Technically Religious
S1E16: Being An Ambassador of IT Within Our Religious Community Part 2

S1E16: Being An Ambassador of IT Within Our Religious Community Part 2

June 25, 2019

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 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, we're often asked to address, and even "fix", those issues. Last week, Josh Biggley, Keith Townsend, and Leon Adato discussed what was good about being "geeks in the pew". In this week's installment, we'll explore the challenging side of this situation and look at some solutions. Listen or read the transcript below...

Destiny: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating, and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. 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.

Leon: 00:24 This is a continuation of the discussion I started last week with Josh Biggley and Keith Townsend on the topic of being ambassadors of it within our religious community. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Leon: 00:37 All right, so we've talked about some of the good, we've talked about some of the opportunities that being a technologist in our faith community presents us, but what can go wrong? What is wrong with being a person of technology in a land of faith?

Josh: 00:55 Really, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a person of technology in a land of faith. I think that it's the use of technology. So I like to tell people I'm a recovering video game addict and I love video games. I really struggle with the want to play video games. And by the way, most video games today are crap. It's just the way that it is. Sorry kids. They are. But the biggest innovations in video games - things like 3D and VR and augmented reality - they come from the porn industry.So Mormonism, they've embraced technology. So one of the earliest embraces of Technology was broadcasting what we call general conference, which is a biannual conference. It takes place in Salt Lake City in April and October. And so broadcasting that conference around the world, like when I grew up, our church had one of those monstrous satellite dishes outside, you know, the kind that you're, the kid in the neighborhood. His Dad used to, you know, get the free porn on. Well, we had one in our church's yard and we got broadcast from Salt Lake City sent to us. So I think that the challenge with technology isn't so much that it is technology, the challenge is: what are we willing to accept it being used for in our lives.

Leon: 02:26 Okay. So that's an interesting take. I guess what I was thinking about is the things that being the technology person, like what goes wrong with that scenario when we enter our church or synagogue or mosque or are our temple. And one of the first things, and this isn't the worst of it, but one of them is that sometimes we are asked to stand and answer for technology. So, people come up and say, "Twitter's just for, you know, porn and shit posting, that's all you ever do." And you know, I'm stuck there saying, "Well no it's not." But I'm also in my head saying, "Well yeah, it kinda is sometimes"

Josh: 03:08 I thought Instagram and Reddit were for porn. Right?

Leon: 03:12 Well, okay, everything could be, but you know, the point is, is that I'm being asked to stand and answer these challenges and that can be, you know, it's never fun to be on that kind of firing line.

Keith: 03:23 Well, you know, it's kind of like being a politician. There's no good politician. One politician has to answer for all politicians. Or you know what we, we all have faiths that have controversies associated with those faiths. So you know, you're the Christian and you have to answer for 2000 years of the atrocities of Christianity. It's the same thing in technology. "You know what, Keith, you, you help maintain the internet in some ways. So you are a contributor to these problems." You know, the fact that the FBI can't unencrypt this porn traffickers phone is your fault.

Leon: 04:05 Right? I also find that we're often put in a position where we have to be the bearer of bad news.

Josh: 04:11 Like "the wifi is down"?

Leon: 04:11 No worse than that. I've been asked to go help somebody with their computer, only to have to tell them that their spouse is doing... Whatever it is,

Speaker 4: 04:22 At work, if you've ever did any type of enterprise stuff at work and you find something illegal like child porn... it's your responsibility. You are now legally obligated to bring that up. And then for our various faiths.... I had a guy bring me his laptop and said, "you know, what, can you fix this?" And what was wrong with it was they had a bunch of spyware on it. And there's one surefire way to get spyware on your laptop. And he was a friend, so I had to have a difficult conversation with him. And this is not something that, if he would have took it to best buy or wherever - and he probably does now - but if he would have taken it to Best Buy or the Geek Squad, he would not have been confronted with a difficult conversation. So it puts us in a really tough situation sometimes.

Leon: 05:20 It can be, yeah, it can be hard. And that doesn't even consider having to be the bearer of bad news that, you know, "you're just not good at this." Like "you broke it. You really..." Like, "why would you think that doing this...", you know, I mean those, those kinds of things too. I also find that there's a potential, and I think we're going to dig into this a little bit more later in the episode, but it can create dependency relationships that are not good for us and they're not good for the people that we're helping. You know that there's a feeling of a burden on our part and there's a feeling of beholden-ness on their part that can develop that is not friendly sometimes.

Keith: 06:05 Yeah. I sold the guy, the laptop, so...

Leon: 06:10 oh man.

Keith: 06:11 So... and I think that gets to your point, there's this obligation and this is not unique to technology. We deal with this. I think the religious part of the relationship, the faith based part of the relationship, makes it that much more difficult because people can either abuse that, or you can feel personally obligated because this person is a fellow member of your congregation, mosque, or whatever, that you're obligated at a spiritual level to help maintain the system that you gave to them out of the abundance of your, kind of, blessing. You know, how many of us have... like, I literally have a laptop that's worth a couple of hundred bucks at least that, but that could do some good. And I'm challenged with what do I do with this thing? I can't give it away because if I give it away, I've got to support it.

Leon: 07:03 It's your... Right, right. Hey, look, you pass within five feet of a computer and you know, it's your responsibility now. I mean, you just give it a second glance and... Yeah, that's, that's exactly it.

Josh: 07:15 So have either one of you had this experience: You walk into your congregation and someone corners you and says, "You know, I'm thinking about buying..." And then fill in whatever technology. A new mesh wireless system, a new laptop, an Ipod for my kid. "Which one do you recommend?"

Keith: 07:36 Oh, yeah, I've, I've had that and I almost always regretted getting it.

Josh: 07:41 Agreed. Good. I'm glad I'm not the only one who regrets that advice. My goto now is, "uh, I'm sorry, I don't fix computers. I can't help. I just don't know."

