Monday, July 19, 2010

Christian Hackers?

So I wanted a documentary last night (yes on purpose) about Linux. It was called Revolution OS and if you are into nerdy stuff like that, you would enjoy it. You see, Linux is an operating system, like Microsoft Windows, but with a major difference. It's part of 2 movements that have sprung off each other. The first is called the Free Software Movement, started by a guy who worked on some software called gnu. The goal of the Free Software Movement was to be able to share, to give the needed tools away along with the source code so that others can improve upon it and then share it with others. When Linux hit the scene, it helped spawn the Open Source Movement. Open Source is similar to Free Software, only if I take the source code of a Linux OS, like Ubuntu and I change the source code and rewrite some of it, I can then rename it to like jdanlinux and distribute it, I just need to give credit to Ubuntu for their work. Some of the linux systems are for purchase, most are free.

So, what you are asking yourself is, what does that have to do with Christianity? You see, the individuals who are anti-open source are companies like Microsoft who have a corner on the market, have closed source and proprietary software (Microsoft stuff only works in Windows). You have to play by Window's rules, and the code is closed, so if you want to change the software to meet certain needs, you are out of luck. You just have to hope Microsoft will. On the other hand, in the Open Source and Free Software camps, you are free to change and adapt. For example, there was a program called Bison that ran in C. A guy needed it to run in C++, so he re-wrote some code and created Bison++. They gain advantage by sharing ideas, by helping, supporting and sharing, while Microsoft lacks this advantage.

For the better part of the last century, the Church has been Microsoft. It has been run from the inside, many have a very top down structure and it's closed. The end users (people in the pews) had very little ability to make changes, only to choose to attend or not attend a church. This has hit a climax now in the 21st century when we have created a generation of church hoppers, shoppers and many who would rather just stay home and watch church on tv. They have been fed up with the closed system, coming to a room with a bunch of people they never connect with.

The church is beginning to see it, they are moving closer. The Small Group/cell group movement is pushing closer to the community aspect, but what I have noticed is that these hackers have the idea of community down better than the church. The software community works better than the Christian community. This community truly wants to connect, share, interact and help and support one another. It's based on giving and sharing and helping others. That is what Jesus taught for us to do, to give and share and help, but so often we are shamed by these other communities.

Perhaps it's because the tech industry in better at change than the church. Maybe it's because the tech movement is moving so much faster than the church. I think when it really comes down to it, Free Software and Open Source work so much better because they are less paranoid than the church, they are not as concerned with control, with manipulation and who the "leader" is. As we see the small church/organic church model begin to take off, we will see the church and the tech market begin to look more and more alike. The focus will be on the community, on the body and not so much on the individual.

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