio, a mere state motto with the very generic words, 'With G-d all things are possible.' And now, the crusade for more secularism is making its way to the funny pages. Yes, the funny pages. And it's no joke! "Johnny Hart, a believing Christian whom the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as the most syndicated cartoonist alive, is being attacked by no doubt well-meaning, but thoroughly clueless, comic strip aficionados for -- Heaven help us! -- an Easter-themed cartoon that actually focuses on the spirituality of this Christian holy day and ignores chocolate eggs and big, purple bunnies.... "We are calling on our readers -- and all good people of faith -- to help stop this outrage. Jew or Christian, please call your local paper that carries B.C. and make sure they do not give in to pressure to further secularize our society..... And, just as important, if your paper does run the strip, please call to thank them...." http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0401/bc.html \_____________________________ Jolkovsky knows that his defense of a Christian comic strip author may be difficult for some to understand, so he does not hesitate to confront that matter head-on: _____________________________ / "As a Sabbath-observant Jew, rabbinical school alumnus and publisher of the most-accessed Jewish website, I see absolutely nothing wrong with Hart's message. By now, you are no doubt scratching your head, wondering, Shouldn't a Jew whose Judaism forms the core of his identity be the most outraged about this strip being disseminated around the world? Hardly. And there are two reasons why.... "When Hart's lamp beseeches, 'forgive,' the message advanced is one of love, not hate. I believe Hart is preaching that, despite Christianity being the majority religion in this nation, members of minority faiths need not worry as they must in other lands. Love thy neighbor.... "What is happening, as I understand it, is the menorah is transforming --- into the symbol of Hart's religion, a cross. The 'B.C.' creator, after all, subscribes to the wild notion that -- OY VEY! -- Christianity is rooted in Judaism.... "The other reason that I do not find the 'B.C.' Easter strip offensive -- and certainly not anti-Semitic -- is that ... I am secure in my beliefs and worldview.... A comic strip in honor of a holy season that is not my own doesn't send a chill down my spine nor make my blood boil -- even if it includes Jewish symbols.... "Last week, before the onset of the Passover holiday, I ... struck up conversations with other Jews about this controversy. I learned, firstly, that Hart has lots of fans who are Orthodox Jews.... A father pushing a carriage ... told me, 'How nice it would be if every page in a newspaper had that cartoon, instead of sickening stories of babies being dumped in dumpsters, college kids overturning cars after sports events and the latest spouse-swapping among Hollywood celebs.' Indeed." http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0401/bc.html \_____________________________ Johnny Hart's comic strip for Easter is described in some detail in the articles by Bruce and Jolkovsky. You can see the strip itself on Bruce's Web site, but, unfortunately, it is too small to read easily. Here's the best place on the Web to see it (but don't postpone your visit if you want to see it, for I don't know how long it will still be there): Johnny Hart: B.C. (April 15, 2001) http://www.creators.com/comics/bc/?dateId=987307200 Incidentally, on the Web site for The Jewish World Review you will find thought-provoking columns you may not find elsewhere on the Web, such as columns by Jewish author Don Feder and Christian author Cal Thomas: Jewish World Review: Don Feder http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/feder.html Jewish World Review: Cal Thomas http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas.html Enjoy! _______________________________________________________________ 5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER This is the fifty-third 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"). 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. 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) 2001 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.