Leon: 07:52 Worse for me, worse than that is that I'm walking in on Shabbat, on the Sabbath. Remember how I said we can't touch anything, and sabbath is a day for, you know, no work and really focusing on on the holy, on the elevated and things like that. And there's still a couple of people who either want to talk about 'that really crazy thing that they did at work' or they hit you up with, "hey, my iPhone is doing this." Now that holding the iPhone, they're not. But what do you think that is? "Oh, I'll just jump on the psychic friends network now and.." You know, like you are describing an iPhone for the... and again, I go for that, like "it's Shabbat, I'm not talking about this." But it happens. The thing that's most wrong about being the technology person is what it does to us, to us ourselves. Because we're there. I mean, the whole reason we chose that space and the whole reason that we chose that community is because we wanted to make that our religious home away from home. We wanted to worship, we wanted to pray, we wanted to connect to the spirit, you know, however, however you want to phrase it. And the problem is that sometimes when we're doing that work, it's not happy work, it's uncomfortable work. It's work where we are really digging deeply and thinking about our behavior or our attitudes. And that's something that we're not always really excited to do, but it's necessary. And having a distraction, having somebody come up to you and say, "Hey Leon, I know that that you're in the middle of davening (or whatever), but hey, can you just... you know, the Wifi is down. Can you just, you know, kick it in a minute?" And you're like, "Yes! Please! Give me any reason not to have this conversation with God right now, cause I'm really not up for that. I really don't want to have it." I think that that's the biggest disservice that we do to ourselves. I don't know if you've run into that.

Keith: 09:48 Yeah, I don't, I don't limit this just to technology. We don't have a whole lot of people on staff in my congregation, we give a good portion of what we would probably spend on staffing to missions, contributions, etc. So we're very volunteer driven, which is great and it works for the most part, but it is a awesome excuse for those who look to be doing well spiritually, to step away from the work of staying well spiritually. So whether you're doing sound, you're doing childcare, you're doing ushering, or counting the contribution, or even the book ministry, it is a good excuse to just not do the work of your faith. And the work of your face is faith is not necessarily running the church or the congregation or the mosque. The work of your faith is developing your relationship with God. And that, I think as technologists, we make that excuse. I remember early on my faith at bringing my pager in because I'd be on call and it would you go off and like, "Oh wow, this is a good reason to step away" knowing that whatever it was could wait. You know, it is a risk that does not limited to technology.

Josh: 11:08 I think this is a challenge and I'm glad to hear you say that Keith, that is transcendent of religious belief. Within Mormonism, all local clergy is lay clergy. So those individuals hold full time jobs in addition to being called as a member of clergy. In fact, all positions in the church are unpaid. And I've watched without fail... And even when I acted as a member of clergy, without fail, those members who are in those positions, they stop attending Sunday school. They stop attending their meetings on Sundays aside from the meeting in which they have to preside over because they're, they're caught up in being the thing they've been asked to be. And it's everyone though, right? Because everything is volunteer driven. It's the person who fixes the boilers. It's the person who does the AV work. It's the person who is responsible for stocking the supplies for the janitor. It's everyone and there always seems to be a reason for people to be away from worship. And I don't know how to break that cycle. Honestly. I don't. I've seen it for 20 years and I'm stuck.

Keith: 12:22 So, we haven't talked about, maybe it's a great topic for another day, but we have this hero syndrome in IT and this is just another way to feed that disfunction of, "yeah, I'm the hero that saved the day and my job is so important within worship that I have to do" it or that it takes away from my own worship.

Leon: 12:48 Right? So you feed the martyr syndrome and you feed the importance and that really negative feedback loop, like you said of the mouse that gets the cookie. But it's doing the wrong thing. Like all those things fed into it. And the other thing is that you get the positive-negative loop of feeling put upon. "Ugh, can't anyone fix the AV this time? I'm always the one who has to do that!" But also the self importance, but also the "look, no one else can do it. I really am the hero." And meanwhile other people are feeling... You're possibly leading other people to feel jealousy or resentment towards you, which you should never be that stumbling block in front of somebody else. So it just can lead to all these horrible outcomes. And I think we've been dancing around it, but where I'd like to wrap up, where I want to go next and finish out with is "how do we manage those boundaries?" So the first thing is, you were both very clear. This is not just for it folks. This is for anybody who is doing any sort of volunteer job within our faith organization. You know, childcare is a great example, Keith, that you brought up that "I would love to be praying but baby's got to get changed. You know, someone's got to watch the kids and I never get to pray or maybe once all everyone goes and picks up their babies. Now I can have a few minutes in a quiet room by myself."Bbut do I take it for myself? Is that really the right way? Is that... So that's the first thing is it's not just for it people. But the other thing Keith, you brought up before we started recording was that it's not just for faith groups.

Keith: 14:31 Yeah. This is something that any organization, there's a volunteer driven that doesn't have enough x, will lean on a resource as much as possible because the organization needs the resources cause they're resource limited. So we can be United way or and girls club. My wife worked for boys and Girls Club for a couple of years, and the amount of just extra they get out of those - even the employees and volunteers. It was to the point, and we're going to get to this, it was to the point where you wore those resources out, that they stopped contributing their talents to that organization.

Leon: 15:15 Got It. Okay. So Keith, as CTO advisor, as somebody who does this professionally, I am going to lean on your expertise just a little bit - hopefully not abusively and ask what, what are your thoughts on how we can set proper boundaries? And we'll keep it with our faith community, but we understand that I will say right now I am horrible at setting boundaries in general. Josh is nodding. So if you don't know, we have video going along with this that we don't record, but so we can see each other's faces. And as I'm saying, "I'm horrible at setting boundaries." Josh, he's just nodding so much that the camera's blurring as he's doing it. So Keith, what is some of your suggestions on ways that we can both give back to our faith communities, but not so much that it becomes these negatives?

