Is it heretical to compare Pope Benedict XVI to Steve Jobs?
If I may, I'll leave you theologians to ponder that and dive right on into the pirana-infested waters of religio-technological commentary.
The current affairs bit
Yesterday, it seems, the Pope issued a decree to the effect that Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic Church will henceforth be provided with a 'legal framework' to assist their defection – whilst 'preserving distinctive elements of their Anglican identity, such as liturgy.' (quoted from The Times)
(What a blow for Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbish of Cant. Springing this announcement on him was like dropping a breeze-block on a gently snoozing barn owl.)
Anyhow. Onward to my thesis: Pope Benedict XVI has been taking a leaf out of Steve Jobs' book.
A Tale Of Two OSes
First, some background, in which I establish my credentials. I used to be a PC man, y'see. One who was given suck (you might say, were you drawn inexorably towards unnecessarily gratuitous figurative language) at the twin teats of MS DOS and Windows 2.0.
Solitaire and Minesweeper were my toddler playthings and, later, the MS Word paperclip was, to me, a kind of benevolent (yet embarrassingly senile) uncle. Oh the awkward silence around the Christmas table, when Daddy would propose a toast, only for Uncle Clip to jolt to his feet and exclaim: 'It looks like you're trying to write a letter!' Another Christmas ruined.
But I digress.
The Windows XP search dog was my first pet. I sent him off to find some MP3s a couple of years ago, and (sadly) he still hasn't come back. I think he might've been run over, crossing the road while reading that book of his. BUT I BET HE'S STILL SMILIN', BLESS 'IM.
So you may well believe that the notion of defecting to the Apple Mac – when first it was suggested to me – left in my mouth a taste more or less akin to the cud of vile incurable sores on innocent tongues.
But now I realise: Apple = Catholic; PC = Protestant.
Apple has always run a closed system. You want to buy Apple's music? You buy Apple's music player. You want to spruce up your desk with a shiny iMac? You'll be running Apple's operating system on it, then.
Now – PCs, by contrast (like Protestantism) are the DIYers' haven. The Frankenstein-friendly laboratory in which Anything Goes – so long as (to pursue the metaphor until it drops to its knees, panting and groaning for mercy, on the hard concrete floor) you're prepared to face the possibility that you'll create a vengeful entity whom you will ultimately battle to the death amidst the frozen Arctic wastes.
Catholicism is definitely in the Apple camp on this one. Because it's pretty much an all-or-nothing kind of deal. You Do It Our Way. Less of this 'personal relationship with God' stuff. Founded on the principle (surely correct) that most people don't actually want to engage with the workings of stuff, they just want it to work and look damn impressive.
... which it does. Because Catholicism – like Apple – has got the style, has got the rockstar glamour. The Mass in fucking Latin. The big, swinging incense things. The fabulously ornate iconography.
Protestants? Well, um, they do a mean pew.
Bootcamp for Prods
Now – back to me, and my technological volte-face: my defection to the ranks of Apple.
I can tell you exactly what was the turning point – the hairline crack in my resolutely anti-Macintosh facade. It was when I heard about Bootcamp.
Bootcamp, in case you don't know, is the facility (available on all Apple computers) whereby you may choose to start up your computer in Windows mode as an alternative to the Mac operating system.
… And, once you're in Windows mode, it's just as if you were on a PC. So you can do all those crazy things that PC kids do. Fire up Clock. Get in some Spider Solitaire action. Defrag your hard drive. YES, MY BABY. YES, MY SWEET, SWEET BABY.
Supplying Bootcamp – first as a free Beta, then automatically bundled with every Mac sold –was a Steve Jobsian work of genius.
It was the reassuring 'Your satisfaction or your money back in full' postscript coming at the end of the seductive sales letter. Because Bootcamp gave me the idea that I could somehow switch without switching.
… and that, my friends, that is what Pope Benedict XVI has just done.
He's invented Bootcamp for Prods.