J Walking

J Walking

Appleism is a New Religion…

Welcome to Appleism – the religion that is Apple.
For decades we have heard of the “Cult of Apple” and the “Mac Cult” – the relatively small group of slavishly devoted technology fanatics obsessed with Apple and its pontiff, Steve Jobs. These “cultists” were typically artsy, creative types, who sneered at anything Microsoft and “Windows” because Windows was a shamelessly pathetic rip off of Mac’s operating system and because Microsoft “had no taste” – as Jobs once sermonized. And so people bought into this idea of the Apple cult.
Apple isn’t a cult anymore, it has become a full blown religion with scores of millions of followers. The frenzy around the iPhone brings to mind the clamoring throngs that greeted Jesus at the height of his ministry.
There are many, many different tests for what makes something a religion. They range from belief in a higher power to sacred rituals to moral codes to sacred places. In every instance Appleism passes the test.

Religions are based on some belief in a higher or supernatural power.
Meet Steve Jobs whose story is supernatural. He started Apple with a friend in his parent’s garage and by the time he was 30 was running a multibillion company that had revolutionized computing. Then he was tossed aside, sent to the desert abandoned and despised. Apple slowly sank. At a moment when the company, er, faith, was near its end Jobs returned – the Second Coming – and brought salvation (also known as the iMac, iBook, and iPod). With the introduction of iPhone, however, Appleism may be outgrowing even Jobs with a belief in the power of Apple in and of itself. Apple has become its own deity.

Sacred v. profane objects, places, and times.
This one is easy. Sacred: Apple. Profane: Microsoft. Sacred times? MacWorld, Appleism’s equivalent of the annual return to Mecca. Then there is this coming Friday where millions will be standing in line to pay homage to the most sacred Apple of all – the iPhone. However, it is unclear whether some will one day move to make June 29th, the date of iPhone’s introduction, a national holiday.

Ritual acts focused on sacred objects, places, times.
Every time someone with an iPod uses its ubiquitous “click wheel” and every time someone sits before a Mac, or opens a Macbook Pro (like the one I am currently using) they are performing a ritual act of worship, sacred in its own way. The same is true when using iTunes to manage music or iPhoto to manage pictures or iMovie to create films – these are all ritual acts both devoted to Appleism and made possible by the Apple deity.

Characteristically religious feelings (awe, wonder, gratitude, guilt, adoration, etc.).
Appleism’s followers know of guilt and they experience it every time they use a Windows computer. I have a friend who is a loyal Mac guy but recently finished a big project on an IBM. He emailed me and talked about his guilt. (I’m not joking). More than guilt though, they know of awe, wonder, and gratitude. Every new Apple invention, every time Steve Jobs take a stage to announce something beautiful and wonderful all Appleists tingle with joy and anticipation.

A worldview and morality based on the faith.
Appleism espouses a liberal worldview that challenges conventional morality and norms and encourages creativity. It was clearly seen in the famed “Think Different” ad campaign that highlighted everyone from John Lennon and Gandhi to two lesbians kissing in bed. It is, however, most clearly seen in the new “Get a Mac” ads where the casual kid who represents the Mac is constantly poking fun at the tie-wearing guy – the symbol of stodgy conservatism. These ads don’t just poke fun at Microsoft but at the kind of boring, humdrum, life that Microsoft empowers. They are jabs at the conventional; jabs at the orthodox and tried and true. They are ads that strike at the heart of older religions while evangelizing Appleism.
Oh, and one more thing.
I am an Appleist. I have a MacBook and an iMac. My wife and I have more than 7,000 photos on iPhoto and more than 15,000 songs (all legal – ok, there may be a few from the old Napster days) on iTunes. We have at least four iPods in the house. I own Apple stock. I have watched every iPhone ad repeatedly. Since my own faith in Jesus requires that I have no God before my God it is clear that something in my life must change. And things will change. Right after I get that iPhone.

Read Gizmodo’s Brian Lam’s response on his own faith in Apple.


Comments read comments(32)
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Trish Ryan

posted June 25, 2007 at 5:43 pm

You have 15,000 songs on itunes??? Clearly, I need to expand my listening horizons.
I’m pretty new to both Jesus and Apple (my husband keeps saying, “couldn’t they have picked some other fruit? One not mythically linked to Adam & Eve and the fall of man?”) but I have to say, both have come through on their promises.

