Thursday, September 17, 2015


I had an occasion to go to an Apple store recently.  For the first time I went unaccompanied by an adult in the computer world.  I was intimidated.  I didn't know what I was doing, what questions to ask, or even really what I needed.  I felt out of place and out of touch.  But I put my big boy pants and went.

The store was by far the brightest, cleanest storefront in the mall.  It's presence just stuck out like a cathedral in a medieval town.  They capitalized on the energy of the store having the entire front open so that you could see the energy of all the people.  But this was also off putting.  What am I supposed to do when I go in there???

The atmosphere was almost Church like.  Every inch of space told you exactly where you were.  Instead of a crucifix the Apple apple was prominently displayed.  Saints were picture along the walls (outrageously happy people using Apple products.)  There was a recognizable clergy of sorts wearing habits of blue shirts with crucifixes - er - I mean apples on them.

So I walk in and an extremely pleasant Apple clergyman walked up to me and said, "Good evening, how may I help you?"

I showed him the object in my hand and said, "This either doesn't work or I am ignorant.  I am not sure which."

He directed me to where in the store I should go and what I should expect.  A lady came up to me and addressed me by my first name (which I have never gone by in my life but whatever) and she heard my confession - er - I mean listened to the difficulty I was having with my product. 

She apologized profusely that she didn't know enough about the thing that I brought to her and talked into her collar (microphone of some sort) and another, extremely polite man came over and she explained the problem.  "Well, let's see what we can do for you sir.  We are here to solve problems!"  And he explained to her, "Why don't you stay with us so you can learn how to do this in the future," for which she seemed genuinely grateful.

During this time the staff interacted in a most interesting way.  One person crumpled up a piece of paper and another reached out to take it and throw it away.  One person stated that they were going to go do something and another said, "I'm on my way, let me get that for you."  It was like the whole place was an old couple still in love and anticipating the other's well known needs.  There were lots of "Thank you" and "excuse me's."  I told my cleric, "Everyone is so polite here."  He smiled and simply agreed.   Then I said, "I imagine the people with whom you deal are not always so polite back."  It was then that I saw only the mildest of breaks in the facade.  For a moment there was a ruffled brow and a deep breath and as he blew the wind out of his lungs he simply said, "Well, you know . . . " and then perked right back up.

One of the Apple clerics showed me a computer.  "This is like art!  Like a Michael Angelo the way it was constructed!"  I thought that was a little over the top but without fail they all appeared to believe in the product they were selling.  Knowing that I was a priest, he showed me how to see the Vatican on the computer.  I thought that was thoughtful.  He could have picked Disneyland I suppose.

All and all it was a positive experience where I thought I was going to be miserable.  Granted, we are doing different things.  They are selling a manmade product for profit.  We are introducing people to a Person; Jesus Christ.  The Church is not a business but there are aspects of it that are business like and we could learn a thing or two.


Anonymous said...

What IS your first name? Is it not John?

Fr. V said...

It is but I've never gone by it. It is a great name and I like everything about it and am proud to have it. But I rarely respond to it. An Uncle, Grandpa, four grade school classmates, two fifths of my ordination class just to sight a few are all named John. Calling out "John!" did no good as inevitably half of the males in the room would turn around. Because of that, I have never gone by it except by some close family and the bishop.

Anonymous said...

you didn't mean "Apple CLERICS" . . . . . . did you?

Apple "CLERKS" is what you meant, I believe

MaryofSharon said...

(Nope, he meant "cleric". Goes with the whole comparison of the Apple store to the Church.)

Fr. V., you have left wide open the question: WHAT, pray tell, DO your friends and family call you?

Also, I find the Apple logo a most compelling symbol. There's a lot that can be read into it. Sure brings to mind Eve's, then Adam's, catastrophic bites out of that apple (well, fruit actually) in the Garden of Eden in quest of knowledge so that they could be like God. The vast amount of "knowledge" that Apple puts at our fingertips 24/7 certainly has a seductive allure not so unlike the promises of the serpent. Plus there is a lot of atheism in the world of information technology, perhaps the result of overestimating the power of the human reasoning. If you think of the logo that way, the Cross can be seen as the antidote to the bite out of the apple. (As it turns out there is no deep hidden meaning in the logo, but people sure have had a lot of theories over the years. Here's an interview with the guy who designed it.)