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Amazing Grace: Finding God on the Internet

By DAVID YOUNT, Scripps Howard News Service
May 15, 2004

Blaise Pascal reassured the God-searchers of his time that "You would not seek Him if you had not already found Him." Today the seeker after faith can do so with the assistance of the World Wide Web.

Your pilgrimage can be made on the keyboard of your computer.

If you use a search engine, you will be presented with a bewildering array of sites, many of them suspiciously anonymous or with religious axes to grind.

Recently Richard Harries, the bishop of Oxford, England, conducted an extensive search and came up with these recommendations of legitimate and useful websites, ranging from Anglican to Pagan:

Anglican (www.anglicansonline.org) This site, run by volunteers, is not the official website of the Church of England, yet is awarded five stars by the bishop, because "it gives a better picture of the state of worldwide Anglicanism, with an exceptional news section linked to media stories." It offers a clear and complete account of what Anglicans believe, as well as liturgical resources pertinent to the season, plus letters and editorials.

The official site (www.anglicancommunion.org) is awarded one less star but has wonderful text and pictures from around the world and is right up to date. Only days after the Madrid bombings it announced a Personal Emergencies Fund to assist families of the victims.

Buddhist (www.buddhanet.net) This Australian site is sponsored by a Buddhist monastery down under and is awarded five-star treatment by Bishop Harries, who loved its cartoon presentation and gorgeous graphics. ("Why can't we have Christian sites like this?" he wonders). The content combines art, information, spirituality, and just plain fun, demonstrating "the depth of spiritual life that can be fostered by religious communities."

Catholic (www.cafod.org.uk) Four stars. This is the site that promotes the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It has a special section for teens as well as many resources that explain the work of the church in troubled parts of the world.

Islamic (www.islamicity.com) Four stars. This sophisticated site contains not only pertinent information about the faith and practices of Muslims, but disavows any sense of extremism.

Hindu (www.hindu.org) Three stars. Bishop Harries "particularly likes the non-judgmental way in which competing faiths are presented" on this site. "We Christians still have much to learn about honoring those with whom we disagree." This site presents all faiths in their best light.

Judaic (www.chiefrabbi.org) Three stars. This is the website of Great Britain's chief rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sachs, who is an eloquent exponent of his faith. His speeches are splendid.

Pagan (www.druidnetwork.org) Three stars. Yes, paganism is a faith religion based on nature. This site eschews New Age sophistry, shamanism, and witchcraft to concentrate on druidry.

Happy surfing!

(David Yount's latest book is "What Are We to Do? Living the Sermon on the Mount" (Sheed & Ward). He answers readers at P.O. Box 2758, Woodbridge, VA 22193 and dyount@erols.com. )

   

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