Keith: 16:08 So this is one of those things that, when we all look at the basis of our faith, all our faith are based on love. So that's a given. And then there's other commonalities across our faith, which is 1) to have faith. And oddly enough, this is the area that we don't recognize that we're allowed to be challenged on. There's always always going to be too much in our face. If we're not relying on God, then something is wrong somewhere. You know, if, if, if we're the only one that can do it or solve it, then there's, you know, we're putting faith in the wrong place. So there's, you know, kind of that fundamental piece of our individual relationships with God. Whatever higher being you have in your faith is that we have to give... in Christianity we are always saying "we have to give God something to bless." Well, if we're doing it all, how are we giving God something to bless? So that's where I started. So if the babies have to be changed, if the food has to be prepped, the Wifi has to be fixed - but you're putting all of that in front of your own personal relationship with God, your families relationship with God, or you're... whatever priority your faith dictates you give to your, uh, "big boss" who ultimately I call "God". Then that's where you know your boundaries is kind of out of whack. You have to, again, in a Christianity focus, you have to put God to the test, allow things to go haywire as you go for prayer. Maybe during that period of time, other people realize, "Oh wow, I didn't know... I didn't even realize that that was a problem." When I advise people in the secular world, and just my regular job, if senior management... if you never allow senior management to know that there's a problem, you don't give them the opportunity to fix the problem. So if you're always trying to mask and hide the problem with any fish and band aids, you know what? You're going to get a result that's not what you want,

Leon: 18:36 You're not giving someone else a chance to step up if you're constantly rushing in there. I ike that a lot because, if you think you're the one who's doing it all, there's a attitude adjustment - or in a slightly different context in Judaism, you're commanded to give tzdedakah, which people translate as "charity." It really means "justice", literally means justice, and you're commanded... It's one of things you're commanded to do. But the texts are very clear. Like, "you think *you're* giving that money? Oh, is that what you think? No, no. See THAT? I gave you that money to give, right? Yeah. Please do not think that you are supporting this person, that you are helping this person. You are doing nothing. I will make sure they're okay. I'm just letting you participate so you can feel good about it." And the same thing, you know, "you think that's your skills, that it's all on your shoulders? No, no, no. I'm so sorry. But you know, it's going to be there long after you're gone and someone else will be doing it. It's okay." To that end, I get pulled into a lot at my synagogue, doing some tech work, and I've started refusing to just do the work unless there's somebody else who was assigned as a project manager on an activity. I don't necessarily need one, but I need someone else to be the "one face." I need somebody else to gather the requirements, to just say, "yes, do that now." I'll give them, "here's, here's the five things that need to get done. Here's my time estimate that it will take me to do it." But you're going to have to be the one who gets approval, who deals with people who say, "I don't like that color. I want it to be more green" or whatever. And the result is that the person who's project managing me right now actually is learning to be a web designer. And he started to do some of it on his own. And so now there's two of us. And so that's okay. So I'm kind of proud of myself. I have done that.

Josh: 20:39 I'm just worried that there's two Leon's in the world now.

Leon: 20:41 No, no, that would be that. That's not a good thing.

Josh: 20:44 Okay. Okay. All right. Yeah.

Keith: 20:45 Technically my middle name is Leon, so there's that.

Leon: 20:48 oh well, gee, I didn't even know that. Wow. So only special people can have that name. So what else, what are some other ways that we can set boundaries in our communities so that we can be a whole person?

Josh: 21:05 You know, I liked the idea of listening to the people that love us. Whether that's your spouse, your significant other, your children, your parents, your friends. Look to them, the people who are authentic in their love for you. And this keys off of what you were talking about, Keith, our expression of our faith, our expression of our beliefs is really about love. People will not take advantage of us if they truly love us. And if they see us being taken advantage of, they will help us to establish boundaries. My wife is really good at coming down in my work and saying, "Hey, look, you need to make sure you come upstairs for lunch." Or "you need to come upstairs at the end of your workday and not push that eight to half, nine hour day into a nine and a half, 10, 11, 12 hour day." She can set those same boundaries when it comes to me in my faith community, right? "Hey, it's okay that you volunteered x number of hours this week in our faith community, but we still need you to be present as spouse, as father, as you know, whether they view me as patriarch or someday, when my older and my children have children, as grandparents, which I know both of you have that privilege. We just need to listen to our families and I think that that will help us set those boundaries because we're listening.

Keith: 22:29 Yeah. I tweeted something out earlier today. You want to give some perspective on this. If you have young kids, have someone ask them what do they think daddy's or mommy's priority is? Not just in general but when you're in church or in service, like what's their priority in service, like what's important to them? And kids are extremely observant and they will let you know if the priority is, "oh, he's really, really into the audio-visual. Like if the answer is anything other than being active and participating in service, then that's great... And Joshua, the other thing I'd like to piggyback on a comment you made is my wife is very good at protecting my boundaries. She has got the, well, this is probably why I don't get asked to do AV stuff, uh, tech stuff anymore by people. She just tells people "No. You'll never get it back. Like if you give him your laptop, you'll be there for six, seven months, but you will not... he just doesn't have the time to do it. So let's protect the friendship and do not get him your technology."

Speaker 2: 23:37 That's fantastic. I, uh, I've said for a long time as a parent and even as a grandparent, one of the best techniques you use is to walk slowly. Meaning if you hear your kids in the other room and they were arguing over who gets to sit on that chair or who gets to change the channel or whatever, the slower you walk, the more likely they are to figure it out before you get there. And any problem they can solve for themselves (without violence) is a better situation than you solving it for them. And I think the same thing with as a technologist that when people say, "hey, can't you come over and help me, you know, fix my router," or whatever you can say, "yeah, I, I'll probably get there in... I don't know, three, four weeks? I think I can carve out some time. It's just really busy at the office now..." And then "oh no, I need, I need a little faster than that." So walking slowly, I think, works in both cases. And in your case, Keith, it sounds like your wife has helped you to walk slower than you might otherwise.

Keith: 24:33 Looking back, I'm like, "oh, that explains a lot."

Leon: 24:36 So that's why she is Mrs CTOAdviser.

Keith: 24:38 That is why she's Mrs CTOAdvisor.

Doug: 24:40 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Josh: 24:54 A Jew, a Christian, and a Mormon, walk into a mosque

Keith: 24:57 and none of them knew how to fix the router.


