"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 5 No. 1:  January 16, 2004



The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati90.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."


I have some ambitious things planned for 2004, and I solicit
your prayers concerning them:

(1) There are literally hundreds of broken links in past
issues of "CATI," and I would like to correct the situation.
One strength of the newsletter is the number of links that
are provided, but the Web is ever changing, so that is one
weakness of the newsletter as well ... unless (with the
help of the excellent freeware program Xenu's Link Sleuth)
I can bring some order out of the current chaos.

(2) I hope to resume my attempt to compile a list of all
online NAPARC churches by geographical location shortly.
(I've gotten temporarily "stalled" as a result of being
intimidated by the great state of California.)  After I
complete the NAPARC (plus URCNA) project, I hope to be
able to publish information about some other churches of
likely interest to CATI subscribers.

(3) This issue is somewhat of an "odds and ends" issue,
but I hope it still may be informative and/or enjoyable.
I have a number of interesting things planned for the
future, such as an article on online Christian bookstores
(or other sources of Christian books), just to prove that
I know some others exist other than Westminster Seminary
Campus Bookstore <grin>.  I also plan to include a
difficult-to-write article on C.S. Lewis, dealing with
where he is and where he isn't a safe guide in the area
of Christian theology.  (For example, his The Last Battle
is bad theology; later I hope to explain why.)

(4) But what I want to do primarily for 2004 is to make "CATI"
as useful and/or as enjoyable as possible for _you_.  Please
pass along ideas as to what topics you would personally like
to see included in future issues by sending a note to me at
cati@traver.org.  Thanks!



I was happy to find that (thus far) all of the feedback on
this article has been positive:


Since the article failed to take a stand one way or the
other on Harry Potter, I feared that this position of
neutrality would alienate readers who have very strong
feelings about the series, but it looks like many people,
whatever their own views, appreciated the opportunity to
read intelligent presentations from both sides, pro and

The Web is always changing, and soon after the last issue
was published, one Colson link no longer worked.  Here is
a replacement for that link:

Chuck Colson: "Harry Potter - Can a Wizard Teach Moral

One subscriber recommended this article, on the "pro" side:

John Granger: "The Alchemist's Tale: Harry Potter & the
    Alchemical Tradition in English Literature"

That article was published in Touchstone: A Journal of Mere
Christianity.  Here are the first and last paragraphs of that

"In her Harry Potter books, J. K. Rowling looks at the world
diagonally and sees its magic. I believe this ... vision
springs from her classical education and its ideas of truth,
love, and beauty, and her consequent discomfort with modernity
and with modern ideas and institutions. She conveys the
world’s magic as a traditional English writer writing within
the traditions of her genre. And one of these traditions
is the use of ... symbolism to convey spiritual realities."

"The great irony in the objections that Rowling’s books
undermine or violate the tenets of the Christian faith is
that her books offer initiation, not into the occult, but
into the symbolist worldview of revealed faiths (and
sacramental religions specifically) and the dominant symbols
and doctrines of traditional Christianity. Ignorance of ...
the larger traditions of English literature--not to mention
the Christian understanding of the relations of faith and
secular culture--has caused many to turn away a great help,
perhaps providential, in the trouble and struggle we have
to prepare our children for fully human, which is to say
'spiritual,' lives."

John Granger is the author of the book The Hidden Key to
Harry Potter:  Understanding the Meaning, Genius, and
Popularity of Joanne Rowling's Harry Potter Novels.  This
book received a positive review from Dave Kopel in National

"J.K. Rowling is an Inkling. That's the well-argued thesis
of John Granger's fine book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter.
Granger demonstrates the absurdity of the claim that Harry
Potter is anti-Christian....

"The Inklings were originally a group of Oxford dons who
wrote Christian fiction. The most famous of them are J.R.R.
Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Lord of the Rings and the Narnia
series never mention Christianity overtly, and in Tolkien's
books, religion itself is absent from the plot. Yet these
mythopoeic books aim to "baptize the imagination" of the
reader - to teach [him or] her the importance of fighting
for the right, no matter how powerful the forces of evil
may appear.

"Rowling has confessed herself to be a great fan of C.S.
Lewis, her use of "J.R." for her byline evokes 'J.R.R.'
Tolkien, and she is a member of the Church of Scotland
(that's Presbyterian, for American readers)."

Another subscriber recommended this article, on the "con"

Harold Bloom: "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes."

Here is how that essay ends:

"And yet I feel a discomfort with the Harry Potter mania, and
I hope that my discontent is not merely a highbrow snobbery,
or a nostalgia for a more literate fantasy to beguile (shall
we say) intelligent children of all ages. Can more than 35
million book buyers, and their offspring, be wrong? Yes,
they have been, and will continue to be for as long as they
persevere with Potter.

