I strive to practice what I preach (see the previous linked post). I believe God will keep the Internet alive and that He has called me to engage computer security (CompSec) and networking security (NetSec) in particular.
This is behind my efforts to read and understand networking technology as much as possible. The mission to which I’m called requires that working knowledge. As more and more human interaction moves into the virtual realm, with it comes all the same mixture of good and bad impulses. One of the most viable and profitable criminal industries right now is preying on human weakness through the Internet. There is a lot of moral psychology at work in correcting human tendencies to match this rising reality, and I’ve been working on that for years already. But there is a significant portion of this battle that is purely a matter of technology.
So long as this stuff is a blend of human reactions with bits and bytes, there will always be options and choices you have to make. I’ll tell you about mine and some of the reasoning. You can decide how useful that might be for you. My pastoral ministry can be divided up into any mapping you like because I’ll gladly share whatever it is you’ll take from me. I’m not insulted by your selectivity; what you do in the end is between you and the God we all serve. It’s more important that you absorb my experience in terms of assurance that it can and will work out if you really want it.
But I feel I’m standing on pretty firm ground when I warn you that networking is already tougher than most folks imagine, and it’s going to get tougher, even as it becomes more vital to human existence. The business of CompSec and NetSec will take up a growing portion of everything we do. At the same time, the things you can and should do with technology will also grow as it becomes one of the few ways left for humans to interact. Like it or not, this is where things are headed. We who seek the Father’s glory will be hard pressed to find any other route than to engage technology more extensively and expansively.
I will mention in passing that a major prayer item will be seeking however much armor God will offer to keep you sane and heart-led against the rising level of electromagnetic pollution. It does affect you, but God is Our Healer. We pray that technology gets smarter about this so that it does more with less. You can always theorize a better reality, but our calling from God is to take what He places in our hands until the Final Day of Redemption comes.
Meanwhile, we are facing a transition between the dying Western Civilization and the rising Networked Civilization. As always, the old passes many things on into the new, but that they are fundamentally different cannot be denied. This new one will have its own unique sins. Apostle John saw it when the last vestige of the Ancient Near East was dying under the steamroller of the West, and tried to offer a vision of what God had to say about things in general. He couldn’t see all the ugly details of Western Civilization, but had some idea of its fundamental flaws and how it would seek to crush true faith. I’m hardly in the same league as John, but I’m trying to learn from his legacy as I watch how we go from one bad atmosphere to another.
I’m hoping to grasp ways to exploit the differences for Our Father’s glory. This is not a time to get lost in imaginary apocalyptic visions of things that arise from misreading John’s Revelation. If this is the Final End, we aren’t supposed to know that. Rather, let us be found faithful in the midst of the daily business of serving His glory. God has come to visit, but this is not the final disposition of all things, just a matter of auditing along the way. I realize that such a message is not popular, particularly among the ever-frantic mainstream evangelical Christians who keep hyping their particular image of “The Day of the Lord.” I believe they learned their false sense of persecution from the Pharisaical Judaizers, always expecting some kind of grand trauma. It’s just so much cheap entertainment to keep the masses hypnotized. I’m expecting to meet some resistance for daring to say so, but I can’t predict what form or how much it will bring. It’s not a big focus, just something to keep an eye on as I have bigger fish to fry.
So with all this home server, fancy routers, FTP and SSH servers, and the new webhosting and the second blog — a part of what I’m doing is creating a faith accommodation, and just securing the obvious entry points that I can’t remove while guarding the ones I have to put in place on purpose. Outright persecution is unlikely because there just aren’t that many people who notice my ministry in the first place. I’m not trying to reach everyone, just those who are prepared to hear and that’s not a very big slice of humanity. Indeed, I’d be shocked if this thing exploded, and I’d be quick to hand it off to those better prepared. That’s not what God has called me to do — at least not yet. What God has placed in my care is a pretty small flock with peculiar needs. Feel free to unload on me whatever sorrows you face, but don’t expect earthquakes and signs in the sky. This is a quiet and patient work aiming for long-term changes in just those few whom the Lord brings to this ministry, a ministry aimed at working through the virtual social connections.
On the other hand, I’m pretty confident that what we do here is preparation for something that will eventually be grander than we could possibly imagine. There is a sense in which we are building a new reality. It’s the self-deprecating humor that suggests we’ve horsed around long enough with idiocy, so now it’s time to invest in lunacy. It’s not as if Western Christianity was a complete failure, but it’s time has passed. Let’s see if we can influence Networked Christianity is it takes shape. We have room to set a lot of precedents.