Steve Jobs' speech of a lifetime

Once every generation or so, someone like Steve Jobs comes along to upend our world and change the way we live in ways we could never have fathomed.  RIP.

Here is the great commencement speech he gave several years ago at Stanford.  It’s worth hearing again.  And again.  Read more about him over at The Anchoress.

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28 responses to “Steve Jobs' speech of a lifetime”

  1. I was a big fan of Jobs, but the thing that stood out most to be about him was a few years ago when he answered an email to a customer (as he was often known to do), about why Flash wasn’t allowed on Apple iphones.

    Jobs said it was to make the downloading of pornography next to impossible, indicating that nothing can destroy a family and marriage faster than a husband addicted to porn.

    His inventions were awesome, but it’ so easy to hero worship him for the wrong reasons. I can only say as an outsider, that it appears that he “used his gifts well.”

    As for how well he used his fortune or lived his life in the spiritual realm, that’s not ours to decide. I pray for his soul and thank God for the contribution that he made to my life. As one who never wanted a “smart phone”, he “got me.”

    All said, I do think his greatest legacy is “how much one life matters, don’t abort your unwanted kid.” God Bless the beautiful selfless women who knew that!

    RIP Steve Jobs!

  2. Wasn’t Steve jobs an Atheist, or some kind of Pagan? I can understand not speaking ill of the dead, but for a Catholic to praise such a person seems like total madness. Did this man seek first the kingdom of God, or did he reject Jesus Christ? “What profit is there if you gain the whole world, and loose your soul in the process”? An infidel should not be praised at death. He should be pitied. Anyone who dies outside the Church is a true eternal loser, regardless of how much money they made in this life.

    [RJS: I believe he was a Buddhist. I’m not saying he was a saint. I’m saying he had a historic, positive effect on the world and many of those who live in it. No matter what his religion, that’s indisputable. What is also indisputable is that, despite his unbelief, he was not beyond the love of God, who loves all unconditionally. Dcn. G.]

  3. “…but for a Catholic to praise such a person seems like total madness…”
    Klaire was not praising an infidel, she merely pointed out something positive he stood for in his life. The truth is the truth no matter who says it. He may not have been a believer, but he did “use his gifts well.”
    Only God can judge the state of his soul, not any of us.

    “Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.”

  4. RJS we can certainly honor a person’s life work without canonizing them. Although, after all the heat we took for Father Corapi, a Catholic Priest, it does seem a bit odd that the Catholic blogsosphere would go so gaga over Jobs after all the finger shaking at us about “Cults of Personality.”

    Dcn. Greg is correct, Jobs was a Budhist. So what, none of us knew his heart, or how or what he did with his wealth.

    Who knows how just his speech at Standford about his adoption may have prevented even one women from aborting a child? That would be a pretty aweseome “contribution” when standing in the judgement of God.

    While I don’t think it’s necessary to go overboard, he was truly the “inventor of our lifetime” and should be respected as such.

    Lastly, the fact that he wasn’t a Christian is all the more reason that we should be praying for his soul and a “happy death”, of which it is never to late to pray for in the timeless world of God.

    I think it is MORE than appropiate for any Catholic to “honor the dead” and the good use of one’s gifts , even more so if that person was not a Christian. I just don’t think we need to go overboard and have a repeat of Michael Jackson.

  5. RJS: I understand what you’re saying, in general. However, Jobs was, by no means, a religious figure. He didn’t publicly espouse or prosthelytize any particular faith. I don’t know him to have ever publicly bashed the Church (or any faith). As Mr. Kandra says – he was a remarkably talented, innovative, creative man who had a incredible impact on technology and innovation in the modern world. We mustn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. He may not have been a Catholic, or even a Christian, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good person who had a positive impact. We must always celebrate the good in the world, even if it falls outside our particular sphere of belief, because all good comes from God.

  6. Steve Jobs was never a religious figure. He was, however, an innovator and a technical genius. I remain a big fan of his product line. My first was a hokey-looking Macintosh Plus that I acquired way back in 1985 and my current one is a four-year old high-end MacBookPro. Along those 26 years, I have owned (or used at work) eight different models of his products. Never regretted it a minute.

