Interview with Rich Tatum by Dick Tennesen:
Dick Tennesen: Well our guest this afternoon is Rich Tatum, and Rich is a webmaster. We'll get into a little bit more about what that all means and into our subject this afternoon. Well, it's good to have you with us today, Rich.
Rich Tatum: Hi, Dick.
Dick Tennesen: How's everything back there in Springfield, Missouri?
Rich Tatum: Oh, things are shaping up. I lost all my mail last week, and I was pretty--I was floundering. But I'm back on line.
Dick Tennesen: Now, you're not talking about snail mail now, are you?
Rich Tatum: No, I lost all of my email including my archive. That demonstrated for me again the power of the Internet to change my life.
Dick Tennesen: Oh, my goodness that is a lead-in into today's program if I every heard one. We're going to be talking about many of our mutual concerns about being on the Internet and sending and receiving electronic mail and that sort of thing.
First of all, what good is there about this phenomenon that is taking our country and the whole world by storm, Rich?
Rich Tatum: I don't know if I want to talk about the phenomenon so much as the fact that there is plenty to be said that is good about the tool itself. The hype--there's very little good about that. You generally want to discredit the hype, because the hype presents the extreme and it's always very slanted and very nonobjective. The tool is phenomenal. If you're a self-learner, if you want to learn something, if you want to get information and teach yourself knowledge and hopefully gain wisdom, an excellent place to do it is online.
Dick Tennesen: So, that would be information searching by using the Internet, the World Wide Web?
Rich Tatum: Yeah, and the various tools that come with it. Plus, behind all the information is a person who discovered the information in the first place. If you want to find an expert, there are fewer places you can do it as quickly as you can on the Internet. There are experts of every stripe out there for you to contact both Christian and non-Christians, scientists, people who have spent their lives studying and dedicated to a particular pursuit of discipline and knowledge, and you can find them out there.
Dick Tennesen: Well, you know, communication; I want you to comment on that a little bit because I was in a private chat room the other night. It was set up by a pastor in San Leandro and pastor from Alamo that you know who happened to be in Canton, Ohio, at the time. The three of us talked for twenty minutes, just having a wonderful time of fellowship.
Can you kind of elaborate on that whole communication aspect as being a positive?
Rich Tatum: Communication certainly is positive. You can connect people to share ideas with virtually unlimited geographic distance between them. They can literally be on opposite sides of the world. The only real barrier is cultural barriers and when you're talking about language differences. You know, if you speak English and I speak English, it doesn't necessarily mean we're from the same culture. I bring to that conversation baggage that you're not going to be aware of necessarily online. So, there's a barrier there. But the Internet is phenomenal because it can will still connect us--whether we're strangers or deeply intimate.
It's a very inexpensive means of communication and a very efficient means of communication.
One of the things that's neat about this means of communicating is that it doesn't require necessarily that both people be in the same place at the same time, unlike the telephone. It's a little bit of a combination of mail, you know correspondence, faxes, and telephones and all these things put together. You get a little bit of the best of all of them and sometimes the worst of all of them as well.
Dick Tennesen: Well, we're talking with Rich Tatum, a webmaster, and he's in Springfield, Missouri, right now. We're going to take a break here in just about a minute and tell you some more about Radio Liberty.
We're going to be taking our one-minute break right now. When we get back with Rich Tatum, I'm going to ask him what the characteristics are of the Internet and why those are both good and maybe not so good.
Well a little old-time religion there to bring us back into our second segment of today's Radio Liberty program with our guest webmaster, Rich Tatum. Now, Rich, as far as I can tell, a webmaster is a man who heads up a three-ring circus for spiders. Is that correct?
Rich Tatum: For the uninitiated, the term does sound rather macabre, doesn't it? The spider and web concept hinges on what is happening on the Internet. When you look at it, it's like a huge web of information where it's not merely information being tied to other pieces of information with a single strand of a connection between them, but really it's like jumping into the middle of a whole web of contexts where one piece of information can lead to hundreds of other pieces of information that can kind of lead back. "The web" is probably one of the best word pictures to describe the relationships that occur online and the way information can be found online. Though it is kind of a scary picture.
