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Which iPad Would Jesus Buy?

October 23, 2012

A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ ~Matthew 8:19-20

Yep, I'm the guy who wrote that headline. But those who know me won't be that surprised. I won't keep you in suspense:

Lightweight, more portable, a more economical choice; clearly Jesus would buy the iPad Mini, right? I mean, it's a slam dunk on finally bringing this amazing technology into the hands of the masses, and the iPhone itself was already dubbed the Jesus phone, right? At $329, you'll be able to buy one for each of your three kids and still be under $1000 for Christmas!

Wait, did I really just write that?

If you've got $1000 to spend on Christmas presents for the kids, we should probably talk. I may have some projects at Franklin Federated Church that you'd like to support.

But there WILL be trees in Franklin this Christmas with an iPad Mini underneath for many children this year. The funny thing, the amazing thing, is that anyone would think this was a reasonable gift for any child.

I am no luddite. I love technology. I use an iPad every day. I'm writing this blog post on one, using the app Blogsy, which is rock solid and productive). I let my children play with it occasionally, mostly educational games (lots of great feedback right now on Disney's “The Presidents,” a fun app that mirrors some of the spirit of the Hall of the Presidents experience at the Disney theme parks). But the idea that any child “needs” an iPad Mini for anything is preposterous.

Maybe as preposterous as trying to discern which iPad Jesus would buy.

I'm pretty sure that if Jesus was around, and assuming that he was going to use all the latest technology at his disposal, the way Emergent Church folks love to say he would, and further assuming that he actually started writing things down (which would be the biggest break with his typical modus operandi), he'd probably have a notebook and a pencil.

Not to compare him to Jesus, but Cormac MacCarthy recently retired his Olivetti Lettera Typewriter. Every novel he ever wrote was written on it. Have you read MacCarthy? Incredibly dense, evocative prose, that approaches poetry on nearly every page. I can only guess at how many revisions his works pass through. And that means he probably RE-typed them on the Olivetti. It fetched over $250,000 at auction. But why didn't he save it? Because he was done with it. He didn't need it. And he banked on it, smartly.

Woody Allen writes on an Olympia portable SM-3. Not even a top-of-the-line machine. And, like McCarthy, not even a word processor. Stunning, no? All those screenplays. Fifty years of writing. All on the Olympia.

I love using the iPad, but on a level, every bit of this stuff is a distraction. I don't need it. I know I don't need it. Every time the AT&T bill comes I think about just getting a basic phone with no data plan. And then I get lost in a road somewhere, and I left the GPS in the other car, and I manage to map it all out on the iPhone and get home. I write sermons and answer email on this iPad. It's useful.

But for what it cost, should I be recommending everyone get one?

I don't think so. I don't think we all need so many distractions nearby. I'm not going to solve this one today, but I am sounding the alarm; our tools may be insulating us from the heart of our work, if we're not careful. And far greater works than any we've produced on these “amazing, incredible, magical” devices have been produced by an ancient traveling preacher and the folks who scratched his words out on papyrus.




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One Comment
  1. i’m glad you’re back to blogging regularly. i enjoy your thoughts.
    God is love

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