S1E15: Being An Ambassador of IT Within Our Religious Community
Welcome. To our podcast where, we talk about the interesting frustrating. And inspiring, experience. We have as people, with strongly, held religious, views working, in corporate IT we're. Not here to preach or teach you our religion, or lack thereof we're, here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals. Mesh or at least not conflict, with our religious. Life this. Is technically. Religious. Religious. Communities, sometimes have a fraught relationship with. Technology in general and the internet smartphones, and screens, in particular on the, one hand churches. Synagogues mosques temples, etc, see the power that these technologies have to, build grow, and maintain contact. With the community and spread the word on the, other technology. Is often perceived as a cesspool of evil inclinations and, a scourge that is destroying families and, minds, as IT. Professionals, within our religious communities were often asked to address and even fix those. Issues in this episode, I'm joined, in discussion, by Josh Bigley hello, and also our returning guest Keith Townsend, aka CTO, advisor hey, there and we are gonna tell a few of our stories. In this right now before we dive into any of that I need to write a past. Injustice, and give, Keith a chance to tell everyone a little bit about himself, and, CTO advisor what you're all about so, shameless, self-promotion, time Keith oh you know what it, is - technically, religious, podcast, well we'll start with that I am, a Christian. And I've been a Christian for almost. As well, yeah, almost as long as I've been in IT so I've been an IT a little bit over. 21. Years and I've, been a Christian, for about 21, years I. Blog. And stuff mainly, talk. To CEOs, or. Infrastructure. Architects, and. You, can file all that goodness on the CTO advisor com. Fantastic. Alright and the, next thing I'd like to do is point out for. People. Who've been listening, to this podcast for, a while this is actually episode, number 15, if you're keeping track that. This, episode is, sort, of counter, to our normal style, or story usually we. Talk about our life as an IT person, who is, recognizably. Or somehow visibly, connected, to a faith moral, ethical, worldview, and yet today we're gonna turn that on its head today we're going to talk about our life within our community of faith but, being, someone who is recognizably. A geek. You, know somebody who is associated, with technology in, some way, and. Where I'd like to start the conversation is, what is good, about that what is good about being a geek in the pews, so. I just want to point out that I thought, you were going to say that today we were going to be witty and spiteful, and funny. You. Are always, all three of those things I don't know I mean and self-deprecating. So it's all good, should. Have known that that wasn't the case because you guys had me back if you know. The. Humility, the humility is just rife, a lot around there so okay no really what is it what's good about being a geek you know at our church or synagogue or whatever what what does how, does that help us I mean. We're usually the first ones to know the Wi-Fi password. Okay. And, we can share it with others yeah and usually help them get their devices on. There. And. Then, when you, know everyone I think everyone's, service is going to the point, where they're using PowerPoint, presentations, to drive. The sermon which is you know kind of crazy so whenever the the, PowerPoint, doesn't progress to the next slide or or. The. Screen goes blank after, about five minutes you can get up and walk up to the AV guys and you know usually get it sorted out in 3540. Seconds what everyone looks you, know at you awkwardly got, it okay so I just want to hold down my leg of the conversation, and just say that within, the Orthodox Jewish community this, is actually, not a thing first of all on the Sabbath you can't touch any of that stuff so certainly. No PowerPoint presentations, at. That point but also it. Just you, know weekdays, services, tend to go very fast, they're very businesslike, so. None of that but. Videos. Have a V at all, I. Will say for the most part I say, certainly, there's a V because. There's lectures, and discussions but. In terms of worship. No worship. Is still a very analog, experience, hmm. In fact there's a big push, in a, lot of you. Know Jewish spaces, and certainly Orthodox, spaces to have people leave their their, screens. Their cell phones and things outside, at, the door and not even be tempted in, between, certain parts of the the prayer, or dava need to even be tempted to look at at their phone while, it's, going on you know you're there to talk to the, boss, you.
