Backing Up Your Computer

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” ~ Proverbs 21:20 (NIV)

A few years ago, I got a Windows system pop-up message on my computer. The message was to tell me that Windows believed that my hard drive was about to fail. I am sure this would have been a source of panic if not absolute terror to most people in my situation. Yet in my case I remained calm. This is because I had an up to date backup of my computer data. So the worse case situation would only be the moderate inconvenience. The act of having a current backup of your computer will free you from a lot of computer anxiety. According to the Bible, being ready for potential setbacks in the future is a trait of the wise. Contrary to some current folk theology this is not at all a sign of having a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide. The data on your computer and phone include a mix of irreplaceable pictures and hundreds of hours worth of work. So it only makes sense to take a few minutes a week to backup your data.

Please keep in mind that my intention is not to write an all-inclusive backup guide. My goal is to give simple backup suggestions that can be quickly put into action. A simple backup is better than no backup but if you want to do a more complete job, by all means do more reading on this topic. The most important thing is that if you do not already have a backup system in place, please make one for yourself. Trust me, if you ever have a need for it you will be very glad that you maintained a backup. Likewise even if you never need to use your backup, you also benefit from the peace of mind of having one.

When it comes to backing up data that is of high value, you should follow the computer backup rule of three. The backup rule of three in computer backup is that you should have at least three copies of your data. It is also important for at least one of your three copies to be stored at a remote location. The classic example is that if your computer and backup are in the same place, both can be destroyed in a fire or flood. Your remote backup does not have to be anything fancy. If you already have a safety deposit box, gym locker or secure place at work, you can store a USB memory stick there as your remote backup. If not you can always ask a friend or relative to hold it for you and even swap with them. To prevent any future trust issues, having it in sealed envelopes would not hurt. Another option would be to pick up a USB flash drive for your key chain or a larger SD card for your phone for backups. Just keep in mind that physical storage works best for constant data like pictures.

For data that changes more often, cloud storage would likely work better. Cloud storage includes services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive. Cloud storage services are normally marketed as data syncing services, which doubles as backup. The act of syncing your data across your devices with an online. Therefore these data syncing services are also computer backup rule of three compliant. So placing your active working document in your Dropbox folder, will provide real-time backup. As an added bonus the phone version of Dropbox can be set to upload your pictures as you take them. So your pictures will not only be backed up but also synced to your computer for easy access.

So remember be smart and choose to be among the wise in making sure your computer is backed up. The few suggestions that I gave were only quick and simple things that anybody can put into practice. I also encourage you to do further reading about the best backup for your current needs. There is no one size fits all solution, when it comes to the best method of computer backup. So please do not consider me the final authority and seek out more information for your computers. As I said before, trust me, if anything every happens you will be very glad that you had a current computer backup.

Christianity and Technology

When it comes to deeper Christian spirituality, computers are rarely considered a good companion. There are a growing number of new spiritual disciplines that take aim at the computers in our lives. In recent years I have heard of people giving up social media sites for Lent. I have also heard numerous people talk about fasting not from food but from the Internet. Just like the growing popularity of unplugged retreats that outright ban electronic devices. This is enough to make one wonder if Christian mysticism is Luddite in nature? After all it seems as if in the opinion of lots of people deeper spiritual focus and computers do not mix well. I am not only referring to desktop and laptop computers, but also tablets and smart phones. The thing that we need to remember is that computers are tools. It is impossible for any tool such as computer to be hostile toward Christianity. It is true that computers can be misused in ways that are hostile toward Christianity. Just like it is possible to use a Bible as a weapon to kill somebody. Yet no reasonable person will ever call a Bible hostile toward Christianity.

I wonder what it was that more recently changed the church’s view of technology. Christianity has a long legacy of being on the cutting edge of information technology. Early Christians soon became known as the people of the book to those outside the church. This not only refers to the value the church placed upon the Bible but also to their advanced technology. At the time, the codex was the latest breakthrough in information technology. A codex is the oldest form of organizing written pages that we would recognize as a book today. In short a codex is a stack of pages with handwritten content that are bound together on one side. I am sure it comes as a shock to a lot of us today how big of an information technology the codex was at the time. Compared to the scroll, the codex is superior at every level. A scroll has sequential access memory which makes it awkward to use and even handle. As compared to the codex with its more advanced “random access memory” which makes it much easier to use. This new style of data access forever changed how people of all faiths read their sacred texts. The ability to turn to any page with ease was what led us to index the Bible chapters and verses. The codex was also much more economical than the scroll for several reasons. First the codex is bound in a way that allows for easy use of both sides of the papyrus, vellum or paper. The second is that codices are more durable because the pages are bound within a protective cover. The Bible was the first major work to be widely published as a codex. The codex was developed by the Romans and not the church. However, the church’s early adaptation of the codex happened at just the right time. This is why the spread of codex technology is associated with the rise of Christianity.

