Duty and the Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is one of the most profound of Jesus’ teachings. The foundational teaching of the parable - love of others - is clearly taught in the example of the Samaritan. We look upon the actions of the priest and Levite as being less righteous than those of the Samaritan, but is that actually the case? Is there a greater lesson in the parable that would have been easily grasped by those who heard Jesus, yet missed by us due to the cultural separation we have from those listeners? I believe there is and I would like to discuss it here.

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On Excommunication and Christian Duty

This is an open letter to both members and leaders of my faith regarding excommunication and the handling of dissent within the faith. I’m not going to spend time discussing the details of Kate Kelly or John Dehlin, because I would like to address a concern that is larger than their specific situations: The treatment of dissenters by the Church (the corporate organization) and the church (members of the faith).

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The Truthfulness of the Church and Service

Along the lines of my earlier post on passing judgement, I heartily recommend reading Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel by Eugene England. I think it is a wonderful article for those who struggle to remain in the Church because of the foolishness often seen in the Church, whether it be watered-down lessons, overbearing leaders, or thoughtless members.

Measuring Others

“Do not condemn others, so you are not condemned. For that judgement you use to judge, will be used to judge you, and the measurement with which you measure, will be used to measure you.”
Matthew 7:1-2, my translation using NA-28

I read these scriptures this morning and they dovetail with some of my thoughts recently about our relationship with others - in our families, our church organizations, and in our society at large.

How many times have I been frustrated by members of my ward, or my wife, or my children because I measure them against a standard that is not fair for them, that they cannot meet? Would I be better off not measuring them at all, and appreciating them for who they are? Do I give others the grace/charity that I would hope Christ gives to me? I certainly want Christ to measure me against a very liberal, flexible, and merciful standard, so do I use the same type of standard in my dealings with others?

I wonder if I spend too much time learning doctrine and not enough time practicing it.

The State of Grace

This past week I gave a lesson to the young men on Christ’s grace. I enjoyed preparing for the lesson and hope my comments sparked some thought among the young men.

The Greek word used by Paul in the New Testament, and particularly in Romans, where he really digs into grace, is χάρις, which means grace, but in greater context means a gift freely given to someone, even though they may not have earned it, and where no payment is expected. It is the root of our word charisma or charismatic, which allude to gifts someone inherently possesses. Paul, when referring to Christ’s grace, is referring to the gift Christ gives us - a gift we have not earned and for which we cannot repay him.

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Satan Is No Dupe

During Sunday School several weeks back, while discussing Satan’s role in the fall of Adam and Eve, someone pointed out how Satan was a dupe in the whole process, unwittingly bringing about God’s plans. Many people had a good laugh but I believe there is much to learn in considering why Satan would move God’s plan forward. Satan is no dupe and it’s important to remember that the story depicted in Genesis is not meant to be historically accurate, though we can benefit from thinking critically about Satan’s motivations.

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Expanding Topics

I’ve decided to collapse some previously unrelated projects into this site and thus expand the topics I’ll be writing about. The most noticeable change will be the addition of a bunch of writings on religion, a topic about which I am quite passionate. I’ll also write about various other topics, such as politics, education, philosophy, and generally whatever holds my interest at the moment. I don’t want to go crazy and have this become my soap box where I yell into the Internet and puke my thoughts onto the page. Rather, I’ve really been enjoying more long-form writing and hope to present more thought-out ideas on various topics, either as posts or essays in PDF form.

Anyway, the change will likely have me posting more often and on topics more wide-ranging than just photography or information security.

White Rock Bay

I have been itching to get out west of Salt Lake now that the weather is warming up. I love the west desert in the late winter and spring. Life is springing up again, there is green grass, and the weather is perfect.

My daughter and I went to Antelope Island to hike around. We ended up on an overlook of White Rock Bay on the west side of the island. We found a nice rock outcrop shaped like a huge chair and settled in for a snack while we waited for the sun to set and provide some nice lighting. This image was taken near that spot, looking out across White Rock Bay toward Elephant Rock in the distance.

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Node.js Security Training

I’m not being paid to make this recommendation at all (I just happen to know Adam Baldwin), but if you build Node apps at all, you really should consider the new secure development training for Node offered by ^lift. Even if you can’t make one of the training sessions they offer, it is well worth your time to chat with them about the security of your Node app. If security is baked into the app and is part of the development process, the chances of avoiding an embarrassing security vulnerability are drastically reduced.

These guys know their stuff and work with organizations such as GitHub and npm, Inc.

Check it out: ^lift Node Security Training

Windows Scripting Host and Fake Antivirus

As a follow up to my previous post about the Windows Scripting Host (WSH), I should mention that I have seen a bunch of fake antivirus website pop-ups attempt to load a file called setup.exe.vbe by downloading the file via the browser and attempting to get wscript.exe to execute the malicious script. I have noticed that not all of these attempts have been caught by antivirus and virtually none of them by vendor-supplied network-based IPS signatures.

If you monitor change activity on your hosts, look for attempts by wscript.exe to execute a file called setup.exe.vbe and ensure that it was not successful.