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Religion in the Monastery.

by benn (Priest)
on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:04 UTC ( #253987=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

*Sheesh* - I've only been here 4 months and already I'm going to break one of the unwritten "never talk about at a party" rules...but being an amateur all-sorts-of-things-that-end-with-ologist, I'm too curious for my own good - and probably XP :)

Browsing around various highly-recommended homenodes, I notice a lot of monks mentioning their faith, generally Christianity. This is interesting to me, not being something I'd come across to such a degree in other online communities, or indeed in my own particular experience of the programming / scientific community. I don't mean 'not coming across Christians / Muslims / Buddhists etc.', but either (a) the issue not cropping up in a 'technical' context or (b) if it does, finding a generally lower rate of 'believers' than *appears* to be the case here in the Monastery.

I'm not about to set out my stall at all, and I really don't want to turn this into a discussion about religion per se, more about the degree to which it applies or not to your work / attitude to tasks / participation in the Monastery, but I should simply say that I count myself as 'religious sometimes', with no capital letters involved anywhere.

Of course, this is all completely to do with *my* perception of my past experience and the extremely small sample of homenodes I've visited, but it does seem to me that the 'active perl community' particularily has a high degree of Christians. Is this to do with Larry? Or the preponderance of US programmers? Or does the Monastery metaphor naturally attract those with religious 'leanings'? I personally prefer the metaphor to (say) a 'University' or 'PerlKnights' or something.

Am I completely wrong? Is it irrelevant? Or very relevant - is your faith an integrated part of your life and hence obviously your work?

Looking forward to some interesting replies,
Ben.

Comment on Religion in the Monastery.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by BazB (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:14 UTC

    I'm an Atheist. Religion doesn't have any bearing on my coding.

    However, IMHO, religion, be it yours or somebody else's, is pretty likely to have an effect on someone's life somewhere in the World.


    If the information in this post is inaccurate, or just plain wrong, don't just downvote - please post explaining what's wrong.
    That way everyone learns.

      Although I'm a Christian, I doubt this has any significant impact on my work as a programmer. Religion (or I should rather say 'faith' as I despise the word itself) doesn't affect how I write my Perl code, althought, it does come into play in my dealings with other individuals. My faith has taught me to be tolerant and respectful of other people's beliefs and opinions.

      I don't think my/your/someone else's coding would take on a different form simply due to the fact you are a christian, a muslim, or an atheist. For example, I don't draw on verses in the Bible to come up with my variable names. There are no religious undertones in any of my programming work. I feel that had I done otherwise, it would discomfort other developers on my team who might have their own different 'gods' (faiths).

      _____________________
      # Under Construction

      Atheism is a religion. It is a religion of not believing in a God. It is no different than any other religion.

        Other than Atheist don't believe in God(s) right? That would make'em different wouldn't it? *geez*
        While atheism technically meets one of the less used (usually) definitions of a religion - for the most part I think atheism is better described as a dogma... but I suppose that is all just semantics really.

        -------------------------------------------------------------------
        There are some odd things afoot now, in the Villa Straylight.
        Wrong.

        Atheism is a lack of belief in God or gods. It is not an active disbelief. More than that, there is no dogma associated. Atheist means "not theist", and can no more be considered a single religion than "not Christian" is.

        To underscore this I note that there are a number of recognized religions that are consistent with atheism. Two examples being Scientology and Buddhism - religions which don't have much in common.

        I think we're playing the semantic game here folks. I am only an egg, but IMHO, we're confusing the word 'religion' with the word 'faith' (or dogma, as AssFace mentioned. What I mean to say is, the similarity between atheism and religion is that they imply a faith - a belief without proof.

        Religions tend to place their faith in some un(scientifically)knowable deity and/or a specially inspired doctrine. One can probably not seem like too much of an idiot making the generalisation (generalisations being idiot-making mechanisims) that an atheist has instead placed faith in themselves, or perhaps the expanded concept of humanity as a whole - such as science being grounded in certain principles and procedures which, when applied, tend to give scientists comfort in the accuracy of their observations.

        Atheism, just like Christianity, is a faith. But it is not a religion.

        woops, s/Sym/Sem in the title, pardon my French, and danke diotalevi
        Religion:
          • Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
          • A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
        1. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
        2. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
        3. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

        Hmm, no, atheists don't fit definition 1. And I've never met an order of atheists, but I have found plenty of loners. So that eliminates definition 2. 3 is automatically eliminated, I've never met an atheist pope/messiah/prophet. And frankly, if they are number 4 I'd like to know how that works. Do you go out killing other religions screaming, "I punish thee in the name of all that does not exist!!!"

        No sir....I would categorize atheism as a belief, not a religion.

        smiles

        I wanted to reply to the "atheism is a religion of not believing in a God" (a God?) thing by quoting, at some length, I'm afraid, Douglas Adams on the subject.

        Mr. Adams, you have been described as a "radical Atheist." Is this accurate?

        DNA: Yes. I think I use the term radical rather loosely, just for emphasis. If you describe yourself as ďAtheist,Ē some people will say, ďDonít you mean ĎAgnosticí?Ē I have to reply that I really do mean Atheist. I really do not believe that there is a god - in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. Itís easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that itís an opinion I hold seriously. Itís funny how many people are genuinely surprised to hear a view expressed so strongly. In England we seem to have drifted from vague wishy-washy Anglicanism to vague wishy-washy Agnosticism - both of which I think betoken a desire not to have to think about things too much.

