Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Truly Faithful Would Never Abuse People At The Hands Of Their Small-minded Religion

...a friend of mine recently shared the following testimony:

"I am so very hurt right now! I have lost many friends and family members from my life due to the fact that I am a lesbian and it seems I might have lost one more because of this fact.

Although I appreciate your concern for my eternal salvation, I need everyone to know this is not a lifestyle choice; it is a part of who I am! When I was younger I did so much damage to myself and others around me desperately trying to ignore who I am. It finally came to the point to where I had to be honest with myself and everyone around me or die, and I came very, very close to dying.

I chose to live. That was many years ago and I have never and will never regret that decision.

Being gay is not something you can just pray away, nor is it something that you can go to therapy for to get rid of and there is not a pill you can take to make it go away! It is not something I can laser off like a tattoo, Botox away like a wrinkle or put makeup over to conceal! It is simply a part of my person. You can choose to continue to love and accept me for who I am or you can delete me from your life. Either way I will continue to be a much happier person being who I am and loving myself just the way I am. I have several flaws but being a lesbian is not one of them!"

My perspective and response on this topic were of course lengthy and blunt: (What else is new?)

"Your message above was inspiring and a blessing!

Some folks are a muse for love and acceptance, while others are a muzzle for truth and grace. You are truly a muse!

As for your self-professed, "ex-friend"; they are undoubtedly in a very sad place. A place that designs and depends on false persecutions and fear; so that they might mistakenly imagine, some deeper love from God (and perhaps, new, "Christian" friends,) will be bestowed on them.

As if, due to their own imaginative diligence and bravery, they have earned reverence and respect. Unfortunately, they have very little understanding for the God they so desperately seek to impress.

It is their own life and "religion", which will continue to be a harsh struggle; due to the shallow, sad, version of lacking love, depth and understanding they possess. While on the contrary, your own life has found depth and liberation; though the acceptance and survival of the confusion, pain, circumstances and misunderstandings your own past has dealt you.

As your own life was faced with extreme hardships and confusion at times; you honored it with wisdom and grace. And while your confused friend sought salvation, and "Christian community"; they in turn, insulted their God with narrow-minded thinking and a complete perversion of any meaning Christ's sacrificial death represented. They have lost all perspective, (assuming they ever had it?) for what the cross so painfully represents and what purpose His unconditional atonement served.

It is often incredible, how poorly interpreted life can be at times. We live in a place so entirely full of irony. Just astounding! ...but I do still believe it all has purpose!

Your strength and honesty are both, an inspiration to all of us who understand. Hopefully, a revelation to any of those who live in a world of lies and fear. ...not to mention those who encourage, completely contorted and reckless methods of worship, religion and/or bad theology.

It is a sad state of affairs when people close to us seek or discover a faith, based on grace; and yet manage to ignore or avoid its' clear messages in order to feed their own insecure version of purpose and belonging!

Only the smallest-minded of Christians override the message of God in order to undermine the hearts of others!!!

Simply put, they use religion to find fault in others, so that they might feel further sanctified and special. It is a distortion, abuse and sickness the Bible speaks of a great deal. Your friend is neither alone, nor original in their ignorance.

Along their own journey, such weak Christians create (or are taught) a "religion"; rather than bother to learn, sound theology. Any religion, blatantly missing the messages of Christ's teachings, typically uses false persecutions and fear to inspire reasons to judge others.

Whether conscious or not; such mislead, wretched actions are usually fueled by the most basic desires to feel special, loved, exclusive, betrothed, "saved"; within an insecure life, which has let them down many times. They now find purpose, (perhaps they even interpret life as having more secure or safe fellowship,) while disposing of certain relationships in order to shore up their previously, and unfortunately persistent, insecure place in this world.

Whenever possible, try to fight the urge to dwell on such judgments; nor allow such ignorance to rob you of even one day of happiness. Their lost causes are simply not worth it! And unfortunately, it would take more years than you or I have, to help them through their ignorance and often intentionally, misinterpreted faith.

Such shallow faiths are hardly a source for the very salvation they claim to seek; and far, FAR, from any message Christ shared with all of us. Nor are their judgments about your own salvation in keeping with anything Christ death represented. Other than the ironic fact, that lucky for them, He also atoned for their ignorance and pathetic, insulting ways of abusing his message and His repeated definitions of love and grace.