    Just next week, I am starting a series on the “History of the Bible in English” at our local college. All of my notes and class handouts were prepared on my MAC; and the PowerPoint program for my lectures is also on this same computer. All I have to do is to plug in the classroom’s AV cable into my MAC’s AV port and away I go!

  7. “Once every generation or so, someone like Steve Jobs comes along to upend our world and change the way we live in ways we could never have fathomed.”

    Yes, yes, fair enough. No one would dispute that he was a brilliant thinker and an innovative businessman. But to look at the mourners’ pictures on some of the news outlets and to read the breathless adulation for the man seems a bit overstated to me. To put this into a little perspective: the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died yesterday, as well, a man who fought tirelessly and fearlessly in Civil-Rights-era Birmingham. He stood up to Bull Durham’s dogs and fire hoses. He was mercilessly beaten by a mob when he tried to enroll his children in a white school. He was termed “the most feared black man in the South.” Yet who is remembering him the day after? Jobs changed our culture, certainly, but not in incontestably great ways. Shuttlesworth did nothing less than help to bring fundamental human freedom and dignity to an entire race of people. That to me seems worth any number of iPads. I just rather think we can appreciate Jobs’ contributions to our daily lives without losing sight of the other, greater contributions that other, obscurer men have made.

    That said, RIP Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth, great men both.

  8. “all good comes from God”

    If God exists then, by the same token all bad comes from God as well … including such monstrosities as RJS who opposes even praising someone who doesn’t share his belief system. As an atheist, I find the world full of praiseworthy Catholics. My Jewish parents idolized JFK; they didn’t care that his beliefs differed from their own. But RJS sees people who don’t share his beliefs as “eternal losers” and pities them … what a horrid, pathetic excuse for a human being he/she is.

  9. Mr. Jobs was a technincal innovator, a creative force in an industry of many creative people. He was successful with a handful of products.

    I’ ve worked in the high tech industry for more than 30 years now. Innovations are the heart of the industry.

    What stuns me is the amount of attention his death is getting out of the main street and social medias – it’s bordering on idolitry.

    Ms. Scalia from The ANCHORESS says – I referred to him as “the guy who is making our lives look like Star Trek” `- well, Steve Jobs was inspired by Star Trek, and he simply made Cpt. Kirk’s communicator a real thing and put it in our hands. No more.

    There are multitudes of researchers whom we will never know their names that create cures and solutions to our problems that will never get this kind of attention that have and will continue to impact our lives more than Mr. Jobs did. Let’s keep that in mind when are tempted to idolitrize someone.

    May he rest in Peace and granted ever lasting life at Judgement Day.

  10. This is well and fine as a kind of eulogy, in which hyperbole is to be expected.

    If we’re being realistic, though, someone comes along like a Steve Jobs pretty often these days. Even Apple would not exist if it didn’t have a small army of people with imaginations and technical skills equal to those of Steve Jobs, but if Apple had never existed, it might have pushed back the development of consumer electronics by as much as five years. Or maybe not; maybe the existence of Apple has suppressed a competitor who would have pushed us slightly farther ahead than we are now.

    Regardless, scientific and technical progress is a cumulative result that comes from whole communities of researchers. Steve Jobs was to the development of the computer what Jimmy Doolittle was to World War II. Without him, some of the details of history would have been different, but probably not much of the big picture.

  11. Ianam do you even realize that you are accusing RJS as the same thing that you accuse him of? Just wondering.

    Also, I get that you are an athiest, and so be it, but for the record, all good things indeed come from God, but that’s because GOD IS ALL GOOD. It’s impossible for “bad” things to come from God, as “bad” is simply the absence of “Good/God.”

    JC and Corey, I’m sort of with you, see this as becoming anohter Princess Diana and or Michael Jackson hero worship fest. I doubt many even remember that Mother Theresa dies around the same week as Lady Diana and got next to nothing press. Many such comparisons can be made, starting with why we idolize Hollywood and celebrity. Sad but true, as a culture we tend to idolize celebrity far more than goodness, and that’s just the way it is. In keeping it all in persperctive, once again, ALL goodness (and talent, and brains, and creativity and even beauty), comes from God.

    In a perfect world, all the gloy would go to go God. Being that isn’t the case, it’s still a good idea to recognize talent used well, but like I said earlier, no need to go overboard, despite the fact I think we are already over that cliff with the newly deceased icon Steve Jobs.