Dick Tennesen: Well, what does a webmaster do?
Rich Tatum: That really depends on which webmaster you're talking to. Some webmasters are responsible for the content and the design of a Web site and they may be designers at heart, or they might be editors at heart. Then their personality will lead to different influences and different emphases in their job description. Other webmasters are very technologically oriented and they manage the machinery behind a Web site. The training, and the requirements of the job is going to differ from one webmaster to another.
Dick Tennesen: So, it can be like a postmaster where they're channeling--let me change that word--where they're distributing and disseminating incoming and outgoing electronic mail?
Rich Tatum: Correct. Actually, postmaster is another technical term for a different kind of job description for Internet technologists as well. Webmasters are something like the managing editor of a publication. The managing editor might be very technologically informed about how a publication is put into print or he might not be, but his job is to coordinate the world of the paper and to see that it gets done properly. So, a corporate webmaster would be a lot like a corporate managing editor.
Dick Tennesen: Okay. Well, I was first exposed to you when you can to San Jose and did a workshop on the Internet and particularly integrity, and I was captivated by the three characteristics you gave. So, for this segment, why don't you just start into those.
Rich Tatum: I'll try to do it as briefly as I can because I know we don't have a lot of time. You mentioned the characteristics of the Internet before we broke for the station information. Initially, the Internet was designed 20 years ago or 28 years ago for basically the sole purpose of connecting computers so that scientists at different parts of the country could research together. Well, what we've inherited today is the outgrowth of all of that. There's a couple of implications buried in that genesis for us.
First of all, it has an affect on relationships and another affect on the way we now interact with the world through this medium. Because of these effects on relationships, and because of the way we interact with the world through the 'Net, we need to employ a great deal of informational hygiene--and this ties indirectly with integrity and the Internet.
I owe my definition of integrity to Stephen Carter who recently wrote a book called Integrity. I recommend you pick it up and check it out if you get an opportunity. It's a simple one-word title: Integrity.
Stephen Carter says that integrity requires three things in order for it to be whole. First of all, you have to know what is right and wrong. Not just knowing the difference, but to understand what is right and to understand what is wrong. The second element of true integrity is a personal commitment to do the right and to avoid the wrong even if it costs you personally. The third essential element to integrity is a public ownership of that commitment. If you know what is right and wrong and don't do it, it's a sin to you. So you lack integrity. If you know what's right and wrong and you do the right and avoid the wrong but don't own up to it, then you still don't have true integrity because you're being hypocritical. But if you do the right, avoid the wrong, know why you're doing it, and you own up to what you're doing--make a public stance--then can you be said to have true integrity.
Now we have the Internet growing out of 28 years of development behind it, using computers to facilitate research, bringing people together from different parts of the world to do that. There are three ways the Internet directly attacks those three elements of integrity.
The first part is the Internet encourages superficiality. Information is so overwhelming online. There is so much information that you almost find it impossible to discern the true from the fiction. There are so many new relationships you can enter into at the drop of a hat that relationships become depersonalized, degraded, and they become somewhat nebulous and amorphous that degrades the distinction between right and wrong as it relates to relationships.
The Internet is also a culture of inconsequentiality. Because when you go online, you're not even certain that the people you're interacting with are male or female or old or young. You really have to just entirely trust what they say about themselves and we've all heard stories about how people have been duped online. What winds up happening is you tend to view the people online as not being real. I've seen this happen and even with Christians. There's a tendency to view the Internet world as not being real. Cyberspace doesn't have a "there" that is there. It doesn't exist in the real world. As a result, because cyberspace doesn't exist and it's pure information, then there's really no consequence to behavior online. That sense of inconsequentiality also works to destroy integrity.
Dick Tennesen: Now, let me interrupt you. There actually is consequence, though, but it appears that there isn't. Would that be a good way to put it?
Rich Tatum: Correct. The Internet's culture of inconsequentiality is false. That's why it's so dangerous.
