Friday, October 22, 2010

Glee, God, and Unsupported Faith...

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

Glee, God and Unsupported Faith…

It might surprise some people that I am a huge fan of Glee. For those who don’t know, Glee is a show on Fox that shows the trials and tribulations of a group of singers who want to be accepted by the general populace, and to fit in with each other.

I was in choir in high school, and in theater also, and I’m straight. I can relate to the crap they take from outside the group, as we were called ‘Choir Fairies’ ‘Choir Fags’ all because we wore robes. Of course, with the average height of our Baritone/Bass section being over 6 feet, they only would say things if one of us were alone and there were at least 3 of them.

Well, on the episode of Glee that I write about, three episodes ago, one of the characters, Finn, made a Grilled Cheese Sandwich that had a little burnt part that looked like Jesus, he called it Cheesus.

Finn was not a person of faith, but thought that God was talking to him, or showing an interest in him, and he started asking questions, wanting to have faith, even praying to Cheesus to make him Quarterback of the football team again, so he could be popular as he had been before, and when he does achieve that goal, then he thinks that Cheesus is all powerful

On a secondary plot, the Openly Homosexual, Kurt, has a crisis when his father has a stroke. Now Kurt, of course has NO FAITH what so ever, because in his world, all Christians can’t handle that he is homosexual, which of course isn’t true, in the Glee Universe, or in real life.

So, Finn is trying to find God, and Kurt is pissed off because people want to be there for him, and he pushes them away, because God can’t be real, at least to him. Even when he comes to his father’s room, and he friends are around his father, praying for him, of all faiths, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Kurt dismisses them all, kicking them out of his father’s room, because if God can’t love him for who he is, then God can’t be real.

So, then we get Sue, who hates the Glee club, see them as a drain on useful things in life, like being a Cheer-io, the cheerleader coach. Jane Lynch is wonderful as the Cheerleader Coach, and is brought in to dissuade people for expecting God to be there, to answer prayers, to actually care about US, because her prayers weren’t answered when she prayed for her older sister to be healed, from having autism, and because she wasn’t, God isn’t real.

So, Sue gets Kurt to stop believing in Cheesus, Mercedes invites Kurt to her church, where he sees that there are people who accept him as who he is, or has decided to be, and Sue finds out from her sister, that she never wanted to be ‘normal’ but was happy the way that she is.

Well, to me, this really does mimic so much of life, in its real course.

Finn, instead of finding someone, including his friends, to confide to, thinks he has all the answers, and then gets his new found faith crushed by one who doesn’t believe in God, due to her ‘prayers’ not being answered, as instead of seeing how God can work through people who might be different then the norm.

Kurt discovers that not all Christians are out to condemn him, to hurt him, to stone him, but that there are those who will accept him. Because we do not, in anyway shape or form have the right to judge others. We may disagree with their choices, but they are the ones who have to answer to God in the end. We can share the love of God that we have received, we can disagree with the way they chose to live their lives, but we cannot judge them for it.

Now let’s take this to real life and how our high schools seem to be. Had there been someone allowed in the high schools to talk to Finn about his new found faith, he would have found that there really is a God who answers prayers, and that it isn’t about false idols, but about faith in things unseen, but hoped for. Catholics, to me, have a problem in burning candles to Saints, and the virgin Mary, when all they were are people, and it turns their eyes away from God, and onto things that don’t matter.

Had Kurt not allowed his heart to be hardened against a loving God, because Kurt pigeon holes all Christians as being the same, then he would have been open to hear the true message of God and Jesus.

And in real life, who knows, maybe that is what should happen, to those who are so lost in high school. People are so freaked out by those who profess faith, they bag on those who show faith, attack those who want to help, and turn to people who want to stop them from seeing God, and that faith TAKES faith, and it isn’t always an easy answer, and sometimes the answer is no, but that in the end, it is up to you and a relationship with God that will determine your path.

Glee is a wonderful program, and boy do they make the bucks off of the soundtracks, which they push each week after the shows, but the writing is wonderful, showing how hard it is for those who are different to fit in during the high school years. I know I had a hard time because of my faith, and I don’t push it on anyone, but have always been willing to share it with those who want to know.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

More information on these topics:

William Lane Craig answers the question, "Christian homosexuals?" here.

God and Tragedy by Greg Koukl here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five (7) tips to ensure safe online purchases...

This is an article I read, over at TechRepublic, by a great blogger named Michael Kassner. He recently fell prey to conveinence over safety. The five tips he lists are very benefical, may seem like "common sense," but even the greatest of techies' fall short in their effort of shopping safe online. Here are the five tips Michael provides:

1: Use a credit card provider that offers one-time credit card numbers

This is where I got sloppy. I normally use a credit card provider that offers one-time numbers. But I was in a hurry and didn’t. What I gained at the moment was lost times 10 when I had to clean up my mess. Using my one-time credit card number would have removed any possibility of someone reusing the stolen information.

2: Make sure the Web site is valid and trustworthy

I recently wrote a piece on Blackhat SEO and how criminals are subverting real Web sites with malware or creating believable copies of real Web sites loaded with malware. I suggest using one or more of the site-rating Web-browser extensions. If the site is problematic, you will know.

