Last week, Apple began shipping the much hyped iPad, the sexy-looking, wafer-thin tabloid computer that Steve Jobs himself has called “the most important thing” he has ever done. While some detractors scoff that it’s nothing more than a larger version of the popular iPod Touch handheld device, the overwhelming sentiment of most people who have seen it is along the lines of “If I promise you my first born, will you let me leap to the front of the line?” Before the device was even on store shelves, Apple had already received a quarter million pre-orders. Some analysts forecast they could sell 5 million units in the first year, making it the most successful new product launch in history.
The evangelical fervor is bordering on hysteria. Some techno geeks who have never had a date in their lives are already calling it the greatest invention since Gutenberg printed the first Bible some 600 years ago. Others are simply calling it the Jesus Tablet, because of the almost mystic, spiritual aura surrounding this seeming “holy grail” of computer gadgetry. If that’s not enough of a Biblical connection, why is it that the Bible even has an entire book named after Apple’s founder, the Book of Jobs? At the risk of comparing apples to oracles, this leads me to ask the obvious theological-technological question: Which is better, Jesus or the new “Jesus Tablet”, the iPad?
I looked at 12 different criteria, one for each of Jesus’ 12 Apostles. Let’s begin, shall we?
The Wow Factor: this one is a close call. On the one hand, Jesus turned water into wine and fed thousands with a loaf of bread. He made blind men see and crippled children walk. He would have easily won “Judea’s Got Talent”, if the show existed back in his time. To this day, mystic visions of Jesus are commonplace, seen on slices of toast, in tree bark, in a Cheetos cheese puff (left) – even in an image from the surface of Mars. These days, Jesus (with some help from his dad) routinely helps teams win Super Bowls, sprinters grab the Gold in the 400 meter hurdles and NASCAR drivers take the checkered flag at Talladega Speedway.
On the other hand, have you seen what the iPad can do? It’s frickin’ awesome. You can even “turn pages” like an actual book – take the Holy Bible, for instance – and change the font from Arial to Times Roman. I’m told that coming in a future release, there’ll even be a cool new Jesus app that lets you virtually walk on digital water – in 3-D. Can’t’ wait to see it. When it comes to the WOW factor, nobody beats Steve Jobs – not even Jesus. Edge goes to: iPad
Availability: The iPad is just now starting to land on shelves, but the stores can’t keep them in stock. You want one for Christmas (see how I cleverly worked a Jesus tie-in there?) Good luck. Better order it now. Jesus, on the other hand, is everywhere. On T-shirts, in coffee stains, and, according to Mrs. Maria Rodriguez of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in her Frosted Flakes cereal this morning (but you have to look really closely). Jesus was recently spotted on the door to a men’s rest room stall in an IKEA store in Glasgow, Scotland (image at right) although some naysayers believe it was actually Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. And you can find Jesus in any bookstore where copies of the Bible are sold. Edge goes to: Jesus.
Cost – upfront: This one is a no brainer. It costs nothing to bring Jesus into your life, unless he came into your life at a Jimmy Swaggart revival meeting in which case, then it probably cost you about $300 in impulse donations so you might be saved. But it costs $499 + sales tax to bring an iPad home. This one is easy. Edge goes to: Jesus.
Cost – ongoing: Here’s where it gets a little more dicey. Steve Jobs’ master plan is not to make his money in just a one-time iPad sale. It’s to hook you like a crack dealer and keep you coming back again and again to purchase songs from the Apple iTunes store, download cool new apps, or subscribe to electronic editions of the Wall Street Journal – all for a handy fee with each transaction. Want to watch Avatar on your iPad right now? Ca-ching! Jesus on the other hand uses a similar marketing strategy. The cost to find Jesus may be free initially. But my research indicates that the average weekly churchgoer will spend between $10,000 and $15,000 over the course of 30 years of Church bake sales and in donations as the collection plate is passed around. That’s a lot of iPads. So Jesus may SAVE, but he also COSTS. Edge goes to: iPad.
Appearance: No one really knows for sure what Jesus looked like. Some experts believe he was distinctly middle-eastern in appearance. Others speculate he may have looked Ethiopian. Beatles fans think he probably looked rather like John Lennon (left). Still others imagine he probably looked a lot like Gordy Parker from Whitefish, Montana (right) who also happens to be a carpenter, just like Jesus. One thing is likely, however. Jesus probably looked a bit scruffy, wore a very simple, unstylish robe, and most likely didn’t bathe any more often than our friend Gordy here. The iPad, on the other hand, is gorgeous and clean. You just can’t take your eyes off of it. And there are no hygiene issues such as lice in its beard to contend with. Without question, the Edge goes to: iPad.
