Since his passing, Steve Jobs has been called a saint, a secular prophet, and a technological evangelist.
On paper, he was just a successful CEO who designed computers and phones. No doubt one that changed not only technology but also the world. He faithfully delivered “magical” products that rarely disappointed. He turned a utilitarian object into something like a friend. One study showed that many people’s attachment to their iPhone reaches romantic levels. They experience separation anxiety if they walk out of the house without it.
Naturally people projected their love of the iPhone onto the creator of the iPhone.
But by no means is he the first to be memorialized with such religious devotion, candid scrutiny, and world-wide attention. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson both went through the same thing. To say “they” went through it isn’t altogether accurate because they weren’t alive anymore, but in another sense they did go through it because their lives were larger than the molecules that made them up.
Make no mistake about it, the veneration we are seeing in the aftermath of Jobs’ death is religious through and through – not “kinda” religious, or “pseudo” religious,” or “mistakenly” religious, but a genuine expression for many of heartfelt sacred sentiments of loss and glorification.
Apple products gave people hope, and this became Steve Jobs’ version of the gospel. They constantly and distinctly improved, not only in technical specs but in user experience. They became less cumbersome. They began to add a fluidity to our lives that tied everything together, magically.
The hope people imbued in the evolution of iPhone became very apparent when the anticipated iPhone 5 turned out to be just a 4S. People wanted something more, new, and transformative. They hoped that technology would provide an ever-developing salvation from the aging, slowing, and decaying effects of fallen flesh. Surely a new iPhone meant new promises, new advances, new releases.
Some have seen the early apple logo as a symbolic proclamation of this gospel. A bitten apple imprinted with a rainbow. Both are Biblical allusions. The bitten fruit, a sign of man’s rebellion and fall from God’s purpose and the rainbow, a sign of God’s promise to man to keep His covenant. The combination of the two applied to a computer company logo heralds technology’s ability to annul the curse. Or even worse to convert the fall of man into a promise of improvement.
Technology promises to relieve us of the burden of being merely human, of being finite creatures in a harsh and unyielding world.
Technology promises that while human life may get worse, it will always get better. It certainly has made life easier. But has it caused us to misplace our hope? Has it merely masked the symptoms of a deeper illness?
The gospel of Steve Jobs may give people temporary hope or distraction from the impermanence of life, but it can’t save people.
Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass has withered, and the flower has fallen off, But the word of the Lord abides forever.” And this is the word which has been announced to you as the gospel.
-1 Peter 1:23-25
The only recourse we have to our fading humanity is the living and abiding word of God. Only God’s word has the life power to enliven us and change our nature, making us living and abiding forever.