Thursday, October 20, 2011

Antipsalm 23

 I’m on my own.
 No one looks out for me or protects me.
 I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing’s quite right.
 I’m always restless. I’m easily frustrated and often disappointed.
 It’s a jungle—I feel overwhelmed. It’s a desert—I’m thirsty.
 My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can’t fix myself.
 I stumble down some dark paths.
 Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
 But life’s confusing. Why don’t things ever really work out?
 I’m haunted by emptiness and futility—shadows of death.
 I fear the big hurt and final loss.
 Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
 but I’d rather not think about that.
 I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
 I find no lasting comfort.
 I’m alone . . . facing everything that could hurt me.
 Are my friends really friends?
 Other people use me for their own ends.
 I can’t really trust anyone. No one has my back.
 No one is really for me—except me.
 And I’m so much all about ME, sometimes it’s sickening.
 I belong to no one except myself.
 My cup is never quite full enough. I’m left empty.
 Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
 Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
 Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
 Sartre said, “Hell is other people.”
 I have to add, “Hell is also myself.”
 It’s a living death,
 and then I die.

What a contrast to the hope of David's Psalm 23:1-6.

From David Powlinson on Justin Taylor's Blog (it's well worth reading the rest):

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Don't Canonize Steve Jobs

Yeah, I've confessed to wishing I had some Apple products (all donations gladly accepted!). So it might sound like sour grapes (or apples) to point you to this very excellent article from titled, What Everyone is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs. It provides enough realism to temper our sadness, our adulation, and our near-deification of this remarkable, but deeply-flawed man. I think it's well worth a read, so here's an excerpt with the link afterwards:

It's the dream of any entrepreneur to effect change in one industry. Jobs transformed half a dozen of them forever, from personal computers to phones to animation to music to publishing to video games. He was a polymath, a skilled motivator, a decisive judge, a farsighted tastemaker, an excellent showman, and a gifted strategist. 
One thing he wasn't, though, was perfect. Indeed there were things Jobs did while at Apple that were deeply disturbing. Rude, dismissive, hostile, spiteful: Apple employees—the ones not bound by confidentiality agreements—have had a different story to tell over the years about Jobs and the bullying, manipulation and fear that followed him around Apple. Jobs contributed to global problems, too. Apple's success has been built literally on the backs of Chinese workers, many of them children and all of them enduring long shifts and the specter of brutal penalties for mistakes. And, for all his talk of enabling individual expression, Jobs imposed paranoid rules that centralized control of who could say what on his devices and in his company.
The article (perhaps unintentionally) raises a very important question for all of us: What price are we willing to pay for success? What virtues or relationships or principles are we prepared to incinerate on the altar of achievement? Jobs was uniquely successful. He's been compared to Edison and Einstein and called the greatest innovator of the last century. But as this article demonstrates, the cost was exceptionally high.

Here's where you can read more:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs' Death

Even though I'm not an Apple kind of guy (sadly, I just never seem to have the $), I have engaged in my share of ipad-envy and similar sins over the years.

And so, it was with sadness that I read about Jobs' [premature] death at age 56. I put "premature" in brackets because it seems self-evident that such a cool and gifted guy really has the right to be around a bit longer.

I mean, hasn't Steve Jobs made all of our lives better (if only by providing Microsoft's Windows and Google's Android a benchmark against which to improve)?

I know. That's rather a utilitarian and shallow perspective, even if I say so myself to myself.

But it's a great reminder of how easily we assign value to someone's life (and death) based on some ultimately meaningless criteria like giftedness or fame or wealth or royalty or relationship to ME. It's a distortion of the Christian Gospel which insists that every life is valuable and every death is a tragedy.

Which is a nice good sad segue to Justin Taylor's blog (where I stole the above pic) and his excellent post titled, "The Gospel According to Steve Jobs" which, in turn, takes us to the original article in Christianity Today
which was originally published in Culture Making, which I'm not going to provide a link to since this sentence is already way too long. Such is the stuff of blogging and borrowing and plagiarizing (hey, I steal, but always give credit; originality is nothing more than a poor memory).

Here's a little teaser--hopefully enough to get you to read it:
But the genius of Steve Jobs has been to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of “the Apple faithful” and the “cult of the Mac” is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty, and discarded like a 2001 iPod.