I often contend that religion is so central to human life that you can find traces of it even in what look to be the most secular of locations.
Brett T. Robinson, who teaches marketing at the University of Notre Dame asserts in his new book that the world of computer technology -- especially Apple as created by the late Steve Jobs -- is awash with religious symbolism and meaning.
Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs, to be released next week, is an intriguing read with good insights. Now and then, however, I am reminded of the old saying that to a boy with a hammer everything looks like a nail.
Thus, Robinson, once he proposes that Apple's world is filled with religious metaphor, seems to find it absolutely everywhere, even when he has to stretch a bit to do it.
"The Apple movement," writes Robinson, "is not a cult maintained by high priests and secret oaths, it is a self-directed body (true to the Zen spirituality of the company's founder) that inspires Mac fanatics to evangelize for the cause. . . .Apple devices are more than storage capacity and processor speed; they are tools for seeking a lost sense of transcendence."
It is, clearly, Robinson's contention that "technology and the sacred have been conflated in the modern age." And, he says, "Steve Jobs is an allegorical figure for reading the ways in which technology and individual value systems intersect to produce an implicit religion."
Robinson also considers how the technology revolution has affected traditional religion: "The ethic of the Internet age is rooted in free expression, a breakdown of hierachy, a sense of individual empowerment and a distrust of central authority. Each of these developments poses a theat to traditional religious institutions. It should be no surprise that religious participation has faltered rather than flourished since the birth of the television and the computer."
I'm not quite sure what I'm to do with the information and insights Robinson provides, but perhaps I need to store it all on my hard-drive and see if it digitizes itself into some kind of wisdom that will move me to start calling my cursor a blessor.
(By the way, this would be a pretty good -- and much shorter -- companion book to Walter Isaacson's magnificent biography, Steve Jobs.)
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POPE FRANCIS HAS HIS DETRACTORS, TOO
It's turning out that not everyone is happy with Pope Francis. As this Religion News Service piece observes, Catholic traditionalists are missing the good old days of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Such folks have controlled the Vatican from 1978 until this year, and obviously it's painful to lose influence and power.