The minds of not so normal people

A small debate has been started. The trigger was an email from a person who stated “I’m taking a vow of silence so don’t expect me to respond”. This was a welcome relief to many, all of whom had suffered from various assaults of the now silent individual. When the aforementioned email arrived I cried “FOUL!” but was informed verbally that “a vow of silence does not include email” (granted I won on the “you just TOLD me I was wrong” front).

Now I suggest that in today’s email/forum post/facebook/chat/IM/txt prevalent world, a vow of silence would require the vow taker to abstain from just about every form of electronic communication. I would consider an exception for directly asked questions such as “do you want me to kick you in the axx?” where the goal is not immediate communication of thoughts or ideas, but to provide a response that another individual requires. Granted I would ignore the response and kick them anyway!

I ask you, oh illustrious scriveneratti, in a world with virtually no direct person to person communication, does a vow of silence extended to electronic “talking”?

There’s an Alice in Wonderland quality to your dilemma. If it is a dilemma and not a contradiction in terms. I read “a vow of silence” as a promise not to communicate — I doubt that monks who’ve taken such a vovw are allowed an e-mail exception. But perhaps your tormentor regards the electronic media as exempt from the dictates of what one might call “normal” conversation.

Anyway, I’m with you. A vow of silence is broken by overt communication, no matter the format.


Apparently most of the office agrees with us PJS. We may be taking a collective action to assist this individual in keeping their vow. Our problem so far is in finding the right method to assist. Specifically a solution that is not criminal in nature and does not violate the prohibition on workplace violence.

How about an email filter to the recycle bin?

Haven’t we covered a similar issue before? This feels oddly familiar.

“… a vow of silence” is more than “I do not intend to reply”. The over-worn nature of the wording itself suggests an attitude of extreme rigidity, which, if it can be limited only to word-of-mouth and easily circumvented by electronic communication, falls apart and indicates hackneyed bombasticism of the feeblest sort.


is my view too.

In a slightly more serious tone, the issue is less practical and more philosophical. I’ve been one to say that a strict adherence to a traditional interpretation of “vows” (typically religious in nature) needs to be updated to reflect more modern environments.

Examples that get under my skin:

  • Tofu turkey/bacon/hamburger that is intended to TASTE LIKE MEAT is not vegetarianism
  • Silence means communication, not talking
  • Celibacy means NO SEX or even flirting, not just abstaining from relations with the opposite gender
  • Poverty means limiting ALL possessions, not just income. Does a person with a multi-million dollar house, billion dollar trust, and multiple BMW 5 series really think they are practicing “poverty” just because they are working at Walmart?

Don’t even get me started on “fasting” or “hunger strikes” that only deal with limiting things, not actual abstaining from food.


I must be getting a bit older…

At least some monks in silent orders use email… … pist-monks
…and reading the article, it seems they speak too. But perhaps this might help Jaysen’s office monastic noviciate understand what their new-found “vow” requires: We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the first word of that Rule is “Listen.” That’s the great ethical element of silence: to check my words and listen to another point of view.
(quote taken from the article in the above link)

I have a solution to my problem that is waiting for the daughters return to University (St Bonaventure) which also has a monastery and nunnery associated with it. Much to my daughter’s displeasure, the head friar and I find time to sit and chat when I am on campus. I have decided to make this a topic for our next conversation. I’m prepared to be wrong.

Nom, that monastery is a tad different in that trappist take a lifetime vow. I know it is a tad pedantic, the the “normal” vow that most folks think of is a temporary commitment entered into for atonement, petition, or dedication. Most folks also consider this type of vow to be more intense than a lifestyle type vow. I don’t agree personally, and think the trappist should use the phrase “vow of quietness” but haven’t looked into that order too much reducing the confusion for my … associate.

I know quite a few Trappists/Cistercians, and the silence thing isn’t a vow (not like the ones they take to join), but a custom. As explained to me, it’s more about unnecessary speech than any communication. (Certainly there are periods of the day where silence is kept, but nobody is going to toss you out, if you say something.)

What are you people talking about?

SILENCE just means the absence of noise. A vow of silence just means that the person won’t make noise. Email is, of course, fine.