"A vast concourse of inadequate works, for adults and for
children, crams the dustbins of the ages. At a time when
public judgment is no better and no worse than what is
proclaimed by the ideological cheerleaders who have so
destroyed humanistic study, anything goes. The cultural
critics will, soon enough, introduce Harry Potter into
their college curriculum, and The New York Times will go
on celebrating another confirmation of the dumbing-down
it leads and exemplifies."

Another interesting essay by Harold Bloom also presents his
opinion of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series:

Harold Bloom: "Dumbing Down American Readers"

And here are comments from the opening of that essay:

"The decision to give the National Book Foundation's annual
award for 'distinguished contribution' to Stephen King is
extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing
down our cultural life. I've described King in the past as a
writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind.
He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is, is an
immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence,
paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing
industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King [this]
award..... By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but
the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions
but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing
world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the
future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its
award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and
surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K.

"What's happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a
couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling.
I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read
a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I suffered
a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the
book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a
character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the
character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back
of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped
only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I
was incredulous. Rowling's mind is so governed by cliches and
dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing."

Author of 20 books or more (including The Western Canon),
Harold Bloom has been called "the only literary critic to
regularly hit the bestseller list."

In spite of his writing for National Review, I personally
think Harold Bloom is more of a modern liberal than a
genuine conservative, although I think he enjoys playing
the conservative.  But that's a minority opinion, a topic
perhaps for another time, and Bloom is certainly a very
interesting writer.

If you want the opinion of someone who has read reviews
rather than the Harry Potter books themselves, here is
mine.  The stories are interesting, the writing style is
adequate (and probably not as bad as Harold Bloom makes
it out to be), and most children familiar with fairy
tale know the difference between real and pretend and
know that the magic in Harry Potter is pretend (in the
same way that they can tell that various superheroes -
Superman and Superboy, Spiderman, the X-men, and so on
- are pretend).

I was not persuaded, however, that John Granger's attempt
to prove that the Harry Potter books are "Christian" works
is, well, fully persuasive.  In the world of symbolism,
almost anything can be symbolic of almost anything, and
one can see what he or she chooses to see, without the
safeguards that exist in "non-symbolic" writing.  The code
of ethics implicit in the books is fairly traditional, but
there is little evidence that it is distinctly Christian.
There is probably equal evidence, in fact, to the contrary.

The truth, then, about Harry Potter may lie somewhere in
between his avid detractors and his avid supporters.  My
own suspicion is that the furor over Harry Potter will
die down and he will be forgotten, perhaps buried in some
potter's field, while works like J.R.R. Tolkien's The
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - and C.S. Lewis's The
Screwtape Letters, the Narnia Chronicles (including The
Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and the space trilogy
(including my personal favorite, That Hideous Strength) -
will continue to endure as true classics.

Not in the same category as Tolkien and Lewis - but still
worth reading for those who like "fantasy literature,"
especially "Christian fantasy" (although some of his books
are more Christian than others) is Stephen Lawhead, who is
strangely neglected by most Christians today (although it
may just be because he's not as good a writer as Tolkien
and Lewis).

Anyway, if you've already read Tolkien and Lewis, you may
want to take a look at Stephen Lawhead:











In addition to his fantasy books, Lawhead has written some
interesting non-fiction dealing with the Christian faith and
modern culture, such as his Turn Back the Night: A Christian
Response to Popular Culture (1985) and his Pilgrim's Guide to
the New Age (1986) (with his wife Alice Lawhead), written
during his five years as editor and staff writer for the
Christian magazine Campus Life.

He is not without his faults as a writer of fiction (stay
away from his novel Patrick, which is theologically and
otherwise very weak), but his plots in general should keep
people involved in his books.  The Albion books may be good
to start with.  But read for the story and with discernment,
for - as a teacher of theology - Stephen Lawhead (at least
in his fiction) may not be a "safe" author any more than is
J.K. Rowling, in spite of Lawhead's reputation as being a
"Christian" author.

I would issue the same warning with regard to Charles
Williams (a member of the Inklings, along with Tolkien and
Lewis), Madeleine L'Engle (popular author of children's
stories, including A Wrinkle of Time), and even C.S. Lewis
(whose children's book The Last Battle is a particularly
weak book theologically), as much as I otherwise like
their books.

In short, "all things are ours" (including Harry Potter),
but - using the Scriptures as our touchstone - we must
partake of fiction as we do fried chicken, enjoying the
meat, throwing away the bones, and not mixing up the two.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension which sets
itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take
captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2
Cor. 10:5).