Dick Tennesen: Because all communication has consequences, just as all actions do.
Rich Tatum: Correct. At first the Internet appears superficial. It is superficial, in a way, but it can have a profound and very un-superficial affect when you become immersed in its culture.
The third element is anonymity. Because the Internet encourages anonymity, there's a tendency to go online and be anonymous and experiment with anonymous identities as a pursuit of information out of curiosity. You want to see what it's like to interact with a group of people as though you were a teenager, or as though you were a member of the opposite sex. That kind of anonymity degrades character. It degrades the God-given personality that God has nurtured inside of you. That kind of anonymity also destroys part of the public ownership that integrity requires. You know, the three elements of integrity of understanding right and wrong. The Internet's superficiality attacks that directly. The integrity requiring a commitment to do what is right and wrong. If you don't have a sense of consequence to your behavior, you won't have a very strong commitment to do the right and avoid the wrong and the requirement of owning publicly what you do. If on the Internet you're anonymous, you don't have to own up to your integrity.
So, those are the three most important or dangerous elements of the Internet culture that I see attacking the Christian. They can play on in a Christian's life in all kinds of ways. This is why I say it's so important for the Christian going online to exercise informational hygiene and avoid things they shouldn't dabble in informationally--whether it's pornography or chat rooms where there's loose conversation, or intimate conversations with strangers where you cross inappropriate boundaries. There's a variety of things we can talk about and go on.
Dick Tennesen: It can be done very unwittingly, I imagine. Say something about this. People can be drawn in and just bit-by-bit become more entangled in the web can't they?
Rich Tatum: The Internet is addictive when people first go online, especially if they have a curious, inquisitive nature anyhow. When I observe friends who go online, and I saw this in my own life when I first went online, it becomes captivating because it is such a brand-new world. It's the novelty of the new toy all wrapped up with the novelty of a new culture and new relationships and an empowering feeling because suddenly you're at the middle of a vast web of information and just by pressing a button you can pull down information from the other side of the world or send an email to somebody you've never met and communicate with them. There's a sense of power it gives, and power is heady. In our culture we say information is power. Let me tell you, power is one of the things that degrades humility in a Christian's life. In fact, God opposes the proud--and what is pride but a lust for power.
So, when you first go online, this novelty and sense of empowerment and self-importance become so addictive that frequently people spend five, ten hours a day online. It's not unusual for someone to get online and spend an entire Saturday just with their head buried in their computer, dabbling and pushing, and they push themselves away finally and they have a glassy-eyed stare, they have a headache. All they can think about is getting back online.
Dick Tennesen: That's one of the real things about it being addictive and it has a tendency to destroy our real relationships in building some of these anonymous and superficial and inconsequential relationships.
Rich Tatum: Even the words you use there to describe the problem are somewhat trapped in the ambiguity of what this is all about. When you say being online degrades your real relationships, I agree with you. Yet, at the same time, that doesn't mean that the relationships you forge online are not real, because they are real and they do have consequence even though there are implications about their nature that you have to be aware of.
Dick Tennesen: There are some positive things in relationship building as we've found through the Minister's Internet Conference that I'm a part of.
Rich Tatum: Certainly.
Dick Tennesen: We have, as I mentioned in the early part of the program, real ability to share prayer requests and needs and joys and victories.
We're talking with Rich Tatum, webmaster, in Springfield, Missouri. This is Dick Tennesen sitting in for Dr. Stan, and we're about to take our second break. As soon as we got out from that, we're going to open the phone lines and let you jump in here and talk a little about the Internet.
And we're back here. We're talking with Rich Tatum, a webmaster, about Christians, the Internet, and especially integrity. Our numbers here for you to jump in and dialogue with us are 464-8295 in the greater Santa Cruz area, 464-8295, or anywhere within the sound of our voices toll-free 1-888-24-LIBERTY, that's 1-888-245-4237.
Well, we've been talking about some of the characteristics which seem to me, Rich, to be potential pitfalls as the way you're describing them. Would that be correct?
