Corey Stephan, Ph.D.

Catholicism, Free & Open Source Software, Theology

Awesome Theology: a curated list of open source software for Catholic theology

Corey Stephan

One month ago, I launched the GitHub repository awesome-theology. I intend Awesome Theology to be a new contribution to the Awesome project. Awesome is a parent system by which “awesome lists about all kinds of interesting topics” are made and maintained by persons who are engaged in those topics. The Awesome Manifesto specifies that an Awesome list must “only include actual awesome stuff” since “it’s a curation” rather than “a collection.” To that end, one ought only “put stuff on [a] list that [he/she] or another contributor can personally recommend,” and one “should rather leave stuff out than include too much.”

Many (if not most) Awesome lists pertain to computer science, graphic design, the physical sciences, and other fields typically associated with intensive computer usage. There seems to be a shortage of Awesome lists about scholarship. Until now, academic theology did not have any Awesome list at all.

The brief description for Awesome Theology is simple: “A curated list of open source software for Catholic theology.” I expand:

Awesome Theology is a catalogue of free and open source tools that assist the workflow of professional theologians and students taking theology classes in institutions of higher learning. It helps people who use things like GNU/Linux, tiling window managers, and terminal emulators work with things like ancient Christian Latin and Greek.

With all that in mind, I have established a minimal set of guidelines for what we contributors should include:

• projects hosted on GitHub, GitLab, & elsewhere with full source code transparency

• tools that can be installed as local applications or cloned for local use in some form

• software with simple interfaces & minimal bloat
• we prefer CLI & TUI, but we tolerate sensible GUI

• utilities that we have tested and actually use to assist our work

With these guidelines, we are able to limit the scope of Awesome Theology. Folks tend to be familiar with large websites and databases related to their own work, and such things rightfully hold important positions amidst the tools at our disposal. For example, I can hardly imagine where my work would be without the Perseus Project or the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. However, whether because of a lack of efficiency, non-compliance with any of the principles of software freedom (even source code transparency), bloat, and/or an absence of option(s) for offline usage, large Web-based tools for theology are not awesome. Efficient, free and open source, minimalist, and offline (locally run) software is what I—and many other geeks—define as awesome. Awesome Theology is a list of the kinds of tools that a geeky professional theologian will want to open as soon as he logs into his operating system for work: command line interface (CLI) Bibles (like those about which I wrote before), the updated version of Whitaker’s Words (the famous CLI Latin dictionary and word parsing tool), etc.

Awesome Theology is published under the Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal license, meaning that it is not copyrighted and legally part of the public domain. Contributions are most welcome, as the list is a persistent work in progress and specifically meant to be a community project. As is standard for Awesome lists, I have included a Contributor Code of Conduct (a modified version of the Contributor Covenant that reflects and enforces the Catholicity of this project) and a small set of Contribution Guidelines. My hope is that everyone who is both a theologian and a GNU/Linux or BSD using sort of geek—even if that should be only 2-3 other people worldwide (although I am sure that there are more)—will add the various tools that they use to this list. If anyone should object to any part of the project, I hope that he/she will make those objections known in order to help make it better. Awesome Theology is a curation, and it should be awesome.

Deus vos benedicat,
Corey Stephan


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