Software firm pastes the Rule of St Benedict into its Code of Conduct

25 October 2018

Its developers are urged to adhere to ‘the instruments of good works’

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A 19th-century wood engraving of St Benedict (c.480-543 or 547)

A 19th-century wood engraving of St Benedict (c.480-543 or 547)

A DATABASE-management company in the United States has adopted a section of the Rule of St Benedict in its formal code of conduct.

SQLite is a free-to-use server-less database engine for commercial or private use. Notable users include Google Chrome, Safari, Adobe Systems, and Skype. Its code of conduct, published on its website, requests that developers of the SQLite programme — though not its users — adhere to “the instruments of good works” in Chapter 4 of the Rule.

The Rule was written by St Benedict in Rome in the fifth century. His list of 72 precepts begins by summarising the commandments of Jesus to “Love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole strength”, followed by “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Other duties on the list include: fear the Day of Judgement; visit the sick and bury the dead; do not murder, steal, or commit adultery; “utter only truth from heart and mouth”; “be not a great eater”; and “know for certain that God sees you everywhere”.

The company — which refers to the “SQLite community” — explains: “This code of conduct has proven its mettle in thousands of diverse communities for over 1500 years, and has served as a baseline for many civil law codes since the time of Charlemagne.”

Sister Anne OSB of Malling Abbey, in West Malling, was an internet-software engineer before she joined the Benedictine community. She said on Wednesday: “We are delighted that they have turned to the Rule of Benedict for inspiration.

“SQLite are part of the long-time libertarian, free-sharing spirit that was prevalent in the early days of the internet. So perhaps not such a surprise they are looking for a way to enshrine these values in a time-tested form.”

While the company accepts that the Rule cannot apply to users of the programme, its public forums, or mailing lists, it says: “Comments posted on mailing lists or forums are expected to be courteous and professional, and should be worded as if they were written by someone who is a follower of this rule.

“In other words, while participating in the SQLite community, one should speak only the truth in love, honour all, be not angry nor nurse a grudge, do not return evil for evil, be not proud nor a grumbler nor a detractor, avoid depraved speech, hate no one, do not love quarrelling, and so forth.

“Violators brought to the attention of the project leader will be reproved, gently at first but with increasing urgency, and may ultimately be banned if the behaviour is not amended.”

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