Christian writer Andy Crouch worries about Steve Jobs' health — or more specifically, about the positive affect of Steve Jobs on the health of culture.
"As remarkable as Steve Jobs is in countless ways — as a designer, an innovator, a (ruthless and demanding) leader — his most singular quality has been his ability to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope," Crouch wrote in an essay on his website, Culture-Making.com.
Crouch wrote the book "Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling," a book that won Christianity Today's 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture. In fact, Crouch now works as a special assistant to the president at Christianity Today International. So it should be no surprise ChristianityToday.com picked up Crouch's essay about Job's positive impact on American culture.
If the word "gospel" means "good news," Jobs was the gospel king of the last decade. In 10 years of cultural, economic and political crud, Jobs brought technological triumphs. "Politically, militarily, economically, the decade was defined by disappointment after disappointment—and technologically, it was defined by a series of elegantly produced events in which Steve Jobs, commanding more attention and publicity each time, strode on stage with a miracle in his pocket," Crouch wrote.
Crouch wrote about how Apple is the master of taking complex technology and making it simple enough that people can use it without a manual. It was geeks making things you didn't have to be a geek to enjoy.
And each improvement in Apple products didn't make the product more complicated.
"Steve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope," Crouch wrote.
People have eaten up Jobs' gospel of secular hope. His 2005 Stanford Commencement Address is his best known articulation of his philosophy — receiving 3,438,060 views on YouTube so far. In it, Jobs talked about his 2003 cancer diagnosis and about the value of death as motivation to live don't listen to Bozos, listen to your heart and be somebody before your time runs out.
"This is the gospel of a secular age. It has the great virtue of being based only on what we can all perceive—it requires neither revelation nor dogma. And it promises nothing it cannot deliver—since all that is promised is the opportunity to live your own unique life," Crouch wrote.
But, Crouch sees Jobs' hope as falling short. Its only comfort is that you have been true to yourself. It doesn't stand up to tragedy and evil. It is cold comfort. "Such a speech would have been hard to take at the funeral of Christina Taylor Greene, 9 years old, killed along with five others on a bright Saturday morning in Tucson, Ariz," Crouch wrote.
But the world is still better for it. Jobs' gospel of hope brings beauty and elegance into ordinary lives — many of who only believe in hope that they can see. But Crouch worries about the future: "When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?"
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