Know As just as you wouldn't go into your you know CEO or CTO office and in the middle of a conversation say oh hang, on I just got to check this text you know oh wow this is. Like. You wouldn't do that with, your boss don't do that with the big boss that. Is a pretty good lesson yeah, I was. A Sunday, school teacher I, used we used to have a box, of Technology, and. That was it was a box, that we would put on the table and when the kids would come in this was at the height of the, clash of clans. Crazed. Clans. Craze that's really hard to say and we used to make them put their cell phones in the box, and. Otherwise. It, was. You. Know clash, of clans off, your your, lap while you or, underneath, your scriptures, or hmm, it was just a thing right, you, guys have inspired me, I think, I'm gonna start leaving my. Phone. In the car, so. That I'm not tempted at all you know I I don't I really don't pull it out after. Service that's for sure because I'm usually you know talking, and. Ministering. And etc but you know what the I, do, use it as my to. Look up Scripture and you. Can get kind of sidetracked you like oh yeah you know I'll check, Twitter, or whatever and. That's. A good point so. I, think. One of the things that that resonates, with me and so. In Mormonism there are four, books of Scripture. You know the Bible. The King James Version on the Bible also the Book of Mormon the Doctrine Covenants pearl of great price, in. The Book of Mormon there's a prophet. King. Benjamin, and in. Messiah - 17, which, is what, every. Every Mormon out there saying oh yeah I know this first right it's. It. Says you know that. I know that I know I had to memorize this once right and behold I tell you these things that you may learn wisdom that, you may learn that when you're in the service, of your fellow beings, you're only in the service of your God and I think that that whole idea of. Serving. Our fellow man is. Is. Intrinsic. Of you, know that's what God wants me to do so when it comes to fixing technology. It's, something, that we know how to do and we're really good when we see that person fumbling, with our technology our natural. Instinct, or at least my natural, instinct, is to reach out to them and say hey can, I help you with that or you, know you see them they're starting to get frazzled, and you know I Mormons, use technology, in their lessons and, you see you know that that. Individual, up there and they're trying to get that PowerPoint presentation, or that streaming video to work and knowing, that you can just step up and in a couple of seconds have it up and running and going that's. Very, reassuring, that it's it's it that feels right to me and I, think the best part of that is we. All understand, that they're not there for the technology piece and so we're, watching as the technology, is pulling, them away from. The Holy air moment they're there to teach a lesson they're there to share a thought they're there to you. Know share some of their experiences and, they're getting hung up their rhythm, their pacing, their confidence, is being hit and you don't want that and you can help get, that back on track and I think you're right that's a great. A. Great. Way of looking at it I think the other thing is that as, representatives. Of technology, we can help sort, of deescalate, people's. Feelings. About technology, I said in the intro that a lot of times in faith communities, technology, is looked, at as something, to be mistrusted and, we. Have a chance to be, an ambassador. Of. Technology. In the sense that we. Are part of the community we, are a trusted voice we understand. The, rules of the road you. Know at no time, I'll. Speak for myself are we gonna say ya know playboys, okay just read it for the articles like, you're not you're, not gonna do that you know you're not gonna say oh it's okay it's what if it's not okay you understand. That it's not okay and they understand, that you understand, it so when you're giving advice you have a chance to to. Point, out where, that something is true risk and where something is only a perceived, risk yes, so you know one of the big challenges that we have is as. Religious, people as sometimes we're perceived as being anti, science or even anti-technology. Yeah. So. You. Know nuclear, medicine is, a fantastic. Innovation, but. Nuclear, medicine and nuclear bomb nuclear. Bombs are cut. From the same you know well, you, know chemical engineering is wonderful. It transforms, our lives in. Ways that we we. Now in the myths of chemical engineering and I, read. A great book in the last year or so about the CRISPR technology.
