The word is there are calls to build a statue of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, the size of the Statue of Liberty. The significance of Steve Jobs for radical developments in computer technology, and therefore his contribution to communication, business, education, and the global reach of socially interactive culture is so self-evident it hardly needs arguing. When it comes to technological pioneering, ruthless leadership, intuitive business nous at genius level, there are not many who begin to compare with Steve Jobs as a giant in the land.
One of the biblical habits of mind, cultivated over a life of preaching and reflection on the interface of scripture and culture, is to question whether there are parallel histories and narratives in the Bible to some of the big stories of our time. Where in the Bible are there stories of massive statues built to honour people of power?
The young cultural critic, name of Daniel, living in Babylon, found himself in a hard place when Nebuchadnezzar had one of his anxiety dreams. Those who hold absolute power are subject to anxiety dreams occasionally I guess. Like all ego worshipping tyrants King Neb took offence at the limitations of human knowledge and ordered all the wise people to be executed because no one could interpet his dreams. Which is where Daniel came in, and sensed the dangers of oversized statues and overgrown egos. In Daniel 2, Daniel teaches the CEO of the Babylonian Empire a lesson in history and the importance of the historical perspective for Imperial policy.
But by chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar's ego is injected with steroids and he has the biggest statue of the Empire built, made of gold, erected on a huge flat plain and visible for miles.In his dream the big statue only had a head of of gold, but that seems to have gone to his head; he forgot the rest was made in descending order of value and durability all the way down to the feet of clay. So his ego has morphed into a 90 foot golden statue. And at that point his ego is fed by an adrenalin rush of hubris, inordinate pride, arrogant self-determination, the will to power gone to seed.
Which brings me back to the Statue of Liberty, and Steve Jobs. The Statue of Liberty stands 111 feet from heel to top of head, 21 feet taller than King Neb's. So a statue of Jobs that was 111 feet would be bigger than the biggest biblical statuary proportions. That has to make us pause, and think, about the power of a marketing brand in the service of empire.
Much more could be said - and in a laeter post it might be interesting to reflect on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, a fiery funace, and the defiance of three other young cultural critics who recognised the dangers of a society where you are asked to sell your soul to the market, commanded to buy into the mindset, and threatened with dire consequences if you don't dance to the tune of the empire. Daniel 3 is a text for our time - I feel a sermon coming on......
You can read more about the plans for Steve Jobs' memorial here