        [snip]

        Other people will ask how I can possibly claim to know? Isnít belief-that-there-is-not-a-god as irrational, arrogant, etc., as belief-that-there-is-a-god? To which I say no for several reasons. First of all I do not believe-that-there-is-not-a-god. I donít see what belief has got to do with it. I believe or donít believe my four-year old daughter when she tells me that she didnít make that mess on the floor. I believe in justice and fair play (though I donít know exactly how we achieve them, other than by continually trying against all possible odds of success). I also believe that England should enter the European Monetary Union. I am not remotely enough of an economist to argue the issue vigorously with someone who is, but what little I do know, reinforced with a hefty dollop of gut feeling, strongly suggests to me that itís the right course. I could very easily turn out to be wrong, and I know that. These seem to me to be legitimate uses for the word believe. As a carapace for the protection of irrational notions from legitimate questions, however, I think that the word has a lot of mischief to answer for. So, I do not believe-that-there-is-no-god. I am, however, convinced that there is no god, which is a totally different stance and takes me on to my second reason.

        I donít accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me ďWell, you havenít been there, have you? You havenít seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally validĒ - then I canít even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation weíd got, and weíve now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I donít think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I donít think the matter calls for even-handedness at all.
        Oh and by the way, me? I'm a Buddhist, but only by marriage.
        --
        “Every bit of code is either naturally related to the problem at hand, or else it's an accidental side effect of the fact that you happened to solve the problem using a digital computer.”
        M-J D
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by Mr. Muskrat (Abbot) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:16 UTC

    I want my faith in God to be an integral part of my life, so yes, it will show up in at least some of what I post.

    I don't want to force my religion down anyone's throat because I don't like it when other people do that to me. I do however want the world to know that I am a Christian.

    I encourage everyone who has not made their faith publicly known to do so. You should not be ashamed of who you are or what you believe in!

      I don't want to force my religion down anyone's throat because I don't like it when other people do that to me. I do however want the world to know that I am a Christian.

      I think that this, generally, is the reason that it's found most in home nodes and poetry.; it seems to pertain more to who you are than to any technical aspects or the language itself.

      -s.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by Improv (Pilgrim) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:17 UTC
    I suspect the biggest thing you're going to find with a question like this is that PerlMonks are all highly individualistic, with a lot of nuanced positions. I doubt there will be many folks who can speak for the community. It might be interesting to compare the Jargon File's Portrait of J Random Hacker with Perlmonks in general. I'm certain that we have everything from atheists to evangelical christians, Muslims, and Buddhists.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by AssFace (Pilgrim) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:19 UTC
    In my own life, I try to distance myself from people that define themselves by any sort of religious devotion. Not saying just worship of a divine nature - but of any nature - most dangerously when it is blind worship.
    People that frantically worship Macs, Linux, Windows, Perl, Python, Java, C etc - they all make me just as leery as those that are extreme in their worship of deities. If your belief in something is so strong so as to hate or argue points that disagree with your own... it is something to give me pause and step back when noticed.

    Can I still respect/trust/like someone that blindly follows anything? Sure. There are too many people out there that do it to write them off - but when I notice that someone is like that, I make a mental note of it and do adjust how I react to their words and actions.

    I think everyone has the right to believe in anything they want - but should allow others that right as well.
    My own personal beliefs leave me no choice to be anything but agnostic.

    on a somewhat interesting note - in my own personal life, my parents were raised in families with practicing religions, but they raised me to think critically (I don't mean to imply that religion and thinking critically can't go hand in hand). the people that I have surrounded myself through school and after have also been raised this way - so very few of my friends have views that are that far from my own.
    As a result, I had the incorrect view that many people thought and saw things the same sort of way since I was surrounded by other open minded people.
    But the internet and especially newsgroups and discussion boards on the net have greatly opened my eyes to see how extreme some people can be. People that are very bright in some areas can be very ignorant and/or closed minded in other areas.
    If the internet has done nothing else, it has taught me a great deal about assuming things about the viewpoints of people around me (in that assuming things is bad).
    I am American, and in light of many recent events - I think it would likely be a great thing if more Americans (and just people of the world in general) could have the chance to have the same thing happen to them - to see that there are many people out there that are dramatically different from yourself and to be more aware of how they think and see things.

    Perlmonks is just one small example of such an experience.

    (Also, in case it doesn't come across in any of my posts, or even my username - I try not to take the world too seriously. If I can find areas where I see people taking fairly mundane things entirely too seriously - I take satisfaction in scratching/poking those sore spots. My username is one I use on many boards if it is available, and it gives me a great joy when people are offended at a comment that I am making only towards myself.)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    There are some odd things afoot now, in the Villa Straylight.
      ...I'm right with you on this AssFace! I tell my students repeatedly that "there is no place in engineering for dogma, and damn little for secrecy."

      Sometimes they get what I'm saying to them. Other times, they work in an environment where their company will spend tens of thousands of dollars to avoid using products from one specific company. In some companies they will staunchly refuse to train their people in a technology or programming language that threatens to obsolesce a technology in which they already have a large investment.

      So whether it be about the spirit, or about your choice of programming languages, you can probably count on being wrong if you think there is "One True Answer" and that you know it. And if you work for a company that will spend lots of money avoiding the inevitable, you'd best keep your resume' up to date.

      ...All the world looks like -well- all the world, when your hammer is Perl.
      ---v

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by diotalevi (Canon) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:29 UTC

    PerlMonks is two things - a teaching community organized around perl and a social community. If you ever follow the chatterbox you'll see all manner of topics come up from religion, politics, sex, lots of puns, and of course perl. I don't think its unusual for a social network of people to bring up these topics - heck, some of us spend a lot of time here. Its only natural.

