Monday, October 10, 2011

Apps & Hope



In the wake of Steve Jobs' death over the weekend, I've seen a number of cartoons similar to the one above. Steve Jobs with St. Peter, Steve Jobs with God, Steve Job making suggestions on approving Heaven. They are cute little comics, but stand in stark contrast to the actual Apple co-founder's true religious beliefs.


On Saturday, during a quick Starbucks run, I picked up a copy of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal and read an article titled, "Steve Jobs, the Secular Prophet". Floating around the web, along with the cartoons, are feel-good excerpts of a speech Jobs made at a commencement address. But the whole quote is a lot more telling:

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

The writer of the piece, Andy Crouch, made these points about the late techie mastermind:

"Steve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope. He believed so sincerely in the "magical, revolutionary" promise of Apple precisely because he believed in no higher power... 

...Death is "life's change agent"? For most human beings, that would sound like cold comfort indeed. But the genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of "the Apple faithful" and the "cult of the Mac" is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty and discarded like a 2001 iPod. It is said that human beings can live for 40 days without food, four days without water and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope."

Crouch goes on to note Jobs' Zen Buddhist faith, and his belief that this life is all we get. He contrasts it with the Christianity of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who held to the Biblical belief of eternal life.

The essay was well-written and made me think. Especially of hope. Jobs had a point about death, how people want heaven without the ugliness of death. And yes, the death rate for us all is one per person. For me, what makes even the thought of death- and currently, the suffering of life - tolerable is hope. Not in the emptied of meaning, politicized "hope" we've been hearing about the past three years, but the hope I find in the loving mercy and grace of God. Because of that hope, I know that while one day my body may be discarded like a "2001 iPod", my soul never will be.


3 comments:

twalk said...

This reminds me of Albert Camus' interpretation of Sisyphus;

"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

At least we can push that rock with style. And who knows, maybe it wont roll back down.

Thanks SJ

Ithmar said...

Nice post. Death makes me truly appreciate life much more.

Don said...

I always felt like you'd know a person's most sincere thoughts upon the subject ... leading up to his final breath.

On another note, I had no idea that we as humans could only live four days without water.

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