Why Steve Jobs’ revolutionary iPhone is our messiah

“Steve Jobs’ first experience designing telephones involves the now famous story of the ‘blue box’ device. In the early 1970s, Jobs’ friend Steve Wozniak was captivated by an Esquire story about the creator of a phone-hacking device that made it possible to dial long distance calls for free. Wozniak got to work on his own version of the device right away using his own components,” Brett T. Robinson writes for Wired. “Jobs and Wozniak invited John Draper, aka ‘Captain Crunch,’ one of the mysterious men featured in the Esquire article, to Wozniak’s Berkeley dormitory to show them how to make the box work. Draper was hesitant but ultimately acquiesced. By the end of the evening, the three intrepid hackers decided that their first call should be to the Vatican. It worked.”

“Thirty-five years later, Jobs would introduce the iPhone—a device that would transform the wireless telephone industry. The hacker-turned-billionaire Steve Jobs inadvertently found his prized new device linked to the Vatican again. The iPhone became the subject of a host of religious parodies, most notably earning the moniker ‘Jesus phone,'” Robinson writes. “The godly description of Apple’s signature gadget started with a joke by Gizmodo contributor Brian Lam. Lam coined the term “Jesus phone” in a blog post, and it quickly spread through the online tech news community.”

“Technologies like the iPhone put us in touch with an immense, global, and decentered network. The scale of this network is only dimly perceivable. It evokes sublime descriptors like ‘Jesus phone’ because it alludes to something that cannot be shown or presented — where the imagination fails to produce an object to match the concept… The idolatry reserved for Apple products stems from its role as privileged cultural mediator, a symptom of which is the popular rhetoric ascribing it with sublime properties,” Robinson writes. “The intertextual allusion and parody present in the technology journalism surrounding the iPhone launch are also present in the company’s advertising. The lone print advertisement that preceded the launch of the iPhone was suggestive of this pattern. The ad features the tagline ‘Touching is believing.'”

Robinson writes, “The phrase ‘Touching is believing’ evokes the biblical account of the apostle Thomas, who refused to believe Christ had risen from the dead until he could touch the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion… The ‘catholic’ or universal appeal of the object is a point worth considering. In the age of iPhone, there is a social obsession with efficiency via process and technology, and it is universal. Whether we own an iPhone or not, the ethic of speed and efficiency is built into nearly all of our cultural practices.”

Much, much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “dedly” for the heads up.]


  1. It was Wired itself that crucified Apple with its infamous “crown of thorns” magazine cover in 1997. It’s Wired who’s obsessed with religious imagery and metaphors, when they’re not fooling around with semiotics and postmodern deconstructionism. Wired is where the good writers go in a brave new world dominated by Huffington Post and its inkless ilk, and where they discover that the storied patrons of the arts are long dead, the Renaissance merely an academic reference in a footnote subservient in every way to the ads that constitute the new patronage.

  2. All the hedge fund managers think the iPhone is crap. They’re already sure both of the new models will be yawners especially if their displays aren’t any larger. Those hedge fund managers swear that iPhones are way behind the innovative spec-laden Android smartphones.

  3. You make hedge fund managers sound like frigtards.

    All the iOS users I know love their devices. They especially love not having a fragmented Android operating system. I can’t install the Twitter app from the Google play store for a friend’s Galaxy S III, for instance.. WTF is that? Apple’s iPhone and iPad just work; No questions asked. People are noticing this… which is good for Apple. It’s also good for the Android sufferers that switch to Apple’s iOS after they realize they’ve been duped and what they’ve been missing out on.

    Hedge fund managers can twist the truth all the want… it’s not going to change anything.

    1. “You make hedge fund managers sound like frigtards.”

      Actually, it’s the hedge fund managers who make themselves sound like that. They are obsessed with ultra short term issues and are completely blind to the longer term. Furthermore they react to the same rumours that happen every year and prove to be false.

      Let’s see how they react this December when Digitimes once again reports a slowdown in iPhone production – just after the annual peak in output to get the new models made in huge numbers for the holiday season. It’s a seasonal issue that has happened every year since the iPod and the analysts and hedge funds still keep saying that the sky is falling.

      They are either unable or unwilling to see what Apple is actually doing today and this coming year, while at the same time they are impressed with companies like Amazon who are not trading at a profit and are unlikely to do so for quite a long time.

  4. I suspect Robinson could have chosen a differing subtitle, “Good and Evil, Boxed.”

    This article, written by a marketing professor visiting Notre Dame, stems in part from the press community around Baylor University, a conservative Southern Baptist stronghold. These facts alone should ring some warning bells.