    Heck, join in. Its great fun.

      /me protests plaintively..."I do - I do - it's just whenever I say anything in CB - everybody else shuts up!" <g>
ēRe: Religion in the Monastery.
by merlyn (Sage) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:38 UTC
    I'm spiritual without being religious, having studied many forms of organized (and disorganized) religion and philosophy over the years, and keeping the parts that seem to work but throwing away the parts that don't. So, I guess you could call me an "applied metaphysician", if you needed a title.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
    Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

      Tee hee - is *that* what they call wizards these days?
Re: Religion in the Monastery. (no, thanks)
by tye (Cardinal) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:45 UTC

    I've certainly seen conversations in the chatterbox where the large majority of participants were not religious, to the point that I was a bit surprised, perhaps due to having gone to college in Utah (: I doubt you'll find many of those participants proclaiming their position regarding religion on their home nodes (and I'm glad of that, FYI). So I think your view of a prevalence of Christian declarations to be, at least in part, due to how likely holders of certain beliefs are to consider their proclamation of such as being acceptable (to themselves and to others perceived as likely to visit PerlMonks).

    I'm glad when the topic of religion does not come up. I certainly refrain from stating my positions on religion here. Although I've been known to play "devil's advocate" to people including on religious points.

    I try to be respectful of others' religious beliefs if for no other reason than that anything else can easily be quite rude. Most of the time, this just means keeping my mouth shut (or "fingers mute", if you want to be more literal), which suits me as I don't care to hear the vast majority of conversations regarding religion whether an argument, agreement on any position in the huge field of possible opinions, or something between. Frankly, these are usually quite unoriginal and are often uncomfortable for many. As such, I prefer they be more often restricted to areas where participants are expecting such (that is, somewhere other than PerlMonks).

    I'm certainly not hoping for people to remove any mention of religion from their home nodes nor trying to prohibit the topic of religion from the Monastery (juxtaposition of terms intentional). I'm just expressing my personal preference for a scarcity of religious discussion, and I can certainly avoid the chatterbox or threads when required :)

                    - tye
      So I think your view of a prevalence of Christian declarations to be, at least in part, due to how likely holders of certain beliefs are to consider their proclamation of such as being acceptable (to themselves and to others perceived as likely to visit PerlMonks).

      I agree wholeheartedly. It is very typical of US Christians to advertise their faith. They take that evangelical thing quite seriously. People from other faiths and other countries tend to avoid this---indeed, in many cultures, it is considered bad form because of the tendency of religious discussions to get out of hand. In other countries (e.g. Italy, Yemen), the likely answer is so obvious that there is no need to discuss it.

      --
      Allolex

        (advertising faith) in many cultures (is) considered bad form

        Which cultures are you thinking of?

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by LAI (Hermit) on Apr 29, 2003 at 16:48 UTC
    I'm not about to set out my stall at all, and I really don't want to turn this into a discussion about religion per se, more about the degree to which it applies or not to your work / attitude to tasks / participation in the Monastery, but I should simply say that I count myself as 'religious sometimes', with no capital letters involved anywhere.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know how religion could really affect coding one way or another. It's not like religious perlhackers replace ($foo, $bar, $baz) with ($peter, $paul, $michael) or anything... I assume.

    Am I completely wrong? Is it irrelevant? Or very relevant - is your faith an integrated part of your life and hence obviously your work?

    Or the lack thereof? I'm not a Christian, but to any casual observer I might be mistaken for a one as Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and other biblical figures find their way into the things I shout at my monitor.

    Levity aside, I'm curious as to what you meant by religion being a part of work, or affecting one's coding, &c.

    LAI

    __END__
      This is what I was seeking myself. It had never really occurred to me either that it had any bearing on my work. It was only after noticing it here that it set me thinking. Yes - I think like merlyn, I really meant spiritual rather than religious - I have never 'followed', but 'gathered' from assorted faiths / philosophies for all sorts of reasons, from 'inner healing' to sheer intellectual stimulation.

      On the other hand, I'm well aware of 'mystic' or 'fugue' states - I've been in many myself in lots of situations, ranging from musical performance through meditation to just sitting staring at a blank screen until I hit that Eureka moment. These experiences can be directed - maybe being able to 'organise' your spirituality, or having a 'firm grounding' makes a difference to some people's general attitude towards problem solving. I really don't know, but thought this was a good forum to attempt to find out. Already, answers are proving interesting on a number of levels.

      Ben.

      Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know how religion could really affect coding one way or another. It's not like religious perlhackers replace ($foo, $bar, $baz) with ($peter, $paul, $michael) or anything... I assume.

      Have you read Programming Perl? It uses many different biblical figures in the examples.

      Added: So does the Perl Cookbook (it may in fact have more than Programming Perl).

        Does it? That rings a bell, actually. It's been a while since I last read through it.

        /me makes a mental note to reread the Camel Book when he gets home

        LAI

        __END__
        Have you read Programming Perl? It uses many different biblical figures in the examples

        I am sure this is do to the fact that Larry Wall is Christian. That said I think people should be able to put whatever they want on their homenodes. I personally do not want to have anything to do with organized religion in any way shape or form. I feel too many of these folks feel the need to impose their beliefs on others in the forms of laws or social standards. The fact the John Ashcroft when asked point blank if he believed there was really a "devil" or not he responded "yes". So one of the most powerful men in the country has a literal belief that there is a little red man with horns running around shouting "I'm the devil, I'm the devil" poking people with his pitchfork. He also made them cover up the justice statue at the DOJ because there was a bare breast showing. Of course these are extreme examples and I am sure I will get flamed by the moral minority for this post. So I guess what I am saying is that I think you should be able to post anything you want on your homenode just don't starting messaging me scripture and yes this has happened here before.

