Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Parable of Jesux

Introducing Jesux. The first ever Christian friendly Operating System for your computer. Building off Red Hat's distribution of open source software, Jesux has adapted the Linux kernel to create "an environment that is pleasant for Christians to work in, with all the amenities a Christian might expect, and when possible, free from worldly influences."

And what sorts of "amenities" might a Christian expect?
  • A Fortune File with quotes from the scriptures, Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll, etc.
  • Icons with "Christian Enlightenment themes"
  • Login screen has full text to Lord's Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, with Christian and American symbols (The website also remains open to providing "alternate screens for non-Americans")
  • "Pre-screened Christian web sites and newsgroups" will automatically be added to Netscape
  • The calender includes Christian holidays
Of course, all of these additions could be made without the need to create a separate OS. Adding a fortune cookie file, modifying the calender, adjusting the favorites on the web browser, and tossing in more Christian symbols is easy enough to do (even on Microsoft). But in this Age of Bottle water, who am I to question convenience of an OS that comes with anti-Christian guards? Guards such as the removal of Red Hat's games (some of which, the website points out, are "clearly inappropriate"), optional disable for Sundays (when self-control just isn't enough), and no encryption (because "Christians have nothing to hide"). And how great is it that they promise "Optional technical support and basic counseling services provided by Christian hackers

I must admit, I would love to see what this OS looks like. Perhaps the search engine will display a "seek and ye shall find." Or when the computer shuts down, it can say "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." PowerPoint users can finally be called what they are "Preachers" while Word Processor can be "the Scribe" and Netscape can simply be "the Wilderness." But while I could spend hours musing over all the Bible Bending opportunities available to Jesux, an open source software just
for Christians raises an alarm.

The Internet has allowed us to live our lives in the narrow parameters of our tastes and beliefs. You can read the news with the bias you prefer and you can forgo the radio to listen only to music based on what you already know you like. So while open source software may very well be precisely the vehicle that drives us into the next wave of technological advancement, could it also mean the further fragmenting of a society where individuals surround themselves only with their opinions?

I am not alone. Jesux was never going to be anything more than a clever "what if." But the fictional OS proposed in 1999 struck a cord. Ubuntu Christian Edition, has been available since 2006 and features almost everything that Jesux proposed including Bible Fox, What Would Jesus Download Toolbar, the Virtual Rosary, and a number of Bible study applications. One Ubuntu user summed it up this way, "'Ubuntu' stands for community, and making a version aimed at specific people goes against this philosophy." And this is exactly my point. Bible bending in general--using the Bible to argue a political or social position--goes against the philosophy of functioning as one community. We may choose to listen to different music, but we need to be willing to think outside The Book.

Lastly, I apologize for the spotty Bible Bending summer time coverage. The Bible continues to bend in the direction of its user despite the fact that I have been traveling. I will try to make amends in the coming days.

No comments: