What’s Missing from the Occult?

Sometimes a thing can be wrong because it is not right.  I have looked at some of the reasons to not like the Occult.  Now I will point out what it lacks and which Christianity offers.

  1. Social Concern. If the Church can be accused of failing at times to address social problems, it at least acknowledges them and makes an attempt.  In fact there are lots of Christian organisations all over the World working against poverty and injustice of all kinds.  Why is the Occult absent?
  2. Guilt. The only answer the Occult has to your guilt and mine is denial.  That is no help.  Christianity offers the only real answer.
  3. Forgiveness. If someone wrongs you what do you do?  The only answer from the Occult is to get even.  Put a curse on them.   Even if it “works” it is not satisfying in the long run.  Christianity offers reconciliation at the deepest level.Where Will You Go From Here?Where will you go from here?So apart from all the negative things you might like to consider, one good reason to give up the Occult is that there is something much better on offer.  Why not look into it.  What have you got to lose?

Cyber Essentials Plus

I have written a good deal about Cyber Essentials, but some people are confused as to the difference between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus.

  • It is quite simple.  The standard required is the same, so if you comply with Cyber Essentials you will comply with Cyber Essentials Plus.
  • The thing is that to obtain a Cyber Essentials Plus Certificate you need to submit your business to independent penetration testing.
  • I do not provide such a testing service, but am i touch with people who do.
  • So if you want this higher lever of assurance for yourself or your clients, that your business is compliant, ask me more, or go to http://www.cyberessentials4u.co.uk/

Whatever you decide, do take cyber security seriously.  Cyber crime costs a lot of money.  It could be yours!

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

I have written about various things that Christians tend to lump together as the Occult.  Fortune-telling, Magic and Contacting the Dead.  I want also to mention an element of the Occult generally that many Christians and others object to.  That is Secrecy.

  • The word “occult” means “secret” and a lot of the practices Christians condemn as occult are conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy. There seems to be a belief that practitioners hold power through their secret knowledge.
  • This seems to be a modern version of the ancient Gnostic movement, the name of which is derived from the Greek “Gnosis” meaning “knowledge”.
  • Such secrecy seems to many people to require some justifying. Why be secret?  It seems cliquish and elitist.
  • Contrast this with Christianity, as well as many other religions and philosophies, where everything is open and freely available.  Most Christians welcome questions and are very happy to talk about their faith and their experiences.  As far as I am aware, all Christian services are open to any outsiders to visit and observe.  If there are exceptions, they must be very few.  The Bible is of course available online as well as in bookshops. Go to www.biblesociety.org.uk for more information about the Bible.  It’s not confidential!

What Two Things Are Missing From Cyber Essentials?

I have promoted the Government’s Cyber Essentials initiative because it is a good first step to cyber security.

However, I do think that two things are missing.

  1. Firstly it under stresses the importance of offline activities.  It is not much use having great IT if you are going to leave documents lying around on the photocopier, or discuss confidential matters in a loud voice where you can be overheard.  That is like having great physical security on your building and then leaving the door open when you go out.  Believe me, all these security lapses do occur quite a lot.
  2. Secondly, it does not say much about the Supply Chain Risk in relation to Cyber Security.  Do you know how secure are the systems of clients and contractors who have access to any part of your IT systems?  Viruses and malware can got onto your system through the back door if they can get onto your suppliers’ systems.
  3. I would include in No.2 above your employees.  Do you allow, or even require, them to use their own computers for work?  How secure are their systems?  Who else is allowed to borrow their computers?

I hope you will follow the guidelines of Cyber Essentials, but I hope you will also avoid leaving these two potential gaps wide open.  Good luck!

News About the Cyber Risk

If you do not get my newsletter (why not?) you may not know about Cyber Essentials or about the recent Report by IBM on the Cost of a Data Breach.  I think both are things everyone with a computer should know about.

  1. The Government are promoting an initiative called Cyber Essentials which sets out the essential basic controls any business needs in order to make a reasonable effort to manage the cyber risk. For most people it is desirable to follow these guidelines in order to protect your business, but as from 1st October this year it is now a requirement if you want to do business with any branch of Central Government and will be required by other parts of the Public Sector soon.

The five basic elements are:

  • Boundary Firewalls and Internet Gateways.
  • Secure Configuration.
  • Access Control.
  • Malware Protection.
  • Patch Management.

2. Regardless of compliance issues, please bear in mind that IBM have calculated that a data breach costs on average £95 per file compromised. This does not include the cost of fines or penalties imposed by the authorities. The biggest element in the cost is loss of reputation and hence loss of clients.

For more information on Cyber Essentials please contact me on 01925 445215 or e-mail john@jhmriskmanagementservices.co.uk  or go to the Government website www.gov.uk

For information about my partner organisation for Cyber Risk Management go to www.metanoia-business-services.co.uk

For the full IBM Report go to www.ibm.com/services/costofbreach.

For more about my business go to www.jhmriskmanagementservices.co.uk

Do You Want to Contact the Dead?

I have written recently about the Occult.  In particular I had dealt with fortune-telling and magic.  The next major category to be considered is: Contacting the Dead.

Why do Christians condemn efforts at contacting loved-ones – or anyone else – who has passed on?  What’s wrong with wanting to get in touch with the Other Side?

  • Christians believe that the dead go to one of two places, neither of which is contactable. If people think they are doing so, via séances or whatever, they are mistaken.
  • They are probably either being duped or innocently misled. The other suggestion is that they are contacting some kind of evil force.  In any case it is undesirable.
  • It also often includes elements of either fortune-telling or magic as discussed in a previous blog.

If the Church is falling short in its ministry to the bereaved, that is something that needs to be addressed, but trying to contact the dead is not the answer.

Magic and the Occult.

I have written recently about the Occult and specifically about fortune-telling.  Well, the next major category of things you might call the Occult is Magic.

I do not mean conjuring, escapology or other similar forms of entertainment.  I am referring to attempts at influencing events or other people’s minds by spells or rituals.  Regardless of whether such things can ever work, other than through psychology, it is wrong to try to control others against their will.

In this statement I know that I am also condemning political oppression, underhanded sales techniques and all forms of deception and coercion.  Human beings should be allowed to make their own decisions.  Of course we all try to influence each other in various ways, but honest people do so openly with facts, logic, and arguments.   Even emotional arguments can be made openly and fairly.  To draw people’s attention to a genuine danger creates an emotional response, but is fair.  To create a danger which does not exist so as to work up an imaginary fear, is not ethical.

This Halloween, Be Afraid! But Are You Afraid Of The Right Things?

As Halloween approaches, we are reminded of some of our deepest and probably least rational fears.

We are all afraid at times.  Most of us have a fairly permanent fear of certain things.  I am not telling you what mine are.  Just think about yours.  Which of these are you most afraid of?

  • Ghosts
  • Vampires
  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Rats
  • Terrorists
  • Burglars
  • Muggers
  • UKIP
  • False accusations
  • False compensation claims
  • Cyber criminals
  • Ebola
  • Dogs
  • Dangerous drivers
  • Other, please insert…

Most people have no idea what the probability is of encountering each of the above, nor what measures are most likely to be effective to protect you.

Did you know:

  • In Africa the animal which accounts for more human deaths each year than any other is the hippopotamus.
  • In Britain there were eleven times more people killed on country roads last year than on motorways.
  • The Government is concerned that cyber crime is growing and is likely to become a weapon for terrorists as well as criminals and mischief-makers, whilst it gets far less attention from senior management than other kinds of fraud and theft.

Many businesses spend a lot of money trying to reduce risks that are not as serious as they seem, whilst ignoring threats that could put them out of business.

If you are not sure that you are targeting the right threats to your business, perhaps you need to let someone independent look over your arrangements and give an objective opinion.

Nobody knows your business as well as you, but sometimes you just cannot see the wood for trees, or to put it another way, you cannot read the label from inside the bottle.

Why not have a word with me and see what I have to offer?

What have you got to lose?

 

It’s the Way I Tell ’em!

Apologies to the late Frank Carson for borrowing his catch-phrase, but it just seems so appropriate for this article.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was joining with a group from several different churches to form a local “Open the Book” group.  We visit a primary school and read Bible stories from a child-friendly version, the Lion Storyteller Bible.  This is part of a national programme sponsored by the Bible Society.

Go to  http://www.biblesociety.org.uk

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much the children, the teachers, and the volunteers all enjoy these short sessions.  Yet if you asked the average child what they thought of the Bible, apart from those who did not know what it was, most would probably say “BORING”.

What struck me so forcibly is that it is not the content but the way it is presented.  I know I am not the first person to say that, but this current and very real example really illustrates that point.  Obviously it applies in lots of different contexts, but so many adults as well as children have a certain view of the Bible specifically, that it may be worth thinking about how we present it and how we read it.

If you think the Bible is boring, perhaps you just need to try a different translation or a different approach.

Perhaps you could find something helpful at this link http://ezinearticles.com/?8-Top-Tips-for-Overcoming-Obstacles-to-Reading-the-Bible,-Whether-You-Are-a-Christian-Or-Dont-Know&id=8627080

 

Is Forecasting the Same as Fortune-Telling?

I wrote recently about the Occult and specifically about Fortune-Telling.  Am I by implication condemning scientific forecasting.  Well NO.  I certainly did not intend to.  Why not?

Some people get confused about the role of scientific methods for predicting the future, such as weather forecasting and the use of economic or social statistics.  These practices can hardly be wrong in principle, so long as they do not lead to over-reliance or make claims of infallibility.

  • Anybody who did not act on the assumption that day followed night or summer followed spring would be a fool.
  • n the same way, making use of known facts to establish probabilities for the future is perfectly reasonable.
  • Insurers have to assume that a person who has had a lot of accidents is more likely to have another than someone who had never had one.
  • Businessmen need to make realistic assumptions about sales and costs, based on past experience and information about changes in the social and economic environment.

All these examples are concerned with probabilities and do not assume anything is certain or that nothing can be influenced by our behaviour.