Steve Jobs

I can’t say that I’m an Apple product user (although when I did get one of their products I would never get anything else after it). I didn’t know that Steve Jobs had been a Lutheran as a child before I read this. There is so much else swirling around I’m surprised it cut through it. But watching Charlie Rose last night way too late and seeing a much younger and healthier Jobs it struck me at how much his death was actually hitting me. And I’m not talking about a reality of death, or slipping into an elegiac melancholy, or an existential scream or any of that. Just that Steve Jobs was someone who gave a flip. He so passionately gave a flip that the stories about firings and iPhone battery life, and “angry Steve” and control freak are legendary. And Steve Jobs was not someone without perspective. The story is told about the Apple VP and the janitor. To Steve, the janitor could say the wastebasket wasn’t emptied because the door to the office had been locked and he didn’t have a key. You can’t expect a janitor to solve these things. The apple VP on the other hand, the Apple VP never says “that isn’t my area of responsibility”. At some level it doesn’t matter. It is your responsibility. Steve Jobs gave a flip. He wanted to surround himself with people who gave a flip. Its not that he wanted to “change the world” in that tired phrase. Steve Jobs just wanted things to work, and he wanted you to want things to work.

People don’t change much – or at least that is what I’ve observed. My guess is that 8th grade Steve gave a flip. He probably was a great confirmation student. Absolutely impossible, but the kind you want to teach. At one point people like that, like Steve Jobs, used to have a place in the church. St. Paul sounds a lot like Steve Jobs to me. He passionately gave a flip and would tell you about it. We read some of that last week in Philippians 4:8-9. St. Francis gave a flip. Luther certainly did, he staked his life on it. Wesley gave a flip – the church wasn’t just the English gentry at prayer – it included all those in the hardscrabble. In the same way Mother Theresa cared through 40 years of dark nights and Indian hell.

Lutherans were in the news yesterday also because of a Supreme Court case. I’m sure that it is an important case as everyone said. The church does need its sphere of freedom. But do you know what it boiled down to me: we are the church that says we can fire a sick person and say that is ok because we are the church. Fine, go fight over freedom. But if that is what we are using our freedom to do we are badly missing the mark. We’ve lost before we’ve begun. That is a church that doesn’t give a flip. In a Steve Jobs church, that wouldn’t be acceptable. Lord have mercy.

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