Rich Tatum: Oh, certainly. Not really potential pitfalls, but very real pitfalls that have impacted lives around probably in ways that we would never imagine.
Dick Tennesen: You know, we've been hearing a lot about about communication. We've been hearing about sexual harassment. They've been training in the workplace to help people understand how to control communication between men and women. Isn't that a kind of related discipline, and can't we learn things from one and apply it to the other?
Rich Tatum: Most likely. Sexual harassment frequently is a result of a disregard for healthy boundaries. When a coworker says something to you that is too intimate for the work relationship or suggestive of a relationship that does not exist, that leads to what we know as sexual harassment. Plus sexual harassment also has at the heart of it an objectification of a person and their sexuality. When you view an individual, whether it's a coworker or somebody you know at school or elsewhere, as an object of lust, then it's just a simple step from that into harassing them sexually without really knowing that you're doing that because you disregard the boundaries that are healthy.
The Internet can encourage this because the normal communication boundaries between people disappear online. You don't have the normal feedback online that you would face-to-face. Where a raised eyebrow or a nervous backing up against the wall would communicate, "I'm not feeling comfortable here," on the Internet, you can't see that. Plus there's no softening of sarcasm on the Internet with nonverbal body language, like a laugh or a shake of the head. You have to rely on textual emoticons or little phrases . . . which the other person will hopefully understand--but there's very few cues online to really help this kind of communication along.
Additionally, because of the ease of access of pornography on the Internet, that sort of information out there that people can absorb and get addicted to lends itself to the further objectifying of women and sexuality.
Dick Tennesen: Well, two subjects I want to make sure we cover before the end of this hour: (1) evangelism, and (2) what I call communication here, the single's ministry. I happen to know, Rich, that you've been married recently, so you were a single. Is there a legitimate place for Christian singles to meet members of the opposite sex on the Internet?
Rich Tatum: It happens, and it happens legitimately, and it happens among some couples with great integrity. I don't doubt it. I would say be very careful about it because of all the baggage that the Internet brings to these kinds of relationships. You know, you have to really, really be on guard and have mental discipline to insure that you don't cross inappropriate boundaries online and respect the other person to the utmost degree.
I would say that the Internet is great at introducing people to each other, but it's not real good at building healthy intimacy in the absence of real relationships. The Internet is excellent at augmenting an existing face-to-face relationship. The Internet is dangerous when it comes to building a healthy relationship if you've never met that person. What happens when you have a long-distance relationship between lovers occurring over the phone and through mail? People tend to grow apart from each other because you can entertain a relationship with somebody that is almost entirely mental but has very little to do with the real person because we act differently, we have different loves and different pursuits and different goals in our day-to-day life. Long distance relationships, and relationships that exist in this entirely online world don't really have a semblance to the real participants, and it becomes dangerous.
So, I really . . . if you're a single and you are pursuing relationships online, really, really try to do it in the context of your own community. First of all, only pursue Christians. Only introduce yourself to fellow Christians. Second of all, try to do it in a context where you can meet them at some point in a safe, public environment in your own community or someplace nearby because you wind up setting yourself up for some major disillusionment if you're getting intimate with somebody that you have never met face-to-face. Otherwise, in three, four, five months you'll find out that they're not who you think they are.
Dick Tennesen: We'll talk in a moment that it might not even the gender that you think the person is. But I'll tease the people with that for a moment. We've got our first caller. Diane, from Monterey, has a question. Hi, Diane.
Diane: I have a couple. First, I wanted to know what a webmaster is exactly.
Dick Tennesen: Okay. Go ahead.
Rich Tatum: A webmaster. Well, the definition of a webmaster varies all the way from somebody who manages their own personal Web site to somebody who has a job description and is paid by a company to manage a corporate Web site. Generally, when you go online with even a company like America Online or Compuserve or a local service provider, one of the benefits you get to being able to access the Internet is you get server space: you get about 5 megabytes or so on your service provider's computer where you can put information on the World Wide Web. Well, that, by itself, makes you a webmaster if you put any information out there.