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posted June 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm

I too am an Apple person. I recall reading that theologians and poets are drawn to Apple. Wondeer why. My IPOD and our lovely little iBook which replaced another iBook and one of those iMac’s that were such cool colors. I love to go to the Apple Store. Feels like a pilgrimage of some sort. I do have a couple of complaints. There are no little ol ladies to help me at the Apple Store. Everyone there looks like they spend a good deal of time in coffeeshops and they look a bit afraid of little ol ladies like me. There needs to be the lil ol lady division of Apple. It will involve larger fonts for our aging eyes and perhaps trainers who use recipe like directions to teach us. Went to a recent graduate symposium of theology types and we all pulled out our Apple laptops to take notes. We saw the nun with the Toshiba. Just figured it was about the vow of poverty or something.

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Cheryl Fuller

posted June 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm

It’s true — I am an Appleist also. I saw the light in 1985 and have never looked back. I confess to lusting in my heart after the iPhone, but alas the AT&T service where I live is non-existent. I think though that a UU like me can be an Appleist without worrying about theological conflict.

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posted June 26, 2007 at 6:50 am

In the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, it is written:
“Users can accomplish their tasks quickly, because well-designed applications don’t get in the user’s way.”
And yet, there are many soulless developers who flaunt the AHIG and obstruct users from their true path. I call upon all Appleists to smite these decadent and greedy developers with a plague of spam and rootkits, web site defacings, and extreme rants. Let us bring down their network connections and render their computers inoperable. And let us not cease from this holy task until they repent and adhere to the laws of the AHIG.
Let it be done.
Oh – and let us also smite the infidel users of Windows with a 100,000 viruses.
Incidentally, “a worldview and morality based on the faith” is really just standard rebel sell marketing, ie. marketing that creates associations between a product and a sense of unique individualism; essentially absorbing the spirit of the counter-culture and using it to sell stuff.

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quick thinker slow reason

posted June 26, 2007 at 10:05 am

“Since my own faith in Jesus requires that I have no God before my God it is clear that something in my life must change. And things will change. Right after I get that iPhone.”
Glorifying in the wonder of what we, the created in the image of the creative creator is not a conflict.
“I have come that you may have life and life in all it’s fullness”
That says apple to me!

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Tom B

posted June 26, 2007 at 10:09 am

The True Believers are the Windows users who struggle on, year after year in the vain hope that the next version of Windows will be half-way decent.

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quicke thinker, slow reason, poor English typer

posted June 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

That should have read
“Glorifying in the wonder of what we create as the created made in the image of the creative creator, is not a conflict of devine worship.”

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posted June 26, 2007 at 11:17 am

Nailed it. I think the “flaw” is the “Ritual Acts” portion. If people got as much immediate and tangible benefit out of any other sort of “religious” ritual as they do from using a Mac, the churches would be overflowing.

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Jeffrey Weiss

posted June 26, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Would that all religious were as able to deliver on their promises as consistently as Appleism…1:-{)>

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posted June 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm

It is NOT “apple-ism”. It is Jobs-ism. Or maybe “the Jobsons” would be a good term for them.
If Steve Jobs left Apple next year, the stock would plummet and Apple would be back to Pippin’s, Pucks, Mac TV and crap like that and nobody would give a damn about them.
I would imagine also that quite a few of the die hard Apple lovers of now would then become die hard “[fill in name of new corporation with Steve J. as head]” lovers.
It’s not a cult of Apple, it’s a cult of personality centered around Steve Jobs.
Fitting, really. Self-described as “@sshole”, with friends referring to him as “@sshole” and “sociopath” and “genius”… it fits the bill of most of the Mac users I have come across. They all tend to be the edgy, artsy, wanna-be-SEEN-as-mad-genius types who typically want (psychologically need) some power over others so that they can ‘teach’ that person how to live / eat / dress / what to smoke and what not to smoke / compute / etc … Ergo, an overwhelming portion of liberals/nanny-staters (not classical liberals, mind you) that are computer literate use Macs and worship its’ creator.
Of course you can’t convince them of this. Have you ever had a conversation with a cultist of any stripe? No matter what ground you are standing on, your “persecution” is to be expected and re-inforces their identity with the group and you as an “outsider” or “of the [common] world”. You obviously do not have their special knowledge of salvation. Likewise, when they have a problem with their religion/cult/Mac, it is instinctively their own problem and not due to anything on Apple’s behalf.
Saw this firsthand with a Jobson friend of mine. Years ago, he laughed when I had a BSOD and started the trash talk about MS. But when I was over and his Mac crashed hard — hard enough it had to be unplugged to get it to reboot — he took the blame and said something to the effect of “it must be something I did” ….