Vow of No Communication: Banned = talking, email, sign language, writing and programming (communicating with a machine).
Vow of Not Talking: Banned = talking.
Vow of Silence: Banned = talking, clapping, stamping feet, sneezing and farting audibly.

Someone actually asked a Trappist if farting/belching went on. Guy’s response? “I live with 41 other men. What do you think happens?” :slight_smile:

From the way I understood it a vow of silence pertains to VERBAL communication only in a religious aspect.

Now since it is a Spiritual Silence intended to better speak with God, a person claiming a vow of silence in the religious aspect would still communicate via written communication or hand signals based on some religious orders but may have a limited communication with each other for the necessities that are unavoidable.

Now if it is NOT in the religious context but rather a vow of silence in Protest of a controversial issue then ANY communication (email, text, verbal, etc) would weaken the act of protest and make the person protesting weak in their argument. (ie. “I vow not to eat cheesburgers on tuesdays from 11:30am to 12:00pm to protest the way cheeseburgers are prepared” is rather a weak protest compared to “I vow to never eat another cheeseburger until they ways they are prepared are changed!”

So to answer your question I would say it depends on the person making the Vow, the context the Vow was made in, and if in protest, the severity that that person believes in order to protest by making the vow in the first place.

Sounds to me like the person made this vow in protest and so by using any form of communication (this includes email) just makes the vow less serious or lends no credence to their side of the issue. It only cheapens the protest.

PS: Meat flavored Tofu is ok for vegetarianism but NOT ok for vegans. (big difference).

Which of us should be more worried that I agree with these paragraphs?

Yes, but if you want to taste meat, just to eat a burger! Which is why I say "I’m trending toward vegetarianism even though I am 90% meatless. Just got to get my fish and beef in there…

Depends on the vegan and their rationale for veganism. Technically, if no animal product is involved in it’s preparation, then it is vegan regardless of the taste (just as a fake leather belt is vegan even if it looks like leather). Written from the perspective of a, once very strict, former vegan. Personally, I didn’t like the “fake meat” products (I couldn’t see the point) but sometimes kindly hosts would feed it to me because the idea of cooking without meat left them completely nonplussed.

But the rest of your points are entirely reasonable, with the disturbing implication that I agree with both you and Jaysen. :open_mouth:

Consider the person who gives up meat for reasons other than some idealistic anti-meat stance. Perhaps health reasons mean that one must cut out saturated fats. Maybe one is dating a really hot vegan. The point being that a person can like the taste of meat but still not be “able” to eat it for a time. Trying to recapture that tasty, tasty dead flesh flavor is a perfectly valid reason for meat flavored tofu to exist. Other its complete failure to make it taste like meat.

I guess the point I was attempting to feebly make on the tofu was that vegetarianism is more of the diet based lifestyle. Many people forgo meat for health reasons and some ideological reasons but still wear products made of animals or may use some dairy products. Where Vegans are a step up from that forgo all products made from animals, etc. Since being a vegan takes a lot more dedication and discipline I would just assume that a vegan would be turned off by the taste or even smell of meat where a vegetarian in many cases might not mind or even enjoy it.

Nom and the headless one agreed with my assessment on the vow…

This is like the Unstoppable force colliding with the immovable object.

Did Chuck Norris die? :slight_smile:

If Vic-k chimes in and agrees I will start looking to the skies for the meteor that is about to wipe out the planet…

Upon reaching the venerable age of $@ one tends to rein in ones propensity for chiming. Tinkle-ching-a-ling-a-ding-a-ching-a-tinkle-ding-a-ling-a-ding-ching.

Health is a marginally valid point (that’s why I’m “trending”). But dating a vegan? That’s like saying “I’ll vote libertarian to make you like me” while providing funding to the democrats/republicans. Seems like a lie that will sink the ship.

On the more important topic of meat flavored tofu… I’ve tried it. Just doesn’t cut it. Might as well have good, soy flavored tofu and save up for a real hunk o’ cow later in the week instead of being disappointed with inadequate substitutes.

And for those curious, the vow taker has capitulated. Details withheld for the protection of the guilty.

The final exchange was secretly filmed.