Steve Jobs. A Secular Saint?

Some years ago that term was used to designate someone without any obvious connection with religion, yet who had the heroic virtue we usually associate with the saints.

As I listened to his address to graduates at Stanford University a few years ago, I thought the term could apply to Steve Jobs who died a few days ago. It was a remarkable address that any Christian preacher would admire and be happy to preach. I was especially moved by his respect for death as an advisor and mentor for life.

A solid spirituality. You hope the next generation would follow his example.

The other night on iTunes, one of Jobs’ wonderful contributions to the new digital world, I listened to a lecture (free) by Charles Taylor, author of The Secular Age, from Columbia University. Taylor objected to new atheists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens who want to banish religion from the world as a worthless and destructive force.

But he also objected to Christians denying the worth of secularists who work for the good of the world and its peoples.

There are secular saints as well as saints honored by the church.

5 thoughts on “Steve Jobs. A Secular Saint?

  1. Edward.Fullerton

    Fr Victor above all others!,knows you have to be a ,Catholic to be declare a saint,Martyr. If had read blessed Pope John .Paul to read what he had to say about such matters he would be enlightened.He did n’t condemn such secular people who have done good in the world.Their are times when I begin to at the ” Shepherds of the ” One true religion “. At the beginning of any matter regarding the faith it says ,Nihil obstat, Imprimatur, in goes on to say ,that they do not are agree necessary with the private opinions of priests. Ps I shall of course pray for the soul of the late Mr Steve .Jobs.PPS Even though I cannot afford his hardware.What price obsequiousness.


  2. Gail Smyder

    Father, it’s Gail Smyder. Our pastor this am in part of his homily had not so nice things to say about Steve Jobs. I am wondering where he got his insights. He alluded that he was a very critical man to work for and that his employees avoided him for that reason. I listened to the Stanford speech — I hear a man search for truth, but not knowing Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and I am a little confused about Stay Hunger–Stay Foolish. I need to be hungry for the Word, but not foolish only wiser. Explain……..What an awesome tool you have chosen to speak and teach what you love so much.


  3. vhoagland Post author


    I’m sure Steve Jobs wasn’t always the nicest boss in the world, as some of his associates report.

    We recently celebrated the feast of St. Jerome, another prodigious communicator, and he wasn’t always nice either. He could be sharp-tongued and awfully unfair with some people, as some of his letters reveal; I think his cause for canonization would have be in trouble if it were instituted today.

    That’s why you find St. Jerome pictured often on his knees beating his breast with a rock asking forgiveness. He needed a lot of forgiveness.

    But Steve Jobs, like St Jerome, had big dreams and as his speech at Stanford indicates lofty ideals. He didn’t strike me as a proud man, but as someone following the lights he had for the life and times he was given.

    I used the term “Secular Saint” and ended with a question mark. Anyway, I though of St. Jerome when I heard he died, but Jerome obviously had the gift of faith in Jesus Christ besides.

    I still like Charles Taylor’s read on the gifts secular people bring to our world.



  4. Gail Smyder

    Father ,thanks for your insights on St. Jerome. The search for holiness and becoming more like Jesus goes on for all of us and you were looking for and seeing the good in Steve. As the “body of Christ” I know I need to keep this in mind especially working with parents of our children in our Rel. Ed. programs. I will have to try to read Charles Taylor’s read if I can find it. I am a real novice at this computer, but glad you had found this avenue to stretch the minds and hearts of all who come to this website yearning to grown in holiness. How long have you been doing this?? I happened upon it just looking to connect with you after 40 some years –the work of the Holy Spirit me thinks. If you have a personal email I would love to send you a picture of our 9 month old grandson who is pure delight and also pictures of the whole gang. When I get on here does it show my email?? Much joy and many blessings on all you do. Gail


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