Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Everything I Need To Know About Software I Learnt In Sunday School

by John Eddie Kerr on Cooking With Linux

Well, that is a bold statement; what can all those ones and zeros, bits and bytes have to do with the lessons taught in Sunday school? They do not teach programing in Sunday School, but two lessons in particular may help guide us to the kind of software we should be writing or using. Two Bible stories come to mind when I think of the history of GNU/Linux: The Parable of the Good Samaritan, and the story of the Loaves and the Fishes.

Listening to Richard M. Stallman speak of the origins of Free Software Movement it is obvious that he places tremendous value on the ability that we have to help one another, to share, and to be a community. The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that that this is what we should be doing. Freedom number two of the four freedoms echoes it well: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour.

Linus Torvalds gave the free software movement a big boost by writing a kernel that enabled GNU software to run on a personal computer. I think of it as one of the closest things a mortal could do that is similar to the feeding of the 5,000. In the Gospel of John we read of a young boy's offering of a very small amount of bread and fish that was able to feed 5,000 people. This was the miracle of the loaves and the fishes; a Gospel story so much like the humble beginnings of GNU/Linux. I am sure that the boy who gave his small lunch to be shared had no idea that he was going to feed 5,000 people. Linus no doubt, had no idea as to how far his initial little program could go. Once again the concept of sharing and giving is there.

So if someone says “I don't get this free lunch thing” of the Free Software Movement or of GNU/Linux, just remind the person of the feeding of the five thousand and that the Free Software Movement is made up of people who like the young boy, believe that one person can make a difference and are willing to give to make that difference.

If a person remains unconvinced and questions who will pay for it? How is it sustained? there is a Biblical answer to that as well and is found in Matthew 6:25-27 (New International Version)

Jesus said:"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

If anything, that passage of the Bible is what we should keep in mind during these troubled times.

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