1. The Gospel of Steve Jobs
Like millions of people, I learned the sad news about Steve Jobs on Wednesday evening through my iPhone. I was with some friends, and we talked about how Jobs transformed computers, cell phones, the music industry and animated movies, not to mention business itself. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the scope of his influence. Back in January, Andy Crouch wrote this reflection on Jobs’s legacy, and while I think he may exaggerate to make a point, it’s an important reminder about the basis of our hope:
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… 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… Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?
2. Making a life, making a living
If that first one comes across as a bit of a downer, maybe this will redeem it. Steve Jobs was obviously a genius, and what Andy Crouch himself would call a culture maker. Here, Jon Foreman writes for the Art House America blog about the human art of re-appropriation, which in his own way Jobs did so well:
This enlightened practice of re-appropriation is unique to the human experience: we adapt within our situation to make the most of it. All other creatures are defined by their innate abilities, mostly untaught. A worm is not taught how to crawl. A chameleon is not taught how to change colors. A rabbit, a horse, a spider — these creatures are defined by themselves and their intrinsic giftings. We human beings are not like this: we bend, we learn, we invent, we change. Humanity has been making herself up all along. Making life. Making a living.
3. Business as arena of wonder, heartbreak and hope
Gideon Strauss, who is no stranger to these Friday weekly roundups, is at it again with a thoughtful, hopeful essay asking big questions about the way we do business. He asks three questions inspired by wonder, three by heartbreak and three by hope. Here’s an experience of heartbreak he shares from his childhood:
As a teenager in South Africa, cycling through the black townships generated by apartheid‘s racial segregation, I saw how a political order brought about economic structures that consigned a majority of people in that country to lives of poverty. Back in my comfortable white suburban home, I read the warning of the prophet Isaiah: taking part in the worship practices of a faith community gives God no delight if, at the same time, we arrange our communities and societies in such a way that some people are systematically excluded, exploited, or oppressed. What astonished me were the neatly coiffed, nicely suited white businessmen standing next to me in the pews of my childhood church, expecting God’s grace and singing God’s praise on Sundays, while I knew that they would go to their stores and offices and construction sites on Mondays—not only directly exploiting and oppressing their underpaid and powerless black employees, but also, by their votes and political activism, bolstering a nation-wide system designed with the explicit intent of ensuring that a black servant class would labour but not rise.
4. Building bridges toward the common good
Here’s an interesting interview with David Gushee and Richard Cizik, who co-lead the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. They talk about how the organization came about, intended as an evangelical alternative to those on both ends of the political spectrum. Here’s Gushee on the challenge of remaining an independent voice:
There was a need for an organization independent of the centrifugal forces right and left that was able to stand on its own two feet — to follow what we understand the implications of Scripture and our faith to be without fear. Any organization that has the potential to be impacted by the religious right, in particular, you’re always in fear that somebody’s going to come get you from the right. It happened to Rich. It’s happened to me in different ways. Likewise, if you’re in an organization that is funded by or loyal to the left, you can always get nailed from the left. You’re not liberal enough on this issue. You’re not saying what we want you to say. We wanted a genuinely independent voice, in which we could follow God’s truth where we believed it led.
5. Interview with IGVP’s Mario Mattei
For the photographers out there who read my blog, this one’s for you. It’s an interview with Mario Mattei who leads the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, a group you need to know about if you think that the people you photograph matter.
6. Justice and justification
This spring I reviewed Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice for PRISM Magazine. If you haven’t read the book, here Keller speaks on the connection between justice and justification – two themes many theologians seem to prefer to choose between, rather than articulating an integration of the two.
Generous Justice from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.