There’s a lot going on in this article that I enjoy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/interfaith-girls-coding-class-london_55a589f1e4b0896514cfaebe. A Rabbi in London has created an after school program where select girls from a Catholic school, a Jewish School, and an Islamic school get together and learn to write computer code. It’s fantastic.
I’m just going to throw out a number and say that at least 75% of our day is mediated digitally. Given that 50% of the planet is made up of women, and as our world becomes increasingly digital, it only makes sense that 50% of the people in charge of creating this digital world are women.
I also love the idea of interfaith dialogue. Religion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Atheism and disaffiliation are on the rise, yes, but they have a way to go. In the meantime, white seculo-Christian Europe is hella uncomfortable with its Islamic population and is taking that fear and anger out on the Jews as well. I mean this group is only 26 people, but still that’s 26 people, girls who will soon be leaders in their field, who suddenly have strong connections to religious communities not their own.
It’s great that it’s young people having this dialogue as well. Not that children are void of prejudice. Whomever their parents dislike they’ll generally dislike. However, this prejudice is not as deeply seated as it would be among their parents. Meaningful interactions between a Catholic girl and her Muslim peer who really just wants to code and get along with their classmates, will go a long way in helping the Catholic girl understand that Muslims are not terrorists. Terrorists are terrorists.
However, what I like most about this post is not the professional development nor the “we are the world” vibe. What I love is that, of all things these interfaith girls could be doing together, coding is what the Rabbi chose. Usually when I hear about things like this the joint activity is a little more sentimental. They create unity through song, dance, or theater. Yet this Rabbi gathered pious children together and had them code. The Juxtaposition between all three religions’ creator-god and the act of coding is just too sci-fi-religion for me to pass up.
Writing computer code allows you to create an entirely new worlds in the digital sphere. Allowing these girls to code in a context where faith is front and center opens channels to a cyber-mysticism that can both transcend and embrace dogmatic differences between the three religions represented. It’s as if this Rabbi took these 26 girls and realized he could do more than make interfaith friends of them, he could make interfaith demigoddesses of them. As they become creators of worlds, they can only grow closer to their creator of the world. What a magnificent adventure for a group of 26 thirteen year old girls to take together.
I only hope those involved realize what an experience this could be. Professional development is great, but will moving capitalism along actually help the gross prejudice and inequality of our day? Definitely not. Will Cybergnosis? William Gibson will probably say no, but then his virtual reality was one still attached to capitalism. Think of what these girls, fueled with the imagination of youth and the transcendence of religion, could accomplish if they allow their coding experience to be the force for creation that it is.