Diane: I see.
Rich Tatum: But at the same, that doesn't mean you are very technically proficient or really know what you're doing. So, the whole concept of what is a webmaster is so vague that it's almost worthless.
Dick Tennesen: Well, wouldn't you say that generally you could say that it's someone who supervises the Internet activities of an entity, institution, or company?
Rich Tatum: Generally. When you're talking about a professional webmaster, you are. But people call themselves webmasters all the time who don't do anything other than put their own information online.
Diane: So you actually set up Web sites?
Rich Tatum: I do myself, yes.
Diane: You must be quite a computer wizard.
Rich Tatum: Not really. My training has nothing to do with technology. I fell into this by accident! I went to Bible college and I'm training to go into full-time occupational ministry at some point. This is all an accident for me!
Diane: Did you go to Bible college in Missouri?
Rich Tatum: No. I went to Bible college down in Texas--a little Bible college. It's grown from about 500 to 1,000 now. I came to Springfield to work on a master's degree. While I was here, I got a job out of curiosity about technology, and it led eventually to this. When my company decided to go online, they looked around to find people who'd been online, and I had already been online quite a bit, so they asked me if I would help out. It led to where I am today.
Diane: I have a relative that does when you're doing, and I know how knowledgeable he is about computers. That's why I say you must be a wizard because I know he is. I have another question. That is, I was looking up some organizations the other day in regard to some of the pornography laws and that. Then I saw a heading that didn't at all fit in to this Web site. I'm wondering can people actually invade other people's Web sites and put their organization into other people's Web sites?
Rich Tatum: A couple of things are happening there. Actually several things could be happening. I assume you were using a search engine on the Internet, right? Something like Webcrawler?
Rich Tatum: Here's what happens with a search engine. A search engine is a computer owned by somebody else that will record what other people's Web pages have on them. So you could search that record and use it like a telephone book. But it's like a telephone book in that if your telephone book is a year old, five years old, the telephone numbers change and the corporations behind the telephone numbers change. You'll have an out-of-date phone book, and the information in the phone book may have nothing to do with the phone number anymore. Some of these Web engines become so out of date so quickly because people change information on their Web pages day to day that you might do a search, come up with a list of places that have information you are looking for, and you click on one and the page has already changed. That's one thing that happens.
The other thing that happens is that some webmasters try to trick the search engines. They'll build a Web page that is controversial. It might have pornography on it. Then in the Web page they will embed words that will catch you, words like Jesus, God, Christianity. So if you're looking for words like Jesus or God or Christianity, you might hit their page and they take some sort of malicious pleasure in doing this.
Some people I've actually seen have thrown entire dictionaries onto their Web site so that any search engine would hit it.
Diane: I see.
Rich Tatum: Sometimes these search engines detect that and they can reject the page, but it doesn't always happen.
Diane: So, I think that I probably should contact this organization and tell them that this one particular item is popping up and maybe they can do something about it.
Rich Tatum: It's very possible. They can have the search engine re-index their page.
Diane: Thank you so much. Will you be leaving a number or anything?
Rich Tatum: Yes. I have an email address you can send to.
Dick Tennesen: Of course. Why don't you give it out. We've got another break coming up in one minute. This would be a good time to do that.
Rich Tatum: All right. If you want to correspond with me, if you want to maybe see an outline of some of this thinking that I have, send email to Rich (dot) Tatum.
Dick Tennesen: That's great timing for our next break coming up.
Diane: It's good talking to you.
Dick Tennesen: Thank you, Diane. God bless you now.
Back for the final segment of today's Radio Liberty program. My guest is Rich Tatum who is a webmaster in Springfield, Missouri. We were talking earlier with Diane from Monterey. It sounded like she was talking, Rich, about the idea of someone, for want of a better term, hacker being able to invade somebody else's Web site. Is that possible?
Rich Tatum: It has been known to happen because you have to trust the security of the service provider that you're using if you're going to publish a Web page. When you place your information out there for the public to view, it's kind of like when you put a bulletin board out on a telephone pole, someone can come along with a magic marker and mark it up to their own purposes.