S1E15: Being An Ambassador of IT Within Our Religious Community

S1E15: Being An Ambassador of IT Within Our Religious Community

June 18, 2019

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 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, we're often asked to address, and even "fix", those issues. In this episode, Josh Biggley, Keith Townsend, and Leon Adato explore what it means to be a tech expert in the pews. Listen or read the transcript below.

Kate:                                     00:00                     Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating, and inspiring experiences 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.

Leon:                                     00:24                     Religious communities sometimes have a fraught relationship with technology in general, and the Internet, smart phones, 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, we're often asked to address - and even fix those issues. In this episode, I'm joined in discussion by Josh Biggley.

Josh:                                      00:59                     Hello,

Leon:                                     01:00                     And also our returning guest, Keith Townsend, Aka CTO Advisor.

Keith:                                    01:04                     Hey there,

Leon:                                     01:05                     And we are going to tell a few of our stories in this. Right. Now before we dive into any of that, I need to right a past injustice and give Keith a chance to tell everyone a little bit about himself and CTO Adviser, and what you're all about. So shameless self promotion time, Keith.

Keith:                                    01:19                     Oh, you know what it is the Technically Religious podcast so 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 in IT a little bit over 21 years, and I've been a Christian for about 21 years. I blog and stuff, mainly talk to CTOs or infrastructure architects, and you can find all that goodness on

Leon:                                     01:50                     Fantastic. Alright, and the next thing I'd like to do is point out for people who have 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 is an IT person who is recognizably or somehow visibly connected to a faith, moral or ethical worldview. And yet today we're going to 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?

Josh:                                      02:35                     So I just want to point out that I thought you were going to say that today we were going to be witty and insightful and funny.

Leon:                                     02:43                     You are always all three of those things. I don't know. I mean and self deprecating, so it's all good. Right?

Keith:                                    02:49                     You should'a known that that wasn't the case because you guys, you guys had me back on the show.

Leon:                                     02:54                     Oh the humility, the humility is just a rife around here. So, okay. No really what does it... what's good about being a geek, you know, at our church or our synagogue or whatever? How does that help us?

Josh:                                      03:09                     I mean, we're usually the first ones to know the Wifi password.

Leon:                                     03:13                     Okay. And we can share it with others. Yeah. And usually help them get their devices on.

Josh:                                      03:18                     What do you mean share?

Keith:                                    03:19                     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 PowerPoint doesn't progress to the next slide or the screen goes blank, after about five minutes, you can get up and walk up to the AV guys and usually get it sorted out in 35, 40 seconds while everyone looks at you awkwardly.

Leon:                                     03:46                     Got It. Okay. So I just want to hold down my leg of that 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, weekday services tend to go very fast. They're very businesslike. So none of that.

Keith:                                    04:09                     So that's interesting. Do you guys have AV at all?

New Speaker:                    04:12                     I will say for the most part, I say certainly there's AV because there's lectures and discussions, but in terms of worship? No worship is still a very analog experience. In fact, there's a big push in a lot of Jewish spaces and certainly orthodox spaces to have people leave their screens, their cell phones and things, outside at the door and not even be tempted in between certain parts of the prayer or davening to even be tempted to look 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 CEO or CTOs office and in the middle of a conversation say, "Oh, hang on, I just got to check this text, oh wow, this is Facebook message, this is awesome!" Like, you wouldn't do that with your boss. Don't do that with the big boss.

Keith:                                    05:05                     That is a pretty good lesson.

Josh:                                      05:07                     When I was a Sunday school teacher we used to have a box of technology, 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 craze... ( that's really hard to say.) - we used to make them put their cell phones in the box. Otherwise it was "Clash of Clans on your lap or underneath your scriptures or it was just a thing.

Keith:                                    05:39                     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. I really don't pull it out after service, that's for sure. Cause I'm usually talking and ministering, et cetera. But you know what, I do use it to look up scripture and you can get kind of sidetracked like, "Oh, you know, I'll check Twitter or whatever." And that's a good point.

New Speaker:                    06:11                     I think one of the things that resonates with me. So in Mormonism, there are four books of scripture: The Bible, the King James version of the Bible; also the book of Mormon; the doctrine covenants; Pearl of Great Price. Um, in the Book of Mormon, there's a prophet, King Benjamin and in Mosiah 2-17, which every Mormon out there, is going, "oh yeah, I know this verse", right? It says...

Leon:                                     06:39                     (laughs) "I know this! I know this one!"

Josh:                                      06:39                     "I had to memorize this one!" Right. "...And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." And I think that that whole idea of serving our fellow man is intrinsic 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 see them, they're starting to get frazzled and you know, Mormons use technology in their lessons and you see 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 feels right to me.

Leon:                                     07:33                     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 is the technology is pulling them away from the holier moment. They're there to teach a lesson. They're there to share a thought. They're there to 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 way of looking at it. I think the other thing is that as representatives of technology, we can help sort of de-escalate 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 going to say, "Yeah, no, Playboy is okay. Just read it for the articles." Like you're not going to do that. You're not going to say, "Oh, it's okay. It's..." Whatever. 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 point out where something is a true risk and where something is only a perceived risk.

Josh:                                      08:57                     Yeah. So, you know, one of the big challenges that we have as religious people, is sometimes we're perceived as being anti science or even anti technology. So, nuclear medicine is a fantastic innovation. But nuclear medicine and a nuclear bombs are cut from the same... chemical engineering is wonderful. It transforms our lives in ways that we now in the midst of chemical engineering. And I had read a great book in the last year or so about the CRISPR technology. Crazy stuff, right? But chemical weapons are horrible things that kill people and maim them. And then of course, because we're geeks, we recognize that of course the Holy Trinity of Geekdom is a Star Wars 3, 4, and 5... Uh, wait, no, 4, 5 and 6! Right? And Jar Jar Binks is... uh, I think the word that you wrote here is "an unholy abomination."

Leon:                                     09:59                     Yeah. Yeah. And I will say the character is ill-conceived. The actor is fantastic and I do not want to contribute to his struggles because he really... actors 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 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 a "higher-power-directed" decisions about a tool. Whether that tool is a hammer or a CRISPR.

