Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It may be beautiful but I don't think it's worthy of worship

As even the casual reader of this blog may notice, I love technology. I think gadgets are great and I love to play with them. I love my laptop and my palm TX and have enjoyed the benefits of both. It's great to be able to stay in bed a little longer in the morning and check my email or read what's been going on in the world while I was asleep. I love being able to surf the 'net before I fall asleep at night.

I love reading about new gadgets and as I mentioned here, I loved the new iPhone. I have no intention of buying one but I couldn't help but be awed by it, it has a strong ascetic appeal. I still like looking at it, to me it is a work of art. Well crafted gadgets have that affect on me. But even though I think it's great and ascetically pleasing, I would never think to worship it. Unfortunately, there appears to be some who do:

I'm a very modern person. I don't have any affiliations to traditional religion, and I don't really feel any national loyalties. I was born in the U.K., but I've lived in cities like London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Berlin. It's become clear that if I do have a religion, it's a humanist one -- a profound reverence for human creativity, for example. And if I do have something like a consistent homeland, it might as well be the Mac OS. Because wherever I am physically, that's where I spend most of my time.

So you'll see why, for someone like me, an Apple keynote speech is much more than a new product announcement. It's a sermon, a series of miracles and a rousing patriotic oration about the homeland.


Design that goes this far beyond the call of duty, and stays clear of the blanding influence of the mass market, can't help but tap into our Aquarian emotions -- stuff about utopianism, the creation of a better world. And in this sense Apple remains strongly rooted in a 1960s feeling, and a California feeling.

How sad! Though the iPhone may be a great product, both functional and beautiful, it can never bring true happiness, it can never fill the God-shaped hole in your heart. Any joy they bring us is fleeting.

When Sarah, my oldest daughter, was a pre-schooler she heard that all of our stuff would be burned up in the fire when Jesus returned and she was very upset because she didn't want to lose her Barbies in the fire. I asked her if having her Barbies was more important than being with Jesus and she hesitantly said that it was more important to be with Jesus but it brought her great sadness. A number of years after that I reminded her of what she said and she couldn't believe that her Barbies meant that much to her.

Our joy in the things of this life are fleeting but the joy that we experience in the Lord is eternal.


  1. Rodney Olsen said...
    I'm constantly finding that the 'things' I thought were so important in years past, now carry very little value for me. I am becoming more and more aware that the objects I find valuable now will most probably lose their shine in the years to come.

    It's all a big reminder that I should spend more time focussed on the things that don't pass away and lose their lustre.
    Pamela said...
    My neice came by with her ipod which was about the size of, and worn like a brooche on her collar

    I'm astonished
    Moonshadow said...
    "worn like a brooch on her collar"

    How pretty! :-)

    "a profound reverence for human creativity"

    There's considerable humility in mustering up "profound reverence" for the ingenuity of another mortal.

    "Reverence" is not "worship." If it were, then there's a vast number of Christians worshipping their clergy, their "Reverends".

    "an Apple keynote speech is ... a sermon"

    Lacking the peculiar Reformed notion that ministers are divinely inspired when preaching - which explains why our sermons don't consume 3/4ths of the worship service - there's no reason to believe that secular laymen can't be gifted speakers.

    "probably lose their shine in the years to come."

    Pardon me, but this sounds like boredom rather than virtue. Look to it.


    Giddy infatuation with a new gadget is not a sin. There's nothing wrong with thrilling over a new tool, especially if it works well and makes life easier. My problem is when my satisfaction turns into self-satisfaction ... and pride. Or when I envy what another has, like that lady at school in her full-length mink coat. Oy gevalt!

    I hope I'm not out of line on this blog talking in terms of virtue and sin. IMO, there ain't enough talk like that.
    michele said...
    I never said it was a sin, did you read the article I linked to? You might get a better sense of what the author said and the context for the quote.

    I talked in terms that the author himself used.
    Armen said...
    First time here and finding it interesting.

    What I find remarkable about us as sinners saved by grace, is that as soon as we get over something that hinders our walk with the Lord, we find something else to take its place. Over time we'll realise that it also has to be put away, but then we start again with something else.

    It is very wearying!!

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