  12. RJS — I’m still looking for the part in the Catechism that says don’t acknowledge or praise the accomplishments of non-Catholics or non-Christian. If you can find the reference … please let me know. so I can rethink my admiration for Ghandi, Itzhak Perlman and others. That said, God bless the soul of Steve Jobs. The mere fact that we’re able to even have this conversation (and in my case on my snazzy Mac Book Pro) is due to the vision and ingenuity of that man. So, thanks Steve. And kudos for caring that things both worked well and looked good. A good job Jobs.

  13. “Ianam do you even realize that you are accusing RJS as the same thing that you accuse him of?”

    What I realize is that you are telling a falsehood.

    ” I get that you are an athiest”

    First, you could have the respect to spell it correctly. Second, if you “get it”, then you should “get” that I don’t agree with you, and capitalizing what I consider to be your irrational and nonsensical beliefs doesn’t make them true. If the Christian God exists and it is impossible for bad things to come from God, then there are no bad things in the world because everything comes from God … that’s logic. To deny that not only denies logic but makes like all the theologicians who have struggled with the problem of evil in the world are fools. But I don’t think they are fools, and I do think that you are arrogant to so blithely dismiss the issue.

  14. Wait, actually, yes, “you are accusing RJS as the same thing that you accuse him of” — that’s true, I accuse him of what I accuse him of. It’s no surprise that you so messed that up, because there’s no truth to be found in trying to turn it around on me. As I said, I find the world full of praiseworthy Catholics … but RJS isn’t one of them. OTOH, RJS thinks that no one who isn’t Catholic is praiseworthy. As I said, to try to equate those is false witness.

  15. Praising a non-Christian for positive contributions to the world is not to be criticized. Jesus praised the faith of the pagan Roman Centurion when he said that Jesus need only say the word and his servant be healed. And then to deflect that by bringing up the whole “we idolize too many celebrities after they die” thing seems like you don’t want to address the fact that someone not of our faith can and did contribute to the Kingdom of God. As was said before… let’s not speak ill of the dead.

  16. I kind of agree that all the posts on Steve Jobs are a little much and ignoring Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth who was a giant on the civil rights does not seem to make a lot of sense. Besides Mother Thresa and Princess DI leaving on the same week, I often remember JFK overshadowing a Christian writer who had a huge impact on many lives by the name of CS Lewis. However, it is surprising to see this also on Catholic and Christian blogs. Of course we did not have such a thing with Mother Thresa or CS Lewis.

    We had an interesting discussion about CS Lewis and how the internet might have changed his life and writing. We also discussed thoughts about CS and if with all that has changed since he lived if he would today be a convert to Catholocism. I would bet he would based on his problems going back to his time with the changes in the Church of England. I could see him now with a blog on patheos attracted by the Anchoress and Deacon.

  17. Steve Job was far from a saint or a contributor. A hard core, manipulative, promoter he is responsible for aggressively lobbying the government to delay the deployment of HDTV so he could exploit digital video with his apple appliances. (still waiting for that) He delayed the deployment of high resolution media for over a decade.

    He was ruthless in punishing business partners who would not patiently wait for him to fix his over promised products and systems when they couldn’t work to specifications. His systems are closed and limited. His company is un-apologetically strands users when it drops products and technologies on a whim.

    Steve Job should be remembered as the screwed business man and promoter he was. Nothing more.

  18. #10 Howard

    “Steve Jobs was to the development of the computer what Jimmy Doolittle was to World War II. Without him, some of the details of history would have been different, but probably not much of the big picture.”

    Not sure I agree with this analogy. Doolittle had one shining moment in history but it was not an original idea of his. From a military point of view — the Tokyo raid was ineffective and almost a disaster. He lost all his aircraft, lost a lot of his men, and only did minimal physical damage. What he did do — and that is what folks remember — is change the emotion of the moment from despair to hope on our part and from arrogance to self-doubt on the part of the Japanese. Doolittle, however, knew that to really win a war you have to break the will of your opponent. That he did, in spite of the lack of objective military success the mission itself had.

    If I were to compare him with any military figure it might be with Air Force General Curtis LeMay. He had one clear-cut ruthless focus about him and that kept with him from his military beginning as a bomber pilot in Europe; on to commanding the fire-bombing of Japan AND the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (all during the 1940’s) AND on to circling the world with nuclear-ready B-52’s (in the 1950’s and 1960’s).