Keith:                                    11:08                     I think the other thing that we hadn't talked about is that personally, the discipline of being a technologist gives me the ability to ask critical questions. And even critical questions on my own faith so that, for people that spread the word of just believing in God - and we get challenged on that - as technologists actually come with a reputation of being critical thinkers. So I think it gives us this moral authority to speak on faith because we're reasoned in our approach to our faith in most instances.

Speaker 2:                           11:46                     And it also lets us debunk. So there's again, the debunking of, "No, that's actually, you know, 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 Orthodox circles, when you're talking about technology that comes out. So there's a, there's a Kollel guy, a guy who learned scripture as his job, all day long, eight, 10 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 an affair! And...they tell it every time and every time you can hear my eyes rolling in my head and you don't want to contradict rabbinic authority, but you have to stand up and say, "I think there might've 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 it gives you a chance to be, like you said, that critical voice that pushes back a little bit.

Josh:                                      13:10                     Yeah. We call those "faith promoting lies" in Mormonism. I don't know what else...

Leon:                                     13:14                     Okay. I just call them "glurge".

Keith:                                    13:20                     This happens in technology too. We have this desire to further our point and not necessarily stretching the truth, but... and this happens on social media as well, not just technology. Our minister last week gave an incredible sermon on basically social media and revealed this fact that 70% of the stories [ed. about his religion] shared on Facebook are 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 thing that we enjoy about the technology space that you can spread information extremely fast. But also, part of that story is that you can spread false hoods or stretches of the truth extremely fast as well.

Josh:                                      14:25                     Twice in a row, now, 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 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 stretches of truth that have happened within Christianity since the time of Christ, and how we're looking at these gnostic gospels that have come out over the last 50 or 60 years, they've really come to light, and challenging this narrative of Jesus, which was the Coptic Gospels... with these gnostic gospels, and saying, "Oh my goodness, these things that were written a hundred years after Jesus was on the earth, but they're saying that Jesus really had three eyes!" (I know that that's not what they're saying), but it's that idea that we can make these allegations and it's really hard to back them up because the disinformation out there is there. It's really difficult. And I will point out that there is one area in which this information I think really needs to be clamped down on. 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. Use multifactor authentication. These are things, it's not just the boogie man. You should do that.

Leon:                                     16:14                     Yeah. And I think that goes back to debunking things that are 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 model good behavior. To quote Bill and Ted, to " excellent to each other" - online as well as in the pews, in our faith, building. There's a local Rebbetzin - a rabbi's 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. 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? And 3) is it necessary to say it? And whenever she says that, the immediate reaction from the audience is "well then I wouldn't post anything!" And she holds up her finger and says "Right. Exactly!" Maybe you should think about all the things that you're posting. And I love that. And I aspire to it. I can't say that I always meet that aspiration, but I like it. So it gives us as technologists a chance to say, "yeah, you can be in these spaces and use them to uplift, to, to shine a light, do all those things." Like, you know, you can do that.

Josh:                                      17:43                     Wait, so based on those three rules, are you announcing the end of the podcast? Are we are disbanding?

Leon:                                     17:50                     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 think it's necessary.

Josh:                                      18:01                     Okay. I'm willing. I was, I was just concerned. I thought you were firing us.

Keith:                                    18:07                     But it was a very kind way in which he did it.

Leon:                                     18:12                     And that's the other thing is that, you know, everyone I think has become aware that people say more online to people than they might say face to face. And 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 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 head space to understand what you're going to be saying, you are commanded to keep your mouth shut. And the same thing, if - 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 to model it.

Speaker 3:                           19:16                     Yeah. I try to be an example on social media. I am a bit of a pot-stir-er, to say it mildly, but I try to be provocative about being offensive, is the goal. And I think one of the things that I personally, like a personal failing of mine 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 positivity for awhile. One of the areas that I fell is: I'm very passionate about systematic challenges of minorities. So whenever something happens politically in that space it's really hard for me to balance Christianity and my desire to - and this a is not a godly desire - to get justice. Because it's not for us to get, if, from a Christian perspective, that's for God to provide. And so I try and model that and sometimes people will... I 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 be the change you want to see.

Leon:                                     20:54                     Well, and I will say that at first of all, struggling with, or wrestling with something is the work. So the fact that it's not easy, it means that you're at that point of growth, right? You aren't in the easy space where everything is just simple. 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 - an event or an attitude, but you don't call out a person. And I think that... now 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 what they brought to the table. You're just calling out this situation, this design, this architecture, this financial structure - this is not, this is suboptimal. And they don't like that.

Keith:                                    21:57                     And I think the comments from our space, from being able to look at myself and people have shown me in the past where I just wasn't Christ-like. Like in loving other people. Christians, we have a very difficult time with the concept of homosexual-ality and, and sexual identity. So we look at that as a different weighted sin than other sins. And I've had that struggle in my past. 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 people treated me the same way that I treated people in the past when I had those views, then I would have 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 focused 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.

Leon:                                     23:11                     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 challenge us as ambassadors of IT within our religious community.

Speaker 4:                           23:25                     Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media.

Josh:                                      23:39                     A Jew, a Christian, and a Mormon walk into a mosque...

Keith:                                    23:42                     And none of them knew how to fix the router!

S1E14 - Thou Shalt Not Covet

S1E14 - Thou Shalt Not Covet

June 11, 2019

You know you want it. Fear of missing out. The ‘Me’ Generation. The messaging from the world around us is that we should want what others have and, in our modern capitalist thinking, it’s a driver for some to succeed and exceed. However, the Old Testament has a lot to say about wanting what someone else has. In this episode, Leon and Josh explore what is wrong with “covetousness” and how it might be possible to harness that powerful emotion. Listen to it or read the transcript below.

Leon:                                     00:00                     Hey everyone, it's Leon. Before we start this episode, I wanted to let you know about a book I wrote. It's called "The Four Questions Every Monitoring Engineer is Asked", and if you like this podcast, you're going to love this book. It combines 30 years of insight into the world of it with wisdom gleaned from Torah, Talmud, and Passover. You can read more about it including where you can get a digital or print copy over on Thanks!

