"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 2, No. 8:  May 23, 2001.



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 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.


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?

Letter from the Editor: Progress with Word4Word Project

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

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

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.)


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)

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

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

Click on "Hymns" on that page, and you'll be brought to this

Favorite Hymns: Titles

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"

"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."

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:


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

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

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

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

"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."


Here's where you can find the OPC Majority Report on "Song
in Worship":

OPC Majority Report on Song in Worship

And here's where you can find the OPC Minority Report on "Song
in Worship":

OPC Minority Report on Song in Worship

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

Trinity Hymnal, or The Content of the Book of Praise in the
Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Part I

Trinity Hymnal, or The Content of the Book of Praise in the
Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Part II

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!).


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

A Little More on MP3 Files and on Email Hoaxes

Email Hoax: The "Madeline" Murray "O'Hare" Petition

NASA Computers Prove Joshua's Long Day: Another Hoax?

George W. Bush After-Dinner Story: Another Email Hoax?

Email Warning About Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO): True??

Yes, Virginia, There Are Genuine Email Computer Viruses!

The Madalyn Murray O'Hair Email Hoax: The Latest News

Viruses, Worms, & Trojan Horses: "Live" Computer Threats?
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!



"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

"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

Katherine Doyle
IS Department
555 North Zeeb
Ann Arbor, MI 48106

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

"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."


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

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."

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:


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

"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...."


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

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."

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."


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...."


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

"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

"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!"


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

"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!"


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>


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

Some Good Comics on the Web: Where to Find Them

Here's where you'll find his comic strips on the Web:

Johnny Hart:  B.C.

Johnny Hart: The Wizard of Id

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"

For my article, I'd like to quote some brief biographical
information from Lambiek.net.  Here's their main home page:


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


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

"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."


And here are some of Johnny Hart's comments on that act of
"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."


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

"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...."


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

"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."


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)

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

Jewish World Review: Cal Thomas



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

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Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
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