How Revolutionary is Pope Francis, Anyway?

It’s hard, even for an angry, arrogant, militant new atheist like me, to not like Pope Francis. He seems to be saying all the right things for someone in his position, rhetorically easing off of gays, emphasizing the plight of the poor, and not being afraid to bring himself to the level of those in need, or those with whom he has little in common.

It helps that he’s so grandfatherly, with a warm smile and those standard-issue old-man glasses, whereas Ratzinger was so comically villainous.

Damon Linker, author of The Theocons and The Religious Test, wants progressives to temper their enthusiasm, however. Not because he sees Francis as nefarious, but rather he sees little evidence that a revolution of sorts is under way in the Church:

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On Being an Apple ‘Catholic’

It is no new thing to compare Apple, Inc. to a religion. The fanatical devotion it has inspired over the decades has made many outsiders eye it suspiciously, as it hawks a kind of techno-faith in which the textbook charismatic leader, Steve Jobs, emits a Reality Distortion Field that turns the skeptical into zealots, hungry for the latest sleek combinations of glass and aluminum like the damned crave absolution. The term “Cult of Mac,” begun by Leander Kahney in his book and website of that title, both pokes fun at and celebrates this comparison.

Those who live inside the Reality Distortion Field, in my experience, rarely resent this. Just as true religious zealots do not mind being known for their blind faith, but wear it as a badge of honor. This is a bit of an exaggeration, of course, as even the most doughy-eyed Apple user will still vent criticisms and complaints, but very often this is done in the spirit of keeping true to a central credo; as in, if device X does or does not have Y feature, is that really keeping with The Apple Way? Is it What Steve Would Have Done? Et cetera.

I, too, have embraced this. Being an atheist, in particular, it’s actually kind of fun to have a pretend religion to subscribe to. I follow the teachings of The Steve, Apple keynotes are like a twice-yearly mass, and I look for signs from the prophets Tim Cook and Jony Ive, just as much as I shook my head in despair at the heretics Scott Forestall and John Browett as they fell from grace.

At New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson explores the idea of Apple-as-religion anew:

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