Tim Cook

Has Apple become a kind of secular faith? Maybe someone should write a story about that

Has Apple become a kind of secular faith? Maybe someone should write a story about that

Let me start with a confession: There are 19 Apple devices in use, to various degrees, in my home and home office. (Music lovers need back-up iPods since they are now endangered species.) There's another iMac on my desk in New York City.

So, yes, I worked my way through an online copy of the latest Apple announcement event, the first one staged in the Steve Jobs Theater at the company's massive new Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, the one that looks like it is part high-tech monastery, part "resistance is futile" spaceship.

Some might call me an Apple believer, even though CEO Tim Cook lacks the shaman skills of Job. My last Windows machine was killed by the Sasser virus in 2003, after several expensive healing rites.

So I get the fact that Apple is, as one of my mass communications texts puts it, a "belief brand" that has reached "iconic" status for many users. I know people who feel the same way about Tesla automobiles, Birkenstock sandals, Chick-fil-A and various craft beers.

So I was intrigued when I saw that New York Times (another belief brand) headline that read: "At the Apple Keynote, Selling Us a Better Vision of Ourselves."

I thought, for a moment, that someone had finally written a hard-news report about the semi-sacred role that Apple plays for many. I was disappointed when I saw that it was a first-person "Critic's Notebook" essay by James Poniewozik. Still, this is -- as GetReligion co-founder Doug LeBlanc told me in an email -- an "elegantly written piece" that, if you read between the lines, points toward a valid topic for news coverage.

Really? Well, read that headline again. Then read this passage:

This enhancement of reality is what each video-streamed Apple event sells, more than any particular iPhone or set-top box. If advertising once told us that “Things go better with Coke,” this event -- a jewel box for Apple’s products and the people who use them -- says that “Things look better with Apple.”

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Apple's Tim Cook has an interesting faith background, but the New York Times didn't find it

Apple's Tim Cook has an interesting faith background, but the New York Times didn't find it

Some folks in the media seem so disgusted with organized religion, they anoint their own moral leaders.

Which is what happened in this New York Times story about Apple’s Tim Cook and his call for moral responsibility. If you read the entire piece, you’ll see there’s not one mention of any religious background for this man.

Turns out he very much has a faith background, starting with his childhood in the Bible Belt. So why was it not mentioned?

First, the story, which builds up to a strategic use of the word "moral."

AUSTIN, Tex. -- “The reality is that government, for a long period of time, has for whatever set of reasons become less functional and isn’t working at the speed that it once was. And so it does fall, I think, not just on business but on all other areas of society to step up.”
That was Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, across the table from me over breakfast here in downtown Austin late last week at the end of a mini-tour across the country during which he focused on topics usually reserved for politicians: manufacturing, jobs and education.

The piece goes on to record his criticisms of President Donald Trump. Then:

And now Mr. Cook is one of the many business leaders in the country who appear to be filling the void, using his platform at Apple to wade into larger social issues that typically fell beyond the mandate of executives in past generations.
He said he had never set out to do so, but he feels he has been thrust into the role as virtually every large American company has had to stake out a domestic policy.

Then the writer steps in.

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What about church? Washington Post probes Southern roots of Apple leader's 'moral sense'

What about church? Washington Post probes Southern roots of Apple leader's 'moral sense'

There's nothing new about Apple CEO Tim Cook being in the news, over in the business pages, but right now he is making front-page headlines because of his standoff with the FBI over iPhone security.

Editors at The Washington Post did an interesting thing recently by digging into Cook's past in the deep South, looking for the roots of his strong convictions on privacy and security. The big idea of the piece is that Cook's beliefs are linked to the life he lived as a young gay male growing up in Robertsdale, Ala. And what about that crucial reference to his family's church?

Over and over, the piece focuses on the development of what Cook calls his "moral sense." Here's the first place the word "moral" makes an appearance in this piece, following a discussion of the Apple leader's support for gay-rights causes:

Now, Cook, 55, has taken another risky stand, this time on privacy. He and Apple are fighting a federal court order demanding the Silicon Valley firm help the FBI crack the passcode-locked iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The FBI has accused Cook of only wanting to protect Apple’s brand. But Cook, in his soft Southern drawl, has repeatedly argued the FBI’s request is wrong in moral terms, calling it “bad for America.”
Cook’s experiences growing up in Robertsdale -- detailed by him in public speeches and recalled by others -- are key to understanding how a once-quiet tech executive became one of the world’s most outspoken corporate leaders. Apple has long emphasized the privacy of its products, but today Cook talks about privacy not as an attribute of a device, but as a right -- a view colored by his own history.
For Cook, it was in this tiny town midway between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., that a book-smart boy developed what he calls his “moral sense.”

Here is the crucial anecdote that locks in place the crucial equation for the Post -- that Cook's experiences as a gay male set him on a path to seeking racial justice, thus clashing with the moral values of many people in the South.

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Serving God with mammon: 'Fortune' examines the faith of CEOs

Serving God with mammon: 'Fortune' examines the faith of CEOs

God and gold are usually a forbidden blend, but they combine in one of the premier journals of business and finance in a Fortune story on spirituality among CEOs of major corporations.

The story starts with Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, saying he considers his homosexuality "among the greatest gifts God has given me" -- then notes that Cook is "not forthcoming beyond that statement about his religious beliefs," probably fearing judgment about going public with those beliefs.

Then Fortune provides a great "nut graph":

Most CEOs, in fact, keep their faith squarely out of the workplace, according to Andrew Wicks, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “They specifically hide their religious faith, precisely because they fear people making a big deal out of their religious views,” said Wicks, who teaches a course called “Faith, Religion, and Responsible Decision Making.”
But Wicks says being open about faith is actually important because it is a powerful aspect of how business leaders define themselves.

Whatever else this 2,800-word article is, it ain't narrow. Besides Christians, it features Buddhist, Jewish and Hindu CEOs. And among the Christians are a Catholic, a Lutheran, a United Methodist and a Southern Baptist.

After an intro, the article is broken up into mini-profiles between about 280 and 450 words each. Business journal that it is, Fortune starts with each person's name and the stock performance of his/her company. For instance, Indra Nooyi's name is followed by "PepsiCo (#43)  PEP 0.75%."

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