First Tuesday of Lent: Innovation
The Apple corporation recently earned record profits from its sales of Smart Phones, iPads, Computers and through its business decisions.
In fact, the profits of Apple are the highest ever made by any company in the world. The success of Apple is largely down to its innovative creator, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), who founded Apple Computers in 1976, left Apple in 1985, then returned in the late 1990s to become the CEO. From then on, he persevered to create an environment of innovation, and Apple went from one success to another. In some ways, Apple is a victim of its own success, as the company relies heavily on the emphasis on excellent design, and needs to bring new and interesting products to the market on a regular basis. There is no one product it can just keep selling perpetually and rely on for a steady income. The advanced smartphone, the iPhone 3 became the iPhone 4 then the iPhone5, and now we have the iPhone 6. And I’m sure next year there will be more advancements. Dominican bursars will sit frustrated at their desk, every time a new computer or smartphone is announced from Apple, with some friars looking to save up their ad honesta money to get a newer model!
This theme of innovation and setting aside our time to develop something new, is I suppose what lent is for. Yes, there is the aspect of self-denial and temperance in what we eat and drink, and at times sitting in silence without technology or smartphones. But innovation and anything creative is ultimately sourced from God, and we need to do positive things to focus on how we can be creative in our vocation, in our careers and indeed our prayer life. Although he was into Californian-Buddhist spirituality, it is no coincidence that Steve Jobs would set aside time to meditate in order to clear his mind. He lived a fairly simple life despite being one of the richest men on the planet. He was constantly looking to revise the design of things for simplicity, often going back to basics of how humans interface with IT systems. The computer mouse for example, was not invented by Apple but it was made practical by their design team, and you might even be using one right now. And lent is similar in that respect, we do not need to start from scratch but we do need to ask how we can receive the grace of God to have innovation and creativity, revising the simplicity of things, in order to live out the kingdom that Jesus Christ proclaimed. I can imagine that Apple is probably quite a demanding company to work for, requiring a creative streak, in order to achieve innovation in whatever role you are in. Living out the Catholic faith to its full potential can also be demanding, but lent is a period to try and develop habits which will serve us in the future, a time to enact positive changes in our lifestyles which will bring meaningful permanent change and help bring about innovation when it is needed.