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posted June 26, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Yeah I always thought that Maczealots are like Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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posted June 26, 2007 at 3:50 pm

EXACTLY who I had in mind. As someone with relatives in that cult, the similarity is striking. Although I would assume anybody with a family member in any XYZ cult would say the same thing about the Jobsons they know.
Perhaps Jobsons are bright and well-educated and whatnot and therefore feel they couldn’t possibly be involved in a cult. Well, I know an aerospace engineer, a couple Medical doctors, etc, in the JDubs.

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posted June 26, 2007 at 6:01 pm

As “CRUCIFIED!” as I will be for saying this, really Mac is no more special than any other company that happens to be doing well right now. Microsoft saw the same success oh so long ago. And Apple is just riding the wave of to the point where people are starting to call it a religion. I don’t need an Ipod in town square to worship, i’ll keep my Zune, PC, and library of games. You can keep the apple.

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Christopher B.

posted June 27, 2007 at 1:40 am

I love the article above and as an Apple nut myself I agree. I have even read a couple books about his holiness, Steve Jobs. This article made me think about that and the fact that I would never care to read a darn thing about any other CEO, but yet I felt compelled to do so about Jobs. Funny and enlightening! Thanks.

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Happy with my treo

posted June 27, 2007 at 3:44 pm

15,000 songs…. thats pretty impressive. That must have cost an awful lot. Personally, I have 1.5 million available on demand, so when exactly will iTunes offer digital subscription service? (Sorry iPhone, no Yahoo/Rhapsody/Napster for you!) Just about any song or album I can imagine can be quickly dropped on an SD card, and played on my Treo… which also streams video from whatever site I’d like… which opens and edits files from MS Office… plays internet radio and TV stations… costs less than half of what the iPhone costs up front, and monthly… is available from more than 1 wireless service provider… and which has more than 10 applications written for it….
I’ll admit to this much, its awfully slick…. the marketing that is. I was a bit bummed out when I heard about the iPhone, shortly after buying my Treo, but I feel better every day when new details emerge. Being forced to use iTunes alone would have been a deal-breaker. Why do any of you use that clunky over-priced under-featured service? Oh yeah, because you have to.

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posted June 27, 2007 at 6:02 pm

I’m also an Appleist. Since I’m an atheist, this presents no conflict with any pre-existing religious faith.
Must. Have. iPhone.

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posted June 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Jesus would say “let go of your child toys and realize yourself” and the throngs would pelt him with Ipods then walk out.

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posted June 27, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Or better yet Jesus would say “your willing to accept these measly gifts in exchange for your true magnitude?”

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Steven Disraeli

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:56 pm

The choice of the apple as a logo has nothing to do with the mythical fall of man. It refers to Sir Issac Newton’s discovery (realization) of gravity. The Apple is an iconic representation of inspiration and the revolutionary ideas that inspiration can create.
This connection was reintroduced with the Newton. Designed and priced for “vertical professionals” like doctors and lawyers, the Newton unfortunately was better suited to tasks performed by nurses and clerks, but well out of their price range at the time.
Now whether or not Bill Gates is the anti-Christ, that’s another story…

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posted June 28, 2007 at 8:02 am

Is Microsfot funding you? Please disclose.

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posted June 28, 2007 at 10:14 am

William Morris, father of the 19th century Arts and Crafts Movements, was quoted as saying “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Is that not the perfect definition of of all things Apple?