Roddie:                                00:25                     Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating, and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our careers IT professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Josh:                                      00:44                     You know, you want it. Fear of missing out. The 'ME' generation. The messaging from the world around us is that we should want what others have, and in our modern capitalist thinking, it's a driver for some to succeed and exceed. However, the Old Testament has a lot to say about wanting what someone else has. And today we're going to explore how to harvest that powerful emotion. Joining in the discussion today are Leon Adato.

Leon:                                     01:08                     Hello again.

Josh:                                      01:10                     And I'm Josh. Biggley.

Leon:                                     01:12                     So I think where I'd like to start here is actually hit the religious side of this first because this is a really challenging commandment, made no less challenging by the fact that it's the last one you know, "you shall not covet" is commanding an emotion, which is already sort of a fraught concept. But on top of it, its commanding an emotion that you can't stop until you start having it. So you're really sort of commanding someone to "stand in a corner and not think about polar bears in the snow."

Josh:                                      01:42                     I mean, now I'm thinking about polar bears in the snow. Thanks Leon.

Leon:                                     01:44                     You can't stop it. You know, you want

Josh:                                      01:47                     Well, I am Canadian. So I mean, I feel like I'm predisposed for that.

Leon:                                     01:51                     Right, exactly. You, you, it's, it's practically part of the curriculum. So the, I think that's the first thing. And I think one of the points I want to make is whether this commandment is talking about the prohibition of a desire or the prohibition of an action, an actual action that arises out of that desire.

Josh:                                      02:11                     So I like to go back a little bit first. I feel like there are some of our listeners who maybe didn't pay attention in Sunday school

Leon:                                     02:21                     Guilty, guilty as charged.

Josh:                                      02:22                     Guilty as charged? All right. Yeah, I thought I was the only one who was going to be confessing here.

Leon:                                     02:26                     Nope.

Josh:                                      02:27                     So this, this commandment, there's 10, right?

Leon:                                     02:31                     Yeah. There is still 10.

Josh:                                      02:34                     It hasn't changed? Good. These 10 commandments, where did they come from and why are they so important to - not just Judaism, but Christianity? If Rodey was here, I'm sure he could give us the context within Islam...

Leon:                                     02:49                     Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. So the, in the old testament, or Torah, or five books of Moses, you would, uh,see the 10 commandments appearing twice. First in the book called exodus or Shemot in Hebrew. And then also in the book of Deuteronomy, the last book of Torah, or Devarim, if you're going to go with the Hebrew. And there's slight variations. They're not relevant for our conversation today. And what's interesting to me about that, that people have commented about, is that with with 10 commandments, they actually match up five and five. That the first five speak about the relationship between people and God. You know, the first commandment. And I will say the numbering varies from different religious traditions. That Catholicism versus Judaism versus, uh, I think, the Protestant branches number of things slightly differently. So if you have a copy of your Bible out, these numbers may not match up with the first commandment. In, in Jewish counting is I am God, which doesn't really sound like a commandment, but in Judaism we count it. And then the second commandment is, you shall have no other gods before me. But what's interesting is the first five have to do with the relationship between humanity and God and the second five have to do with the relationship between humanity and other humans. So on, you know, the first five, like I said, "I am God." "You should have no other gods before me." "Don't take God's name in vain." "Remember the sabbath" and then the bridge commandment, number five, "honor your father and mother." Then when you look at the other side, there's actually a parallel, with the first commandment being "I am God." The sixth commandment is "do not murder." Hmm, because you don't have a right to do that. You don't give life or take life. That is God's job. "You shall have no other gods except me." On the other side of it, that seventh commandment is "no adultery." You shall have fidelity in your relationships, both with God and also with... and so on and so forth, which means that if you're matching them up the way that I'm going through it, that "do not covet", the 10th commandment, matches up with "honor your father and mother," which gives you a little bit of a sense of maybe what was going on here, that there's something connected between covetousness, this jealous feeling, this jealous behavior; and honoring. And it doesn't match up by the way with stealing, which I think is the first thing that we might think if I told you, "Oh, they match up" and you were going to play connect the dots. You might connect covetousness with stealing because you'd say one directly leads to another, which isn't necessarily wrong, but I believe that coveting has more to do with respecting and honoring and recognizing someone else's autonomy and the earned status they have achieved. Again, honoring your father and mother. Why? Because they're your father and mother. Because they, by pride of place, because of who they are, you respect them. And the same thing is you shall not covet that somebody has earned that thing, that position that's in society, that job, that role, that accolade. Whatever it is that they've earned that and you shouldn't diminish or covet it - want it simply because they have it and you don't.

Josh:                                      06:08                     You know, so you've brought up something that I had hadn't really considered. You raised this interesting idea of how this connection with a father and mother and coveting and I hadn't ever realized how many things in the world have gone wrong because sons and daughters have coveted the role that fathers and mothers have. In our house we love to watch documentaries about ancient history, and Egyptian arguments between parents and children led to some wild outcomes, usually death. Usually very violent, horrible deaths. And that, you know, happened in the Roman Empire... it happens in every empire, you know, the British was no exception, but it's just, ah, coveting! So is coveting always a bad thing though? Is there a way for us to channel this emotion, this coveting to something good?

Leon:                                     07:10                     All right. So, in Jewish thinking, there is one situation where you are allowed to covet. Where you are, not necessarily encouraged to covet, but it's considered perfectly fine. And that's when you think about somebody else's knowledge. They're Torah knowledge. You know, their facility with the text, with the law, with the logical processes of thought that when they, when they analyze a text and they just bring some amazing insights and you say, "Wow, that I wish I could do that. I wish I could read with that kind of fluency." You're allowed to do that. Now we'll talk about why in a little bit, but I just want to put it out there that not all coveting is necessarily bad. And actually it's what you do with it.

Josh:                                      07:55                     OK, so I think I've got the it equivalent of coveting people's Torah knowledge.

