Steve Jobs, who art at Apple, hallowed be thy name...

FakeSteveJobs reminisces about his naive trek across India as a teenager. The deluded boy meets a sham guru whose only useful nugget of wisdom is:

“America is all about commerce. Someone is going to figure out a way to create material things and imbue them with a sense of religious significance…. Whoever weaves these together will become more powerful than you can imagine.” [1]

The passage is from Options, the novelised parody of Steve’s life. It speaks volumes more than any official memoir ever could. Dan Lyons’ hilarious satire is as much a pointed comment about Steve as it is about our ravenous consumer culture. 

The real Steve grew up to be a man who garnered adjectives from journalists such as ‘messianic’ and ‘evangelical’.  The image was his own creation from the very beginning. At the very first Apple Halloween party, he dressed up as Jesus Christ. [2]

In 1966, TIME Magazine's cover posed the question, “Is God Dead”. This is the same year John Lennon joked that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus and caused a protest across America. Two decades later, TIME’s Person of The Year was the personal computer. What does that say about the man who brought us this thing? 

In 1882, Nietzsche was also wondering about God. He wrote,
"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?" [3]

Over a century later, The New York Times reported, 

"Mr. Jobs succeeded in building expectations for what some have called “the God machine.” The bar-of-soap-size phone is being coveted as a talisman for a digital age, and iPhone hysteria is beginning to reach levels usually reserved for video-game machines at Christmas".[4]

Urban Dictionary christened Steve's "bar of soap", The Jesus Phone."[5] It followed, of course that the iPad became the Jesus Pad. When Steve stood upon his stage in 2010, and held aloft his newly minted tablet, The Guardian’s design expert, Jonathan Glancey - with tongue firmly planted in his cheek - compared Steve to Moses on the mountain.[6]
Later that year, Steve made a Freudian slip at an iPhone OS 4 Q&A session: “We just shipped it on Saturday. And then we rested on Sunday.” [7]

Just as Jesus gathered disciples around him, Steve has his collection of disciples as well - according to Apple deep-throats who spoke to Fortune Magazine. However, Steve’s disciples number 100 rather than the paltry twelve tallied by the Son of God. The difference is not just that Steve’s posse is bigger. He also reserves the right to replace a disciple if he is found to be lacking in conviction; whereas, Jesus was nice enough to forgive Judas a transgression. [8]

Steve's public seems to be in agreement with his own God-complex. Somewhere out there is a blog called Its welcome page intones:

Welcome to the fold and be assimilated you shall. For all those who believe waits a high and illustrious path of synchronization of the mind, body, and soul with the Ultimate Apple Device envisioned by the omniscient and omnipotent innards of the brain of Jobs.

Yes, Steve Jobs is God! It is he who hath provided us with iPhones which serve us as palm sized minions. It is he who spun the Macbook Pro from aluminum ore. And it is he who hath brought forth the glory of the wondrous iPad. Even though we all share the sin of having tasted Windows and Flash in the past, Steve Jobs forgives us and continues to do what it takes to set us free.[9]

Zdnet argues that Steve is more a demo-god rather than demi-god.[10] The author was referring to his rock-concert keynote speeches in which finishes off with a modified namaste.

Apple’s holier-than-thou marketing became the focus of a BBC series entitled, Secrets of the Super-brands. It was presented by comic host, Alex Riley, who attempted to critique Steve's Eden of consumerism. 

Steve would not be too concerned about what this guy has to say about his company anyway. Poor Alex is not his demographic. He fails the Apple test in two key areas: Alex is decidedly uncool (especially his humour), and he watches his budget. Too cheap to buy an iPhone, Alex borrowed one from an affluent friend to demonstrate it on the show.

Alex asks his guests, “If Apple was a person how would u describe him?” A ten year old responds, matter-of-factly, "spoiled, snobby". A Gen-Y’s answer, "The sort of person who might invite you to their birthday party; but then when you get there, you would be doing everything that they wanted to do".

The camera pans across fanboys and gurls inside an Apple Store, fondling Steve’s merchandise, as Diana Ross croons a 1976 disco ballad, 

Ah, if there's a cure for this
I don't want it
Don't want it
If there's a remedy
I'll run from it, from it

Think about it all the time
Never let it out of my mind
'Cause I love you

I've got the sweetest hangover
I don't wanna get over
Sweetest hangover.

Macolyte, Alex Brooks, editor of the blog, World of Apple was inserted into an MRI scanner to see how the mind of an Apple customer works. Professor Gemma Calvert at The Centre for Neuroimaging Services at Neurosense, showed him images of Apple products mixed with images of its competitors. The Apple images created the same activity in his cortex that Gemma has seen in religious people who are exposed to religious imagery. She used a Macbook to display a live feed of his orbitofrontal cortex - the part of the brain that makes all the decisions. Professor Gemma concludes that Apple has "harnessed, or exploit the brain areas that have evolved to process religion". Perhaps it is oxymoronic to say that something stimulates the brain like religion?

The Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson - a Christian historian who is same age as Steve - reads the Hebrew text of The Book of Judges on his iPad. This is indeed an inspired act of worship convergence. Bishop Alan seems to have a very thorough fanboy understanding of the story of Steve as he does the story of Jesus. The good Bishop compares the "apocalyptical" battle with the beasts of the bible to Steve's battle with IBM. He loves the Apple Temple's glass staircase and its "texture of light". The arches of his cathedral are juxtaposed with the arches of the Convent Garden Apple Store. The latter features altars upon which precious artifacts are displayed and held. An Apple Genius is the acolyte whose role it is to guide you on the path to the salvation of the switch.

Bishop Alan jests good-naturedly, “With Christianity you have to wait for the second coming, with Apple (laughs) it happened in 1997" when Steve returned to Apple after a twelve year hiatus.

In Steve’s absence, academia had a field day analysing the walled garden that Steve had grown from a singular weed. Edward Mendelson, a professor at Columbia and the literary executor of W.H. Auden had this to say regarding the church of Apple:

In the realm of the Apple Macintosh, as in Catholic Europe, worshipers peer devoutly into screens filled with “icons.” All is sound and imagery in Appledom. Even words look like decorative filigrees in exotic typefaces. The greatest icon of all, the inviolable Apple itself, stands in the dominating position at the upper-left comer of the screen. A central corporate headquarters decrees the form of all rites and practices. Infallible doctrine issues from one executive officer whose selection occurs in a sealed boardroom. Should anyone in his curia question his powers, the offender is excommunicated into outer darkness. The expelled heretic founds a new company, mutters obscurely of the coming age and the next computer, then disappears into silence, taking his stockholders with him. The mother company forbids financial competition as sternly as it stifles ideological competition; if you want to use computer programs that conform to Apple's orthodoxy, you must buy a computer made and sold by Apple itself.[11]

Six years later, Steve is still in exile from his company. The Italian semiotic superstar, Umberto Eco, repeated Edward’s motif:

Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.[12]

Macolytes are like sturdy Dark Age Catholics – following The Pope’s ex-gratia instruction to the letter. Everything else is heresy. On the other hand, Microsoft users are like the Ancient Greeks who shopped around for the best school of philosophy to suit themselves. 

A netizen’s wry comment: “Every time I walk past an Apple Store I'm terrified one of the staff is going to come out and offer me a free personality test.” The witty rejoinder:  “If you walked in the store, you passed the test.” [13]

One hopes Apple will never claim tax exemption as a religion. It would spell bad news for this blog/book. Surely questioning the company and its leader would be deemed a hate crime. 

The CEO of the world’s oldest multi-national has recognised in Steve a powerful enemy. Pope Benedict XVI said technology consumption poses a threat to the Roman Catholic Church. He told his Palm Sunday plebiscites that technology cannot replace God. [14]

In his 2008 World Communications Day message, the Pope said: "If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development." In the same Guardian article, the papal office took the opportunity to plug The Pope’s Facebook page and iPhone app.[15]

Obviously the Pope can’t complain too loudly. One of the most popular free iPad/Phone apps is the Holy Bible. Another app is "Popes of the Catholic Church" which talks up the old guys as if they were a pantheon of Marvel super heroes. Benedict fired off his first tweet on his iPad, June 29, 2011.[16]

[1] Lyons, D. (2008) Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

[2] Lam, B. (2009, June 25) The Life of Steve Jobs – So Far. Retrieved from

[3] Nietzsche, F. (1974) The Gay Science. Trans. Kaufman, W. New York: Mass Market Paperback.

[4] Markoff, J. (2007, June 4) Fever builds for iPhone (anxiety too). The New York Times.

[6] The Guardian. (2010, January 27) The Apple iPad: reactions.

[7] Hermann, J. (2010, April 9) Steve Jobs Jokes He’s God. Retrieved from:

[8] Lashinsky , A. (2011, May 23) How Apple works: Inside the world's biggest startup. Fortune Magazine.

[10] Gewirtz, D. (2010, June 8) Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft [blog]. From ZDNET Government. Retrieved from:

[11] Mendelson, E. (1988, February 22) The Corrupt Computer. From The New Republic.

[12] Eco, U (1994, September 30) La bustina di Minerva. From Espresso.

[15] Butt, R. (2009, May 20) iPhone to popePhone: follow the pontiff as Vatican grasps new technology. The Guardian.

[16]Associated Press (2011, June 29) My tweet lord: Pope joins Twitter and launches new Vatican website. The Guardian.


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