        Cheers,

        Jeffery
        Programming Perl also uses %Flintstones and %Simpsons as examples. I don't hear anyone complaining about that. And as far as picking names for variables, the names should mean something. For example, if I was coding a robot, I might use $gypsy, $crow, or $cambot as variable names because I'm a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and it's a mnemonic device. By the same token, someone who is a serious Christian might use biblical figures to accomplish the same purpose.

        Here's an example, although you'd be unlikely to see it in the real world.

        A system is password-protected. In order to make the login more difficult, you have to enter your login and password three times. Each time, you will be denied access, and asked to try again. After three failed attempts, security leaves you alone, and you can enter. You might call this section of code "Peter", because the apostle Peter denied knowing Christ three times, even though he did know him. Another section might monitor user behavior, and report improper behavior back to the admin so the user can be removed. It wouldn't be reaching to call that section "Judas", because it betrays the user.

        I'm not a Christian, but I love a good pun, and I appreciate the amount of work that goes into an extended metaphor. If a person can understand their code better by using Biblical names, go nuts. As long as useability isn't hindered, say by making a variable name $I_am_going_to_hell_because_I_took_the_Lords_name_in_vain, who cares?

        -Logan
        "What do I want? I'm an American. I want more."

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by Nkuvu (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 17:21 UTC

    In regards to the noted lack of other religious declarations in homenodes. It's not too uncommon for non-Christians to be criticized for just mentioning that they aren't Christian. I'm not saying it doesn't happen in reverse, just that I don't notice it quite as much. For those of us who are not Christian, it's often a lot easier to just not mention anything about our religion. I'm the "you believe what you want to, as long as you let me believe what I want" sort of person. I have very little interest in religious discourse these days -- all too often it degrades into slander and name calling.

    As far as the original question goes, I'd think it's the Monastery metaphor that may originally attract the notice of many Christians, and it's the content that keeps them here. But that's just a wild guess. ;)

    My religion (philosophy, really, since I'm Taoist) has very little to do with my coding, but it really has a lot to do with the interaction between myself and my co-workers. So it's a large part of work, but not an obvious one.

      As far as the original question goes, I'd think it's the Monastery metaphor that may originally attract the notice of many Christians, and it's the content that keeps them here. But that's just a wild guess. ;)

      Let's not forget other varieties of monasticism, such as with the various flavors of Buddhism.

      One thing ironic about this site is that, due to the nature of the online forum, perlmonks is a lively social environment rather than an environment of isolation typical of most monastic traditions.

      Matt

        Let's not forget other varieties of monasticism, such as with the various flavors of Buddhism.
        Oh absolutely. When I think monk, Buddhist and Taoist monks are the first type of monks that pop into my head. I was just pointing out my idea of why Christians specifically may be relatively frequent here.

        As far as typical monkish activities go, I'm sure there are plenty of lurkers (perhaps with a vow of silence?) to make up for the active, vocal monks. ;)

        I don't know about that - the real-world monks I know seem like quite lively fellows. Well, lively aside from playing sports. I expect the robes get in the way.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by jacques (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 17:22 UTC
    I notice a lot of monks mentioning their faith, generally Christianity.

    So have I. What I find interesting is that Larry Wall is a born-again Christian. He talks about his faith all the time. For example, he has given an interview with slashdot in which he mentions how his religious faith influences his work. Is Perl a Christian programming language? Is it absurd to ask such a question? Python would have to be Satanism. What other language is associated with a snake? No wonder Python and Perl programmers don't get along. By the way, Perl was almost named Gloria, after Larry's wife. Certainly the name Gloria has more religious undertones than Perl. I have no problem with people expressing their religious beliefs or allowing them to influence their work. If people believe in Jesus and are proud of it, let them be.

    #!/heaven/perl use Jesus;

    Perl will be in Heaven, right?

      Python would have to be Satanism. What other language is associated with a snake? No wonder Python and Perl programmers don't get along.

      I've heard a lot of flames, cheapshots, and troll-bait in my time, but this one takes the cake. What amazes me more is that I'm not even entirely certain it was a joke.

      Python would have to be Satanism. What other language is associated with a snake?
      Well, in that case, shouldn't Perl be a islamitic language? After all, the camel is the only creature that knows the 100th name of Allah.... ;-)

      Abigail

      Python would have to be Satanism. What other language is associated with a snake?
      Where I grew up, some Christians used snakes in their worship services: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_handling

      --DrWhy

      "If God had meant for us to think for ourselves he would have given us brains. Oh, wait..."

        Snakes figure prominently in many religions. See snake worship and snake god, for example(s).

        Snake handling

        Yeah, but that's not snake worship. And those snakes -- like the serpent in the Garden of Eden -- are venomous vipers, not constrictors like the python.

        On the other hand, "python" itself is named for an ancient Greek deity, Pytho.

        Bottom line: "Python would have to be Satanism" is a rather silly thing to say. And "What other language is associated with a snake?" is an utter non sequitur.

