So I’ve been hearing these rumors about an iPad . . .
Another Apple product launch, another cultural phenomenon. Cupertino’s lovers love it. Their haters hate it. It’s success is indisputable. When was the last time a consumer product captured the cultural imagination like this?
Oh yeah, the iPhone.
Apple is the anti-Google, and their reign over all things networked really has no serious challenger. So why wasn’t this event called, “Theology after Apple?” Why not, “What Would Apple Do?”
In fact, Apple is the only anti-Google Jeff Jarvis could come up with. Not even God, he insists, is “immune from the power and influence of Google.” Evidence? How about open-Source Judaism, inspired by Douglas Rushkoff’s Nothing Sacred (“wasn’t the Talmud the world’s first wiki?”)?
No, only Apple seems to be exempt from the consequences of refusal to collaborate, to design platforms, open up, eschew advertising, and think distributed in the post-Google world. Jarvis ticks off the offenses:
Apple is the opposite of collaborative.
Apple still spends a fortune in advertising.
Apple is the farthest thing from transparent.
Apple abhors openness.
So why, if such Google-intransigence has buried entire industries, does Apple get a pass? Why does the brand still kill its competition? For Jarvis it’s simple: “It’s just that good. It’s vision is strong and its products even better.”
You’ve been to the Apple church, right? Impeccably manicured grounds; stirring worship aided by professional sound and lighting technicians; clear, concise, simple sermons with easy-to-use life application; unequivocally “Biblical” theology; a lifestyle niche small group ministry; slick branded merchandise, from Bibles to bumper stickers; youth recreation facilities to make Leslie Knope green with envy.
The Apple church is just that good. It’s has a clear vision articulated by a revered and unchallenged executive. Its products are simply excellent.
That’s a straw man of a setup, I know. You’re meant to start pointing out the Apple church’s flaws. But, like Apple, it doesn’t care about its detractors. It’s thriving, and the future is bright. And for those of us trying, from within Emergent or mainline Protestant or Catholic traditions to get our heads around a “Googley” church, the success of Apple church is an unsettling counterpoint.