Some of the better-known extensions are Web of Trust, LinkExtend, and McAfee SiteAdvisor. You also have the option to check questionable domains on the extension developer’s Web site.

3: Check to see whether the Internet connection is secure

This may seem obvious, but people get lulled into complacency. I have to remind myself to double-check that a closed padlock is displayed, that https is used, and that the certificate is valid — ideally, an EV certificate. Each Web browser uses a slightly different approach, so make sure you understand how your browser advertises secure Internet connections.

4: Beware of deceptive or disguised offers

Last year, I wrote an article about coupon-click fraud and how people were unknowingly signing up for programs or offers they did not want. When you’re filling out the information required to make an online purchase, carefully read what all the check boxes represent, regardless of whether they’re selected. Opt-in and opt-out wording may be interchanged.

5: If actively shopping on the Internet, check often for unusual debit/credit card transactions

This tip is important. In almost all cases, discovering fraudulent charges early will lessen the impact of the problem. In fact, financial institutions usually absorb the charges if they’re reported within a few days. So check often and know the liability limits used by your debit/credit card provider.

Extra tip: Call the order in if there is any doubtSounds simple enough, but many people don’t think of it. If I have any concerns at all, I will call the order in. The company may still have problems, but you don’t have to worry about its Web site being malicious or phishing for your financial information.

Another extra tip: Keep track of monthly or revolving debit/credit card chargesI now have a list of all my monthly charges, like the YMCA. I hope I won’t need it, but if my credit card information is compromised again, I will know who to contact.

Final thoughts: I got caught, giving convenience the nod over security. The above advice should prevent a reoccurrence. I hope l take it.

An extra tip I would add is to USE PAYPAL when shopping on eBay. Ebay is good about stressing the importance of using Paypal, I just thought I would mention it. Also, AVG utilizes the safe Web-extension serive in their
free anti-virus protection, so you don't have to purchase McAfee or others for that service. Make sure, when you're on websites that have you enter information, to check that you see "https" in the address bar at the top of the browser. The padlock is important to notice too.

For more resources on internet security click here.

Michael Kassner's blog posts and blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is God a moral monster?

To answer quickly, "no." Paul Copan wrote an article with the title, "Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites," in which he examines an OT difficult passage of the Israelites taking over the land of the Canaanites with brutality. Here is an excerpt:

4 Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide?

Both Rauser and Morriston utilize the term "genocide," and Rauser mentions "ethnic cleansing." However, ethnic cleansing suggests a racial hatred, which just is not behind the injunctions to kill Canaanites. Consider how Rahab and her family were welcomed into the Israelite fold. Visions of ethnic and moral superiority are not part of the picture.[17] In the Mosaic Law, Yahweh repeatedly commands Israel to show concern for strangers and aliens in their midst (for example, Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:18–19), since the Israelites had been strangers in Egypt. Moreover, prophets later view the nations once singled out for judgment (for example, the Jebusites–a Canaanite people [Deut. 7:1]) as the ultimate objects of Yahweh's salvation. For example, in Zechariah 9:7, the Philistines–on whom God pronounces judgment in 9:1–6–and the Jebusites (who came to be absorbed within the fold of Judah) are both to become part of God's redeemed "remnant." This theme is reinforced in Psalm 87, where the Philistines and other enemies are incorporated into the people of God.[18]

Yahweh's evident concern for the nations in the OT hardly supports a Gentile-hating, arrogant ethnocentrism. Rauser notwithstanding, the Israelites did not determine themselves to be the in-group, who in turn demonized the out-group and then destroyed them. Yahweh pointedly reminds his people that their taking the land is not due to their intrinsic superiority ("righteousness," "uprightness of heart"), but because of the "wickedness" of the Canaanites. Indeed, the Israelites are "a stubborn people" (Deut. 9:4–6).

This is a great take on the problem of the taking over of the Canaanites. The Israelites were not superior to the Canaanites at all, most importantly, no human being is better than another human being, so I think Paul Copan makes a good case here. Racial hatred was not behind the killing of the Canaanites. The taking of the land was because of the wickedness of the Canaanites. To read the first and the rest of the article click here.

For more Paul Copan resources click here.

Moral resources on Wintery Knight's blog here.

William Lane Craig, "Did Commit Atrocities in the Old Testament?" under the Reasonable Faith podcast section.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Free Microsoft Applications

Over at TechRepublic, I found an interesting article about free Microsoft applications. I was thinking I already knew all of the ones offered, but I was really surprised. Of the 10 mentioned, Worldwide Telescope looks the most interesting, though the others are cool too.

1: Paint.NET

Paint.NET started as a computer science project at Washington State University. But it was such a good image and photo-editing product (as well as an exceptional example of the .NET Framework technology in action), Microsoft hired the two developers, Rick Brewster and Tom Jackson, and has allowed them to continue improving the application and offering it as a free download. Paint.NET has a great user interface (Figure A), and it’s easy to use. It provides all the essential image-editing features you need, plus layers, special effects, and support for a wide range of image formats. Paint.NET also has quite a following on the Internet, and you can find lots of help, tutorials, and plug-ins — and it supports Windows 7!

