Web Sites: Not Just a Spiritual Smorgasbord

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Ontario Consultants on

Religious Tolerance

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ welcome.htm "Those who stand for everything, stand for nothing," reads one of the more repeatable reactions to this site, whose message board more typically features abuse from fundamentalists of various persuasions. But this fascinating survey of 63 world religions is more than a spiritual smorgasbord - the aim is to give objective accounts of each belief system, independent of misinformation from rival camps. Begun as a response to the conflict in former Yugoslavia - seen here as primarily religious in nature - the site has now grown to some 500 essays, dealing also with current controversies and "hot topics" (prayer in schools, abortion, etc). Religion itself is not under attack, it is claimed, but the emphasis tends towards the defence of minority beliefs traditionally victimised by mainstream culture, which includes difficult areas like Scientology and a scepticism towards the motives of "deprogrammers". Sometimes, laconic editorialising can't help but emerge, as when the section on the Jim Jones Guyana cult suicide concludes: "A Christian group. Total body count: 919." The self-described consultants of the title are four in number - two unemployed, one a student and one working in "food service" - and are seeking financial support to keep the site operational. i-Lab web http://www.ilab.lbs.ac.uk/ A sinister one-eyed spider, like a refugee from Starship Troopers, welcomes visitors to this London Business School site. There follows a production number complete with flashing cyrillics and sponsors' names dancing to a techno beat. The arachnid eyeball is the centre of a clever, customised click-and-drag navigation system, though there's not much content to navigate to, as yet: this is a newly launched experimental space, one of an increasing number of hybrid research labs for artists, educators and sponsors in pursuit of "new media development opportunities". …