The Parable of the iPhone- 3 mins
A 15 year old girl was picking berries from a bush one day in ancient Rome. And so it happened right before her eyes that a strange and mysterious wormhole opened up and presented an iPhone 7 Plus. She gasped in shock at the incomprehensible sight that had materialized out of thin air right before her eyes.
Was it a precious metal of some kind? Perhaps a gem or a stone. It didn’t look like anything she had ever seen before. Could it be an exotic plant of some kind? A strange animal? Perhaps an extremely advanced tool. She reached her hand out to touch it. But then thought better of it. She better get her sister to take a look at it as well.
She called out. Her sister was nearby and immediately ran over.
“Look at this!”, she said.
Her sister’s face looked bewildered, “What is it?”
“I don’t know, it just appeared.”
The sister picked up the phone. She marveled at its simplicity with affection. The vibrant silver color and precise lines of its edges. The small foreign writing on the metallic back with an image engraved in the finest handiwork of an apple that had a bite taken out.
“This is magnificent” she said as she touched a part of the object that had a small contusion in the otherwise perfectly smooth surface. When she touched it, a brilliant light shone from the face of the object, like magic.
The girls were awestruck. They thought they had better show this to their mother.
A few hours later, the iPhone 7 Plus was in the hands of a Roman centurion who was taking a slow-mo video of his own face when the object disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived.
A similar thing happened in two other places at two other times. The wormhole had opened. The iPhone had appeared. Once in South America to a young man in a hunter gatherer society and once to a middle aged woman in Manila in 1968. The result of these three temporary appearances of the iPhone 7 Plus shook the cultures that the iPhone had presented itself to to the core. Each had named the events and the object in different ways.
The Romans had interpreted the event as an act of Caesar to display his power. The phone ended up being named the Delustricus. They started a holiday to celebrate the gracious revelation their Lord had bestowed upon them.
The South American hunter gatherers had named the object what can be translated roughly as Sun Jewel, they ended up worshipping the Sun Jewel as their prime deity. Sacrifice by fire was the deity’s choice of preferred worship.
The Filipino’s that had encountered the phone had eventually come to the conclusion that the device was an alien machine of infinite power that they called the Nuckacot. It happened to appear on a Tuesday precisely while the woman who had discovered it was overcooking a pot of rice. The culture had developed a custom of overcooking rice on Tuesdays in order to appease the aliens and pray for the return of the mysterious and beautiful Nuckacot.
You see, this is what human beings do when we don’t have words for something, we make up words for them. Even if the thing we are trying to talk about is not a thing, is beyond thingness, but an experience that transcends all of our language and conceptions. We still try to find words, we still try to make meaning and tell stories. And so we get religion with all of its different variations and forms and practices.
Are all religions the same? No, of course not.
Neither are all the explanations of the iPhone. They are actually quite different.
But is the iPhone the same? Of course it is.