Skip to content

iPhone release 'religious' event - Is it God machine or tech tempter?

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

For the believers of this other faith, it's the day of deliverance they have long awaited, the moment when they'll finally be able to grasp the Holy Grail which they've long lusted and defended against all nay-sayers, sight unseen.

I'm talking, of course, about the release of Apple's iPhone. And to say that the thought of nabbing one makes my brain water would be putting it lightly.

To be sure, I'm a new convert. But as with many others, the living encounter with the Mac has changed my life and the way I work. Even the Vatican "webmistress," Sister Judith Zoebelein, recently disclosed that the Internet Office over at Catholic Central had just undergone the same conversion experience.

PC 3 Mac 1

So, yes - I've drunk the Kool-Aid. Yes, I've become something of a Cupertino cultist. But if your workload just happened to kill three PCs in the space of seven months, you'd probably end up one, too.

Mac-heads aren't known for moderating their enthusiasm for every word that comes from the mouth of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and the release of what's been dubbed "The God Machine" has become a cultural watershed, with press coverage rivaling Paris Hilton's now-multiple jail stints. When the first commercials for the device (which only a handful of people outside Apple's top brass has even been able to touch yet) began airing last week, even devotees were quick to label them "iPhone porn."

FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything

Simultaneously, the enormous swath of cyberspace devoted to Apple gossip dissected the ads' glimpses of the product with a compulsiveness putting even the most anal-retentive liturgical critiques of the Catholic blogosphere to shame. (For the blissfully unaware, that's an astonishing level of unhealthy hair-splitting.)

Some might see this as making God out of gadgets, or simply the end of the world as we know it. But even the hype bears a message of hope, and a challenge as big as the buzz.

Staying in touch First, let's be grateful that people are getting excited about technology that actually has the capability of keeping them in touch with the rest of the world, as opposed to the usual frenzy over the newest video-game console that further seals its possessed into a virtual bubble. I may be a computer nut, but I can't help but think of PlayStation 3 or the Wii as further sentinels of the disintegration of mankind.

Second, the folks from Apple just seem to have an ability for captivating innovations in design, capability and ease of function. The company prides itself on its reputation for great aesthetics; the clean lines and iconic looks of its product designs that (thankfully) have replaced the boxy, clunky old models many of us 20-and-30-somethings used in our school days.

Message here? The quest for, and appreciation of, beauty still exists in the world - and a bitten-into piece of fruit marks its vanguard.

As an amateur architecture buff I see a parallel at work. While the modernist project in design sought to exalt utilitarianism, banishing what it saw as a superfluous emphasis on the "decorative," the post-modern movement has restored the balance, as if to say, "Sure, functionality is helpful, but in our focus on function the uplift of something bigger went missing."

There's an analogy of faith in this. People want to belong to something that makes greatness manifest in our own time, a movement that can show beauty and achievement as more than just traits of the past. If that weren't true, today's masses wouldn't go to the ends of the earth - or, alternatively, blow thousands of bucks after keeping vigil all night on a strip-mall pavement - to it seek out, bring it home and plug it in.

Ticking tradition

As far as some of our own are concerned, man's expression of his God-given creativity halted sometime around 1570. But just as there'd be no internet without Gutenberg and no iPhone without Bell, tradition's clock never stops ticking. It extends even into our own time and becomes our responsibility to cultivate, grow and pass forward even richer than we found it, but just as faithful to its beginnings as it was before.

I recently watched one of the most prominent preachers of our age speak to this. "The best bits of the past we'll take with us, we're interested, and we're excited, and we have faith in the future - that's where we're headed."

The preacher's name is Bono. He's not as young as he used to be and his answers aren't always perfect but, unlike so many self-styled evangelists, his message still has relevance.

If only Apple's sense of embracing the future was heeded within the walls of the church. We need to change the perception that the only future we can offer is a return to the past. Until that happens, don't be surprised when the eager masses find their future's promise not in a living God, but in his battery-powered stand-in instead.


Rocco Palmo, 24, is an American correspondent for The Tablet and author of the blog Whispers in the Loggia.


Busted Halo ,
Rocco Palmo - ,



More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,716

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Coffee 101: Get tips for a better cup of coffee

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Easter / Lent 2023: Learn more
Saint of the Day logo
St. Patrick's Day, March 17th

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2022 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2022 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!