Steve Jobs driving a hard bargain

Court case leads to release of interesting e-mails that show how Steve Jobs negotiated with major publisher over prices of e-books.

It is an interesting look at a real case of business communication.

What if church were like an iPhone?

I stumbled upon this video of a 25-year-old Steve Jobs in 1980 talking about this new thing his company was selling called the personal computer. It is a fascinating peek back in time. In it, we see the singular vision that helped shape everything Jobs would do.

He describes the personal computer as a tool for expanding human capacities — the same way a bicycle allows to move with speed and efficiency well beyond our natural ability. And he describes the way a computer should be designed so that you do not have to learn a lot about computers in order to use it to work on the problem you want to solve. He talks about computers of that day getting between the person and the problem so that you could not solve the problem until you put a lot of energy into learning how to use a computer. He wanted to eliminate that issue.

Here is the fulll video if you are interested:

It got me thinking a little bit about whether we make church something that gets between people and their spiritual problems. You have to learn “church” and put energy into that before you can begin to work on the problems that bring people to church in the first place.

This question, of course, envisions church as a tool, a means to an end. This may be a category mistake. But as an exercise in creative thinking about what we do and why we do it, I think it has some merit.

What would it mean to make the church as user-friendly as an iPhone?

What would it mean if we conceptualized the church as being a tool — llike a bicycle — meant to expand our capacity to connect with God?

NOTE: My daughter called to object to the premise of the post. She said an iPhone is not easy to use. She may be right. I do not own one. But I do know that using the early Mac was a big upgrade from having to learn DOS. It depends on when you born, I suppose. If you never lived before Apple, then you don’t see how it changed things. A good lesson. Insiders never see the world the way newcomers do.

More on Jobs and Jesus

My post on Steve Jobs and Jesus Christ has gotten some of my most impassioned and amusing comments ever.

As some comments indicate, I did not make my purpose in that post clear; let me discuss that a bit.

As a Christian, I care about the eternal fate of Steve Jobs, but my point in the post was not to determine that. It is, as a few folks pointed out, not my job to judge him.

As a Christian, though, it is my job — or at least part of it — to determine how the culture and my faith intersect. I need to discern when I am following Christ and when I am following something other than Christ. Often, the culture leads us away from God.

So, as a Christian, I read many comments, watch TV coverage, and hear people discuss what a wonderful example and role model Steve Jobs was. I am encouraged to listen to his Stanford address as a valuable life lesson. I’m told he is an example of a great man who did great things and should be revered and honored for them.

That is the world’s judgment, and I have no argument with the world.

What I want to discern is how the Christian should evaluate a man’s life — whether he be famous or is ignored by humanity.

When doing this, Christ is our standard. The life and teaching of Christ are guides to our lives. We are called to have the same mind that was in Christ and to follow his teaching, which includes calls to humility and poverty of spirit and self-denial and thinking others better than ourselves and serving as the least of these.

For United Methodists who still find John Wesley a spiritual guide, we are taught to not be in love with the world or things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). We are taught that storing up treasures on earth is contrary to the command of Christ. We are taught to give all we can to do good for our fellow creatures.

Allan Bevere posted a cartoon of Steve Jobs meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates. As a Buddhist, Jobs would likely be confused by that development. What I am wondering, though, is what parts of the iconic figure our culture is caught up in praising are actually praiseworthy in the eyes of Christ and what parts are not.

What should the Christian take from his life as a guide to holiness of heart and life, and what should we not emulate if our calling is to be more like Christ?

Where is the cultural acclamation of Jobs leading us toward God? Where is it leading us away?

Jesus Christ and Steve Jobs

What you are about to read is going to get me lumped in with the loonies at Westboro Baptist.

I have been struggling this evening with what a Wesleyan response to Steve Jobs’ life would be. John Wesley who preached tirelessly about humility and meekness would not celebrate Jobs’ triumphant celebration of his own ego, would he?

Do the people who follow the God who emptied himself of all pride, ego, and power understand that Jesus Christ and Steve Jobs preach different messages?

In his now famous Stanford commencement address, he urged the graduates to use the fact of their future death to drive them to refuse to submit to anyone else’s plans or ideas for their lives.

In Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ used the prospect of his approaching death to pray, “Not my will, but yours.”

Jesus Christ said, “Deny yourself, and follow me.”

Steve Jobs told people that they were the center of the universe. Each of his lovely gadgets reminded us of that. iPad. iPhone. iPod. Me, myself, and I are the most important things in the universe. Creating a world that spins around my tastes and desires is what matters the most. And we love those gadgets for their devotion to us.

Yes, I understand, Jobs “created” jobs and his technology has been put to uses that have improved the lives of people. But the question is not “Did he do any good at all?” but “Did he live the holiness of heart and life that Jesus Christ calls us to live?”

Will Jesus Christ look at the use Jobs’ made of his $7 billion fortune and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord”? As the heirs of John Wesley, can United Methodists think the way a man used his money is insignificant to eternity?

His family and friends are in mourning, just as the family of the dead are everywhere today. I pray God’s mercy is upon Steve Jobs. But I worry that Christians misunderstand what a holy life is all about when we venerate Jobs as an icon, especially when we venerate those attributes of the man that were the least Christ-like.

The world will celebrate him. But will heaven? I pray he has found the peace of God’s glory.