wall of separation

Rick Becker (rbecker@refractal.com)
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 15:58:36 -0500

On 3/23/97 Paul Arveson wrote:

In my actual career, I work a lot with engineers. I do see a difference,
due not to subject matter but to training and methodology. Engineers
are very focused on things such as specifications and requirements, which
physics majors never hear about. This difference of method can lead to
misunderstandings and a need for 'cross-cultural' training. Again, the
schools let us down by not being generally aware of this situation in
the working world, and providing such a course. At least that's my

I used to work in the semiconductor OEM business doing ion beam physics. I
wound up doing that quite by "accident" in that I was a theology major at
Gordon-Conwell just prior to that. I learned physics and engineering on the
by having an academic inclination to start with. While I was there, (7yr),
I noticed that occupations tended to be linked more with personality types
than anything else, and everybody enjoyed pointing out the deficiencies in
everyone else's approach. Typically Marketing would promise something to a
customer, then tell R&D to invent it, with no time and frequently no money.
I learned the fine art of the Kluge. Engineering would look at my
TinkerToys and berate me for inelegant engineering, and then proceed to make
a palace from a grass hut.
Manufacturing Engineering would then take the palace and deridingly cost
engineer it into a condo. Manufacturing hated everybody. Field Service
fixed everybody's messes in the Real World. Then there were the people who
lived in the World of Paper. I never did understand them.
Marketing was filled with people who could just as easily sell used
cars. Physics/R&D were generally dismissed as necessary Eccentrics who did
Dangerous Things, and given a wide berth. Engineering was always an ongoing
catfight between Mechanical, Electrical, and Software, each of whom thought
that the other two were incompetent, but they were all Engineers, and
Engineers are Organized and Idealistic. Manufacturing Engineering was
populated primarily by non-degreed engineers who had lots of battlefield
experience from manufacturing or field service and was full of Practical
People. Manufacturing considered itself a different company, full of Just
Regular Folks Who Had No Pretensions, and had no use for anyone else. Field
Service was full of Cowboys who did everything in extreme measure. The
people from the World of Paper came and went quietly every day at their
appointed times.
It's clearly an oversimplification, and hard to tell to what degree the
job forms the person, and vice versa. Everyone had their walls. I think
that's just plain old unredeemed sin. I guess that makes our job as
Christians fairly clear. The fields are white with the harvest, and we are
to bring light to our situations, whatever they are, (and the less
Paperwork, the better!).
Even in my tiny company I see the same insidious weeds of sin cropping up
from time to time, and it frequently requires more effort pulling them out
than the rest of the job combined, but to ignore them is Very Dangerous
Indeed. Same goes for Churches, Colleges, etc., etc. ....

Looking forward to Heaven,

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