        I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by Marza (Vicar) on Apr 29, 2003 at 18:40 UTC

    When it comes to programming I find most people do utter prayers: Please God let this work! ;-)

    Other then that I don't mind people talking about it as long as they stay away from "have you found...." After that, I tend to walk away.

      Marza wrote:
      When it comes to programming I find most people do utter prayers: Please God let this work! ;-)

      I very nearly became a religious man today for that very reason...
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by bart (Canon) on Apr 29, 2003 at 20:02 UTC
    I'm not a religious person. You will not find that kind of testimony on my home node, in fact, you won't ever hear me talk about religion (*).

    Anyway, I think this would make a nice idea for a bit of a serious poll: what kind of religion are you into? It would be interesting, just for the statistics.

    (*) In fact, I'm a-religious: I don't believe in religion.

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by jaldhar (Vicar) on Apr 29, 2003 at 20:46 UTC

    I'm a devout Hindu and it shows on my home node. Ethnicity is also important to me. For those who don't understand my .sig, it is my name in the Unicode rendition of Gujarati script. But do these factors affect my participation here or my work in general? I think not mainly because I don't see how it could. I suppose I might be more likely to use examples, variable names etc. from my own culture but in practice I don't seem to.

    If people feel freer to mention their religous leanings it is due I believe to the nature of perl itself. Most program languages are designed by killjoys. They are designed to erase all traces of the presence of the programmer. It's not that there are more atheists over at cobolmonks but free expression is not tolerated in their culture. Unix and C became popular because they partially broke out from the "programs do; not express" mentality but not totally and then there was a counter-revolution in the form of C++. Perl took the playfullness of Unix and made it into a founding principle. Perl is quite literally poetry. It is about the programmer as artist. So perl programmers feel freer about bringing in religion, art, music, literature and all the other forms of human expression. You would probably find a higher proportion of nudists amongs perl developers than the general developer population!

    --
    જલધર

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by elusion (Curate) on Apr 29, 2003 at 20:55 UTC
    I'm a Christian. I had something on my homenode, but it is currently in disrepair. When I finally redo it, I'm sure I'll say something there. In the meantime, I talk frequently about my faith on my blog.

    There have been a few people who have complained, somewhat loudly, in the cb about my mentioning God on my homenode, but the general consensus is that people don't mind. It is, after all, a space about us.

    ybiC keeps a voluntary list of Christian monks and writeups, though the list is far from all inclusive, I'm sure.

    elusion : http://matt.diephouse.com

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by crenz (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 22:39 UTC

    I agree that it is most probably the Perl culture and of course the personal atmosphere that allows people to be open about their faith here. In places like ExpertExchange or SlashDot you'll probably see less declarations of faith, but it doesn't mean that there are less Christians there.

    I don't think, however, that the Monastery metaphor has anything to do with it. In fact, the way it is used here, it doesn't have to do a lot with a monastery in the first place. The idea of "levels" and "XP" is more like the world outside the monastery... I also didn't start to learn Perl because Larry Wall is a Christian (I only heard later about that), but I think it is a good example that your faith of course is relevant: Larry's experiences with God clearly influenced the values he put into Perl. And these values made me stay with Perl.

    I do think this is a very relevant topic -- not because being a Christian makes your code any different, but because being a Christian (should) make a difference in yourself, and of course this will show in your code and in your attitude towards others. There's not much sense in believing in God if you don't let him change your character...

    I do have an aversion against the word "religion", since it conveys a lot of ideas that are contrary to a faith in Christ (at least in German). There's a lot of truth in what has been said, that programming languages and OSes can become religions as well. I prefer not to call myself religious, but rather a servant of Christ. The "official" term probably would be pentecostal, born-again Christian ;-)

    So in real life, I am already a saint by grace, whereas on PerlMonks, I will be a saint by XP someday :).

      I don't know about anyone else, but my original take on the whole Monastery metaphor attracting religious people thing is just the name. For example, once someone is visiting PerlMonks with any regularity they can obviously tell that this isn't a religious site. Well, unless you count Perl as a religion. ;)

      My thought on the matter was that a religious person might see the name PerlMonks, be intrigued, and pay a visit.

        On second thought, maybe you're right. I mean, there's Jesusgeeks, Christdot etc., so maybe some people are confused by the name "PerlMonks". It just didn't ring a bell with me, because when I see "Monk", I think of culture, not of faith.

      I do think this is a very relevant topic -- not because being a Christian makes your code any different, but because being a Christian (should) make a difference in yourself, and of course this will show in your code and in your attitude towards others.

      How? ;)

      --
      Allolex

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by The Mad Hatter (Priest) on Apr 29, 2003 at 23:21 UTC
    I personally prefer the metaphor to (say) a 'University' or 'PerlKnights' or something.
    I also prefer that view of this site, as it seems to be a more apt view considering that learning is such a central theme.

    In any case, I'm an atheist (but some of my ideas are agnostic in nature) and find religion a very interesting topic to talk about with people, such as why they believe what they do. I also like to learn about and discuss the various religions of the world. Luckily for me, most of my friends (whose beliefs consist of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) don't mind discussing religion at all, probably because we are all respectful of each other's beliefs.

    As for affecting my code and posts here on PM, my beliefs really don't affect them.

      I personally prefer the metaphor to (say) a 'University' or 'PerlKnights' or something.
      I also prefer that view of this site, as it seems to be a more apt view considering that learning is such a central theme.

      I agree. If this site had been named 'perluniversity.org' nobody would have realized they could actually learn stuff here. :oP

      LAI

      __END__
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by tjh (Curate) on Apr 29, 2003 at 23:30 UTC
    Can these mentions of religious positions emanate from the fact that Larry mentions is own religious influences in various Perl and Perl-related texts? Possibly.