Dick Tennesen: Is it literally that easy to alter someone's Web site?
Rich Tatum: No. I use that as an analogy, but every analogy breaks down at some point. In order for someone to break into a Web site that I manage and modify the information without my knowledge, they would have to have the right passwords. If you change your password frequently enough and if your service provider exercises decent security and changes their passwords, it really is going to be unlikely to happen. Generally, most hackers won't target small-time people. They target people like the government because they get more mileage out of bragging on that they do anything else.
Dick Tennesen: What are people after when I'm on America Online and I get this little innocent mail that says, "Hey, we've got a problem in your area. We must have your password immediately." What do they want my password . . . they'll never get it. There must be some people that are naive enough to do it.
Rich Tatum: I like to call that "social engineering" or "social hacking." These are people who like to call themselves hackers, but they don't have the skill or the technical proficiency to actually wreak their havoc alone. So they go online and they ask you for your password so that when you log off, they can log on as you and get free time online. That's essentially what it boils down to.
Dick Tennesen: Yeah, because they've got your online name. I thought there was a more nefarious purpose behind it.
Rich Tatum: No.
Dick Tennesen: That's bad enough.
Rich Tatum: These are generally people who want free time online.
Dick Tennesen: Well, nobody out there will forgive me if I don't follow up. Can you give that story of the individual that had a transgender persona in a real quick form just so the people are aware that this kind of thing goes on.
Rich Tatum: Sure, there are chat rooms. A chat room is a place you can go online, if you can call it a place, where you can observe other people typing sentences to each other simultaneously. You can have two to three to twenty or thirty people all at the same time engaging in conversation simultaneously. Did I mention simultaneously?
Dick Tennesen: Yeah. All at once, huh?
Rich Tatum: It can be theme-oriented, the computer can be spitting out descriptions of what's happening around you at the same time, so it can be like a very interactive role playing game.
Well, there's an author, I believe it was Mark Slouka, who was researching the Internet and wanted to know more about this kind of environment, the chat environment--specifically a MUD. A MUD is a multi-user dungeon, like Dungeons and Dragons being played online. He didn't know enough about it, so he found a friend who worked with him at the university to give him a guided tour.
He met with this friend late one night and went into the computer room to go online. His friend's name was Abraham. His friend was from the . . . he was from the Old World. He was Mediterranean, very conservative, very non-liberal kind of person. He met with him to go online because he found that he was an expert on the Internet and had been had been online for quite some time.
So he sat down with Abraham and watched him sign on to the service and he went to this chat room. Well, lo and behold, he signed as Allison. Here's Abraham sitting here, very conservative, Old World, Mediterranean fellow signing as a little girl in a chat room. He's a little embarrassed but he goes to this chat room and it shows how many people are online at the same time. He types in "Allison waves hi." People wave back. He says, "I've got a friend here. He's a journalist. He wants to know more about multi-user dungeons and chat rooms. Anyone want to talk with him?" Somebody pipes up. They type, "Yes, I'll talk with him. Let's go to my room." Allison, or Abraham-typing-as-Allison, travels to this other user's made up virtual room to have a conversation with this person where no one else can see what's happening.
He gives the keyboard over to his friend, the writer, whose story I was reading. What followed was a conversation that was very surreal because this journalist had to be careful not to reveal to this online friend that Abraham was pretending to be a female. It would have been offensive and hurtful for people to have found out that this person they thought was a women all along was really a man.
In the conversation he asked this lady he was talking to, let's call her Sarah. He said, "Now, Sarah, what was it like getting to know Allison online and then finally meeting her face-to-face?" Sarah said, "Well, I've never met Allison face-to-face. We've met for at least a couple of years, and I imagine we'll continue meeting online for the next couple of years, but we've never met face-to-face. I can't imagine why we'd want to.
