The Revolution Will Have to Call You Back

David blogged recently about the iPhone, examining what Christians should think of such a device. One observation:

“…it has the potential to become a god. Lining up to buy the iPhone may just suggest the worship of materialism that is rampant in our country. It may suggest the reign of Mamon on our “Christian” continent.

Beyond the foundational issue of idolatry is the issue of responsibility. How many people will fork over the hundreds of dollars required to buy this phone, and the thousands it will cost to keep it running every year, and will fail to live up to their other duties? Such scenes remind me of the Apostle Paul’s words, ‘all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.'”

Of course, he’s right. These things are dangers, but I wonder why he felt the need to say such a thing now, about this, and not the Wii, or the Playstation 3, or any other Thing People Want. I felt as if there just had to be something more we could say about such a revolutionary device as the iPhone. So I spent a few days thinking about it, and came up with nothing. And then it hit me. The iPhone is really not “revolutionary” at all.

If the iPhone was really revolutionary, wouldn’t it cause us to have to confront new problems? Or better said, wouldn’t it raise the same old problems in new ways? The advent of television and the personal computer caused all sorts of thinkers to identify new issues to deal with. And yet, the iPhone really doesn’t do a whole lot of good or evil. As David says, it’s neutral. But it’s really neutral.

I wanted so badly to have the opportunity to warn you. To tell you to guard yourself against the side-effects of the coming iPhone culture. But the truth is, there’s nothing new to guard against. Take David’s advice: don’t idolize it and don’t pay too much for it. And if anyone asks you what it might be like to live in an iPhone culture, tell them it will be mostly the same – just with pretty buttons.

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