The next major point of early information technology adaptation was the printing press. The first modern book to be mass printed on a printing press in the West was the Gutenberg Bible. The Gutenberg Bible was produced over several years in the early to mid 1450’s. The Bible was also the first book that was electronically indexed in a computer system. The Univac Bible of 1955 was both the first ebook and the first instance of computer Bible software. The Univac Bible was used to create a concordance for the Revised Standard Version Bible. This was so ahead of its time that few people realized how big of a deal it was at the time. The first Bible ebook predates Microsoft(1975) by 20 years and Apple(1976) by 21 years. Yes as crazy as it sounds the first electronic Bible came decades before the first household personal computers. (Click here to see pictures of the Univac Bible project)

Unfortunately, the technology explosion created by the computer revolution has become a stumbling block. The church is not alone in the struggle to adapt to the increasingly computer driven world. Now is not the time to get bogged down pointing fingers at each others in the blame game. Even if it was possible to name names and explain how we dropped the ball with computers, it will not help. What matters most is that we week to get back on track with information technology. As the church we need to work on figuring out how to best use computers to to our spiritual benefit. We need to find a way to develop deeper Christian spirituality in the shallow cyberworld.

Looking Forward

“The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” ~ Karl Rahner SJ

“My own religion was constitutionally of a mystical tendency and turn. It is not necessary to say what exactly it amounted to in myself more than this, that there was in me a sense and feeling of much in Christianity which was not to be reached in the way of common thought; but needed for its discernment and apprehension a deeper and more vital mode of knowledge.” ~ John Williamson Nevin

In recent years, many have declared that religion will soon be dead in America. And by religion, more times than not they mean Christianity in the United States of America. The claims of certain doom to religion are almost always rooted in some culture shift in society. If religion has its foundation in culture, they are right in saying that religion will soon be dead. People do not attend church on Sundays, just because it that is what we do as Americans. So if religion needs culture pressure to survive, then it will completely die out. The debate over if the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation does not matter. Even if the United States of America was at one time a Christian nation, it is not a Christian nation now. So to try to insist upon a so called past that most historians consider a myth is not helping anybody. It is only betraying a position of fear and panic in the midst of weakness. To those on the outside, this type of reaction only confirms what they see as the coming demise of religion.

I believe that Karl Rahner accurately predicted the current crisis of the Western church. In his famous statement, he declared that “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” To Rahner, a mystic is a person who has a genuine experience of God emerging from the heart of their existence. In other words, the time is coming when there will no longer be any middle ground in the church. The future of the American church will be like Jesus parable of the sower who spreads the seed. In the end it is only the seed that falls upon the good soil with deep roots and away from chocking weeds that remains. The challenge that remains is adapting the church to fit the new reality that surrounds us. In today’s world it is not unusual for people to spend more time with computers than other people. The rise of computers and the Internet at the birth of the information age has been another game changer. So how does one seek to develop deep and meaningful Christianity spirituality today? I believe that Mercersburg Theology is a good starting point. Briefly, Mercersburg Theology the Incarnation with a central focus of Christ in the world. Mercersburg Theology has two obvious advantages when it comes to Raner’s vision. First, Mercersburg Theology is already focused upon Christ in the world, therefore it is more adaptable to changes in the world. The second is that Mercersburg Theology tends to be more mystical in nature. In fact Mercersburg Theology has a history of leading people into mysticism. This goes all the way back to John Williamson Nevin, one of the founding theologians of the Mercersburg Theology movement. I will get into more detail about Mercersburg Theology in future posts. It is my goal to write practical posts that are able to benefit anybody that has a computer. I realize that people rarely mix the topics of computers and deeper spirituality. Which is why I feel that it is all the more important to explore this neglected area.