It has been a pleasure to know you, since we were small children! Sorry I was not in the area or around, during those times in your life when things were their hardest! Our own early memories together were mainly that of playing around and goofing off! Here's to many more years like those! :-D"

If you ever have some spare time one day; and your not totally sick of my rants at this point?
...I was inspired in January to Blog on some of these same conclusions:

Additionally, my own humbling journey has also lead to much personal growth; I summarized some of this here:

I have also witnessed my share of men, "dropping the ball", and causing plenty of greif. Some of those lessons I summarized here:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sometimes YOU Bite The Apple, Sometimes IT Bites You!

Yet another friend suffered a loss of all contact information on their iPhone again today! Their posted frustration included, "I hate iTunes!"; given the fact it was actually a recent sync attempt which caused the data/contact information blunder.

I can understand the frustration being directed towards iTunes. Most decidedly when you are managing multiple Apple device and a mixed set of users on a single home PC! Then it gets extremely confusing! When a person finds themselves in this painful, data loss dilemma, the primary disappointment and focus has to be on the odd role Apple originally and mistakenly designed iTunes to have in the ownership of all phones marketed by Apple!

Apple originally designed the iPhone (like the iPod) as a "Companion devices", meaning they expected you to own an additional computer (say, a Mac) in order to use the phone effectively. Apple didn't even launch an "App Store" for the iPhone for another year after the phone was released.

Apple had benefited handsomely over the years with the success of the iPod, when it managed to draw 100's of thousands of rather unwitting, home based, computer users into their stores; who desired to do little more than surf the web and write occasional e-mails.  These visitors became excellent converts to Apple's line of Mac and Macbooks.

It's no wonder Apple expected the iPhone to help establish even more future Mac ownership. As a result, they never saw an issue with creating a device dependant (or companioned) to yet another Apple purchase.  In their eyes, this dependency just made good business sense.  But like a lot of Apple policy's and marketing, it doesn't make good, ultimate, consumer sense.

The only changes we have luckily seen thus far to this "locked down", limited approach; which Apple notoriously controls it's "loyal" consumers through; occurred in large part due to the (ensuing) introduction of the Google Android phone.

Google introduced a device which depended solely on the internet and exploiting Google's own, free cloud from day one.  Unfortunately, Apple has repeatedly been beaten over the decades at its own game, due to its (Steve Jobs) stubborn addiction to control and exclusivity.  Consumers just don't ultimately want such uninvited, and unneeded restriction.

The Android line of products doesn't use (or expect) ANY additional computer. EVERYTHING is automatically backed up "in the cloud".  And automatically restored or transferred to any new device or recovered device the moment you type in your Google cloud credentials. (A simple user name and password.)

Apple has now attempted two failed solutions at solving this initial and typical, flawed, "companion device", philosophy.  To get beyond the companion requirement they first introduced, a $99 per year options called Mobile Me, They failed miserably, and the project is known as one that Steve Jobs directly met with the head developers over, scolding it's usage methods and lack luster popularity. Now iCloud is proving to be Apple's latest misunderstand as to how to utilize the internet seamlessly and offer its customers flexibility and power as well as peace of mind.

iCloud would be much more accurately named iSync, since it offers no real Cloud based features, power or applications to speak of.  Alternatively, it attempts to serve as the go between resources for "syncing" all your devices via the internet.  Luckily, since most iPhone users are newcomers to the Smartphone world, most just don't know what they are missing when it comes to good, powerful, transparent uses of things like connectivity and cloud based storage and applications.

Even old Windows Phone users have seen such advantages executed exceptionally, over 7 years ago; with things like MS Server Enterprise integration.  Here Apple is flush with cash, but they still can't even come close to hitting this nail on the head.  And historically speaking Apple has never been able to maintain ANY services or product lines which utilize and depend on enterprise (much less cloud) level solutions.

A seamless syncing and backup solution which require no thought, additional software, annual subscriptions, activation or learning curve has been a base feature on any and all Android based, Google devices since their introduction to the market. This type of data backup is simply automatically initiated to the Google Cloud, where it can then be accessed, downloaded or edited at will, via any internet browser.

This is one of the many reasons Android phone far out sale iPhones. This and the value comparison of the handset cost (including, required, long-term, contracts) versus hardware offerings. (Not to mention the higher cost of Apps; with much lower percentages paid to the developers; and highly restricted outlets for media, books, music, movie, etc..) However, since Apple iPhones are typically their consumers first smart phone, (most folks owning them previously used a Motorola Razors, at best.) iPhone typically has a very loyal following with these folks new to such convergence. So once such leaps and first steps are taken towards a Smartphone platform, few folks would consider braving or learning yet a 2nd "smart phone", after making their way to their first.

