Internet blocking and why it will still not protect our children

Some of you may have seen mention of a campaign ran by Premier Christian Media and SaferMedia called “SafetyNet”, this is a campaign to call on the Government to force Internet Service Providers to make accessing pornography an adult only opt-in service.

Ryan at has taken a look at the technical / practical side of this:

Why this won’t work

The campaign calls for ISPs to “block pornography” at “network level”, the consultation expands this into two options. Firstly a universal switch which enables or disables blocking (or “filtering” if you prefer) for the internet connection and secondly an array of questions which apparently will allow the parent to decide which types of content are permitted or not permitted through the same connection. The wording is phrased as if this filtering can be decided on a per user basis rather than a per connection basis but the type of filtering they are describing cannot be managed in that way. In brief the type of filtering they are proposing (regardless of which option is used) is unworkable and dangerous. I’ll focus on pornography here because that is the main thrust of the campaign but the same points can be applied to other content types. Here is why…

How do you define “pornography”?

You can’t (as the campaign does) try to get away with a dictionary definition because we are dealing with parents here who may well have their own idea of what is appropriate for their child to view. Limiting it to just ‘the explicit representation of sexual activity’ may not be enough. As an example if that were all that was being blocked I still would need to check what my 8 year old was stumbling across on Google images at which point the “protection” is not coming from the blocking but from me (as it does now). Additionally who decides what content fits into what categiry and what level of “risk” there is? One parent may consider it perfectly aceptable for their child to see say a scantily clad woman in a provactive pose, another may not and yet both would expect such a filtering service to met their needs. It can’t.

If you’re interested in this, I’d suggest reading the whole article over at

The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith

Francis Spufford has written on The Guardian offers a defence of Christianity, and a pondering about ‘those’ bus adverts

My daughter has just turned six. Some time over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We’re weird because we go to church.

This means as she gets older there’ll be voices telling her what it means, getting louder and louder until by the time she’s a teenager they’ll be shouting right in her ear. It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we’re too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we’re savagely judgmental. That we’d free murderers to kill again. That we’re infantile and can’t do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend, that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourseves before a god who has the reality-status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.

But hey, that’s not the bad news. Those are the objections of people who care enough about religion to object to it. Or to rent a set of recreational objections from Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. As accusations, they may be a hodge-podge, but at least they assume there’s a thing called religion which looms with enough definition and significance to be detested. In fact there’s something truly devoted about the way that Dawkinsites manage to extract a stimulating hobby from the thought of other people’s belief. Some of them even contrive to feel oppressed by the Church of England, which is not easy to do. It must take a deft delicacy at operating on a tiny scale, like fitting a whole model railway layout into an attaché case.

No: the really painful message our daughter will receive is that we’re embarrassing…

Read the rest on the Guardian website

A look at @YouVersion

Do you struggle with the Bible?

Personally I do. Not because of any deep seated theologically based reason, but simply because I’m not the world’s biggest reader. Any regular visitor to The Church Sofa would probably guess that if I do read, I read shorter sharper snippets, rather then sitting down for longer articles.

I guess I approach reading books in a similar way; instead of sitting down somewhere and opening a book, I’m far more inclined to open the Kindle app on my iPhone while sat on the train, and read a chapter quickly before the train gets to my stop.

So if I struggle with the idea of reading any book, how do I read a book that some people consider large, long, and boring?

Enter YouVersion. Never heard of it? Well in the words of the :

“The Bible App™ is a free Bible for mobile devices. Based on the online Bible,, the Bible App allows users to read the Bible, share verses with their social networks, bookmark their favorite passages, and more—all in a format that keeps up with their increasingly mobile lifestyle.”

On one level, its nice simple and very straightforward to use. If you want to use this on an iPhone / iPad, it really is a case of going to the app store, type in Bible, and its there with a picture of a Bible with “Holy Bible” written on the front of it. When you bear in mind that its free, its very hard to miss!

You can stop there, and use it as a Bible in your pocket. (possible to help you with #Bible365) Or you can take a bit of time and dive into some of the extra options on the app, or log into the website and find the ways that help turn this from a Bible app, into a tool to help you engage with the Bible. You can save notes and bookmarks, and share them with friends. The Live Events are also worth looking out for. What really makes this app stand out though are the Bible Reading Plans. These give the chance to read a number of structured Bible reading plans on either mobile, the website, or have the updates emailed to you, meaning that your time reading the Bible fits into your day as naturally as possible.

All that aside, what really sells this app to me is quite simply the alarm function.

Do you forget to read the Bible? Then this alarm can help you make Bible reading a habit.

This post originally appeared on The Big Bible

Weekly Roundup: The Hate | Hope Edition

Hello, and welcome to the Bank Holiday Edition of the weekly round up: