"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 3, No. 1:  January 4, 2002.
_______________________________________________________________

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. DON'T FORWARD THAT EMAIL UNTIL YOU CHECK IT OUT!
2. MORE ON TRAVER JIGSAW PUZZLE GIFT FOR CATI SUBSCRIBERS
3. MAKING THE INTERNET MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY BY "FILTERING"
4. UPDATE ON HAROLD CAMPING, PRESIDENT OF FAMILY RADIO
5. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER
_______________________________________________________________

The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
online at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati64.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."
_______________________________________________________________

1. DON'T FORWARD THAT EMAIL UNTIL YOU CHECK IT OUT!

"...  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
(Matt. 10:16).  This should be kept in mind in our involvement
with the Internet, especially when it comes to how we respond
to an email message we receive that asks that we forward it
to everyone we know.

What is important to know is that 90% or more of such emails
are bogus and should NOT be forwarded.  Unless you have been
able in some way to confirm the truth of the contents of the
email, don't forward that email!  Otherwise you run the risk
of passing around lies, falsehood, false testimony, etc.,
rather than the truth.  Indeed, commitment to the truth is
to be characteristic of God's people.

Here's some evidence of that fact:

"You shall not give false testimony...." (Ex. 20:16).

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak
truthfully...." (Eph. 4:25).

"Do not lie to each other...." (Col. 3:9).

"God's will is that I never give false testimony.... Rather,
...I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind....  I
should love the truth...." (Heidelberg Catechism, Question
112).

"The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting
of truth between man and man...." and "The ninth commandment
forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth...."
(Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 77 and 78).

Most email letters that request you to forward the letter to
other people are hoaxes.  Whenever I get such a letter (which
is sometimes called a "chain letter"), it usually takes me no
more than a minute or two to find evidence that the "chain"
ought to be broken.  As a Christian, I am to pass along truth,
not its opposite.  Instead of passing around falsehood, we
will do better to spend our time using email to pass along
the truth (including the truth about the One who is the Way,
the Truth, and the Life - see John 14:6).

Sometimes CATI readers ask my opinion about specific letters
they have received.  Just this past week, I received from
someone a copy of the following touching letter:
 _______________________________________________________________
/
I am asking you all, begging you to please, forward this email
on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. I have a 5 year
old son named Christopher John Mineo, Jr., nickname C.J. I am
from Brooklyn N.Y.  He has been missing since May 11, 2001. If
anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact
the original screen name that sent this, which is CMINEO0295
@aol.com. I am including a picture of him.  All prayers are
appreciated!! It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on; if
it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.
Please. Christopher John Mineo, Sr.
\______________________________________________________________

Well, don't forward that email, because C.J. is NOT missing!
Not all the facts are clear concerning the situation, but it
is established that C.J. is presently not missing (and may
never have been missing!) and that the message in its present
form is a hoax (evidence of which can be seen, for example, in
the altered date, but more about that in a moment).

As soon as I got the email, I used Google to do a quick search
on the Internet, and it took me only a minute or two to learn
that the email message was considered a hoax.

Here are some of the things I turned up in my search:
 ______________________________________________________________
/
"Christopher John Mineo, Jr., is not missing now. Serious
doubt exists about whether he ever was missing in the first
place. In short: The National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children does not have -- and never had -- a listing for a
missing child named Christopher John Mineo, Jr. The New York
Police Department never took a report for a missing person
named Christopher John Mineo in Brooklyn (or any other
borough), nor was anyone by that name ever listed in its
long-term cases file....

"Nonetheless, readers have reported that they've managed to
make contact [with the family] and have been told that C.J.
has since been 'found'.... We have to wonder what kind of
parents saw their child disappear for well over two years
but didn't contact the local police, the FBI, or any other
organization involved in locating missing children...."

  http://www.snopes2.com/inboxer/children/mineo.htm
\______________________________________________________________

And there is evidence that the letter (in which November 1998
earlier was given for the disappearance of C.J. rather than
May 11, 2001) was a copycat letter, based on another missing
child alert (where the child was not really missing).  Compare
the Christopher John Mineo letter with this earlier one
concerning Kelsey Brooke Jones:
 ______________________________________________________________
/
I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email
on to anyone and everyone. ...I have a 5 year old daughter
named Kelsey Brooke Jones. We are from Southern Minnesota.
She has been missing since 4 pm Oct. 11, 1999.... If anyone
anywhere knows anything, sees anything, pleeeeaaaase contact
me.... I am including a picture of her. All prayers are
appreciated!! It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if
it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.
Please.
\______________________________________________________________