Leon:                                     08:01                     Okay. What is it?

Josh:                                      08:02                     Stack Exchange

Leon:                                     08:06                     I actually saw the other day, somebody, you know, it's graduation time now, as we're making this recording, and a lot of people have on their little mortar board, "I'd like to thank Stack Exchange for this degree in computer science."

Josh:                                      08:16                     So I think that is very accurate. As someone who doesn't code and who is rapidly trying to develop my Linux acumen. I rely on the generosity of others in providing their knowledge. And I'm always amazed at the things that people are able to do. And I think, and I remember distinctly... So for those who have not been following along, I've been in the IT industry for 20 years, or 20-ish years years. I've been a lot of places. I've done a lot of things. And the more things I do, the more I realize I have no sweet clue what I'm doing. Most of the time.

Leon:                                     08:53                     You are that dog in the meme. "I have no idea what I'm doing!"

Josh:                                      08:57                     That is me. That is, that is true. That's why I'm super grateful for stack exchange. I'll call out one of our mutual friends Zach Mutchler. Zach is really great for when he builds a script or does some sort of coding, that he will take and reference, "hey, I got this part of this code from stack exchange" or "this blog post". And not that the person who wrote that blog post or who posted that code to stack exchange is ever going to see our script internally. But it's just to let everyone know that, "hey, I didn't come up with this on my own." Right. I built... to use a quote that I love, "I stood on the shoulders of giants." So I think - I think - we can covet stack exchange like, like we covet Torah.

Leon:                                     09:51                     So coveting someone's knowledge, whether it's secular or religious, I think is, you know, because again, no one is diminished because of that covetousness. It doesn't lead to those negative behaviors. In society you're worried about somebody stealing somebody's, uh, you know, and the other thing that that comes out of this is diminishing the other person, right? Putting them down to minimize their accomplishments. When you find a really awesome piece of code and you say, "wow, I can use this", give credit where credit is due, but as long as it isn't outright theft. And I think that's where things get a little bit squirrely. But as long as it's not, you're allowed to covet. However, you don't want to plagiarize, right? You don't want to retweet something as your own when it's not. You don't want to steal someone else's documentation and present it as your own. You don't want to present an idea that you heard at the water cooler as you know, "Hey boss, I just came up with this great idea!" Which, by the way, I'll say differs from brainstorming. Because in brainstorming, good brainstorming, there's a wonderful technique called "adding on", where person A says, "what if we built this out of hamsters?" And someone says, "okay, maybe not hamsters, maybe mechanical hamsters," and someone else says, "why don't we get rid of the hamsters and just use engines like we normally do?" And you know, you build off of ideas or whatever it is. That building on is not theft because you're specifically doing it for a purpose, whether you're doing it live and in person or you're doing it as part of a slack conversation or an ongoing email thread or what have you.

Josh:                                      11:43                     Interesting that this past week I actually had two examples and both of them actually deal with the aforementioned Zach Mutchler. So the first one was Monday, - so we're recording this in the beginning of June. So last Monday was Memorial Day in the United States. Being in Canada, I worked while all of my American teammates were barbecuing and remembering the service men and women who had lost their lives. So I was working on this particular problem and I was trying to answer an email for somebody and it involved doing some testing and I did it and I documented everything I did and I sent it to this team. And Zack walks in on Tuesday morning and he's like, "Oh, you know, I documented that, right?" So then I had to turn around and tell this team that I had just sent this email to and written out all this stuff that, "oh, by the way, don't use what I just gave you because Zach did it so much better."

Leon:                                     12:39                     Right. "Oops, sorry guys."

Josh:                                      12:42                     Yeah, I mean, it was okay. And then, the other, the flip side was Zack is working on this new technology that we've gotten our hands on and he's been playing with it and he comes up with this crazy idea. He's like, "you know, we could totally get rid of this thing by using this technology." And I think that he said it flippantly. I don't think that he intended it to actually be a thing. And suddenly the light bulbs start going off in my head. And next thing we know, we've got this harebrained idea that we're pitching to some of our coworkers over in Lebanon about how we're going to solve this problem. And it's great. So I love this idea that, yes, I covet those crazy ideas that Zach has, but I totally give my team credit where credit's due. Yeah. I can't do this by myself. I need them. They need me. I'm crazy and loud and they're smart and methodical. It's good. Yeah.

Leon:                                     13:39                     I had experienced with that a couple of years ago. Patrick and I were sitting there. So I live in Cleveland and I'll travel down to the SolarWinds main office in Austin, Texas about once a month. And we do a goofy videos and record episodes of SolarWinds Lab. And Patrick and I were talking about the episode we thought we were going to do and it dovetailed into this idea about how SolarWinds alerting could tie into slack. And we had, I think it was maybe an hour and a half conversation where we got sillier and sillier about it. But it was functionally silly, if that makes any sense. I went back to the hotel room and stayed up way too late and got the beginnings of an ebook and I came back in the next day and showed it to Patrick and he said, "oh my gosh, I can't believe you did this!" And he took it. We basically didn't do anything that we expected to do that week because on Tuesday he was writing the code that sat behind all these crazy ideas that I had written about, but I didn't know how to execute cause I'm not a good programmer. But Patrick is an amazing programmer and he wrote the code. And then we're bouncing back and forth, you know. "But what if we do this?" "What if we did this." By the time we got to recording the lab episode on Wednesday, it was a completely different beast. And by Thursday we had most of an ebook finished and ready to be published because we kept on building off of that stuff. And I think the mutual jealousy of, "I can't believe you did that. That's amazing." "How did you even know to do that?" And we weren't trying to one up each other necessarily, but like one person's thing and that drive got us to do the piece we could do. Like "I could never have written like that." "I could never have coded like that!" So it was that positive feedback loop of, you know, and I think maybe that's the flip side of coveting, the flip side of jealousy, is respect. I'm not sure if that's 100% true, but it just came out of my mouth and I like it. So I'm going to stand by it.

