Category : Blogging & the Internet

A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’

When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.

Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”

“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(JE) 100 Influential Protestants You Ought to Know

Instead of attempting to repeat the more well-known names you probably already know, what follows is IRD’s list of Evangelicals and Mainline Protestant movers and shakers who fly under the mainstream radar. Others on our list are better known but missed making the Newsmax list. Many are folks IRD’s staff have interacted or collaborated with during the course of our work. All are leading Evangelical and Protestant influencers who you should know.

Note that while the list is numbered, it is in no particular order.

1. Greg Thornbury – Previously president of The King’s College in New York City, Thornbury was recently named Chancellor of the school. He has been dubbed “America’s first hipster college president” by The American Spectator. A respected writer and speaker on pop culture and its relationship to faith, Thornbury has a forthcoming book titled Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Books, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Archbishop of Canterbury intervenes in Anglo-American diplomatic Twitter row

In a rare political intervention, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has explicitly criticised the US President Donald Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right extremist group. Archbishop Justin said “it is deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists.” The UK Prime Minister Theresa May also criticised the US President, but was slapped down by Mr Trump, who told her to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

The original tweets were posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a minority political party with virtually no support in Britain outside its estimated 1,000 followers. In a 2014 parliamentary by-election in the Rochester and Strood constituency, Fransen received just 56 of the 40,065 votes cast. She is currently awaiting trial in Belfast on charges of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” and in Kent for inciting racial hatred.

She and her followers have stormed mosques and carried out what they call “Christian Patrols” – marching in paramilitary-stule uniforms carrying a large cross in areas of the UK populated by people who – either themselves or through their ancestors – have roots in south-Asian countries. She claims to be Christian but it is not known if she attends any church. Her actions and those of Britain First have been condemned by Christian leaders from across the denominational spread.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --Social Networking, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

Happy Thanksgiving 2017 to all Blog Readers!

Posted in Blogging & the Internet

The new Church of England website launches this week

[Wednesday of this week]…marks a significant milestone since the founding of the Digital Communications team at Church House in London one year ago. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Church of England website, which has been rebuilt from scratch with the help of many colleagues in the national office in just seven months from start to finish.
While the old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.

In January 2017 we ran an extensive research project with 1,800 Christians and non-Christians across the country. This included doing the following to understand what people found frustrating, what they’d like to see more or less of and, crucially, how Christians grow in faith and how we bring new people to faith:

Focus groups in Carlisle, Blackburn, Birmingham and London
1:1 interviews
Targeted national online surveys through social media
Website analytics and heatmapping how users interact with the content.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Online porn gives boys a ‘warped’ attitude towards women, bishop Stephen Cottrell says

Pornographic content online gives boys a “warped” attitude towards women, a Church of England bishop has said, as he told Facebook it could not “shrug its shoulders” about its content.

Stephen Cottrell, the bishop of Chelmsford, said that it was “simply no good” for social media companies such as Facebook to say that they were “just a platform upon which others stand”.

“If they wished or if we made them, they could be a ticket inspector of that platform, offering proper control and management of content in all the various ways that our report outlines, such as the right to be forgotten, age verification, the removal of upsetting content, time out and so on.

“The technology is there. But they will not use it unless pressed,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pornography

(WSJ) Three Cheers for Xi Jinping! Wait, Make That a Billion

Give it up for President Xi Jinping !

It’s so easy to do. Just vigorously tap on your smartphone screen to “clap” for him.

That’s the latest way Chinese are showing support for their leader, affectionately nicknamed “Xi Dada,” and at the same time participating in the emergence of Mr. Xi as the kind of preeminent leader China hasn’t seen in more than a generation. The Chinese state under Mr. Xi is exerting ever greater control over the economy and the country’s populace, and its leading technology companies appear willing to go along, if only as a cost of doing business.

As the Communist Party’s congress opened Wednesday, videogame company Tencent Holdings Ltd. released a free game in which users try to outdo one another with hearty virtual applause for Mr. Xi.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(PA) Growing social media backlash among young people, survey shows

Almost two-thirds of schoolchildren would not mind if social media had never been invented, a survey has indicated.

