Let me admit it up front: At 6 P.M. today, I hope to walk through the door of my local AT&T store and walk out a few minutes later with the most eagerly awaited consumer product ever: the Apple iPhone (compare prices). Does that make me a bad Catholic?
I've been an Apple customer since the days of the Apple II, and, in the words of an old commercial, I've liked it so much that I bought the company (or at least a few shares). I use Macs, both at home and at work, for one simple reason: They work. A computer is a tool, and Apple, better than any other computer maker, understands that a tool is supposed to help you finish a task so that you can move on to something else--like playing ball with your kids or cooking your wife dinner.
For just that reason, the lapsed Catholic philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco once famously argued that "the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant":
Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
As a Mac user and a Catholic, I get that. But what about the iPhone? Have I fallen into the clutches of consumerism, putting my soul at risk? I've never even owned a cellphone; do I really need an iPhone?
Maybe not, but I'm getting one anyway, and for the same reasons: I expect it to simplify my life, free up my time, and untether me from my desk. Working for a small company with big responsibilities, I rarely take vacations, or even a day off. I'm looking forward to a week camping with my wife and children, made possible, or at least much easier, by a device that will allow me to make sure that everything runs smoothly while I'm gone.
Is that just an excuse? Have I sold my soul for a phone? Click here to let me know what you think!
(Image: Courtesy of Apple)Poll: Do you plan to buy an Apple iPhone?