Josh:                                      15:47                     When you're dead, someone in college is going to quote you and it's going to be, you know, "this really intelligent and philosophical mind, Leon Adato once said..."

Leon:                                     16:00                     And there's going to be few people who are like, "No. No, no, no, no. I knew him really. He was fun. He was funny to watch. But you have to know the real..." Yeah. Um, so as a strong ally for women, for persons of color, I want to point out that coveting comes out in IT in a horrible and a horribly consistent way, which is summarized as, "she literally just said that." That when I have been in meetings or my coworkers have been in meetings and a woman around the table will say something, and it's like crickets. Nobody says a thing. And five minutes later a dude says it, and everyone responds to it. That is, I think, one of the worst examples of modern regular workplace, often in IT, covetousness, that we covet someone's else's idea so much. And at the same time are threatened by the person who presented the idea that it has to be restated by someone who is more acceptable to us in some way. And it's awful. It's just awful. And when you're present for that, calling it out. And also as a middle aged white dude, being the one to call that out can be really helpful becauseit is relieving the effected person of doing that emotional labor of having to defend themselves and wonder if it's worth it and wonder if anyone else even noticed it or is everyone accepting it? So, back to the negative like that is flat out covetousness and it should not be tolerated. And if you see it and you're wondering, "well, it's not my place to say." Yeah, yeah, it's your place to say it's your place to call it out and help out and, and just stamp it out.

Josh:                                      17:50                     Yeah, I agree. And I like to say to my team - and we actually have both racial and gender diversity on our team, which is great - Yeah, I like to say I'm willing to spend my social capital to help you achieve the things that you want to. And I don't always say it in exactly those words, but look, if you are a middle aged white dude in IT, first you're part of the majority and you are also in a position of privilege and use that privilege to help establish a parity that has never existed within our industry. It's just never been there.

Leon:                                     18:26                     So I'm just going to evoke the quintessential geek example of that, which is a Star Trek. The original series, when all the other cast members took a pay cut to that Nichelle Nichols could achieve pay parity with everyone else. They found out that she wasn't being paid the same and they just wouldn't stand for it. And so you're doing effectively the same thing in a social, IT, credibility kind of way. The other thing about IT, and I think this, we can close this section with this, is that covetousness and it comes out in all of those behaviors that I think make the workplace less fun and more toxic. Putting down others simply because they have an idea that we wish we had. The whisper campaigns that serve no purpose except character assassination because you perceive them as a threat. These are all, they're just not pretty, I will say from a Jewish standpoint that gossip is treated, is considered from a Jewish legal standpoint as triple murder.

Josh:                                      19:32                     Wow.

Leon:                                     19:32                     Yeah. The punishment is considered that from triple murder because you're killing the person you're talking about. Character assassination. You are harming, you are deeply spiritually harming the person who is listening to you because now there's no such thing as brain bleach. They can't get that idea out of their head. And you're also hurting harming yourself. You're harming your own reputation and credibility in a way that may never recover. And so, again, if you want to take a look at it from the religious standpoint, gossip is triple murder every time you open your mouth. So don't. And even if you're not going to take it from that standpoint, it's just not a good way to be.

Josh:                                      20:11                     Oh, that's pretty powerful. You know, as we've talked here and again, I stand by my previous statement, I usually end up learning more from these exchanges that I think I offer, but...

Leon:                                     20:22                     That's not true. It's not true. I get so much out of these.

Josh:                                      20:25                     Okay. Well perfect though. You know, the symbiosis is good, right? Yeah. That makes nature happy. It makes you and I happy. This is a good thing. I had this conversation this week with an individual, and I don't think he, he's ever going to listen to those podcasts, but I'm not gonna use his last name. So at the company I work for, there's this program called "Emerge". And it takes either recent, well, I'd say recent in the past few years, college grads, and it brings them into this program. And this Emerge program takes these young men and women and puts them into a three year, basically an exchange program. So they'll start off year one in one job, and then they have to move to another job. And then in the third year they can kind of pick the job that they want to be in with the intent that after that third year, they'll likely end up in somewhere in that field of study. So this, this young man joined our team a little over three years ago. He was a music major - very, very talented musician, definitely a geek, right? Knew enough about IT, but we dropped them into learning Splunk. And if anyone out there knows Splunk, I've got a lot of respect for you because I've had to try to learn Splunk administration twice now. And this is relevant to the story. So this young man came in, we threw them at Splunk, we threw him at having to learn AWS. So having to learn Linux, having to learn scripting. And he really embraced it. And then after a year he rotated off and I thought, "wow, this is great." So last these past couple of weeks I've been trying to reintegrate myself into Splunk administration because we've had some turnover on our team and I had to fill a gap. This past week I had a chance to sit down with this same young, his name's Matt. And Matt, he said, "Hey Josh, can I give you a call?" So I said "sure, why you don't give me a call." And he said, "I want to show you some things. And he was sharing his screen and he was walking through some... he works on our sec ops team now, and they are our large Splunk consumers. And he was exploring some things with me and he's like, "Hey, I just want to show you, there's some things... I don't want you to be offended." I said, Matt, "No, this is so awesome. I love that you are teaching me. I am so excited that we have switched places, right?" This student has literally become the master. And he was a little flabbergasted by that. I don't know that he's necessarily had that experience before, but I really in that moment I coveted the knowledge he had, but I maybe like that Torah knowledge, I really covered it in a way that made, made him validated. And I think, I think that's the key, right? If we can, if we can take our desire to covet and use it like, you know, my wise Jewish friends do and allow people to really feel - I like that word "validated" and I've been trying, I've been wracking my brain trying to not use it again - but to validate people like just to listen to his demeanor when I said, "no, please teach me." This is great. I love that you are instructing me and made me feel good. And I got the benefit of like he brain dumped on me. It was great and I was like, "oh, now I get it. I understand now and I'm better for it and he's better for it." 

Doug:                                    23:39                     Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, and connect to us on social media.

Leon:                                     23:53                     Yes, we just got biblical on your ass.

Josh:                                      23:56                     You know that thing you're not supposed to covet?



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