Exile Stage 2 a new church era?

I recently listened to a report from a local Christian charily that works in schools. They reported that in the question times they often have they have noticed a change in tone recently. They said that they have noticed an increase in questions that are openly antagonistic to the Christian faith.

That comment was in mind when I read the text of Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Cinnamon Network launch of the Faith Action Audit. He said, “The public view of religion among young people, according to a YouGov poll – well, alright it’s a poll, but … the reputation of religion among young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% – this was a poll in 2013, when they still got them right – 41% of 18-24 year olds agreed that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.

I am horrified to hear that levels of faith literacy is so poor that so many young people can think “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world”. Such ignorance of the facts of history!

I then had this article by Stephen McAlpine recommended to me . It certainly resonates with what I have been thinking as I feel a change in climate here in the UK towards Christians. He speaks of the last season we have been in as a time when the church has been trying to engage with an uninformed outside world he calls ‘exile stage 1’, compared to the new season he calls ‘exile stage 2’.

Exile Stage 2 is where we are now and a feature of it is the increasing intolerance of the outside world to the Christian faith. Many of us will have already noted that the only politically correct intolerance seems to be that which is aimed at the Christian faith and at Christian believers. This even seems to distort news reporting when covering the current innumerable deaths of Christians across the globe by Muslims.

Some of the article I felt a bit concerned about as I was wondering if it contradicted the position Christians should hold on the subject of Kingdom. After all we are to pray “Thy kingdom come…” as well as work for its realisation.

Bits I particularly liked in this article:

Simply put we assume that we can have more impact on culture than it can have on us. That is dangerously naive thinking. Jesus never said the culture will misunderstand you, he said the world will hate you. He did not say to his disciples, “Display reckless abandon and go out there and change culture,”, he said “fear not, I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33).

I have watched as what began as a series of questions beginning with “What if we changed the perspective on how we look at this traditional issue?” to “Did God really say?”. And painful though it is to say, the post-evangelical Sexuality Gospel has simply replaced the Boomer Prosperity Gospel for a generation that idolises the comfort that experience offers, rather than the comfort that money offers.

Stephen’s follow up article to this one is worth reading too where he likens exile stage 1 to fencing with the outside culture, compared to exile stage 2 which he likens to cage fighting. Whether he is correct or not, we are living in interesting times.

Living with my new phone. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra the biggest HD screen phone in the world #xperiazultra #xperiaz

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This is supposed to be the largest HD phone if the world. I did wonder if it would be too big. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Note, and before that I used a Dell Steak with the 5.5inch screen. So I like using large screen phones.

Before buying my Z Ultra I had to know if it would be too big for carrying in my pocket. I knew that as I usually wear a jacket I could probably cope, but I was still not sure so…

I cut out two bits of cardboard from a cereal packet, the exact size of the Z Ultra, and taped them together. You think that is mad? I also filled the cavity with pound coins so the package was the exact weight of an Ultra. I sealed it up then carried it about in various pockets to see if this would be a phablet too far. I came to the conclusion the Z Ultra is about the size of an old fashioned tall man’s wallet. And I decided I could cope.

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Don’t I feel embarrassed taking calls with that huge sleek sheet of black glass? No! I don’t care what others think because I know it is a great phablet. I don’t use my phone as a phone very much. I use my phones much more as a reader, emailer, diary, bible, word processor, internet browser, satnav, map, list and note taker, scanner, etc. Although I do use my old Bluetooth earpiece more now. What with that and the Sony Smartwatch I find I am doing a lot of stuff without even taking it out of my pocket or bag.

Having been using it for almost two weeks now I can say that this is a fabulous bit of kit. The screen is gorgeous for viewing anything. It was just right for watching a rented movie on a train journey. The battery life is incredible compared to my Galaxy Note 1 that I was using previously, and that is without putting it into ‘stamina mode’ which extends battery life to last more than a week on a single charge.

With a 2.2 Ghz quad core, Snapdragon processor it is more powerful than many desktop and laptop computers.

I liked the SPen on the Samsung Galaxy Note but with the Z Ultra I can use almost any pen or pencil to do pretty much the same things.

I love the magnetic charger bit on the side. No more fiddling with a micro USB getting it into the slot, just touch to the magnetic port and it gets going. As well as a spare magnetic charging lead, I got the magnetic charging stand, both of the cheap on Ebay.