Here you will find a line-by-line comparison of the two
missing child alerts (although I think it's obvious without
a detailed comparison that one plagiarized the wording from
the other):

"Suspicious Parallels - Is It a Hoax?
  http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blmiss5b.htm

The author of the article asks some good questions:

"If little CJ had indeed gone missing, and if the appeal
regarding him had indeed been written by his desperate
father, why on earth would Christopher John Mineo, Sr., have
considered cribbing an earlier missing child appeal that
was of questionable veracity to begin with as the best way
to 'spread the word' about his own son? Would such a desperate
father need to plagiarize an earlier alert that had nothing to
do with his son's situation in the first place? Does it really
make sense that a father looking for his missing son would
have ever even thought to use an earlier appeal as a template
for his own appeal? Would he have not simply used his own
words?"
  http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blmiss5b.htm

For further details on this email hoax alert, check out the
following:

"O, What a Tangled Web We Weave"
  http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blmiss5a.htm

"Those Who Have Come Back Home" (see section on Christopher
    John Mineo, Jr.)
  http://www.homestead.com/woowebdesigns/HomeSafe.html

"Missing Child: Christopher John Mineo Jr."
  http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blmiss5.htm

"C.J. Mineo, Where Are You?"
  http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/mineo.html

And remember this:  Don't forward that email (unless you are
sure that what it contains is true)!
_______________________________________________________________

2. MORE ON TRAVER JIGSAW PUZZLE GIFT FOR CATI SUBSCRIBERS

There's a certain satisfaction that comes from bringing order
out of chaos.  I think that's one reason why many people
enjoy jigsaw puzzles.  You start with everything all mixed
up, and you work on putting the pieces where they belong.
If the picture is well-chosen, the result is often a joy to
behold!

For me, another enjoyable activity that involves constructive
accomplishment is programming.  When you write a program, you
start with the pieces or parts of a computer language (such
as Visual Basic, my language of choice), and then you work on
putting those pieces together in such a way as to produce a
program that is useful or enjoyable or both.  As the leader of
a team of experts on TV more than once declared, "I love it
when a plan comes together!"

Well, unexpectedly my Traver Jigsaw puzzle program apparently
decided to come together.  Even though the source code did at
times itself look like a jigsaw puzzle, the end result was a
program with many features:

"Jigsaw program. Load in any JPEG, GIF, etc., as picture.
Pieces can be set from 2 x 2 to 12 x 12. Show picture as
"normal" size or optimized for screen. Other features: save a
position, restore it, provide hidden help, report on progress,
print out the picture."

I uploaded the source code for the program to Planet Source
Code, where programmers show one another what they've written:

  http://www.planet-source-code.com/

If you search for "Traver Jigsaw," you'll find my program,
which has already been downloaded more than 450 times in the
past two weeks.  At this point the program is rated at 4 1/2
globes out of 5 ("not too bad for an amateur programmer like
myself," he said modestly), and I've gotten some kind comments
privately and publicly.

For example, "niko" had this to say about it:  "Very nice! I
like how you can change many different options!  Probably
the best thing I've seen on this site so far!"  Later, after
I uploaded a revised version of the source code which fixed
some minor bugs and added some minor enhancements, "nico"
said, "Wow! Even better!"  To bring some reality into the
situation, I should say that - although I think my program
is good - such comments are too generous (although I love to
hear them, because I need all the encouragement I can get!).

The source code for Traver Jigsaw is available at Planet
Source Code, but - unless you program - source codes is not
very interesting.  On the other hand, the runnable program
is available for download on this Web page (as I mentioned
in the previous issue of CATI):

  http://traver.org/cati/downloads/

This is the version that ordinary people (as well as the
extraordinary people who read CATI) can install on their
computers and enjoy!

If you haven't yet downloaded and installed the program, why
not give it a try?  If you have downloaded and installed it,
why not tell me what you think of it?  That will help me to
decide what I should do with other programming projects that
I am currently working on (such as Word4Word, to assist in
the "word-for-word" memorization of Scripture verses or of
catechism answers and a MS Agent Bible quiz multiple-choice
program with animated characters and speech recognition).