    The source or germ of something tends to color later versions, knowingly or unknowingly. He is a thoughtful and broad thinker, and I think he brings all his analysis and influences to bear on his projects, is seemingly uninhibited about doing it, and I appreciate his results. The statements of religious affiliations don't bother me, but they don't specifically interest me either. (Not that there's anything wrong with that :)

    I believe it is certainly true that PerlMonks seems to have attracted some of the most thoughtful and well-spoken writers, commentators and members among all such interest groups I've seen (which might be an admittedly small sample.)

    The 'atmosphere' and demeanor of PM, to me, is astounding considering the diversity of participants. And, for the most part, the tolerance of many 'agree to disagree' participants works to my advantage in that I get to see a more full presentation of many sides of an issue, rather just a simple fire fight among egos. (Although one could find exceptions to this around here somewhere...)

    The original root of this thread actually led me to think about the 'spirituality' and general thoughtfulness that I find here rather than the actual religious issues.

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by PodMaster (Abbot) on Apr 30, 2003 at 07:27 UTC
    unwritten "never talk about at a party" rules...
    If that's your premise, that we're a party? (holy schnikes carp!!)
    This is interesting to me, not being something I'd come across to such a degree in other online communities
    Or does the Monastery metaphor naturally attract those with religious 'leanings'? I personally prefer the metaphor to (say) a 'University' or 'PerlKnights' or something
    I wasn't aware metaphores had attractive powers (does gravity affect metaphores?)

    PerlMonk - A man person(we need more chicks) who retires from the ordinary temporal concerns of the world (at least for a little while), and devotes himself themself to religion the pursuit of perl knowledge/amusement;

    Am I completely wrong? Is it irrelevant?
    Yes and yes -- people are people, they don't stop being people just because they're programmers or because they like perl.
    Or very relevant - is your faith an integrated part of your life and hence obviously your work?
    I know a guy, faith is very much a part of his life, and everything he does. He writes plenty of code, and it is usually interesting. It is only this second fact that really interests me. Sure i've had plenty of banter with him about religion and his beliefs, but none of that has got anything to do with why we're here (to share/learn programming/perl).

    From my trollings around forums.java.sun.com few years ago, I had noticed that a large number of them were Indians who were visiting the US on work visas (this discerened from many many threads with over a hundred replies all basically stating "Hi, i'm Indian too (from *insert*place*here*), email me if ...". Does that mean that most java programmers are Indians? Are they Muslim or Hindu? Vegetarians? Vegans? Indians? Jewish? Do Jewish Indians exist? Who likes cowboys? What was my point? Right, pod is sexy.

    End evil for good

    Pray for satan's salvation


    MJD says you can't just make shit up and expect the computer to know what you mean, retardo!
    I run a Win32 PPM repository for perl 5.6x+5.8x. I take requests.
    ** The Third rule of perl club is a statement of fact: pod is sexy.

      Do Jewish Indians exist?

      Dunno, but there were a few Jewish cowboys. And for the record, they were excellent shots and spent freely.

      -Logan
      "What do I want? I'm an American. I want more."

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by htoug (Deacon) on Apr 30, 2003 at 09:03 UTC
    I find that most often the people who openly declare their convictions in some form of religion (religion taken in the widest sense - encompassing Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or other 'religious' religions, Socialism, Anti-Socialism, Conservatism or other political religions, and sundry other kinds of 'religion') are the ones who are most inclined to try to force their surrounding to share their belief often.
    Loud, public declarations of belief, like "have you met...?", "... is scum/filth/<insert other term>, and should be...", "Perl sucks" etc, make me want run away as far and fast as possible.

    Of course there are notable exceptions, ie the beliefs I share: that Monty Python is funny, that 42 is the answer, etc.

    /me ducks and runs for cover

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by benn (Priest) on Apr 30, 2003 at 12:21 UTC
    Looking forward to some interesting replies
    ...and I got them - lots :) First off - I *really* should have entitled the Discussion "Spirituality in the Monastery" rather than "religion" - I realised that almost as soon as I pressed the button. (What I didn't realise, it being my first, was that Discussions can't be edited...ho hum). I think, like possibly some of the reply posters, that I was skewed by the dominance of Christianity into a 'religious' framework for the question, rather than broadening it out as I think I originally intended.

    The question wasn't about coding. That's silly - of course I don't think ones *faith* influences the minutae of that any more than it influences how one holds a knife-and-fork. (Although I actually quite like ($peter, $paul, $siddharta_gautama) - in the very least, this discussion might prompt me to use more interesting variable names for the fun of it :) ) I was addressing the broader *twin* issues of (a) Why (as others had also observed) did it appear that the Monastery had a high degree of (mainly) Christians, and (b) How much the whole issue of spirituality informs one's attitude towards the more general issues of 'work' - problem-solving strategies, stress levels, Eureka! moments etc.

    Great answers have cropped up to both. I like the point about the perl culture encouraging expression ( although I wonder how many replies I'd have got if I'd s/faith/nudity/g; as jaldhar said) and therefore one is more likely to find Monks 'not afraid' to declare their beliefs in all sorts of things, from the Tao to Monty Python. Maybe even the high visibility can be affected simply by a single influential homenode, or as others have pointed out, the highly evangelistic nature of much of modern-day US Christianity simply heightens ones awareness.

