by Rodney O. Lain
Christian Heresy, Deutschman's 'hatchet job,' & My relationship with Apple
October 20th, 2000
|Steve Jobs is the essence of Silicon Valley, the encapsulation of all the good and all the bad. He exemplifies its famous greed and its simultaneous ambivalence about its great wealth. He is a sophisticated elitist who nonetheless yearns for the patronage of the masses. He is a control freak and an egomaniac, but his greatest wealth and success comes from supporting the creative achievements of others. Paradoxically, failure brings out his humanity and success exacerbates his megalomania.
Alan Deutschman, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs
Rufus (Chris Rock): "You're the one who's gonna help me make some changes in that Book you put so much faith in."
Jay (Jason Mewes): "Hustler?"
Rufus: "No! The Bible!"
Religion is a curious phenomenon. We put our faith in the silliest of things, if we are honest with ourselves. There's Santa Claus. There's the Easter Bunny. There's the hope that the New Orleans Saints will go to the Super Bowl.
Like I said, the silliest of things.
I should know. I've been knee deep in religion at various periods in my life. I was so deep in it once that, back in 1996 I almost attended a Christian seminary. I've seen the light since then, and now, I'm a born-again heathen. It started about five years ago
When I wore the shoes of a younger man, I "found religion" and became a true believer. Then I did something that shocked many of my fellow religionists: I actually read the Bible. Worse yet, I believed what I read and acted upon it. You may not believe it, but once I was a popular preacher in one of those nondenominational sects.
Over a period of a couple of years, I saw up close and personal the power brokers of local religious hierarchy. It wasn't a pretty sight. In fact, it was so ugly and disillusioning to me that I publicly renounced organized religion, a renunciation that I maintain to this very day. This puzzles people, because I categorically denounce the Church and the Bible, yet I profess total belief in the concept of a God.
Just call me a spiritual iconoclast.
I hate my past association with organized religion, yet it is to this same collection of experiences that I owe my understanding of mankind's dichotomous nature, our ying-yang, schizophrenic expressions of good and evil. Ditto for my appreciation for the metaphysical. (Don't worry; this is about as deep I will get on this religous stuff. Just read on...)
Without going into detail, I must admit that my religious experience has taught me an extremely vital principle that I hold to this very day.
Okay, Mac-heads, this is where I tie it to all things Macintosh. This is where all of this is supposed to make a point.
It's about more than Steve
Someone asked me a typical question Wednesday night. I was a guest on "The Mac Show," where I pontificated on how Apple should do this or that. A listener (probably a PC user) asked, "why do you care so much about the Mac?"
To be honest, I don't. I care more about the principle of empowering people. I like the fact that this one machine inspired me to learn about computers, so much that I've had the good fortune to work at a couple of high-class software companies. Today, I owe the Mac thanks for the job I hold at a Fortune 500 company (at which I, ironically, deal with Windows PCs all day). And I'm not a techie! I know I'd never have touched a computer if not for those initial and formative experiences with the Mac GUI. When I support Apple, in effect, that is what I am supporting.
I have no faith in Steve Jobs. He is a great visionary, yada yada yada, but he is a man. Do not mistake me when I go rah-rah about the Mac and about Apple. My faith is not blind faith. I became a hard-core Mac user in the early 1990s, way before Mr. Jobs was even considering his comeback.
This is also why Alan Deutschman's Kitty-Kelley-like take on Steve Jobs affects me not. I read that book in one sitting and discovered nothing surprising, only details that supported my previously formed conclusions. So what? Steve Jobs is an ass. Duh. Anyone who's been a part of any company for any period of time could have deduced that. Nice guys don't always have what it takes to inspire and lead engineers to fuse art and technology into Cubic PCs and Aqua-tic OSs.
I give religious people a hard time -- mainly because they deserve a kick in their pious pomposity. Recently I have grown a desire to give Mac religionists an equally hard time. I support the Mac platform. I may even be called a cheerleader. But, again, I know better than to profess blind faith. Sometimes I like to devilishly advocate "life after Macintosh" to those who take it too seriously -- I hope you'll kindly reciprocate when I begin to take this stuff too seriously.
Remind me that it's better to follow principle.
The principle I currently follow and support is this: Apple purports to be "recommitted to its original mission" of bringing personal technology to the masses. I'm all for that. But I'm in it for selfish reasons, too: I like having the best-looking computer on the block.
Lately, I've been consciously curtailing my enthusiasm, though, making sure I'm not being confused with the Apple- and pro-Mac sycophants out there who seem to be armed with nothing but rose-colored zealotry. I've been down the religious road. Once is enough.
Honestly, though, I have nothing against well-intended zealotry, if being zealous is what it takes to fan the flames of your passion.
At least you believe in something. That can't be said for everyone.
Your comments are welcomed.
Rodney O. Lain is a junior manager at a major corporation. He enjoys public speaking, mentoring minority college students, and helping community multicultural-awareness efforts. He also "preaches the Gospel" at a Minneapolis Micro Center -- he's the bald black guy. Rodney "drives" a G4 Cube and a PowerBook G3. After enjoying a popular run at Mac Addict.com, "iBrotha" was axed, to readers' dismay. Back by popular demand, it now runs exclusively at Mac Observer every other Friday, replacing "Rodney's Soapbox."
[Editor's Note: Rodney O.Lain passed away in June, 2002.]
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