I have my Ultra in a flip/book style case as I found the thing so slippery that I feared I would drop it. Now it looks very like an old fashioned black notebook in my hand.

I got mine from eGlobal. they were far cheaper than buying it in the UK and would use them again.

Any.do. An elegant task list manager for phone, tablet, etc but I dumped it as a security risk

anydo

Astrid used to be my list manager of choice but then, when it closed down, I moved over to Any.do. I had some irritations with it but it all came to a head when I tried to change my password.

After the security breach at Adobe I decided to see if any of my passwords could do with being updated using the LastPass password creator. I changed passwords on a few sites and then came to Any.do to change it there.

Try as I might I could not find any way to change the password. I Googled, I searched the app settings – nothing. There is no “change password” option in the app’s settings. So there is no obvious way to change your password.

I emailed Any.do and got a swift reply telling me I could change my password through the app in settings. I could not! I emailed again with the full list of the options in ‘settings’ showing that a password change was not one of them.

Another reply came telling me to click on the “Forgot Password” feature on the log in page and follow through the prompts as if you forgot your password. Ah, I thought, you mean on a desktop, in a browser? To do it that way you have to have the Any.do Chrome extension installed. I had been trying to do all this my phone where most of my Any.do usage takes place. I followed those instructions by going on to the desktop, logging out of the Chrome extension, then instead of logging in again I entered my email address and clicked the ‘forgot password button’. Any.do sent me a ‘rest password’ link and I finally succeeded.

It was when I was searching for that information that I can across the mention that Any.Do transmits Passwords in plaintext. Link to the site here.

YIKES!

The site went on to say: Some of you may be interested to know that the Task Management and TODO-list Application, Any.Do, happily transmits your password and just about everything else in plaintext.

Why is that a problem? Any.do can be linked to contacts in Gmail. It can also have access to browser tabs, etc. A security weakness like that compromises the whole machine.

Wlist_icon

Wunderlist

I have moved over to Wunderlist.

Some day I may be tempted to go minimalist and retro with plain text. Now there are apps to manage a plain text todo such as Todo.txt for Android and iPhone, or for my Ubuntu desktop there is Day Tasks.

Adobe user passwords stolen and uploaded to web. Time to check that your passwords are safe and sound

IF YOU HAVE AN ADOBE ACCOUNT, GET IN AND CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD ASAP.

Let me explain how unskilled hackers get into personal email and bank accounts easily.

One way is to get you to enrol into something with an email address, user name and password of your choosing. They can do this by getting you to register for a free download or purchase, on a dodgy site, or a host of other tricks.

They know that a good percentage of internet users are silly and use the same details for all the sites they are registered with. So as soon as they have your new registration details they try those same details on a host of sites such as email and banking – purely speculatively. If you were that stupid – bingo they are into your precious accounts.

Another way, which requires more skill, is to hack into a company account and steal the passwords and user IDs they have on their system. As hackers like to help each other those passwords are then shared and form the base list of passwords they can bombard a site with using a programme that tries each password from their list in a fraction of a second. Most people use the names or dates of people or events so they will have been included in earlier lists they will have copied, along with a set of dictionary words.

This last technique has just succeeded yet again. LastPass, a password security firm, said on Thursday 7th November 2013 that it had found email addresses, encrypted passwords and password hints stored in clear text from Adobe user accounts on an underground website frequented by cyber criminals.

What you should do about passwords:

The basic way. If a website is your email (such as Gmail, Yahoo, etc) or has your personal date or it involves any sort of financial transaction, make sure it uses a password not shared with another site. Make it a good password that would not appear in any dictionary, one that includes at least on e capital latter and one number.

A better way. Is to use a password manager on your browser (‘browser’ is the generic name for that thing you use to get on to the internet such as Google Chrome, Firefox or even Internet Explorer). I use LastPass which, once I added their extension to the browser, creates strong passwords for me which it remembers. LastPass is excellent.

One of the first things you should do with LastPass it to let it check your existing passwords (which it can do automatically) for strength and change them into something better.

The best way. This is identical to the above but with the addition of two-step-authentication by those sites which make it available such as Gmail and Evernote. This is an optional feature you can switch on. Once you have given a mobile phone number (and usually an additional friend’s one in case you lose yours) whenever you log on using a new machine such as a friend’s or in a library, they send a unique one-off number to your mobile which you then put into the login screen.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. A book I recommend

A lovely book that takes the reader on a journey of their own as they walk with Harold.