    As for spirituality affecting the work process, it was interesting to see that Nkuvu and vladb were aware of the effect on their interactions with co-workers - "a large part, but not an obvious one". Teleworking myself, my co-workers are all 'virtual', which occasionally makes for a more abstract discussion on a particular task, as one has the time to consider more during conversation. While not necessarily connected to spirituality, it occasionally gives one the 'contemplative peace' rarely found in busy offices.

    Contemplative - that's the one. My partner remarked on this being a common factor in Monasteries, be they Buddhist or Franciscan, and I think that's why the metaphor is successful - the whole "seeking the wisdom of the monks" thing, (and indeed, Meditations) - it lends itself to a more 'considered' way of doing things. Sometimes :)

    Personally, I've found that matters other than maya (forgive the Hindu pun jaldhar) influence me more as I get older. Certain 'spiritual' moments in my life (eg children's birth) affected the way I think about *everything*, be it what time I have to get up in the morning, or how I view human interaction and my capacity for empathy - which in turn affected how I think about (say) UI. I was brought up strongly atheist, (to the point where I exercised my right to not participate in religious assembly at school), but again like merlyn, picked and dabbled (and am still doing so) my way through most mystical traditions/ philosophies, as well as the 'scientific' tradition and the physiology / phsychology of religious experience etc. I mentioned 'fugue states' earlier, and I seriously think that many of those who would deny any spirituality (whatever *that* means :) ) in their life have probably shared similar experiences to koan-contemplating Zen monks or fasting Franciscans.

    Thanks for a great bunch of answers.

    Ben.

      All in all an interesting question, benn!

      The answers, however, were brilliant!

      I really dug Merlyn's response because it describes the source of my own beliefs.

      The response that made the biggest impression was jaldhar's. Read the tone of the responses here, then head over to slashdot and read the comments that were posted to the previously mentioned Larry Wall interview. I think jaldhar is on to something...

      Well done! Pats on the back all around. The level of respect shown here reflects well on the community -- especially considering the volatility of the topic!

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by allolex (Curate) on Apr 30, 2003 at 12:23 UTC
    and already I'm going to break one of the unwritten "never talk about at a party" rules...

    Hmm. This also reflects cultural values. An anecdote:

    My girlfriend was once explaining to a French exchange student (Virginie, I think, was her name) about American customs. One of the things Americans learn is to never discuss sex, religion, or politics at the dinner table. When my girlfriend told this to her, Virginie exclaimed, "But in France, that's all we talk about at the dinner table!"

    And that was in a culture as close to American culture as any can get. Imagine if we were any less tolerant... These rules appear to exist as a means of preventing social unpleasantness and I am more than happy to let them apply in the Perl Monastery as well.

    --
    Allolex

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by tilly (Archbishop) on May 01, 2003 at 18:43 UTC
    My view is that I have never observed any correlation between programming ability and religious inclination. However I have observed that most of us tend to believe that we have come to our current faiths for sound reasons, and we further believe that anyone who is sufficiently intelligent and wise will agree with our prejudices.

    The main result that I have seen is that many people express astonishment upon finding out that prominent programmers whom they respect disagree with them about religious matters. A secondary result is that the distribution of programmers among different faiths roughly matches the expected distribution of intelligent and often educated people among those faiths. Which, given the strong presence of heavily Christianized countries on PM (for instance the USA), means that there are a lot of Christians here.

    For the record I happen to be an atheist, though I am not very militant about it (unless you set out to convert me).

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by richardX (Pilgrim) on May 02, 2003 at 01:44 UTC
    I went to college with a guy named Fred, that reminds me of Ben. Fred got his kicks from stirring people up by taking the opposite side of any situation. He just liked looking into the face of those that he confounded and got his kicks from everybodys reactions. Ben, I am on to you :}

    Richard

    There are three types of people in this world, those that can count and those that cannot. Anon

      I resent that slur Sir, and would be interested to hear your reaction to my resenting it... ;)

      No - seriously, it's not that at all - a look at the replies (that are still coming in...) gives me exactly what I looking for - answers to the original questions I posed, plus an informed view by one of my 'peer groups' on assorted aspects of the whole mind/spirit issue to boot. The post was scrupulously wishy-washy to avoid any issue of 'sides', and I'm sure you'll see from my other posts that vicarious trolling is not my raison d'etre at all.

      Ben

      I like a drink, you are a drunk, he/she is an alcoholic. Anon

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by wolfger (Deacon) on May 02, 2003 at 01:45 UTC
    My only reply to this question is a quote:

    "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
    -- Stephen Roberts

      That wouldn't work on me as I believe in 330,000,000 Gods. :-)

      --
      જલધર

        That wouldn't work on me as I believe in 330,000,000 Gods. :-)

        330,000,000 gods, now that would be great for role playing campaign....

        Player: I shoot a rabbit for dinner.
        DM: You just insulted 10d100 gods.

        Abigail

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by danb (Friar) on May 04, 2003 at 17:46 UTC
    Or very relevant - is your faith an integrated part of your life and hence obviously your work?
    That's it for me. My faith is based on a personal relationship with God. He gave us one command only: love God and man. So, I try to let my faith show through as much as I can in everything I do.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by Intrepid (Deacon) on May 05, 2003 at 18:56 UTC

    Ben,

    Well, since you asked (although you didn't exactly phrase it as if you were soliciting survey replies), yeah, my faith is a big part of my programming work. I wouldn't be doing programming at all without it, in fact, because it was the subtle workings of Buddhist experience that led me to learn programming in the first place, to perservere in teaching myself.

