Films and Books

Cybersecurity, Ethics, and Collective Responsibility

Seumas Miller & Terry Bossomaier
Oxford University Press, 2024

Since 2020, most church professionals – and churchgoers – have gotten a cyber education of some sort, whether it’s how to host a Zoom meeting, livestream a worship service, or (gasp!) use AI for sermon prep. For some, the application of these tech tools to theological and liturgical endeavors may have whet the appetite for more; others may want to unplug. Both groups should check out Cybersecurity, Ethics, and Collective Responsibility (Oxford University Press, 2024), a sweeping, thoughtful treatment of cybersecurity from philosophy professor Seumas Miller and computer science professor Terry Bossomaier. The authors provide an ethical framework and a chilling assessment of its current status. As they write in the introduction, “Cyberspace is increasingly insecure not only by virtue of the absence of legally enforced regulation, but by virtue of the lack of a commitment to, and compliance with, sociomoral norms.”

When church is defined as the people of God, cybersecurity takes on a profoundly theological dimension. Security risks and responsibilities have morphed. Miller and Bossomaier tackle many issues, including criminal justice, artificial intelligence, public health, warfare, individual rights, and collective goods. Whether you’re concerned with peace, justice, sin, salvation, or community, the book delivers abundant food for thought.

The work is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.


Films and Books

Learning to Disagree:

The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect

John Inazu
Zondervan, 2024

At times it feels best not to engage with someone who has a different opinion, especially about a polarizing topic. Other times it feels best to offer a withering critique of their short-sighted foolishness. John Inazu respectfully suggests a middle way to handle such situations in Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect (Zondervan, 2024). The litigator-turned-law-professor encourages and equips readers to address hot-button issues so that productive and respectful disagreement does not mean compromising one’s convictions. He organizes his ideas into chapters that correspond to months of the academic year, with the first semester covering empathy, fairness, and compromise. The December chapter feels like a turning point, while second semester chapters explore faith, neutrality, the line between wrong and evil, and the possibility of forgiveness. Inazu is not a stranger to the topic of difference – he served as co-editor with Tim Keller of Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference (Thomas Nelson, 2020).




Films and Books

King Coal

Directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon
80 minutes

A dreamy, beautiful blend of documentary and fable, King Coal tells the story of Appalachian coal culture and its legacy on communities as the industry grows frail. Director-producer Elaine McMillion Sheldon – a coal miner’s daughter who still lives in the region – provides graceful narration. In part, the film follows two West Virginia middle schoolers, Gabby and Lanie, as they engage with “King Coal” through school projects, a local festival, and family stories. Other individuals provide moving perspectives on their way of life.

The film showcases the area’s stunning mountains, rivers, and forests, as well as the dark and dangerous underground coalfields. Archival and contemporary footage illustrate how coal has provided – and continues to provide – a sense of identity and belonging to local residents. High school football players ceremoniously touch a chunk of coal before running onto the field; elementary students attend a classroom presentation on coal mining. The gloriously haunting and percussive soundtrack by Bobak Lotfipour heightens the sense of grief, resilience, and imagination of a people who are simultaneously reflecting on their history, mourning their losses, and looking toward an unknown – but hopeful – future.


Films and Books

20 Days in Mariupol

Directed by Mstyslav Chernov
94 minutes

Nothing will prepare viewers for this film, which documents the beginning of the Siege of Mariupol, Ukraine, from Feb. 24, to March 15, 2022. Associated Press photojournalist Chernov and his team chronicle the demise of a city that at first glance could pass for an overcast town somewhere in North America. But soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin announces the invasion, the familiar scenes of everyday life take on a terrible pall: The Crossfit gym becomes a shelter; the teenager on his iPhone is in a hospital bed, a victim of shelling; the middle-aged woman in the puffy jacket who’s out walking her dog screams, “Where should I run? Where should I hide?”

Within the first week, the journalists capture video of families fleeing – an estimated quarter of the city’s residents leave while they can, but most stay in place. They stay as the electricity goes out; as radio, TV, and cellular transmissions are cut; as water, food, and supplies run short.

The film includes graphic and awful hospital scenes. The camera stays trained on events no one should have to see, let alone experience. At the site of a mass grave, Chernov tries to interview a man tasked with burying the dead. He declines, saying, “If I start talking, I’m going to cry.”

News headlines every day remind us of conflict zones around the globe, but this film demonstrates the terrible, holy act of bearing witness to tragedy.


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