Our Abbey

Following the advice “Talk like you have the job.” we talk like we are already comfy in a cell behind a high cloister wall.

Executive Summary

Price 200 troy ounces
Term perpetuity
Benefits comprehensive care

Eternal care (comprehensive care in perpetuity) includes the customary dormitory cell (en suite, with spectacular view), cafeteria (24 hour jazz café), infirmary (Medicare compliant Skilled Nursing Facility), and an awesome, remote location with high speed Internet.1

Frequently Asked Questions

Here's what we're about, via the Socratic method.

Why a religious institution?

We are savers. We are endowed. We have a positive net worth. That makes us a takeover target. A religious charter is a poison pill that makes us less attractive.

Why a religious institution?

We discriminate. We discriminate between Us and Others, the latter thinking life is a gamble and glory goes to the bold, etc. Us are the Party Poopers for whom gambling is a terror and glory a folly.

Why a religious institution?

Why an insurance company? In charge of your health, aka happiness?! We buy health insurance from people we trust, people we keep close, Us.

Why a religious institution?

We Believe we must resist, Balkanize and dissipate a New World Order which seeks nothing less than The One Ring of Power, one world digital currency, with the stated hope of finding and destroying anything that does not submit, and thus in the darkness bind them. We must stand unbowed. We must say “No, thank you!” And We Believe that alone will be enough.

Why a religious institution?

We would promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) even though The New World Order has deemed STEM an evil plot by men to make women feel small. The Order promptly replaced STEM with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) so that no one could feel left out. Like a women's club invaded by angry men demanding that they be included, we could not have been more frightened off.2 Confronted with the choice of Old Order or New Order, we mumble.

Like the Fay
We would slip away
Beyond the ken
of mortal men

Why an enclosed religious order?

If you are not with them, then you are against them. Since we cannot be with them, we must be invisible to them.3

Why an enclosed religious order?

Monasteries in the West blossomed when Christianity was embraced by The Now Holy Roman Empire, or at least The People That Mattered in The Now Holy. The sudden influx of People That Mattered into the early churches drove the devout into the deserts where they eventually found each other and built refuges for their ilk. We follow an ancient custom when we take our Science out of the sight of The Empire when it has adopted Science as its new religion and thus builds a New Science informed by parasites and sycophants.


Power tools.

An isolated, religious community is a cult!

Can we have that in the form of a question?

What are you hiding from?

The whims of a democracy, especially one that thinks with its heart and believes skepticism is rude.

Why so far north?!

Rumor has it that Prince (the artist formerly known as...) once said, when asked why he lived in Minneapolis (not Los Angeles), “The cold keeps the crazies away.” Prince was a genius (and that's no rumor).

Why can't you be happy Amerikans?

We cannot support a state that thinks killing a half million children is acceptable when just looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction. We are, frankly, frightened of a state that Believes, e.g. that Orange Man is an Evil to be combated with extra-constitutional, emergency powers forever and ever, amen.

Do you not also say you are “Scientists”?

We are fundamentally scientists (no capitalization allowed) and thus Skeptics (capitalization required). We do not Believe in ozone holes nor global warming. We understand there has been some. But we know a political blame game when we see one. And we know it is no justification for a world tax.4

Aren't you The Rich, who profit and flee after exploiting Nature and Man?

We're guessing you are the so-called “Exploited Man” and all you know is someone “ripped you off” somehow. We have a fleet of lawyers if you really want someone to talk to.

Aren't you an insurance company masquerading as a charity?

We will see your allegation and raise you three attorneys. We're an insurance company, a wellness clinic, and a meals-on-wheels yoga retreat. We're a non-profit, not a charity.

You “Open Source” advocates are commies! ?

That's news to us. All we know is that knowledge wants to be free. We have no problem with capitalists that want to invest heavily in Knowledge. We respect their claim to first profits. We do not respect their claim of exclusivity for a century. We give them 18 months.

You are anarcho-capitalists! ?

Yes, assuming by “anarcho” you mean pacifist and by “capitalists” you mean the sort who want to treat you to a mutually beneficial, voluntary exchange.

But cenobites are commies! ?

OK, yes. The abbey is responsible for the “to each according to his needs” half. The “from each according to his ability” is effected by purchasing a cell, so... yes? That was the whole point, to cradle us into our graves; no one left behind. And if we are doing it right, a cell can be purchased with fewer than 20 years of service in the house. (Saving 200toz in 20 years is just 10toz or approximately $20,000/year.)

How can you be capitalists and commies?!

It is all a matter of scale, Child.

But poverty, chastity and obedience?

After 30+ years of marriage, the western monastic tradition, embracing poverty, chastity and obedience, feels homey. And in this Shangri-La, two out of three ain't bad!


A Tibetan Vibe

The Dalai Lama gave the opening prayer for the US Senate on March 6th 2014.

Our thoughts make our world. Our mind is centered, and precedes our deeds. Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you, like a shadow that never leaves.

May there be joy in the world, with bountiful harvests, and spiritual rest. May every good fortune come to be, and may all our wishes be fulfilled.

As long as space remains, and as long as sentient beings remain, until then may I too remain and help dispel the misery of the world.

He said this is one of his favorite prayers, one he prays daily.

A Legendary Vibe

James Hilton wrote in 1933 of the mythical lamasery Shangri-La, according to legend one of seven sacred places of refuge for Buddhists during times of strife.