If I do continue, some of the programs will be free (like the
Traver Jigsaw program), while others will be "try-before-you-
buy" software at a reasonable cost (Word4Word will probably
fall into that category because of the large amount of work
already put into the project).  Since Traver Jigsaw - like
CATI - is free, I hope that many people will take advantage
of the opportunity to get a copy (and that they will then
tell me what they think of it by writing to me via email at
cati@traver.org and sharing their comments).

By the way, note that Traver Jigsaw - unlike certain popular
computer games - emphasizes constructive activity rather than
destructive activity.  Likewise, most pictures chosen for use
as jigsaw puzzles are non-violent, scenes not of disorder, but
of peace.

Again, enjoy!

P.S.  The earlier article about Traver Jigsaw (which should
work on any computer running Windows 95 or later) can be
found here:

  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati63.htm
_______________________________________________________________

3. MAKING THE INTERNET MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY BY "FILTERING"

There is a lot of "good stuff" on the Internet that can be
used and enjoyed by the entire family.  Many Web sites, for
example, can be described as "family-friendly."  The problem
is that there is some "bad stuff" on the Internet as well
(i.e., pornography and other material that many people would
consider offensive).  In such areas, the Internet may not be
very friendly to the family.

Just as a filtering system may be used to improve our drinking
water, so also "filtering" may be used for the Internet as a
means to create a "cleaner" Internet, so to speak.  We live
in Philadelphia and do not like Philadelphia water (the water
is reportedly healthy enough - it's just that we do not like
the taste), so we filter the water before we drink it.

Likewise Internet "filtering" can remove a bad taste from the
Internet.  There are choices as to how the "filtering" may be
done.  Water can be filtered before or after it comes out of
the faucet.  Likewise the Internet can be "filtered" before or
after it enters your home.  In either case, of course, you
want the filtering to have been done before you take a drink
of it.

No single answer solution will fit all circumstances and all
families.  It's a matter of doing some research and then of
deciding what is best for you and your situation.

You can "filter" the Internet in your home.  For this purpose
you can make use of what is sometimes called "parental control
software."  Two examples of helpful programs in this area are
CyberPatrol and CyberSitter.  In this approach, the filtering
is done on your computer itself.

This approach generally works well, especially for families
with younger children.  But what about computer-savvy older
children who may know some ways to work around the installed
protective software (not to mention Dad, who may want and/or
need more protection from the "bad stuff" and who, since he
as a parent is in control of parental control software, may
not find such software to be much help to him!).  In such a
case, you may want to consider having the "filtering" done
not on your computer, but outside your house so that no one
in the house can circumvent it.

For these circumstances, family-friendly Internet Service
Providers may be a helpful resource.  Since the filtering is
done outside your house, it can be a more effective means of
preventing pornography from getting through.  Computer-savvy
teenagers (and even Dad) are thus protected from themselves,
if circumstances indicate that such would be helpful to all
concerned.

"Filtering" ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can vary quite
a bit in approach and effectiveness.  If you do decide to go
that route (some even combine that approach with parental
control software for maximum protection of the family), you
should try to do some "comparison shopping" before making a
final decision.

Although the site is in my opinion less "professional" than
it should be (for example, mistakes in spelling or grammar do
little to cause one to regard a site highly), you may find the
following to be helpful:

FilterReview.com
  http://www.filterreview.com/

Here's how the site describes itself:

"...FilterReview.com [is] a resource provided by the National
Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families to help
you find the Internet safety solution that will best suit your
needs. We realize that selecting the right ISP, filtering/
blocking or monitoring systems is a personal decision effected
[sic] by your individual situation. FilterReview.com is here
to provide you with the information you need to select the
proper solution.... Our hope is that by providing you with all
the information, you will be able to make the most appropriate
decision for your application."
  http://www.filterreview.com/main.asp

In particular, here is how the site operates:

"FilterReview.com allows you to select what features you are
looking for in a safety solution, and then presents you with
options that closely match your criteria. FilterReview.com
also provides a way to give your opinion and receive feedback
from other individuals on the numerous choices available."
  http://www.filterreview.com/main.asp

FilterReview.com asks various questions, and then suggests
some options that may meet your needs.  For example, you may
be looking for "a filtered Internet Service Provider (dial-up
connection)" or "a filtering or blocking software solution"
or something else.  You may be using a PC with Windows or a
Macintosh.  You may want to "use a free service," "pay a one
time fee," or "pay a monthly charge."  And you may want to
block any, many, or all of the following:  "pornography,
hate sites, cults, online gambling, alternative lifestyles,
free hosting sites, online email, instant messaging, chat
rooms, and newsgroups."