2: Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition

If you’re a Web site developer at any level, you need to investigate Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition. This easy-to-learn, easy-to-use development environment makes it a snap for anyone to create Web sites or small applications. Mainly aimed at the amateur or intermediate-level developers, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition provides professional-level features that will allow you to create a wide variety of Web sites, from the most basic HTML to more advanced ASP.NET pages or SQL Server databases. You can get started by viewing an introductory video that covers the main features of this package and walks you through some of the most common tasks.

3: XML Notepad 2007

If you need a basic, yet powerful XML editor, you’ll want to investigate XML Notepad 2007. The user interface features a tree view pane on the left that provides a color-coded view of classes, tags, and values. On the right, the main text editor pane shows all text, which is synchronized and color matched to its associated identifier on the left. You can even customize the colors and choose fonts to your liking. Other features include drag and drop, find and replace, incremental search, instant XML schema validation, a built-in XML Diff tool, and much more. You can learn more about the XML Notepad 2007 Design on MSDN.

4: Virtual PC 2007

Windows 7 supports Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. However, if you are running Windows Vista or Windows XP, you can still download and use the free Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 package, which will allow you to run multiple operating systems at the same time on the same physical computer. Virtual PC 2007 is easy to install and easy to use.

While you can install your own copies of Windows in Virtual PC 2007, at the time of this writing, Microsoft has several preconfigured VHDs (virtual hard drives) containing sample copies of Windows XP and Windows Vista that you can download and install in Virtual PC 2007 for testing purposes. You can find another Vista evaluation here.

5: WorldWide Telescope

The WorldWide Telescope from Microsoft Research offers a rich visualization environment that essentially provides you with a virtual telescope. This package brings together amazing imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope and approximately 10 earthbound telescopes. The images are stitched together seamlessly, allowing you to pan around outer space and zoom as far into any one area as the data will allow.

6: Windows SteadyState

If you support shared-access computers in a public venue, such as a classroom/lab, a library, or an Internet cafe, you’re definitely a prime candidate for Windows SteadyState. With this package, you can configure and lock down a Windows system to be just the way you want for your public setup. Users can do whatever they need to do, change whatever they want, or even inadvertently crash the system with malware while they’re using it. When they are done, you can reset the entire system to be exactly the way that it was the first day you configured it, just as if no one had used it. You can find several demos as well as an FAQ that will help you quickly determine if Windows SteadyState is the tool for your environment.

At the time of this writing, Windows SteadyState supports Windows XP and Windows Vista. Once Windows 7 is out the door, Microsoft should be adding it to the list of supported operating systems.

7: SyncToy 2.0

As its name implies, SyncToy is a synchronization tool designed to assist you in maintaining duplicate copies of files you might keep on a laptop and a desktop or on a desktop and a network drive. With the widespread availability of inexpensive external hard disks, SyncToy is also a great backup tool. SyncToy is intuitive, and it sports a straightforward user interface. In fact, the first time you use it, the opening screen prompts you to select a pair of folders you want to use, and then for simplicity, the folders are designated as the Left Folder and the Right Folder. There are five synchronization methods to choose from, but since there is no built-in scheduling capability, you must perform the operation manually. Even so, SyncToy 2.0 is extremely quick and efficient and is a great tool.

8: Office Accounting Express 2009

Office Accounting Express is an easy-to-use accounting package that has the familiar Microsoft Office interface and is designed to integrate seamlessly with other Office applications. Providing most accounting features a small business might need, such as managing credit cards, bank accounts, payroll, vendors, invoices, quotes, cash sales, and even built-in PayPal functionality, Office Accounting Express is a great piece of software for business managers.

9: SQL Server Express 2008

SQL Server Express 2008 is a slimmed-down version of SQL Server, yet it retains all the powerful SQL database features you need for building Web sites and apps. In fact, there are three versions: Express, Express with Tools, and Express with Advanced Services. It’s easy to learn and easy to use, and it provides the same advanced database engine as the full-fledged editions of SQL Server.

10: ServerQuest II game

OK, for the last of these Microsoft freebies, let’s take a look at something technologically entertaining. Do you remember playing the vintage computer games King’s Quest or Leisure Suit Larry? If so, you should enjoy Microsoft TechNet’s ServerQuest II game. It emulates the same sort of pixilated graphics (Figure C) and cheesy humor as those classics, but it’s aimed at IT professionals and computer specialists. In the game, which is created with Silverlight and runs in your browser, you play an IT pro (either Matt or Alicia) whose objective is to keep the network running smoothly while encountering a host of technical problems that are presented as games and puzzles, ranging from the absurd to things you might encounter in the real life of an IT pro. As you work through the tasks, you’ll learn about and use Microsoft technologies to solve problems, encounter hidden Easter Eggs, earn geek points, and get to post your high scores for others to compete against. The game is really very humorous — and you might even learn some interesting troubleshooting techniques as you play.

So which one sounds the most interesting to you? Do you know of any other free applications from Microsoft?