Additionally, Apple sets up their ecosystem in such a way that a user must feel vested towards their branded hardware or risk losing many of the costly purchases they made over the years in order to populate their phone with useful media and software. Such exclusivity and "closed architectures" are often referred to as "walled gardens". Apple is the king of such consumer manipulation. (This is also the contributing reason smart group like MIT and other's are now abandoning their iPhone and iPad app development efforts, in favor of platform agnostic solutions such as HTML5. Read more: )

Attempting to control and restrict consumers is the biggest culprit for Apple's lack of overall PC success in the 90's. Such restricted practices have typically limited Apples ultimate market share to less than 15%, often closer to 8% of an overall sector.

For the folks who have spent over a decade depending on countless generations of "smart phones" and portable, touch screen devices for many years, prior to Apple's re-emergence in the market; we expected a device to work well, be able to multitask, be able to surf the entire web; and from the experience of past smart phone app purchases; avoid any "wall garden" methods of restricting users where related to media purchases, app purchases, available stores, etc...

Most of us long time Smartphone users have seen the competitive advantages of 3rd party app stores like Handago (a.k.a.) Pockectgear (which had over 200,000 apps by 2008, long before Apple store had any presences.) as well as Handspring, Mobihand, etc.. In addition, folks have had many more years of utilizing repositories and resources such as Palm Software Connection, Win NT "Channels", Firefox "Add-Ins", etc., the list goes one.

There are vast legions of folks with broader experiences using portable consumer electronic devices and mobile computing, which create a much more discerning audience than is typical for average retail consumers. Admittedly, their knowledge was typically subsidized by generous company budgets or other business related demands. However, those same average consumers whom have flocked for the moment to Apple, are very fickle; and eventually jump to whichever ship they feel offers them the most choices and the best value. Keeping in mind, a huge percentage of recent Smartphone converts were using simple Motorola and Nokia feature phones just a few years earlier.

The real key to attracting these folks is simply to get the initial price point below any sticker shock the average buyer just won't stomach. This price point for years has been near or below $200-$250. Typically if you ventured beyond this point, many consumers would simply look at a cheaper solution.

In addition, since many devices utilized over the year by veteran smart phone users were not subsidized by large phone carriers; most veteran users understand how to look past the cost of the phones when signing long term contracts, and make a better / real hardware value comparison. When a carrier in turn tacks a HUGE premium, long term service commitment and data charge, (or other steep minimums were related to text and voice,) you know right away, they are trying to position a phone or device for the more naive buyers, in order to gain their acceptance and perceive it as a cheaper and a better value than it is.

This relationship between a company, selling an expensive device, and a carrier willing to subsidize far more than the industry norm, is the primary and brilliant initiation which has lead to Apple most recent success. And in this case ATandT even paid Apple a fraction of its monthly service revenue for every iPhone subscriber (until the iPhone 3G) which had NEVER been offered. Consumers' getting more than they paid for, is the best perception (directly understood or not,) you can create for new and peer pressured customers. ...consumer demand and perceived value of the device eventually went viral.

An odd but predictable opportunity for an innovative device costing, at time of purchase, nothing more than the magical number of $249.00; despite its initial limitations. After all when the 1st phone was introduced, it had no App store, no video recording (only stills), no multitasking, (like an ability to run Pandora while you read a book; or listen to music, in the car while it GPS navigates, etc.), no ability to populate your device with anything, Music, Movies, additional applications, etc., without the use of a full blown computer.  You had literally bought at App Launcher with no convenient way to get new apps, and no real selection of Apps to speak of.  But Apple Fan Boys rarely ask such questions, ...initially.

These handicaps and additional long term cost; as well as large upfront investments, were never even considered by the average consumers and initial fans; all of whom were anxious to use what was being touted as the latest and greatest innovation. Unfortunately, it was also a platform riddled with typical, technical, industry newcomer, launch and platform issues; beyond that of the value shortcomings.

Apple would soon learn how tough the competition in this crowded marketplace was, and how hard it was to make a device which primarily needed to function as that of a phone and a 3rd party app launcher; supporting software written almost entirely by third parties (and Apple is never good at relinquishing control or fairly inviting others to participate and/or profit on their platforms.)

Just the basics of utilizing cellular radio technologies for data transfers and reliable voice communication not to mention well maintained reception have all proven to be hurdles very difficult for a software company, turned consumer electronics firm with no in house experience testing or proving anything more than a few PC models and a music playing device.

Thank goodness for Apple, loyalty, cult following.  Luckily there is a subset of about 8% of the consumer electronics buyers who simply feel Apple can do know wrong with their money.  Many others end up learning the hard way, this is simply not the case. :-(