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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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Christian Blogging – Future Directions

The launch of the new blogs4God web portal means the winding down from my site of the Christian bloglist, which has been here for the past three months. From the 200-plus blogs I must now decide which links to keep. The temptation, of course, is to retain them all. But I’d prefer to be able to offer my visitors a set of links to sites that I like and recommend, as well as sites that I myself visit fairly regularly.

So I have spent the past few days reviewing all the sites on the list, and the result is that I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of Christian blogging.

That’s not to say I have any great prescience on the matter. Is blogging a fad? Is it a serious new movement that could revolutionise the media? Are Christian bloggers having an impact on the culture? On the church? Or are the main readers of Christian blogs Christian bloggers?

Actually, I’ve no idea. I have a lot more questions than answers. So, rather than fill this space with a lot of speculative hot air, I shall instead try to guide readers to a small selection of sites that I think might offer pointers to the future. They are not necessarily my all-time favourite Christian blogs, nor are they presented in any particular order. Most are smaller sites that are not probably well known. [Update: some are no longer online.]

* Opinionated - A community blog by the people at Toongabbie Anglican Church in Sydney. It seems to me there has to be all kinds of scope for church blogs, especially if your congregation includes articulate, computer-literate members. It’s a chance to explore faith, exchange ideas, encourage others and sound off about the world. See also The Vine community blog, from the Vine and Branches Christian Community in Kentucky.

* Esler Fried – I’ve always been a fan of Ted Esler’s coal-face commentaries on mission work. There’s surely scope for more blogging in the mission community. Many churches wonder how to maintain contact with their missionaries. How about a community church blog, allowing interaction between missionaries (of course, only those with a reasonable internet connection) and church members? And it would be good to see some blogs from missionaries in the field. I only know of Stranger in a Strange Land, from an American missionary in Bosnia.

* Care and Feeding – Steve Schultz writes about running his church choir. We need more blogs like this, from all the various workers of the church, with preference given to those holding strong opinions and the desire to express them. Steve unfortunately is not a prolific blogger, but he’s always worth reading. What wonderful encouragement, for tin-voice worshippers like me, from the following post:

Any tips for those tone deaf parishioners like me who would love to be able to carry a tune at least half-respectably so we can join the song?

First, let me say that I think everyone should sing in Church. The idea regarding congregational singing is that our intent is what's important, not how well we actually sing. It strikes me that if more people around you were singing with gusto you wouldn't feel like you’re sticking out. Granted, it's tough to know you're not singing well and have everyone around you hear it.

From an actual singing standpoint, there's two kinds of "tone deafness" - one where a person is just not used to matching pitch - sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The other is real tone-deafness - never being about to match pitch. It could be that you just need a little practice. I would recommend getting some CDs you can try to sing along with and see how that works. Try it with whatever music you like and see how it goes. It could be you get better over time.

More please.

* Heart, Mind & Strength - I think group blogs like this one are part of the wave of the future. Consistent, quality blogging is hard work. Share the load - work with a group, preferably with a group of strong writers. National Review Online's The Corner was a pioneer, and blogs4God is also now successfully doing it. Department of Theology at the University of Blogistan is another.

* Cranky Professor – Michael Tinkler writes a quirky, sometimes grumpy, wonderfully opinionated blog about life as a professor of art history at a “pricey liberal arts college”. Less pugnacious, but still another favourite, is from Richard Hall, a Methodist minister in Wales, who writes his random ramblings – unfailingly with love - about life and all the other stuff around him. We need more like them.

* e-church com.munity weblog – e-church minister Tim Bednar has a site full of ideas for developing a “user-created Christian com.munity”. I think he could be part of the future of the Christian blogosphere. He writes:

I am disappointed with the disproportionate number of sites that discuss “post-modern ministry”, compared to those actually that minister online. In my opinion, only a handful of websites or churches do spiritual work online (MethodX and Beliefnet). Instead most Christian web sites either communicate to other ministers (The Ooze), provide spiritual information (Crosswalk), or service bricks and mortar ministries (For ministry or Willow Creek). Most of the content is provided by well-known writers that are part of the Christian publishing industry. There are few alternative voices. I want to provide a publishing platform that serves everyday Christians who like to write and desire to participate in reasoned dialogue about meaningful issues.

Actually, there are plenty more sites with hints for future directions. I’ll look at others in future commentaries.

August 2nd, 2002


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