Steve Jobs

I just finished reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs. In many ways, it struck me as a stereotypical story of the Baby Boomers. Jobs came of age in the Sixties and his adoptive father was a hard working veteran who was able to provide a middle class upbringing to Steve.

He dropped acid, loved the Beatles and Dylan and got into eastern religion. He flew to India and spent time there, then embraced strange practices such as week long fasts or eating only a certain fruit for weeks at a time. He was a vegetarian who liked going around barefoot and didn’t shower because he was convinced that his diet prevented body odor. He took a pilgrimage to India and embraced meditation. He believed that all the religions are just different doors into the same room. He spurned cheaper state colleges so he could attend offbeat Reed College, in something of a spoiled fit. He got his girlfriend pregnant and told her he was okay with her getting an abortion, then ignored his daughter for years after she was born. He was petulant and hurtful to people, excusing his behavior as “just the way I am.” His affinity for alternative therapy probably killed him because he tried fruit juices and other offbeat treatments instead of surgery, until it was too late.

His aesthetic taste was immaculate and he spurred the development of great products. He pushed people to do far more than they thought they were capable of in search of perfect products. He was a visionary. And yet his life is, like all of our lives, sad in that it ended in a death that snuffed him out and took his knowledge to the grave with him. I hope that somehow he turned to Christ in his last hours and embraced the faith that he was taught as a young boy in the Lutheran Church. There is no evidence that this happened, but who knows what prayers he might have offered in the midst of his pain?

But his life, to me, summarizes the Boomers: all religions are the same, ultimate truth does not matter as much as some sort of enlightenment (which does not impact how we act towards one another), talk the talk about materialism whilst pursuing consumerism with a vengeance, and embrace weird therapies instead of western medicine. Future historians will be able to look at his life as a template for what the Sixties generation believed and how they lived it out.


8 thoughts on “Steve Jobs”

  1. Wow! Amazing, but not all of us Boomers were pot-heads, and hated our parents & religion. But then my father and uncles, great uncles, etc. were all WW2 Vet’s. And actually saw much combat, all. And in fact being raised somewhat middle class Irish in Dublin, I was Roman Catholic, actually believed in the best of Catholic doctrine, the Trinity of God, the Deity/Lordship of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Vicarious Atonement, the Resurrection, and something I am very thankful for, the reality & experience of the Mystical Body of Christ! And all of this has taught me the great need and reality of the historical Church of Christ, both Catholic & Protestant! Funny, but I always thought my life was rather typical, though I was certainly pressed intellectually, also politically conservative (as a Brit, and something Anglo-Irish). And oh yeah, my formation as a Royal Marine, both enlisted and later as an officer still affects me! Once a Marine always a Marine is true for us RMC’s..Royal Marine Commando’s! – Semper Fi! So I guess I am hardly typical from the Baby Boomer generation. And as much as I like Judeo-Christian theology, Catholic, Anglican, etc., I still believe in the great mystery of God In Christ! And thankfully my theological education and continued learning has also taught me that God must always be approached in faith, but also in the midst of my own existential being and creation of God, even in my own sinful self. God’s I/Thou relationship! Even Augustine had a place of a God-given and driven synergy! (I am a bit older than Jobs too, at 62)

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that every Boomer is like that. I just think it is a way of looking at that generation that hold true in a lot of cases, primarily ardent leftists who became so mainstream or became totally corporate. Just look at McCartney and Ringo, they still talk the “peace and love” thing as they rake in billions and seem to have no commitment to their earlier spiritual pursuits. At least Harrison stayed on the path a little bit.

      1. So in reality, there is really no “sterotypical story of the Baby Boomers”, for each human story or reality is always different! I know the Beatles were not my favorite band, I liked the older folk music then. And I play guitar myself, I have an old Martin DL 28. Now I like American country and bluegrass, Allison Krauss and Union Station! 🙂

  2. To me this post is very interesting
    I unfortunately have not read the biography and have only really taken a slight interest in Steve Jobs since his death
    I find it hard however, despite many people’s claims, to believe that he changed the world. Yes, he made an unbelievable successful product and brand, which has indeed spread across the world, but what genuine social impact has this had compared to the work of, for example, Martin Luther King Jr or Gandhi?
    However I also find some of your points rather contradictory, mainly about his beliefs. You criticise his belief system, such as his faith in alternative medicine. Now in no way am I backing alternative medicine because I don’t believe there’s any logical reason to believe that any of it works (otherwise it would just be classed as ‘medicine’ obviously), but you then go on to say ‘I hope that somehow he turned to Christ in his last hours’. I personally think that if you’re going to impose your own beliefs or faith then you can’t criticise someone else’s. I’m sure he didn’t turn to Christ because from the sound of things the strength of his convictions were the same as yours for your own beliefs, and I find it somewhat disrespectful that you would make a suggestion like this. In a way his beliefs were right, in that you should prioritise your present state of living and your experiences during it above your beliefs which could, for all anyone really knows, be for nothing.
    In no way am I attempting to attack your beliefs, in fact I could have read your post in the complete wrong way, but I believe everyone should compare themselves to the people they criticise before making comments.
    Other than that I really enjoyed reading this post, it’s fantastically written and somewhat two-sided, I just hope I haven’t offended you by offering my opinion 😛

    1. “I personally think that if you’re going to impose your own beliefs or faith then you can’t criticise someone else’s.”

      I’m not sure what this means. There is one truth and several falsities. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with criticizing someone else’s beliefs. Argument is often a means of arriving at truth or clarifying positions. Ultimately, we will all stand before God in judgement, and at that point, all arguments will cease.

      I’m not offended by your opinion, and I hope we can all have thicker skins than to get upset when someone disagrees with us.

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