You will then be shown various possible options.  You can
read customer reviews (and, for many choices, an "official"
review) and compare the extent to which each of the various
suggestions matches up with the criteria you set in your
answers to the earlier questions.  You can also easily jump
to the home pages of the Web sites for the various products
and services.

All of this is helpful, but it could have been more so.  One
unexplained phenomenon was the absence of CyberPatrol from
the listings.  This is difficult to understand, since it is
not only a widely-used product, but also one of the best.  So
use FilterReview as one resource, but realize that it has a
number of serious limitations.

Some people do not see a special need for "filtering" as a
means to cope with the "bad stuff" on the Internet.  There
may be no children in the home or, if there are children,
they may be mature enough to deal with it in a truly adult
way, recognizing what Scripture has to say on the subject of
human sexuality, for instance.  Unless one is searching for
it actively, pornography is very unlikely to show up on your
computer monitor.

Yes, it may happen upon occasion.  I once did a search for
Disney cartoons, and a Web site showed up with pictures of
Disney characters dressed in such a fashion or engaged in
such activity that a G-rating would not be appropriate.
The pictures may not have been X-rated, but they certainly
would not have been approved by Walt if he were still alive.

But such happenings are extremely rare, enough so that some
families rely on other solutions than that of "filtering"
(e.g., by putting the computer in a place where there is
much "foot traffic," i.e., where people are constantly
walking through, and by establishing the understanding at
the beginning that nothing done on the computer will be
regarded as "private").

Other people will see "filtering" to be a helpful approach
in their own particular situations.  The important thing is
to become familiar with the different options available and
then make use of those which best meet your needs.  In CATI
we will continue to do our best to keep you informed of
helpful resources of many types that can make the Internet
more family-friendly.
_______________________________________________________________

4. UPDATE ON HAROLD CAMPING, PRESIDENT OF FAMILY RADIO

This article is a follow-up to a previous CATI article:

HAS THE CHURCH AGE COME TO AN END? FAMILY RADIO IS WRONG!
  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati61.htm#1

If you've listened to Family Radio since the end of November
2001, you may have noticed some changes.

Here is the background, according to a letter I received from
a CATI subcriber:

"What follows has been confirmed by me as true. Well, it has
happened. Mr. Camping has instructed that all Family Radio
programming is to reflect his teachings. Family Radio is to
no longer recognize the existence of the Local Church,
Pastors, Elders, or communion or baptism.

"Paraphrasing the directive, which Mr. Camping instructed Mr.
Craig Hulsebos of the Network Program Department to make:  All
local church services are to cease as of the last Sunday of
November.... All denominational broadcasts are to cease the
last Sunday of November (The Lutheran Hour ... the Back to
God Hour). All local 'Pastor's Study' ... are to cease the
last week of November.... All local 'Prayertime' programs
are to no longer use Pastors as of the last week of November.
They can only be done with local staff.  All speakers are to
be introduced as Doctor, Mister, or Brother and cannot be
referred to as Pastor or Reverend. If outside speakers are
flexible in how they are tagged & introduced, they may
continue.  Any program that suggests a church, or one being
a pastor or elder is not acceptable."

A letter dated December 2001 from David Feddes, Broadcast
Minister for the Back to God Hour, seems to confirm the
accuracy of the preceding report:

 ______________________________________________________________
/
Dear friend,

For many years the weekly Back to God Hour program could be
heard on stations owned by the Family Radio network. But at
the end of November, 2001, Family Radio stopped broadcasting
our program, without telling listeners the reason. Here is a
brief account of the situation.

Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, has fallen into
serious error, teaching that the age of the church has ended.
Camping urges all Christians to leave their churches. He has
also issued an edict that Family Radio must reject any program
which is sponsored by a church or which speaks of Christís
abiding purposes for the church, its leaders, and its
sacraments....

Harold Camping claims that evil has overcome the entire church
and that Christ is no longer building his church, but Jesus
promised, 'I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will
not overcome it' (Matthew 16:18). Camping says that church
leaders - pastors, elders, and deacons - no longer have
authority, but the Bible says, 'Obey your leaders and submit
to their authority' (Hebrews 13:17). Camping says the churchís
sacraments - baptism and the Lordís Supper - should not be
observed anymore, but Scripture speaks of eating the bread and
drinking the cup until Christ comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

We grieve that it is no longer possible for us to proclaim the
historic Christian faith on Family Radio. We regretfully
advise Godís people not to support Family Radio financially,
unless it stops spreading error. Meanwhile, the Back to God
Hour continues to broadcast on many other stations throughout
North America and around the world....