This is a follow-up to a previous article.  It will make more
sense if you read the previous article first:


Following is a follow-up to that article, resulting from a
question asked me by a subscriber:

"Do you know anyway to print just one of the table cells?
Example http://www.codeproject.com/html/printingwithstyle.asp
When I print it, it cuts off the edge."

Following is my response:
First, I'm going to assume you've read this article:


Printing out a table cell involves combining several of those

Let's do it with the page you give as an example.

First, the hard part.  Put your mouse cursor to the
immediately left of "Introduction" (at the top left in the
cell I assume you want to print out) and "drag" the mouse so
that the cursor is to the right of "TBL2HTML" (or whatever
the current banner is) near the bottom right of the Web page
(actually, at the bottom right of the cell).  (Do NOT go
all the way to the bottom of the Web page, because you'll
include a part of the Web page that spans the whole width of
the Web page.)

Then release the mouse button (leaving that area highlighted)
and click on "File" and then on "Print."  The details of
what's next depend on the printer you are using.  For me, it
is a matter of clicking on "Properties" to the right of the
printer name, selecting "Landscape," and clicking "OK" (once).
Hold on; you're not finished yet!  Click on "Selection" for
Print Range and then click on "OK." That should work out for

Here's an alternative approach.  Highlight as before the cell
you want to print, but this time next press CTRL-C (for copy).
Open up Microsoft Word (or its equivalent such as OpenOffice
Writer), click on a blank document, and press CTRL-V for
paste.  (It may take a while before you can see the result,
and if your computer is short on memory, this approach may
not even work.)  When you see the page, then do a CTRL-A
(for select "All") and then play with File/Page Setup.  (For
example, you can change left and right margins to 0.5 and
you can change page orientation to "Landscape.")  When you
are satisfied with the result, print it out!

Or if you have sufficient memory (RAM) you can copy the
entire page (under Edit in your browser choose Select All
and then Copy) and then paste it into Microsoft Word (under
Edit in Microsoft Word choose Paste).  Then you can edit the
table cells however you like.  (Do a right-click on any
relevant part of the document to bring up a "context menu.")

One of these approaches should work out for you. Let me know
if you run into any problems.

Incidentally, I didn't read the actual article, but merely
saw its title.  Maybe that article will give you more
pointers.  (Or did you want me to interact with the contents
of the article?)

As good stewards of the environment, Christians will not want
to waste paper, and the hints in these two articles may save
a few trees, maybe two or tree.


It seems that everyone has his or her favorite program to
combat spam, and each program is something different.  The
situation is similar for magazines and Web sites that claim
to tell you what the "best" anti-spam program is.  There
is little agreement on this subject.

Rather than try to survey all of the different anti-spam
products available, I'll just make some comments about the
ways in which you can combat the spam that is headed toward
your emailbox and why I decided that SpamEater Pro was/is
probably the best product for me (and may perhaps be the
best for you also).

What is "spam"?  "Spam" is an Internet term which refers to
"unwanted, unsolicited commercial bulk email."  What some
consider "spam" may not be considered "spam" by others,
so one of the criteria for spam is that it is unwanted
email.  If Barnes and Noble or Borders sends me an email
telling how I can get 20% or more off on my next purchase,
I personally do not consider that spam (but lots of other
people would).

The bad thing about spam is that now 40% to 50% or more
of all email can be characterized as spam.  You may be
getting more spam email than legitimate mail, but how
can you defeat the former without losing some of the

Before you read this article, you may want to read
a previous article on the subject:


Just as the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11-21) includes
lots of pieces, each with its own appropriateness for
defense or offense, so it is with ways to deal with
email.  Here are the main choices:

1.  The blacklist.  There are several organizations who make
lists of known spammers.  Your anti-spam software may be
able to use such lists to block email from anyone on the
list.  The main difficulty here is that sometimes innocent
parties (such as publishers of opt-in newsletters) are put on
the list by mistake and good email is blocked along with the

2.  The whitelist.  Here the anti-spam program makes use not
of a list of "bad guys" but of a list of "good guys."  Thus,
for example, all the people in your address book may be
readily admitted (plus additional names as you go along).
This may not work well for businesses, because you want to
receive email not only from present customers but also from
prospective customers.

3.  Filtering rules.  The effectiveness of this approach
depends on how well the rules are defined.  For example,
if the rule is "reject all mail that has 'Viagra' in the
subject line," that's probably a fairly good rule, but if
the rule is "reject all email that contains a line entirely
in capital letters," that is sometimes not a good rule, since
some newsletters (like CATI) may put article titles entirely
in capital letters.