Crazy. Stuff right, yeah but chemical weapons or horrible things that you know that kill people and maim them and. Then of course because we're geeks we, recognize, that of course the, the Holy Trinity of. Geekdom is star wars three four and five. Or. No, four five and six thank you right four five and six right and, Jar, Jar Binks is I. Think, the word that you wrote here is an unholy abomination. Yeah, yeah and I will say the characters conceived the actor is fantastic. And I do not want to contribute to his. Struggles, because he really you know actors. Get sometimes get jobs they don't expect to go the way that they go but, yeah I'm not a fan of the first three. Movies going. Back to CRISPR it's interesting because there was just a. Segment. On NPR, today that was talking about somebody who's, creating. CRISPR babies and they. Thought they would make a person. A human that was HIV. Resistant, and it, turns out that there's all sorts of downstream consequences however. That. Same technology can be used to. Correct. Some. Amazingly. Impactful. Diseases, when, used so even within the same technology. You. Know there's a balance there and I think that being, a technologist. Within a faith community allows us to, help point out that these are. Opportunities. To make, moral. Ethical, I'll. Say righteous, or. Higher. Power directed. Decisions, about a tool whether, that tool is a hammer or. Crisper I, think. The other thing that you, know we hadn't talked about is that personally. The, discipline, of bene technologists, gives. Me the ability, to acts critical, questions and even critical questions on my own faith so, that you know for people, that you know we spread the word of just. Believing in God and we get challenged, on that you. Know we as, technologists. We actually, come with a reputation, of being critical. Thinkers, so, I think it gives us you know this this, moral. Authority. To speak, on faith, because. We're reasoned, in our approach to our faith in most businesses, right, right. And and it also lets us debunk, so. There's, again the debunking, of you know no that's actually you know the the, IRS is not going to call you and. Ask you for your password and. Things like that there's a story, that's told in. Orthodox, Jewish circles that I hate, it's one of those apocryphal, stories but, frequently. In in, Orthodox. Circles when you're talking about technology, comes out so there's a there's, a kollel. Guy a guy who learns scripture, as his. Job you know all day long 810, hours a day this is what he does and he, needs to make a living and so, he. Goes and he gets a job and they put him in an office and they give him a computer and the next weekend, he is violating. The Sabbath and he's. Doing drugs and he's. Having affair and and, they. Tell it every, time and every time you can hear my eyes rolling, in my head and, you. Know a it's, a you know you don't want to you, don't a contradict, you, know, rabbinic. Authority but, you have to stand up and say I think, there might have been a couple of other problems with this guy I don't think the computer was really the thing that threw him over the edge if the, next weekend, he was violating, the Sabbath and doing these things and it, sounds a little far-fetched anyway. So. You, know it gives you a chance to be like you said that critical, voice. That pushes back a little bit yeah, we call those faith promoting, lies in, Mormonism, I don't. Know what else. Technology. You know we have this desire to further. Our point and not, necessarily. Stretching. The truth but you, and, this happens on social media as well not just technology but social media our. Minister, last week gave an incredible. Sermon. On. Basically. Social media and, revealed. The stack that 70%. Of the stories shared, on Facebook, are in, fake. And in, fact fake. News, but. It is. An. Example of our bent, on wanting. To promote our, version. Of the, truth and. That. Is I think the things, that we enjoy. About. The. Technology. Space that. You can spread, information, extremely, fast but. Also you, know part. Of that story is that you. Can spread. Falsehoods. Or. Stretches. Of the truth extremely. Fast as well right. You. Know twice, in her own Keith. You've now made a comment that's made me think of a book that I'm reading it's. Entitled, the case for the real Jesus, by, Lee Strobel and.
Lee. Is a he's, a journalist. Also. Was an atheist and then converted, to Christianity. And he. Meets with someone who actually lives over in Nova Scotia so I live on the east coast of Canada and. He meets with this historian. And professor and, he's, talking. About the, the. Stretches. Of truth. That, have happened within Christianity. Since the time of Christ and how. The. We're. Looking at these these. Gnostic. Gospels, that have come out over, you know the last you. Know 50 or 60 years they've really come to light and challenging. This narrative, of Jesus. With. Which. Was you know the cop the the Coptic Gospels, with. These Gnostic Gospels and saying oh my goodness, you know these, things that you know they were written a hundred years after Jesus. Was on, the earth but you know they're saying that Jesus you know really had three, eyes and I know that's not what they're saying but it's it's that idea, we, can make these we. Can make these allegations. And, it's, really hard to back them up because the disinformation out there, is is. You. Know it it's there it's really difficult and I will point out that there is one area and which disinformation. I, think, really, needs to be clamped down on and that's and that's IT security. You. Should use, a password, manager like, it is not just. A scary thing do, not use the same password, on every, single website right. Use, multi-factor, authentication these. Are things. It's. Not just the boogeyman you should do that yeah, and I think that goes back to you. Know debunking. Things, that that are you know patently, untrue. Reinforcing. Good behaviors, I think that that allows us to do it the other thing is that because. We are representative. Technology, it gives us a chance to. To. Model, good behavior. You. Know to. Quote Bill and Ted to be excellent, to each other, online. As, well as in in the pews, you know as well as in our faith, building. There's. A local repet. S'en a rabbis. Wife who is an author and a blogger and she. Is known around here for saying that the only time she posts on social media, is after, she's asked herself three things about the things she wants to say is it. True is it. Kind and is. It necessary to say it hmm. And whenever. She says that the immediate reaction from the audience is well then I wouldn't post anything and she, holds up her fingers as right. Exactly. Maybe, maybe. You should think about all. The, things that you're posting and I I, love, that and and I I, aspire. To it I can't say that I always. Meet. That aspiration, but I like. It so it, gives us as technology, as a chance to say yeah you know you can be. In these spaces and, use, them to uplift, to to. Shine a light to do all those things like you know you can do that, wait. So based on those three rules are, you announcing the end of the podcast are. We are we I. I. Don't I, believe that everything, that we have talked about in. Our episodes, is certainly, kind and. True. To the best of our ability and I I think it's necessary okay, I'm really I was I was just concerned I thought you were firing us. That. Was a very tight but it was a very kind way, in which he did it right. Right and that's the other thing is that you know everyone, I think, has become aware that people say, more than, online. To people than they might say face-to-face, and. You. Know I I don't know. Your. Side of it but I know that Judaism has very specific, rules, about what, they call rebuking, another person, you know when you want to give them a little.
