RetroPost: The Revolution Will Have to Call You Back

Our new weekly feature, RetroPost, will feature a post from at least one year ago (ancient in pop culture time). The post will be featured because it has some relevance to current happenings, because it is timeless and nature and speaks to a relevant issue, or because (as is the case today) we plan on providing a follow-up in an upcoming post.

In this week’s RetroPost from November 9 of last year, we feature Richard Clark’s take on the (not so?) revolutionary on the iPhone. Look tomorrow for another post where he considers what he got wrong and what he got right, as well as the current state of the iPhone.

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.

About Richard Clark

Richard H. Clark is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. He has a Master of Arts in Theology and the Arts from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, Ky. He is also the managing editor of Gamechurch and a freelance writer for Unwinnable, Paste, and other outlets.
E-mail: clarkrichardh [at] gmail [dot] com.
Twitter: @deadyetliving

  • http://www.aaronhall.org/ Minnesota Attorney

    The post noted: “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?”

    This quote seems to imply that the iPhone is a major problem. Isn’t the point of smart phones, including the iPhone, to improve productivity? These devices aid in prioritization and organization. Sure, almost anything can be used for a wrong purpose or misused. However, the “thing” isn’t the problem; the problem rests with the person using it.

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  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    Absolutely, I agree.

  • Pingback: One Phone to Rule them All | Christ and Pop Culture


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