4. "Bayesian filtering."  About.com describes what is meant
by that term:

"Bayesian spam filters calculate the probability of a message
being spam based on its contents. Unlike simple content-based
filters, Bayesian spam filtering learns from spam and from
good mail, resulting in a very robust, adapting and efficient
anti-spam approach that, best of all, returns hardly any
false positives."

A "false positive" is good email mistakenly identified as
spam.  Personally, I think the description of "Bayesian
filtering is a bit too optimistic, but essentially an
anti-spam program that uses Bayesian filtering learns as
it goes along what you regard as spam and what you don't.

In my opinion, the best program is one that uses some sort
of combination of these techniques, because they are often
inadequate when used alone.  If, for example, the program
uses a "whitelist," you can make sure that your favorite
newsletter gets through to you even if it is on someone's
blacklist or fails the "no full line of capital letters"

Except for not using Bayesian filtering, SpyEater Pro
allows you tremendous flexibility in setting up how you
want it to operate.  You get to choose which (if any)
of the blacklists you want to use, and you can choose
to turn on or off individually hundreds of different
rules (or make up your own, by the way).  You can use
a whitelist, and you get to choose who is on it.

Here is a chart which compares SpamEater Pro with some
of its rivals (McAfee SpamKiller, SpamBuster, and

SpamEater Pro - Comparison Matrix

And here is a summary of the features of SpamEater Pro:

SpamEater Pro - Features

SpamEater has some nice features.  You can choose to "bounce"
an email, so that the sender gets back a note indicating that
the note could not be delivered.  And you are able to restore
a message that you mistakenly thought was spam and deleted.

I use a somewhat obscure but good email program known as
The Bat! (exclamation point theirs), whereas some of the
anti-spam program work specifically with Outlook or Outlook
Express.  If you use either of those, you may perhaps want
to consider an anti-spam program specifically designed for
Outlook or Outlook Express.

Here is how the developers of SpamEater Pro introduce it
on the home page of their Web site:

"SpamEater Pro is a popular, award winning anti-spam program
that will seek out and 'eat' Spam in your mailbox before you
download it to your mail client. SpamEater Pro can also act
as a mail notification system and will notify you of waiting
(spam-free) mail by popup message, playing a WAV file, or
starting your email client software for you (compatible with
all email client software programs). Also features integrated
dial-up networking, Cable/DSL as well as LAN support, user
defined filters and much more!"

Unlike some other programs, SpamEater Pro is NOT free, but
you can try it out for free for 30 days.  If you like it,
you can buy it for $24.95.  Spam is getting very much to be
an increasing problem, and SpamEater Pro is one way to defeat
spam.  Is the program for you?  It depends, and the program
is not for everyone.  Read the following, for example:

"SpamEater Pro will not work with Juno, MSN, or AOL. You can
use SpamEater with your web based email service (such as
Hotmail.com) with the use of additional software such as
Web2Pop or IzyMail. Standard POP3 access to your ISP's mail
server is required. Yahoo is directly supported when the
Yahoo account is configured for POP3 access. Microsoft
Exchange Server connections are also supported as long as
the server has the POP3 protocol enabled for accounts to be

Regardless of whether SpamEater Pro is best for you, there
is increasingly the need for something to help us tell
the difference between good mail and spam mail if we are
to be good stewards of our time.  Your choice may not be
the same as mine, but I recommend that you do the research
and make a choice (unless you are among the fortunate few
for whom spam is not a problem).


If your email address is posted on a Web site, then you may
soon be getting an increase in spam email.  And yet at times
it is important for our email address to be posted.  Often,
for example, there will be a link to email the pastor posted
on a church Web site.  So what do we do?

Spammers take advantage of the situation by writing robot
programs whose purpose is to go through Web sites and to
"harvest" all the email addresses.  If you're a Webmaster,
you can foil the email harvesters and yet do so without
having to remove any of your email links.  Read on!

How does an email address harvester work?  It checks the
HTML code in a Web page for a "mailto" link.  Then it
extracts the email address between the brackets.  I have
written a Windows program to "encrypt" the HTML code in
such as way that there is no change in the display or in
the way things work but the mailto reference cannot be
detected by the email address harvesters (at least for

I can't say any more (I don't want to give away the
details to the spammers), but I offer my program to any
Webmasters who want to use it.  (You'll need to supply me
with your name, the address of your Web site, and your email
address, which I promise I will not share with anyone, and
especially not with the spammers!)  My approach works
entirely with plain, simple HTML:  it doesn't require that
Javascript be turned on or anything like that, so the HTML
code should still work with all browsers as before.


Like to know what this is?  This is the ninetieth 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 (but rather dated) 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
unsubscribe@cati.org (but if you decide to unsubscribe, you'll
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) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.