by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
Following up our look at Europe on the Web in the January 2004 issue, in this issue we present Web resources for Oceania.
Following up our look at Europe on the Web in the January 2004 issue, in this issue we present Web resources for Oceania. Encompassing nearly one-third of the earth’s global surface area—including Australia, New Zealand and the roughly 25,000 islands of the South Pacific—this region of the world has been characterized as highly Christianized. Because of the relatively small total population (just over 31.6 million in the year 2002—of which just over ninety percent live in Australia, Papua New Guinea or New Zealand (Wikipedia) there tend to be fewer traditional print resources on Oceania than other regions of the world. The Web, however, offers a bounty of valuable resources for people wishing to pursue God’s heart for the nations found in Oceania.
The web page we developed to support this article directs you to the more than sixty links and is located at www.mislinks.org/contin/oceania.htm.1 The links give you access to literally thousands of additional resources, and are organized in eight major categories: 1) missions and Christianity general; 2) missions and Christianity articles, books, and so on; 3) directories; 4) cultural; 5) myth; 6) virtual encyclopedias and libraries; 7) news and 8) governments. Space does not allow discussion of every link. We suggest that you browse not just those mentioned below, but all that look interesting to you. Doing so will help you see the richness of the resources.
MISSIONS AND CHRISTIANITY IN GENERAL
Christianity can be found virtually across the Pacific island nations, though Web sites focusing on that are somewhat harder to find. A good place to start is Across Pacific and Asia’s site, which has “hundreds of articles, true stories, humour…and thousands of links to churches, ministries, schools”.
The Christianity and the Kingdom of Tonga site provides informal e-mail links to various Christian organizations and denominational representatives.
Christian Ministries in Australia is a broad site, offering links ranging from news headlines to agencies to job opportunities to Bible schools and colleges. Christians Online Australia (www.christiansonline.com.au/content/) offers articles and directory listings; it also allows for members to list upcoming events.
Ministryblue.com is a Christian directory site whose focus is to “provide free, cheap or innovative resources for Australian Christian ministries and charities.” It is similar to Christian Ministries in Australia but with less ads.
Finally, VISION Network of New Zealand, part of the World Evangelical Alliance, offers
devotional thoughts, directories to a variety of Christian organizations, sermons and discussion forums, though the initial page download was relatively slow.
MISSIONS AND CHRISTIANITY ARTICLES
In addition to representing Christianity across the region, numerous articles are linked on our Oceanic Christianity site. Crumbs is an online journal for youth workers in multicultural Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Fuller Theological Seminary provides a list of theses and dissertations on Oceania—more than forty in all.
The Lausanne Occasional Paper Christian Witness to Traditional Religionists of Asia and Oceania offers solid and helpful reflection.
The Network for Strategic Missions Knowledge Base provides twenty articles on the history of missions in Oceania and five articles on Oceanic theologies. The number of articles in each category will continue to grow as more articles are added to and indexed in the Knowledge Base.
Directories focused on an area are a good way to become acquainted with large numbers of focused websites. Keep in mind, however, that the directories are only as good as the person (or software) creating them. The standard ones are Google’s regional directory regional directory and Yahoo’s country directory.
However, don’t overlook regionally-based directories such as PapuaWeb, “an information network for students, researchers, development workers, community leaders, government agencies and others working on issues relevant to Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya); Pacific Islands Internet Resources, which “attempts to bring together in one location a catalog (as complete as possible) of the resources available via the World Wide Web focusing on the Pacific Islands;” or Te Puna Web Directory, which focuses on New Zealand but offers resources for all Pacific Island nations.
Cultural. Anyone who wishes to serve in a Pacific Island setting should take advantage of Web-based resources to learn about the country and context of service before moving there. For information on a specific people group in the region visit Joshua Project’s people profiles.
The Literature of the Pacific Islands collection of links is truly impressive; it includes journals, directories, myths and stories, bibliographies, film and more.
In addition to allowing searches of its online database of 5.5 million articles from nine hundred publications, LookSmart allows browsing of individual journals such as Oceania, a “publication providing news and analysis from social and political science.” The most recent issues require a paid subscription, while older articles are free (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on one of the 2002 issues).
Those in need of cultural information on the Maori should browse to Maori.org.nz, which has a wealth of cultural information, including customs, language, stories and additional links. Another way to get acquainted with a country or culture is to read contemporary literature on it. To assist you in choosing helpful books, Danny Yee provides reviews on books about four countries in Oceania: Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.
Finally, those looking for language helps can start with Ethnologue, which catalogs the languages, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, which provides numerous resources for almost sixty languages spoken across Australia.
Myth. Myths provide important insights into cultures, and there are numerous myths from the Oceanic region. Encyclopedia Mythica has sixty-eight articles on Aboriginal myths or 283 articles on Polynesian myths.
The Internet Sacred Text Archive has a short list of out-of-print books and journal articles such as the entire text of Oceanic Mythology by Roland B. Dixon (1916), “a highly readable and scholarly cross-cultural study of Pacific mythology and folklore, covering Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Indonesia and Australia.”
Nomoa.com’s Tales & Stories of the South Pacific page has links to stories from seven of the island nations.
VIRTUAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS AND LIBRARIES
InfoPlease started in 1938 as a radio game show. From there it evolved into a series of almanacs and then launched a website in 1998. Breadth is more the focus than great depth; the main information provided comes from Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition) and is primarily limited to brief articles.
OpenSite and Wikipedia are open-source encyclopedias that allow people to add articles, edit them, make additions, and so on. Both have broad articles on Oceania as well as focused articles on individual countries or issues within a country. Questia.com’s online research library (www.questia.com) lists fourteenbooks under the research topic “Pacific Islands” and 3,336 items under the full search of the library’s materials. A subscription is necessary to access the full resources of the collection, but the price is reasonable for someone engaged in significant research. Finally, the World Wide Web Virtual Library provides five virtual link collections: Aboriginal studies, AnthroGlobe bibliographies, Pacific History Journal Bibliography Database (coombs.
anu.edu.au/WWWVLPacific/Pac-Jrnl-Bibliography.html), Pacific Studies and Papua New Guinea.
News. It is always helpful to have access to the latest news from the country or region of your focus. Several sites help you navigate to useful news resources in the region. The standard media giants BBC News Asia-Pacific and CNN Asia are great places to start.
News of interest to Christians can be accessed through Christianity Today’s website.
Governments. For those who want demographic, political and general cultural information, The World Factbook is the first place to visit. Maintained by the CIA, it offers information in eight topical areas (geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues). Use the drop down window to choose a country for the basic information provided. Those who need links to the government websites for a particular Oceanic country should browse to Oceanian governments.
The Internet continues to be an incredible resource; information that would have taken weeks to gather just a decade ago takes literally minutes now. Places that were off the map for most of us are now readily researched, though Internet research will never substitute for long term living in a cross-cultural setting. We are always ready to hear from readers of any important sites we may have missed; e-mail them to us through the MisLinks site and we’ll add them to the page.
1. All URLs are assumed to start with http:// unless stated otherwise.
A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear