You know the drill: This blog is a virtual office for my ministry. I can’t do everything, so some things are excluded by necessity. I’m only human. By the same token, you need not buy into everything you see here.
But virtual space is surely different from meat space, despite the use of metaphors. A primary example is that I only have to write a book one time; it can be multiplied endlessly, in effect. The cost of the resources required to make virtual copies is minuscule by comparison to that of physical copies. And a thousand of you can crowd into my virtual space all at once and nobody has to smell anybody else.
Paul was accused of being harsh and dictatorial in his letters, but wimpy and unimpressive in person. Near as we can tell, Paul had no charisma or charm in the flesh. I suspect this was his “thorn in the flesh.” His written persona and fleshly persona appeared as two entirely different people unless you got to know him well. Just so, my physical presence might bear little resemblance to the impression of me you get here on this blog. Most people who read my nerdy computer stuff are shocked by my very un-nerdy physical presence. You’d have to know me rather well to see the consistency.
This reflects the nature of my calling. I decry activism until it comes to the question of Open Access. Even then I’m not so much an activist as a practitioner. Most activism is religion-in-effect. In my case, religion controls the type and extent of activism I engage. I’ll support your publication of hatred for my religion because I have nothing to lose by Open Access, and everything to gain. In my religion, I don’t set the boundaries of membership and I don’t even imagine I can change anyone’s mind. God handles those things. I’m just along for the ride. I make noise because I can’t be silent, but I have no interest in silencing anyone else.
So I write nerdy computer stuff as an expression of my mission in virtual space. You can ignore that stuff. Alternatively, feel free to ignore the religious stuff and read my technology posts. Take what you can use. But I don’t confuse methods and means with the mission. My religion demands Open Access in the virtual context.
Scripture did not anticipate digital content. However, it does address itself to oppression and limits to governing authority. God sets my domain. What He does not place in my hands is not mine to control. The godly flavor and feel of dominion is determined by the context of the Bible narrative, not our current civilization and social structure. It was necessary for me to write several books trying to explain just how different that is, so I’ll simply note the fact itself here. What most people associate with godly dominion is nothing like God’s character. I am required to operate by what I know of His character, and it does not permit the kind of controls commonly used by governments and businesses. The biblical concept of property ownership is radically different from that of Western Civilization.
In essence, the issue is unjustly externalizing the costs of your convenience. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus said. The nature of the Internet is that everyone and everything is all one level. Once access is granted, all participants are equal in certain ways. Influence and power is voluntarily granted in the minds of humans to other folks, but the Internet knows no such thing. You can control specific access to your machine, but not to anything digitized and sent over the Net.
If you can encrypt it, fine. If you can control access to the decryption keys, fine. You and I know that private stuff between few parties is pretty easy to keep private that way. If you intend to manage access for a much wider audience, it breaks down quickly. That’s reality, but it also reflects a deeper moral principle of God’s character — covenant boundaries. Our world refuses to recognize covenants, but God enforces them anyway. God can rewrite covenants; you aren’t God. Once a covenant is established, it binds all parties except God (though He has been known to bind Himself voluntarily). Private sharing between a few is one kind of covenant. Attempts to sell access violates covenant principle, because God does not permit cash-based covenants.
Covenants are personal in nature. If we are not bound together before God in covenant, then there is no covenant. Contracts don’t qualify. Depersonalizing something makes it also inherently dehumanizing, and God hates that. So attempts to sell keys for decryption and related restrictions on digital data are damned. Attempts to control how data is used once released outside very personal boundaries is an abomination to God. It’s not about the technology, nor the money, but God is looking at the personal factor.
So, for example, if my server transmits something to your computer for display in a browser, God condemns any effort to keep you from saving a copy once the digital content is on your machine. As far as God is concerned, the digital content has entered your domain and you can do what you like with it. Any controls I attempt to assert is evil, and your attempts to circumvent are holy, to state it in the simplest terms. And if I write crappy software controls on my server that you can circumvent to access something, it is evil to make laws in meat space that punish you for it. Once that computer is on the Net, it’s entirely on me to protect the content from your snooping.
By the same token, demanding you submit personal private information for digitization puts on me a very high burden to protect your privacy. If I fail, I am culpable for all losses you suffer; I have in effect become partners with the snoops. Cracking is not immoral in itself. It is just a question of technology. If governments can engage in electronic snooping and sabotaging your system, it is morally legitimate for anyone else. In other words, meat space authority cannot be forced upon the virtual space without bringing God’s wrath.
And we have no business claiming some inherent “right” to digital privacy that excludes attempts by government agencies to access that data. If you did manage to agitate until Congress made laws to stop the NSA from planting spyware on your computer, the NSA would simply lie about it and do it anyway. Get this: The government is loaded with demonic slimy bags of shit. That’s the nature of the secular state. God will punish them for their evil, but cracking your vulnerable Windows computer is not evil. Microsoft personnel will be punished for their deception and marketing practices, monopolistic behavior, and their unjust abuse of Windows users. But if you refuse to learn how to use anything else, what you get is what you deserve. Their evil is no secret; if you tend to holy cynicism, you would know about their sins.
God calls all humans. Those who acknowledge Him can decide in their hearts what He requires. If you sense no call to deal with the complexities of computer technology, but must use computers anyway, you’ll have to trust God for the results. If God afflicts your conscience about it, take appropriate action. However, it is evil to demand other humans invest their resources for your convenience and profit. All the more so if you refuse to acknowledge God in your heart.
So it works both ways. The attitude that you shouldn’t have to exert any effort to get what you want is not from the Holy Spirit. In virtual space in particular, no other agent on the Net is obliged to you without a personal covenant.