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posted June 28, 2007 at 11:57 am

This is a little known story from the youth of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They were friends, and both of them went on a tour of Bell Labs, and got caught up in the new technology that Bell Labs was into, the graphics format (the original ping pong game), they didn’t know what to do wuth it at the time, but a couple of inventive kids will, every time ! They both stole the idea from them. The difference is Steve Jobs saw a gold mine (a lot like Rome and Christianity) Bill Gates thought it was better to make a computer avilable to the masses, as opposed to only the elite, as Steve Jobs forsaw, at his original selling price of $3,000to $5,000. I really believe that most of the Spam out there is sent to dis-allusion PC owners to give up … Face it, nobody is going to buy anything from all these spammers, even if you want it ! “You can piss off some of the people,most of the time. And most of the people some of the time. But you can’t piss off all of people, all of the time” Abe Lincoln (or something like that !)

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posted June 28, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Nice Adrticle, but unfortunately, a lot of your points can be easily refuted:
1) Sacredness of Jobs – This is quite obviously not true, by the fact that the biggest apple fans stood by apple mainly during the time when Jobs wasnt even there. Also, its not a coincidence that ‘artsy’ people were big fans of the mac. It was and is the only computer designed with color management, and good font handling in mind, right from the start. In fact, until Apple ported Safari to windows, windows did not have a color managed browser at all. Dont you think artsy people will prefer a computer that actually shows them the actual colors that they are creating?
2) Microsoft – Profane: You do realize that the biggest 3rd party app selling on Macs is MS Office, which is completely microsoft owned. Fact is, MS has a more utilitarian ideal that does not jive with what most mac users are used to. When they make good products, mac users use them.
3)Ritual acts: So people who use windows media player on windows are followers of Microsoftism, because they have a ritual involving an MS product?
4)Awe: I cant believe that you are claiming all higher human feelings solely in the realm of religion! When I watch Lance Armstrong win the Tour De France for the 7th time despite all his troubles in awe, I am a follower of Armstrongism?? (This is getting quite ridiculous)
5)Worldview morality, etc: Telling you to have fun with your mac and saying that you will get bored by your PC in ads. You may call that religion. I call it marketing to sell a product. (Of course, many would not see a difference in what you and I call it).

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David Kuo

posted June 28, 2007 at 11:39 pm

Note – per a reader question I am decidedly not funded by Microsoft. I have, however, funded Microsoft with software purchases.

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posted June 30, 2007 at 9:28 am

Equating Apple to a religion is absolute nonsense.
I have been an avid Mac user since the first MacIntosh was introduced and upgrade to the latest Mac every two years, however, I have not succumbed to the latest fashions of the moment like ipod or iphone. I do have over 1000 songs that I purchased from itunes.
Itunes was a stroke of genius; while the record industry was obsessed with suing teenagers and old ladies Apple gave the people what they wanted i.e. the ability to choose their own music. I have purchased some original jazz and blues recordings from itunes, scratches and all.

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Dick Glaser

posted June 30, 2007 at 9:34 am

I have some Apple things, iPods, computers, etc. and I enjoy them all. To compare their use to religious status, well that really lowers the perception of Religion. I guess as humans we like to equate the good in this world to diety status.

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Eric Seiden

posted July 1, 2007 at 7:07 pm

This was an utterly brilliant post. Brilliant, I tell you. I liked it so much I wanted my readers to see it, so I’ve linked over here. I’ve quoted a few parts, and added some comments. Believe me, we pretty much agree but Im, nut sure we got there the same way. You got a THUMBS UP from me on Stumble as well.
Kudos to you. Kudos.

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mr. besilly

posted July 8, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Brilliant post. I love that things will change for you after getting that iPhone. Typical Apple cult-like behavior. I too am an Appleist. I have added your link to my Church Chatter roll at Nice work!

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Justin Ruzinok

posted November 22, 2007 at 8:19 am

Awesome! I love the post. We too are true Appleists. Talk to you soon.
Justin and Kristin

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posted November 1, 2008 at 12:20 am

Yup… you definitely need help. I pretty much can’t stand anything Apple. A false religion is certainly is. Someone once said it was “hip and condescending.” Couldn’t be more true.
Praying for you and all the other liberal Windows-haters.

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