    As you have read above in other comments, there are some who want to suggest that Jobs was just as ruthless as LeMay.

    That may or may not be true. I do, however, bless the Lord because the talent of Steve Jobs and I know that there are lots of folks who — over the years — have blessed the Lord for the talent of both General Doolittle and General LeMay.

  19. Lots of replies to my initial post. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. My point was simply this: In the end, the only thing that matters in this life is that we save our soul.

    This life is a test, which will be rewarded or punished for all eternity. Many (most) are disctracted from the true end of this life due to a disordered desire for money, fame, or some other end – none of which matter in the least for eternity.

    Steve Jobs was an infidel who, from all that we know, died outside of the Church. Now, I hope there was a last minute conversion to Catholicism (which is possible), but there is no evidence of such a thing taking place. Therefore, it seems extremely likely that this man, who made so much money, and such a “difference” in this life, is now in the fires of hell for all eternity.

    I can guarentee you that if Steve Jobs could speak to us now, he would be the first to tell us that money, fame, and an earthly “legacy” mean absolutely nothing in eternity. He would be the first to say that the only thing important in this life is that we save our immortal soul.

    I truly hope there was a last minute conversion of Mr. Jobs, but the the reality is “as a tree leans, so does it fall”. Mr. Jobs leaned in the wrong direction his entire life as an Atheist, and likely fell in the same way. He spent his life in the persuit of that which, in eternity, means nothing.

    So yes, I find it very odd that people who realize what this life is truly about would praise him for his earthly accomplishments, since he was an Atheist who believed he was god. If he lived a holy life, and simultaneously accomplished many good things, then I would understand praising him; but praising a man who, from all that we know, died outside the Church and therefore lost his soul, seems to me a bit odd, to say the least.

  20. RJS #20:

    “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” I will take you at your word.

    “Steve Jobs was an infidel who, from all that we know, died outside of the Church. Now, I hope there was a last minute conversion to Catholicism (which is possible), but there is no evidence of such a thing taking place. Therefore, it seems extremely likely that this man, who made so much money, and such a “difference” in this life, is now in the fires of hell for all eternity.”

    If, perchance, you are a Catholic, you may not like to hear this, but you are not “in synch” with Catholic Church teaching.

  21. HMS,

    Can you show me where I am out of sync with the Catholic Church? My statement was based on the thrice defined dogma (rejected by many today) that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church.

    Pius IX: “It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.” (Denzinger 1647)

    Pope Eugene IV: The Council of Florence: “The holy Roman Church believes, professes, and preaches that no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the ‘everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church. For the union with the body of the Church is of such importance that the sacraments of the Church are helpful to salvation only for those remaining in it; and fasts, almsgiving, other works of piety, and the exercise of Christian warfare bear eternal rewards for them alone. And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (“Cantate Domino”, February 4, 1441).

    There are literally scores of similar Papal Statments confirming this unpopular dogma; yet the truth remains, in spit of the fact that many today no longer profess it. I’ll end with one final quote from Pope Pius XII in which he warns about a problem that had arisen in his day:

    Pope Pius XII: Some reduce to a meaningless formula the Necessity of Belonging to the True Church in Order to Gain Eternal Salvation.” (Humani Generis, 1950).

    How much more of a problem is that in our day, when, it seems, the majority of Catholics deny the dogma?

  22. RJS #23

    I would make three observations:

    –I hold very dear in my heart the theological truth that the message of salvation — the kerygma — was proclaimed fearlessly throughout the ages by the long standing teachings of Roman Catholicism.

    –In fact, it can be clearly stated that Roman Catholicism has brought more living human beings to the loving arms of the Risen Lord Jesus than all of the rest of Christianity COMBINED.

    –I am old enough to remember the whole issue of Fr. Feeney’s teaching and its impact on our American Church. But I am also old enough to remember that it was not the American Bishops who silenced him but the Vatican. What he was doing is what you are doing — condemning a huge portion of humanity to eternal damnation not because they are sinners nor because they were ignorant of the message of salvation but solely and completely because they were not baptized/confirmed active members of their local Roman Catholic Parish. I cannot but wonder whether the Lord High God is amused by all that institutional insecurity we demonstrate here.

