I learned Lisp as merely a programming language.
But as I watched, it began to evolve. And I came to view it more as a space of languages, unified by a set of common design principles--a terrain upon which one could move freely among certain camps and still be within the warm and friendly confines of a larger community called Lisp.
Lately, however, that terrain seems rougher than I once had thought--perhaps indeed rougher than it once actually was. Some of the camps have fallen away, while others have thrived. The paths among them seem less simple to navigate. And always I am acutely aware of the distances along these paths, for it is those distances that have created the political divisions among us which I deal with day-to-day in my work on language standards.
In this article, I will survey the landscape claimed by the Lisp Community in an attempt to identify the issues that divide us, the issues that unite us, and why it all matters.