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Yes it is well written, but that is not what makes it beautiful. The beauty of the book is because as we share Harold’s history we end up reflecting upon our own. As Harold reflects upon the future, we too are drawn into that experience.

A delightful piece of writing. A pleasure to read.

A quote from The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry.

“They were part of the air he walked through, just as all the travellers he had met were part of it. He saw that people would make the decisions they wished to make, and some of them would hurt both themselves and those who loved them, and some would pass unnoticed, while others would bring joy”

The book reminded me of the values I try to hold on to and live by.

“John Williams’s Stoner is something rarer than a great novel — it is a perfect novel.” I dissagree

The full quote is as follows:

“John Williams’s Stoner is something rarer than a great novel — it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away.”
— Morris Dickstein, The New York Times Book Review

stoner

A great novel? No! An important novel? Yes, I am willing to concede that.

From the outset this novel is odd. The introduction could, in other contexts, be described as a spoiler. Strange that almost the whole content of the novel is presented to the readers before they begin. I assumed at the time that there would of course be more to be discovered when I got on to the body of the novel. I was wrong, the introduction pretty much covers it all.

It is apparent from the outset that this novel is technically well written but, though I plodded on, I never reached a point where I started to enjoy the read. I eventually abandoned it, but not until I was three quarters of the way through. Have I missed anything?

Though I was aware I was reading a story, I failed at any time to be caught up with it in an enjoyable way. Instead I continually felt as though I was listening to the world view of the writer being presented within a tale. And what a bleak world view it is too.

This novel may be important in that it portrays the atheistic hopeless world view, one that is unremittingly bleak, that sees no purpose in anything, or sees any great value of a life lived. What a sad empty one this atheistic world view is. I value the opportunity to peep into that other world view, to observe its sad, empty desolation as a spectator, but I only care to visit its emptiness briefly.

Reading Stoner reminded be, most unlikely, of the Huguenot watchmakers who produced fine watches that were beautifully decorated on the inside which only the maker was likely ever to see. Their explanation was that the visible outside of the watch was for people to see, but the inside decoration was for God.

No I didn’t weep at #LesMis @cityscreenyork but it was a marvellous film and @russellcrowe was great

I had already seen the London stage show of Les Miserables so I had an idea of what to expect. It exceeded all expectations.

At a stage performance the singers have to bellow out the songs to be heard at the back of the theatre. But in this film they were able to sing with gentle passion that drew the audience close.

The scenes of poverty and suffering are the ones, I assume, that move other people early on in the film. I did consider afterwards why I did not feel as others claimed to have felt. I don’t think it is because I am hard hearted. I think I have come to my conclusion why I didn’t weep.

The film presents the viewer with facts of life; injustice, cruelty, poverty, etc. I think some people will be horrified to have to face such realities but I am not. I have been alongside many people, in many places, over the years in my role as a Christian pastor so I already knew such things exist. I have been in homes where the smell was overpowering and the dirt and grime thick. I have been with people as they have wept in hopeless despair. I have admitted I do not have an answer as I have listened to accounts of injustice and loss. Yet I am still convinced of the truth that those who trust in Jesus live forever. I have heard it said that this life is not a dress rehearsal, it is the real thing. I disagree, this life really is merely the dress rehearsal, and the best is yet to come. That is one of the messages of this film.

I already knew some of the great themes of the film. Jesus spoke of the person who could not give forgiveness (in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant – Matthew 18) and described him as being tortured. We see how one man is raised by the power of being forgiven and giving forgiveness, while we see another character fall from a height because he can not give forgiveness nor can he comprehend what Christians understand to be summed up in the word ‘grace’.

I had heard a comment that Russel Crowe’s singing was not very good. I do not expect him to read this, but if he does, I say he was excellent in it. He is an actor who was singing and not a singer who was acting. The scene where he sings, walking on the edge of a great drop, declaring his belief that he is as an angel of God’s judgement, was wonderful. The passion of his conviction was believable and terrible. As the man who could not comprehend grace, his portrayal was heart wrenching. The more so because I have known people as uncomprehending over the years, including my own father who recently died.

I noticed some of the ways the imagery of the cross was repeated. I wonder though how much of the richness of the film, including the imagery of the cross, would go over the heads of those less informed about the claims of Christ and the life he offers.