    Whether those “non-Catholic” people receive eternal damnation (or salvation) is not your call to make – PERIOD. I will not judge whether it was the right of any pope to make that call but reading between the lines in all of those citations you mention — as one also steeped into church history — there are issues of power and arrogance here that we have to historically appreciate but really condemn. Those attitudes are ones which the XXI century church finds abhorrent. Ultimately, the church is called to “walk humbly before your Lord.”

  23. I would just add to Fiergenholt’s comment by quoting Blessed John Paul from one of his encyclicals:

    “Here of course it is a question of external radical manifestations: rejection of God, rejection of his grace and therefore opposition to the very source of salvation -these are manifestations whereby a person seems to exclude himself voluntarily from the path of forgiveness. It is to be hoped that very few persist to the end in this attitude of rebellion or even defiance of God. Moreover, God in his merciful love is greater than our hearts, as St. John further teaches us, and can overcome all our psychological and spiritual resistance. So that, as St. Thomas writes, “considering the omnipotence and mercy of God, no one should despair of the salvation of anyone in this life.”

    Just because someone dies outside the Church does not automatically mean he or she is going to hell. It’s not our call to make. Never was. Never will be.

    Trust and believe in the infinite mercy of God, and pray for all those who long to see the face of God, however they may know Him.

    Dcn. G.

  24. RJS

    “How much more of a problem is that in our day, when, it seems, the majority of Catholics deny the dogma?”

    I would be REALLY careful about what you define as “dogma.”

    I do not deny that this teaching you are promoting was a part of the “Teaching Magisterium” of our church for a long time. That, however, is the nature of the “Teaching Magisterium.” Those teachings have a long history but they are not infallible because they are not eternal. They are temporary teachings — “time-constrained-teachings” — that may be appropriate for one era but since humanity is growing-up and maturing in what the Risen Lord Jesus is calling it to do in this world, that also means that the “teaching Magisterum” also has to address new issues and ignore older ones.

    Wasn’t it St. Paul who said something like “When I was a child I thought and acted like a child but now that I have become an adult, I have put away childish things”?

  25. Fiergenholt,

    Fr. Feeney was excommunicated for disobedience, not heresy. I disagree with Fr. Feeney on some issues (including issues related to EENS), but in fairness, Rome allows the Benedict Center to teach EENS with no exceptions. Pete Vree has written about this, which you can find online. The St. Benedict Center in Massachusetts (founded by Fr. Feeney) is in normal union with Rome, and they hold to the dogma without any possibility of exceptions.

    The problem in our day is that the possibility of an “exception” to the rule has resulted in people almost universally denying the rule.

    The way an “exception” can take place is when a person desires (in voto) to belong to the Church, but is not able to accomplish the desire in fact (in re). Just as a person can sin through desire alone (lust, for example) so too, in extraordinary circumstances, can a person be united to the Church by desire. This is the teaching of the Church expounded in a document by the Holy See from 1949 against the St. Benedict Center (not Fr. Feeney specifically).

    I personally hold to the possibility of an “exception”, which is why I stated that Mr. Jobs could have possibly converted interiorly at the moment of death (which is what I was implying in one of my other posts).

    But there are no exceptions to the fact that a person must belong to the Church “in re” (in fact), or at least “in voto” (in desire), in order to attain salvation. That is a dogma that must be accepted, yet is denied by many today. And the reason it is denied today, is because almost all emphasis is now placed on the “exception” the “possibility” or the “maybe” to such an extent that most now deny the rule.

  26. Deacon Norb,

    Thank you for the reply.

    Please read the encyclical Pascendi where what you wrote has been formally condemned. The error is called “evolution of dogma”. Also keep in mind that there is an ipso facto excommunication for anyone who embraces the errors contained in Pascendi, Lamentaballi, or the Biblical Commission from the time of Pius X (see the Motu Proprio PRAESTANTIA SCRIPTURAE which is available online).

    The error that the meaning a dogma can change due to a deeper understanding was also condemned at the first Vatican Council.

    First Vatican Council: “For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by holy mother church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a deeper understanding understanding”.

    Please read Lamentaballi, Pascendi, and the answers of the Biblical Commission from the time of Pius X. As mentioned above, these errors, which are common today, carry an automatic excommunication.

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