    I think that maybe Larry's overt, unshy Christian faith does help a little to create an atmosphere in the Perl community in which some people can feel less restrained (constrained) about referring to their own religious lives. At least, I know that *I* am not "turned off" by Larry's thoughtful, questing sort of Christian faith even though my own religious belief-system isn't the same as his. Mostly our society in professional realms is so thoroughly secularized and anxious about legalities and sensitivities that many people wouldn't volunteer any information about any affiliation they have (of a religious nature) lest they been seen as doing something "inappropriate".

    The fact of the matter is that PerlMonks isn't a workplace (although of course many are using it IN their workplace ;-) ... so "corporate-style" rules about speech and policies pertaining to it don't and shouldn't apply here, except of course hopefully a better-than-normal standard of civility will prevail (we should try to always display goodwill, tolerance and generosity towards fellow Monk(/ettes), naturally.

    Anyway, so, yeah, Buddhist here <g> and in an indirect way that does play a big role in both for what and how I write Perl.

    Soren
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by spacewarp (Pilgrim) on May 06, 2003 at 07:37 UTC
    I don't know if it counts as a religion, but sometimes I find that prayer is the only thing that allows me to track down that One Last Bug. 8)
    Spacewarp

    DISCLAIMER:
    Use of this advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement
    of Western industrial civilization.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by cciulla (Friar) on May 09, 2003 at 02:29 UTC

    I used to believe that by virtue of being in any kind of analytical field and posessing any kind of spirituality were mutually exclusive. But what better way to understand one's concept of a supreme being than to examine His/Her/Their/It's creation and attempt to understand the miracle of existence than through science?

    My worldview keeps changing through experience - some may call it wisdom - but as as Matt Johnson so eloquently put it, The more I see, the less I know...

    Although things can just "pop" into being on a quantum level, this holds no allure for me as applied to the macro level. As an agnostic, albeit a spritual one, I put forth the hypothesis that we cannot exist without the intervention of a higher power. But, in the truest sense of what agnostic means, I don't know. It is my deepest desire that all will be revealed when I am released from this mortal coil. Or, perhaps when I am stitting beneath a banyan tree.

    Imagine what I will believe tomorrow, the day after, or the day after that.

    That being said, I have been known to call the dragon when things get particularly hairy. ;)

    C≤

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by moxliukas (Curate) on May 13, 2003 at 11:15 UTC

    I think the quote

    Spending a few years in programming is enough to make you believe in God

    pretty much sums up my relationship with God. I am Catholic however I would not overstress that. I do believe in some divinity though.

      I've done my few years in programming, still no belief in gods. However, I do now believe in Pure Evil. It is the least-complex explanation I can think of for that class of user that ALWAYS asks the same questions, NEVER bothers to read the manual, and INSISTS on me dropping everything to help them with exactly the same problem I helped them with last week.
Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by bradcathey (Prior) on Oct 14, 2003 at 01:43 UTC
    I know this is a really old thread, but as someone still discovering the treasures of the Monastery, I found this one fascinating.

    Over the weekend I was talking to a fellow programmer, who is a brilliant all-around kind of guy, about faith issues (I'm a Christian, he's "almost" an atheist). I was complimenting him on his continued interest in faith issues and his openess to discussing the topic. I reminded him that Larry Wall was a Christian, among other famous intellects, and he replied, "and that's what keeps me interested."

    I'm glad that Perlmonks respect each other's belief (or non-belief) systems, and that it's actually possible for a Christian not to be thought of as daft.

    I like it here at the Monastery.

      while($bored_at_work) { bump(Old::Thread); }

      While I don't disagree with advertising faith in any fashion. I can make a statement that I think anyone on either side of the discussion can agree with. Radicals and/or Fanatics about anything are bad. While the term "all things in moderation" is in the bible ( and i'm sure other places).. I don't think its completely "un-christian" of me to say that its a good idea not to consume yourself with any one thing.. be it work,sports, or church.

      The moment you stop listening to new ideas is the moment you stop growing. Plugging your ears to new ideas doesn't make you any smarter and it doesn't make your beliefs more valid. Also, I find that the best way to reassure what I believe, is to discuss it with others and hear their thoughts. Variety is the spice of life, and hopefully the afterlife too /me ducks the tomatoes.

        I read my Bible while riding the train home after work. Today I read a passage that I think fits in with what you had to say today.

        Luke 3:11-14 (KJV)
        11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
        12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
        13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
        14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

        The footnote says: "Personal response to God brings with it practical expression. Meat is food in general. People are not expected to come out of the world (see 1 Cor. 5:10) but to be loyal to their God in the midst of their secular responsibilities." -- The King James Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

        And just in case you cannot fully comprehend the King James Version, here is the same passage from the New International Version:
        11 John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
        12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
        13 "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
        14 He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by toro (Beadle) on Jun 14, 2011 at 21:42 UTC

    I learned of Larry's Christianity through his speech about Postmodern Perl.

    However, the Monastery has pictures of Buddhists (and geeks) in the top right. And like all programming languages, the ideal coding state seems to be Zen. So I'm not sure any Christian tendencies derive from the Monastery metaphor.

    By the way, I think it speaks well of the Perl community that qw/ Ninja Samurai Knight / ∉ their lexicon — despite retaining the Oriental fetish. Perlers seem less barbarous, less teenaged, more humble, and more broad-minded than programmers in general.

Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by perl.j (Pilgrim) on Jul 12, 2011 at 23:16 UTC
    I'm Muslim. You may run away now.

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