Is The Cult of the Jesus Phone REALLY a Cult?

Illustration for article titled Is The Cult of the Jesus Phone REALLY a Cult?

I had an exchange with David Kuo of Beliefnet today on whether or not The Cult is a religious thing. I argued that the respect we have for Apple is grounded in secular reasoning. Then I got an Amen in the comments, which I NEVER get here, unfortunately.

Part of David's post:



Characteristically religious feelings (awe, wonder, gratitude, guilt, adoration, etc.). Appleism's followers know of guilt and they experience it every time they use a Windows computer. I have a friend who is a loyal Mac guy but recently finished a big project on an IBM. He emailed me and talked about his guilt. (I'm not joking). More than guilt though, they know of awe, wonder, and gratitude. Every new Apple invention, every time Steve Jobs take a stage to announce something beautiful and wonderful all Appleists tingle with joy and anticipation.

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Part of my reply:

I'd say there are aspects of faith here, but for the most part, it's faith of the most practical sort.

People trust Apple to make technology that is easy and reliable to use, based on a proven track record. And some would say that it's done in a way more stylish than could have been imagined, which doesn't hurt the adoration. 100 Million iPods, or so, not mentioning the computers. That's kind of makes it the bible of MP3 players, as far as the numbers go.

Here's David's original post, and my response. [Beliefnet]

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DISCUSSION

Where'd my comment go? I had a great one.

Damn you Giz.

Anyway, lets try and remember it:

I can see how this works in some views. In the Catholic religion (one, I unfortunately was brought up in), you're supposed to tithe 10% of your earnings to the church. Some have said this is sort of like buying your enlightenment/salvation, since the new phenom of MEGA churches + televangelists basically bilk millions of people out of hard earned money for the same reason, so they can buy their way into some carrot of heaven. Now, on the opposite side, let's say Buddhist Monks, you have a view that salvation can only be had through years of study and meditation, learning how to manipulate the world around you and your own body to achieve a higher plane of existence.

Now, we look at Apple vs PC (linux) and you can see a similarity. Apple folks always claim how easy a Mac works. You turn it on, it's perfect, it's balance, anyone can use it and it costs an arm and a leg because of this. Sort of like the mega churches, where you're buying your salvation (salvation here being a computing experience that gets the basics done, email, web, word processing, etc). Now, PC's can be hacked together for pennies on the dollar compared to Macs, but are buggy and temperamental. Some could say that this is more the monk line of thinking, because yes, it takes much skill and knowledge to use a PC. You can't click on every pop-up, you have to have a working knowledge of networking and computers. The highest level of Buddhist Monk's can achieve that transcendental plane whether they are in a sanctuary shrine or in a busy subway terminal. This could be shown as a top of the line system vs a garage parts system still getting to that same basic computing experience (internet, email, word processing, etc).

So, in that light, I can turn fanboyism into a side by side argument with religious zealots. I also expect some apple fanboy to claim that the balance Apple gives you for your money is closer to Zen then a crappy PC, but you can't buy enlightenment, it has to be earned and learned.