As it turns out, Abraham finally took back the computer and keyboard because it was getting a little bit too close to the bone--it was getting uncomfortable for him. As it turns out, the next day this journalist finds out that Abraham had been having an "affair" with Sarah using his character, Allison. When you break it down, "Allison" was having a lesbian relationship with Sarah but "Allison" was a man. Nobody knows whether Sarah was really a man or a woman. And Abraham's wife had no clue that this was happening.
Dick Tennesen: Abraham and Sarah. All right. I'll leave that alone. The impact of that could send some people into orbit and say, "Well, that's it. I'm just against it. I just don't want anything to do with the Internet." There must be some safeguards to help prevent getting caught in this kind of thing. What would they be?
Rich Tatum: Well, informational and moral hygiene is what it really boils down to. I like to say that we need to be "intentionally integral" Christians. Many of us have an integrity that is intact by accident. We're surrounded by people who are watching us day in and day out--our parents, our wives, our children, our teachers, people at church. We do what is right, we avoid the wrong simply because we know there is a severe consequence--we'll be rejected; people will find out.
The single greatest temptation for most of us who are in that unintentional integrity kind of thing--accidental integrity--comes when we go traveling. It happens when we go to a strange city--someplace where nobody knows us. There's an old saying that integrity is who you are who are when you are alone--that's when integrity comes to the forefront. That is what happens when people go online. When they go online, they are no longer surrounded by the same network of friends that keep them honest and they're "alone." When you're online you're in a darkened room, maybe behind a locked door. You might even be using an anonymous identity--and that's when you've got to exercise the mental discipline to be morally pure and exercise mental hygiene. You've got to be intentional about it.
Paul said, "The things which you've seen and heard in me, put them into practice." Paul said immediately following that that it is God who works in you and through you to do these things. Paul also said in Romans 12, "Be living sacrifices. Don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind and be a living, daily sacrifice." That's our worship. That's how we know what God's will is in our lives. Paul said in Philippians 4, "The things that are good, think on these things and the God of peace will guard our hearts and minds."
If you want to maintain moral and ethical intellectual integrity, you have to exercise the mental discipline to follow the right examples, to allow God to work through us, to submit our mind to the Word, and to think on the things that are right and avoid thinking about those things that are bad.
You also have to build into your life accountability. If you have a family and if your computer is at home, put your computer in the family area where people can see what you're doing. If you want to make sure that your children don't get snared up in this kind of stuff, don't let your children get online when you're not around. Keep the password, change the password once in a while, and put the computer in the family room.
If you're a single person and you're challenged by this issue, stop using an anonymous identity. Use an identity that reveals who you are. Tell a friend and be accountable to somebody. Tell them, "Look, I have a problem in this area. I want you to ask me the next time you see me what have I done online this week."
The very things that are the dangerous elements of the Internet culture are the very things that led to real Internet ministry because here we have hundreds of millions of people going online who are being confronted by this culture of distraction, superficiality, inconsequentiality, and anonymity. What do they need? Do they need Jesus in their lives? If we make a commitment to not be superficial in our relationships, if we make a commitment to recognize the consequences of what we do, and if we make a commitment to no longer be anonymous and to shine the light of Jesus into people's lives, we can make a difference when we go online instead of being passive.
Dick Tennesen: Or being part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
Rich Tatum: Correct.
Dick Tennesen: Well, it's been fascinating. We're running out of time, Rich. I want to thank you, again, for being on our program. We didn't get to evangelism. I've got a friend in Carmel Valley who I consider to be a consummate evangelist, and I'm going to get him on our program one of these days, and we'll just talk about evangelism on the Net because he leads people to the Lord every week over the Internet. It's just fascinating to hear. I've known him for 27 years. I know that his integrity is impeccable. Anyway, Rich Tatum, otherwise known as Rich (dot) Tatum. If you'd like to get in touch with him and follow up on anything that he's said or that we've talked about during this hour.
Once again, thank you. God bless you.
Before I go, I'd be very remiss if I didn't mention Radio Liberty's Web site. Rich, you can take it down and look us up, too. It's http://www.radioliberty.com/. Thank you very much, Rich, and we'll talk to you again soon.
Rich Tatum: Thank you.