Cyberspace Andrew M. Brown
THE ARCHDIOCESE of Westminster may not have a proper Web site yet — it has a page "under construction" at www.rcnet/westminster — but in the meantime there are plenty of other things for the religious-minded to do on the Internet. You can learn how to set up your own cult (www.fadetoblack.com/ cultkit): enter your desired doctrines and the Cult Kit gives you the biblical references to support them. You can visit the Temple of Shatner (cornp.uark.edu/-breed/shatner.html.) dedicated to Captain James T. Kirk, or read the "gospel of Elvis" OVIS'W. zymondo.com/tgoe). Catholics are especially well served, with sites covering the Vatican, the Bible. news, art, prayer, Our Lady, pro-life matters, charitable works and saints. For a guide to Catholic resources on the Net, try www.cs.cmu.edu/People/ spok/catholic.htmt or The Catholic Files at http://listserv. american.edukatholic. The Vatican's own Web site at www.vatican.va is grand, serious. made to look like vellum and a bit dull — which is as it should be. 1 suppose. It provides a news service, papal documents, an archive and a Jubilee 2000 calendar. If you are patient, you can download some of the pictures from the Vatican museums, For links to other sites as well as texts of papal documents and mass readings, the Catholic Information Network is useful (vvww.cin.org). RCNet (www.rc..net) has numerous bibles including a complete text of the Vulgate with a search engine — so you can look up specific words and phrases. Mother Angelica, the dynamic television nun, has her own, useful, site offering news from her Eternal Word Television Network, a picture gallery, and plenty of links to other sites (www.EWTN.com). Christus Rex (www.christusrex.org) is an award-winning site mainly devoted to reli gious art. It also has the Lord's Prayer in 343 languages. If you would rather pray the rosary, try The Holy Rosary at www.geocities.com/ad_container/pop.htnecuid.. Prayer requests can be made — click to listen to Schubert's Ave Maria — on the Blessed Virgin Mary page at hometown.aol. com/theBVMpage/home.html. This site is a comparatively tasteful, blue pastel affair. but Our Lady has hundreds of Web pages devoted to her and to her alleged communications, and not all strike me as the work of balanced minds. There is some pretty strong apocalyptic stuff, as in The Ball of Redemption, which concerns a killer comet and can be visited at www.roses.org/ messages/domcomet.htm.
For those interested in medical ethics, or wanting to check the Church's position on a medical question, the Newman Center at the University of Southern California can refer you to the relevant statement from the Holy See or from a Catholic bishop. Catholic Resources for Medical Ethics is at w ww.usc.eduths c/i nfo/ne wna an/ resources/ethics.htrnl. Catholics who want to go shopping for rosaries. water fonts and so forth may care to try Totally Catholic Stuff at www.qni.com/-catholic. I cannot vouch for its quality, or for anything else about it. For the man who has everything. and who is not ashamed of his faith, how about a T-shirt bearing the slogan, in giant letters around a picture of a gold monstrance: "Perpetual Adoration: The Real Presence"? Or you could have "Life's Short. Pray Hard". These can be found at www.catholicwear. corn. Nearly all the sites I have mentioned are North American. This is just how it is. Some dioceses in Britain have primitive sites. The Catholic Media Office in London has its own news service and links to other Church sites in England and Wales. They are at www.tasc.ac.uk/cc. But a monastery in Hampshire, St Michael's Abbey. Farnborough, has just opened a magnificent Web site designed in the great tradition of illuminated manuscripts. www.farnboroughabbey.org shows what amazing things can be done and puts other religious sites to shame. One other British address I can recommend with confidence, though it is not quite finished. is Ruth Gledhill's home page (www.zem.co.uk/gledhill/). As well as being The Times's distinguished religion correspondent. Ruth is an expert ballroom dancer. Her page is well worth a visit. Surfing the net can be a lonely, isolating experience and there is evidence that excessive use of the Internet is associated with lowered mood. An antidote to this is chat. Try www.4-lane.com/religionchat. This is an Internet chat room where people go to discuss religion. Failing that. you could try actual live human beings.