Processing speed: This one isn’t even close. On the one hand, the iPad has a 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive and a Frequency response of 20Hz to 20,000Hz with built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology. Jesus, on the other hand is still using the same version 1.0 operating system that prophets and saviors have been using for thousands of years with no upgrades planned until much closer to the Apocalypse. Some people reported having prayed to Jesus for months or even years for him to help them win the Pick Six Lotto or to cure their mother’s gout, without success. If you ask me, that’s not a reliably fast processing speed. Edge goes to: iPad.
Touch screen interface: The iPad has the most advanced touch screen interface ever invented – more elegant than the drape of Jesus’ robe in Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. There is no mouse; the keyboard is built into the touch screen. Just spread your fingers apart to enlarge the image or pinch them together to shrink it. It’s totally sweet. Jesus’ operating system, however, bypasses the touch screen interface altogether and simply interfaces with users telepathically through means of prayer. No download to install. No moving parts of any kind. Now that’s sophisticated technology. People have even reported holographic visions of Jesus appearing to them in their corn field and even in their ultrasounds. Way cool interface. Edge goes to: Jesus.
Foreign languages: At first blush, the iPad appears to have the obvious edge. Right out of the box, with no additional apps to purchase, it supports English, French, (including Canadian and Swiss French), German, Japanese, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Russian. Nice going, Apple. Not to be outdone, however, Jesus comes in over 100 languages in the form of the New Testament translations, including Swahili and my own favorite, Farsi. According to thousands of believers, Jesus answers prayers in just about every language – with the exception of the rarely spoken official language of Switzerland, Romansch. Why he refuses to answer prayers beseeched to him in Romansch remains a mystery. Still, edge goes to: Jesus.
User-Friendliness: It’s hard to beat the iPad for user-friendliness. It is, according to many techno Geeks, the most user-friendly new technology since the invention of say, the wheel. With no mouse, no wires and, for that matter, no wheel, everything is done with a tap of your finger. With the Wi-Fi upgrade, you can access the Internet anywhere. And with just a few finger taps, you can download and watch your favorite TV show or book. Jesus is a bit more complicated to use. You’re never quite sure when he’s actually listening. And for many people of the Catholic faith, you have to give up your favorite food or drink for 40 days each spring. And then there’s the whole “confession” thing. What a pain. Not my idea of user-friendly. Distinct edge goes to: iPad.
Multi-tasking: By now you have figured out that you can do a lot of things with the iPad. Its operating system is lightning fast. So you can do multiple applications simultaneously with little risk of your computer locking up. With the iPad in your lap, now you can watch a movie, compose an email to your girlfriend, download that new song you just heard, read the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and pay your electric bill online, all while driving down the Interstate at 70 mph. Why text while driving when you can do all this? With Jesus, you get none of these apps. But here is the amazing thing that Jesus offers that the iPad just can’t compete with: He can listen to prayers of millions of people in 24 time zones simultaneously – in every language of the world (except for Romansch, of course). Now that’s multi-tasking. Edge goes to: Jesus.
Portability: About the size of a Time Magazine front cover, less than half an inch thick and weighing in at just 1.5 pounds, it’s about as portable as you can get. You can take the iPad just about anywhere. But you can’t take it with you in the bathtub. You can take Jesus with you anywhere – even the bathtub. Edge goes to: Jesus.
Changing the way we live: Perhaps the ultimate question is the extent to which Jesus vs. the iPad can change the way we live. Unquestionably, the iPad is a game changer. It will change the way we watch TV shows and movies, how we read books, how we listen to music – even how we store and share photos. All done wirelessly with the tap of a finger. It will change the way we work and play. By giving us the power of a high speed computer in as portable a package as a copy of US Weekly, the iPad re-writes the rules.
But let’s take a look at Jesus. By several accounts, Jesus is said to give millions of people daily hope and inspiration. When things seem insurmountable, he gives purpose and meaning to people from all walks of life. And to those who are in despair, pain and suffering, he gives them a reason to not to give up. He reminds people all over the world that as fun as it is to have exciting toys like the iPad, perhaps it’s just a teensy bit more important to be a caring, compassionate, loving and forgiving human being, by following his example. And that’s about as game-changing an app as I can think of. Edge decidedly goes to: Jesus.
Final Score: Tallying up the score, it was close. I score it 7 to 5 in favor of Jesus. So based on my highly scientific analysis, my conclusion is that amazing as the new iPad is, the old Jesus Version 1.0 is still a little bit better. Nevertheless, I hope to be able to convince my wife that I really need an iPad “for work”. Not sure she’s going to buy my explanation, though. I just might say a quiet prayer to Jesus for a little help.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011