The study provides evidence of a growing backlash among young people disillusioned with the negative aspects of the technology, such as online abuse and fake news.

As well as the 63% who would not care if it did not exist, even more pupils (71%) said they had taken temporary digital detoxes to escape social media.

The survey of about 5,000 students at independent and state schools in England was commissioned by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents the headteachers of independent schools around the world.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology

(Guardian) Franklin Foer–Facebook’s war on free will: is technology is making our minds redundant?

All the values that Silicon Valley professes are the values of the 60s. The big tech companies present themselves as platforms for personal liberation. Everyone has the right to speak their mind on social media, to fulfil their intellectual and democratic potential, to express their individuality. Where television had been a passive medium that rendered citizens inert, Facebook is participatory and empowering. It allows users to read widely, think for themselves and form their own opinions.

We can’t entirely dismiss this rhetoric. There are parts of the world, even in the US, where Facebook emboldens citizens and enables them to organise themselves in opposition to power. But we shouldn’t accept Facebook’s self-conception as sincere, either. Facebook is a carefully managed top-down system, not a robust public square. It mimics some of the patterns of conversation, but that’s a surface trait.

In reality, Facebook is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information, rules devised by the corporation for the ultimate benefit of the corporation. Facebook is always surveilling users, always auditing them, using them as lab rats in its behavioural experiments. While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted. It’s a phoniness that is most obvious in the compressed, historic career of Facebook’s mastermind.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Media, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(NYT Op-ed) Bret Stephens–The Dying Art of Disagreement

So here’s where we stand: Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society. Yet we in the United States are raising a younger generation who have never been taught either the how or the why of disagreement, and who seem to think that free speech is a one-way right: Namely, their right to disinvite, shout down or abuse anyone they dislike, lest they run the risk of listening to that person — or even allowing someone else to listen.

Can we do better?

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

(CNA) In talk at Facebook, RC Bishop Robert Barron tackles how to debate religion

If one goes on social media, he said, “you’ll see a lot of energy around religious issues. There will be a lot of words exchanged, often angry ones, but very little argument.”

Bishop Barron praised the intellectual tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas and his time’s treatment of disputed questions. A professor would gather in a public place and entertain objections and questions.

“What’s off the table? Nothing as far as I can tell,” the bishop summarized. He cited the way St. Thomas Aquinas made the case for disbelief in God before presenting the arguments for rational belief in God.

“If you can say ‘I wonder whether there’s a God,’ that means all these questions are fine and fair,” Bishop Barron continued. “I like the willingness to engage any question.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NY Post) Larry Gelton–Is ‘Cheap sex’ making men give up on marriage?

The share of Americans ages 25-34 who are married dropped 13 percentage points from 2000 to 2014. A new book by sociologist Mark Regnerus blames this declining rate on how easy it is for men to get off.

Regnerus calls it “cheap sex,” an economic term meant to describe sex that has very little cost in terms of time or emotional investment, giving it little value.

Regnerus bases his ideas, in part, on the work of British social theorist Anthony Giddens, who argued that the pill isolated sex from marriage and children. Add online pornography and dating sites to the mix and you don’t even need relationships.

The result is “two overlapping (but distinctive) markets, one for sex and one for marriage, with a rather large territory in between comprised of significant relationships of varying commitment and duration,” Regnerus writes in “Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy” (Oxford University Press).

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Pornography, Science & Technology, Sexuality

(NYT) Do some Big Companies Have too Much Power in America? Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank which they help fund

In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a tech giant that shapes public policy debates with its enormous wealth is criticized.

The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.

But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.

The statement disappeared from New America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(BBCws) The Bible app with a quarter of a billion downloads

American pastor Bobby Gruenewald on how he founded the YouVersion Bible app – now downloaded more than 250 million times on smartphones and tablets. Religion is increasingly moving online but the trend has sparked concerns among traditional church-goers

Listen to it all (approximately 2 1/3 minutes).

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) In Ukraine, Could a Malware Expert Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking?

The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Europe, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Ukraine