    Robinson knows a lot of what he’s talking about, perhaps, but he sees things differently than most, possibly for some benefit. It is strange to me why he attacks Apple when there are so may flagrantly sinful copiers of Apple, yet another fact that should set off alarm bells.

    Robinson’s subtitle mentions Job’s initial call to the Vatican. I’d like to suggest though that The Vatican called first, back in the early 1960s. 1963, to be exact. That call by the Vatican wasn’t to Steve Jobs, of course. It was a much more generalized call, one for the whole world to hear – if it would.

    Periodically, the Vatican conducts symposiums, inviting select leaders to present their views. The content of the presentations often result in a publication sanctioned by the Vatican Press. One such publication is identified below along with the chapter which I believe is most essential, the essence of the Vatican’s call:

    Sociological Theory, Values, and Sociocultural Change
    Ed. by Edward A. Tiryakian
    Freepress of Glencoe, Collier MacMillan, LTD, London, 1963

    The publication’s most essential content (opinion): Social Change and Social Systems, by Charles P. Loomis.

    Having this information at least a half century ago, the Vatican didn’t deliver anything like the iPhone, but it could have benefited should it have done so. Robinson seems to have produced a lament with his article and book. Is he resentful of Apple always trying to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts? Does he believe it is the purview of the Church alone to mediate all of the liberal arts? Why does it seem Robinson is jealous of Apple’s understanding of the kind of design knowledge he holds most dear?

    Martin Luther must be chuckling in his grave.

    We all see things differently, unequally. The same can be said for our many other senses. While our senses are absolutely subjective, enabling unmediated contemplation, their differences can be as dramatic as synthesia wherein convergences occur. Is being jealous of what others sense healthy? If Robinson or his backers want us to have unmediated contemplation, then a desire to have our senses mediated doesn’t make sense.

    Robinson, coming from a stronghold of our religious community, has now admitted, I suggest, that the iPhone has disrupted civilization’s every religion, with religions now being open sourced. This sort of conclusion might be considered astounding.

    Civilizations have hierarchies of institutions. The basic common institution is the family, followed by about ten more in increasing complexity. Transportation, communication, practical arts and crafts, education, economics, government, politics, higher arts and sciences, and then philosophy and religion, depending on which a particular form of civilization deems to be most high.

    Apple, Inc. have made devices aimed at the consumer level, basically the family, but now Robinson appears to suggest that the devices have already climbed the hierarchical tree, possibly to its highest point. This can be seen as a rare and profound philosophical result.

    Civilizations also have in common six master processes, communications being the first of necessity. Following are boundary maintenance, systemic linkage, institutionalization, socialization and finally, social control. Without competent social control, a civilization can disappear. Our government has its tail in a crack now over the NSA, an agency having much to do with our process of social control. The institutions we have that are ranked higher than the government now have a duty to perform, to ameliorate this governmental issue. Look who is visiting the White House these days but understand that we must maintain a competent social control process or else. (This also means that Apple, Inc. products have already been integrated into every form of master process, a phenomenal effect.)

    There’s no such thing as a false freedom, nor a true freedom. Freedom is in continuous conflict.

    There’s no such thing as idolatry reserved for Apple products. We have more sense than to be so easily persuaded. Apple, Inc. as well as their products have to work and that they do is manifest.

  5. Christ is the “Messiah.” Offending Christians is not helpful. I agree Steve was not your ordinary mortal, but he was just that. Drop the deification and people will be less critical of the following. I know it’s in fun, but religious sensitivities are front and center these days. Just a suggestion.

    1. I don’t know any Apple product users who deify Steve Jobs. I know LOTS of iHaterz who use the term “Messiah” pejoratively in connection not only with Steve Jobs & Barack Obama, but anyone else with whom they have an ideological problem. Perhaps they are the ones who should heed this advice.

    2. iMaci, you may be revealing your specific kind of religion with your words reflecting a severe indoctrination. Meek and dumb comes to my mind.

      Drop the adoration bit. So you have this neat device called an iPhone. What are you going to do with it? About 98 % of iPhone users use it for a daily diet of intercepted email, censored journalism, dogmatic scripture, and delectable trash. Sooner or later, you’ll realize you’re holding a weapon, one that might be able to help us avoid yet another world-wide war. Funny, most places where American hatred is built mot high are those places where people can’t even read, in any language.

      This problem is centuries old. Read on:


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