From Chapter 4 of Lost Horizon in which Miss Brinklow of the London Missionary Society asks about the lamasery:

[...] Miss Brinklow paused only for breath before continuing: “And now, tell me, what you all believe in.” [...] “Of course,” she said with a gesture of magnanimity, “I believe in the true religion, but I'm broad-minded enough to admit that other people, foreigners, I mean, are quite often sincere in their views. And naturally in a monastery I wouldn't expect to be agreed with.”

Her concession evoked a formal bow from Chang. “But why not, madam?” he replied in his precise and flavored English. “Must we hold that because one religion is true, the others are bound to be false?”

“Well, of course, that's rather obvious, isn't it?”

Conway again interposed. “Really, I think we had better not argue. But Miss Brinklow shares my own curiosity about the motive of this unique establishment.”

Chang answered rather slowly and in scarcely more than a whisper: “If I were to put it into a very few words, my dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation. We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excess of all kinds — even including, if you will pardon the paradox, excess of virtue itself. In the valley which you have seen, and in which there are several thousand inhabitants living under the control of our order, we have found that the principle makes for a considerable degree of happiness.”

A Humanist Vibe

From What I Believe by Dr. Bertrand Russell

I believe that when I die I shall rot,
and nothing of my ego will survive.
I am not young and I love life.
But I should scorn to shiver with terror
at the thought of annihilation.
Happiness is nonetheless true happiness
because it must come to an end,
nor do thought and love lose their value
because they are not everlasting.
Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold;
surely the same pride should teach us to think truly
about man's place in the world.
Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver
after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths,
in the end the fresh air brings vigour,
and the great spaces have a splendour of their own.

A Small Prototype

We bought a house in Chandler Arizona in 1996, in a beautiful new subdivision 1.5 miles from the new Intel plant where Lori worked. After 10 years (the Dot Com nonsense) we turned its blank backyard into a tiny resort: Nine Herbs Patio. Its homepage included current temperature and humidity readings now preserved as they were on September 20th, 2020 at 17:14:02MST (when it was still 41° outside)!

Anyway, thus spoilt, we rather expect any abbey worth our ultimate investment to be no less luxurious, if not at first, certainly soon thereafter. (Beavers gotta beaver.)

A Summer Schedule

There once was a Buddhist monastery that advertised the following "summer schedule" to prospective participants in their annual retreat in Vermont.

06:00Wake-up bell
06:30Sitting meditation
09:00Work meditation
10:00Dharma talk
11:45Outdoor walking meditation
14:00Personal Time
15:30Work meditation
16:30Mindfulness Trainings Presentations or
Q & A or Tea meditation or
Touchings of the Earth
20:00Orientation or Dharma practice discussions or
festival celebrations or Beginning Anew
21:30Sitting meditation

We pretend something similar is the custom at our abbey, though with more fasting and fewer group activities. Physical conditioning, course of study, snacks, etc. vary wildly depending on the individual monk. The only requirements are eight wee hours of quiet and an appearance at the Dharma talk at midday, though the evening martial arts classes are a shame to miss.

07:00Wake-up bell
07:30Coffee meditation
08:00Work / Study (4hr)
12:00Outdoor walking meditation
12:30Dharma talk
13:00Work / Study (4hr)
18:00Train / Study / Celebrate (3hr)
23:00Lights out

An Appeal

Dear Reader, if you know of a real abbey like the one depicted here, please introduce us. If you would like to be in a real abbey like the one we allude to here, let us know. In this millennium a nobleman's charter is not required. A few founding cenobites can endow a minor house.

A Cyber-Cloister

We've worked hard to secure the abbey's network and to ensure that it is private. It connects our cloister Ethernet with an expendable public server (cheap, easily replaced, storing no private data) configured to send and receive emails for the abbey, to serve the abbey's public web pages, and to run an OpenVPN server. Using the VPN our members can access our cloister from “abroad” just as though they were back where they belong.

We solicit feedback by publishing our network design document, describing the network policies (or bugs!) that drove our design choices. This was written in a literate programming style that includes snippets of the Ansible code that validates our network configuration.

In a friendly gesture to The Millennials, The Elders have re-stated their essential policies and network configuration with a non-religious nomenclature thus producing a starter document for any “small institute.” Our network for A Small Institute is described here, and its history of changes can be found here. The abbey uses this code and adds its own idiosyncratic or experimental configurations as described here (history).


[1] Matt's Lutheran relatives arranged decades in advance to enter the nearby Lutheran Home, which offered all of the amenities mentioned except perhaps the remote, awesome location. We hope we can do at least the same.

[2] We saw all this happen at the 2019 Comic Con in Phoenix. This is admittedly an artists' convention, but the reaction to the STEM program seemed to highlight our precarious position between vicious combatants locked in culture war. Nothing in the events since suggests to us the fever pitch of battle has slackened indeed, regrettably, the opposite.

[3] A group wishing to give an opening prayer much like the Dalai Lama's (above) for the Phoenix City Council were uninvited when it became clear that they meant to represent the old religions, calling themselves “Satanists.” The “Christians,” sensing an old rival, got out their bag of dirty tricks and made them disappear. Thus we enjoy a separation between Church and State that engenders tolerance and mutual respect (if “enjoy” is what you call it when you smell a dead thing that makes you throw up a little).

[4] Motto: “If you are breathing, you owe us money.” 5

[5] Worse yet is knowing where those taxes will go.