Sincerely,

David Feddes
Broadcast Minister

  http://www.geocities.com/daverastetter/camping_backtogod
\______________________________________________________________

According to Lydid Brownback of the Alliance of Confessing
Evangelicals, the Bible Study Hour will continue to be
heard on Family Radio.  The following, taken from email in
response to my queries, represents ACE's position concerning
Family Radio:

"Dr. Boice's messages will continue to air on FRN at their
regularly scheduled time. The messages will appear without
the accompanying worship service.... Time constraints prevent
me from answering your letter fully. I will say that we have
addressed our concerns directly with Family Radio. We will
continue to remain on that network as long as they permit in
order to offer sound Bible teaching on the airwaves.... Our
organization has formally addressed the situation with Family
Radio. I am not at liberty to share details of that with those
outside of our organization."

So the Bible Study Hour will continue, but with a significant
change:  the church service will be omitted (presumably to fit
in with Harold Camping's view that the church age has ended).

David Feddes, Broadcast Minister of the Back to God Hour,
stated that Camping, President of Family Radio, "issued an
edict that Family Radio must reject any program which is
sponsored by a church or which speaks of Christ's abiding
purposes for the church, its leaders, and its sacraments...."
If that is accurate (and it does agree with a similar report
I received from a CATI subscriber, quoted earlier), then the
Bible Study Hour is apparently able to continue because it is
not sponsored by a church, but by the Alliance of Confessing
Evangelicals.

If David Feddes is accurate also that "Family Radio must
reject any program ... which speaks of Christ's abiding
purposes for the church, its leaders, and its sacraments,"
then it is difficult to see how the message of the Bible
Study Hour will not be compromised.  Yes, the program may
be able to proclaim the truth, but apparently no truth that
challenges Camping's unorthodox teachings concerning the
church, pastors, elders, deacons, baptism, or the Lord's
Supper.

As I mentioned to Ms. Brownback, my concern is that the
continued presence of the Bible Study Hour on Family
Radio and lack of any public statement of ACE's opposing
Camping's heretical views could perhaps (even if wrongly)
be taken as an implicit endorsement of Camping's teachings.
I would be more inclined (as a radical at heart) to suggest
a boycott of Family Radio as a protest against the current
false teaching and the apparent censorship of alternative
points of view.

But I do appreciate ACE's position here, and I agree with
Ms. Brownback that "Although our methods of dealing with
the situation may differ..., I believe our overall goal is
the same, namely, the sound teaching of God's Word."  Even
if we disagree on whether it is really wise for evangelical
ministries to continue to appear on Family Radio at this
time, I trust that we can agree to pray that God's will
will be worked out in the situation to His honor and His
glory, and that God's Word will triumph over error (even
error promoted by a "Christian" radio station like Family
Radio).
_______________________________________________________________

5. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER

Like to know what this is?  This is the sixty-fourth issue of
a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet"
("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I"
for "Christians" and the "Internet").

Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter?  Just send an
email to subscribe@cati.org (but be sure to include your name
in the note).

Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search
CATI for a particular subject)?  Go to http://cati.org and
you'll find an archive of past issues (arranged in reverse
chronological order), a partial index of articles (arranged
alphabetically by topic), and a search engine specifically
for use with CATI.

Like to pass along this issue to others?  You may.  Permission
is hereby granted to pass along any issue of CATI to someone
else, provided that it is passed along in its entirety with no
changes made.  (For now, I prefer that you send the complete
issue, although I may in the near future provide guidelines
for passing along individual articles.)

Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page
or in a publication)?  For permission to do that, send a note
to cati@traver.org (explaining what you'd like to use and for
what purpose).  Reasonable requests are usually granted.

Like to unsubscribe?  That's also easy.  Just send an email to
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be missed, so any thoughts about the newsletter that you would
be willing to share at that time would be much appreciated).

Like to tell your friends about CATI?  That is not only much
encouraged, but also an encouragement to the editor!  CATI is
a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free
newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial
income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is
knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive,
and enjoyable.  (Comments from readers are always welcome, so
let me hear from you!)

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