Bit Of a correction and that's, you you are not permitted, in fact you are commanded, not to, rebuke. Somebody, unless. You are able, to do it in private. To. Do it with only love in your heart and to only, do it when you are certain that the other person, will hear, you. So. If the other person is not in a headspace to understand, what you're going to be saying you are commanded, to keep your mouth shut and. The. Same thing if you in saying it you are going to become agitated or, unhappy, or upset, you're, not allowed to say it all, those things and I think that again social media gives us a chance to practice that and and. To model it. Yeah. I try. And I try to, be an example on social, media I am, a, bit, of a pot. Store and. To. Say it. Malley but I try to be. Try. To be provocative, about being. Offensive, is the, is, the, goal and, I. Think one of the things that I, personally. Like a personal, failing of mines in which I wish, I can get better and I've kind of stepped away from talking politics, for. A little while especially as Melissa's sick and I'm, trying to focus on a you know on positivity. For a while the. One. Of the areas, that I that I fell is I'm very passionate, about. Systematic. Just. Challenges. Of. Minorities. So, whenever. You. Know kind of something happens politically, in that space is really. Hard for me to balance Christianity. And my. Desire, to. In. This a is not a godly desire to to. To. Get justice, because it's not for us to get if. You know from a Christian perspective that's, for God to, provide and. That. You know that so I try and model that and sometimes, people will you know get a lot of compliments, on my ability, to just. Have very difficult. But, yet respectful. Conversations, but. I have. To be honest my heart is not always coming, from a great place but, it's really great advice, to you know kind, of be the change you want to see well, and I will say that first, of all you, know, struggling. With or wrestling, with something is is the. Work. So. You know the fact that it's not easy means that you're at that you're at that point of growth right you aren't in the easy space or everything is just simple you're, you're you're, pushing yourself but I will also say just having watched your social, media accounts that you focus, on issues and, you. Focus on events. But. You don't focus on people you are willing to go after an, idea. And you're, willing to go after to call out you. Know an event, or an attitude but. You don't call out a person, and I. Think that that no some, people may feel, threatened. By, you. Challenging. An idea whether that's about virtualization. Or social, justice or any of those things but. That's that's, what they brought to the table you're, just calling out this situation this. Design. This, architecture. This finance. You know in this financial structure, this is not this. Is suboptimal, they. Don't like that and I think the that, comes from her space from being able to look at myself and people. Show, have. Shown me in the past where. I just wasn't christ-like, in, loving. Other people you know Christians, we have a very difficult time with the. Concept of homosexuality. And. And sexual. Identity so. We look at that as a different, weighted. Sand and other sins and I've had that struggle, in my past and. To. Be and then, to. Not look at people with the same love of Christ, that, I looked at so I try and address issues. And not people because if I treated. People, if, two people treated me the same way that that. I. Treated people in the past when I had those views then. I would never have changed, so, I, try and give people the same grace I was given which is you, know what this person has, the capacity to. Change and, if. We focus on the issue then, hopefully, they'll, have. The space to change so, we have to give the space to have the conversation, and this is going back to technology technology. Gives us the space to have the conversation, but, we have to model, what, that looks like we. Know you can't listen to our podcasts, all day so out of respect for your time we've broken this particular discussion, up come back next week where we pick up our conversation with, the things that challenged us as ambassadors, of i.t within. Our religious, community thanks. For making time for us this week to, hear more of technically, religious visit, our website technically, religious, comm where, you can find our other episodes leave, us ideas, for future discussions, and connect, with us on social media a. Jew. A Christian and a Mormon walk into a mosque and, no, no no, how to fix the router.