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Intentionalityology: Lessons from Planned Obsolescence


This might be a dangerous thing to say ’round these parts, but…

There’s such thing as being too intentional.  Whattt?  Yep, there’s such thing.  Let me explain.

Apple is great.  The fruits are good too (I hope I have better grammar than that as well), but I’m talking about the technology company.  Their computers are learner-friendly, their iPad is one of the most innovative products out there, and the iPhone has taken generations X, Y, and Z by storm.  They have become somewhat of a standard for computers and personal technology.  For what it’s worth I own a few Apple products myself, although I’m no Appleite.

One thing’s for sure, Apple does its research and comes up with a lot of good products.  And a lot of good second versions of their products.  And third and fourth versions.

Multiple times in the past, Apple (and many other similar companies) have been accused of planned obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is a policy/business strategy in which a company intentionally plans for their products to become obsolete or outdated so that the consumer market is placed in a peculiar position: buying the product for its usefulness and value, then buying a replacement when the original becomes useless, obsolete, or displaced by other competing products.  Originally, this manifested itself in products actually becoming obsolete or falling into disrepair.  The modern version of the concept, scarily enough, most usually involves new “versions” of a product that push the original product out of the market.

Take the iPhone for example.  Version 1 comes out.  It’s a hit.  Tons of people buy it, love it, and use it for a year.  Then version 2 comes out, about a year later.  The versions are spaced out in time so that a lot of people will buy into the first, others will internet-hype a supposed next version, and the “smart” people will wait for the next instead of buying into the first.  Then the people who bought the first will become disgruntled and buy the second also when it comes out, stirring up their animosity in the process toward the company through blog posts, late night skits, and facebook statuses.  This gives even more attention to the product.

Let’s take a look at Apple’s mission statement:

Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.

Where does planned obsolescence fit into that mission statement?  To be quite honest, it doesn’t.  Now, I’m not criticizing Apple in any way.  Apple products are great, like I said.  However, on a very very loose level, it seems that Apple is losing sight of its original goal of creating this “best personal computing experience.” Instead, their intentionality in originally creating this experience has led this shift toward a chic, flashy, and sync-able personal technology experience.

“Intentionality” is great.  Intentionality, at least the kind that we Christians might know and love, is a concept that stems from an attempt to live out the Gospel in a practical and applicable way.  Too many times our “unintentionality” lets us slip into sin: wasting time, not having a filter for the media we consume, losing track of our priorities, and so on.  So, intentionality’s a good thing.  I love the heart behind it.  We need it to help us with our discipline.

Often, though, the word gets thrown around:

Hanging out with this girl a lot lately and not sure if you’re interested?  Be intentional.

Not reading your Bible enough?  Be intentional.

Not getting enough sleep because you stay up watching TV?  Be intentional.

Good advice (not sarcastic).  My fear, though, is that often we are too intentional.  “Intentionality” often gets so… intentional that it’s not centered around the Gospel anymore.  It’s lost its original goal: to help the Christian live a Gospel-centered, Christ-centered life.

It becomes overintentionality:

It’s often worship in truth only and not in spirit.

It’s often works-based life worship (not righteousness, necessarily) masked as deep thinking.

It’s often centered around the outward and not the inward.

It’s often centered around something close to, but not quite the Gospel.

It can become an unnecessary, not-commanded part of the altar of life sacrifice God demands of us.

Unhindered, it can become a form of Phariseeical living.

It’s scary.  It’s sickening (like planned obsolescence often can be when you see it for what it really is).

God calls us to a life of direct worship to Him in spirit and in truth.  In John 4, Christ tells the Samaritan woman about the worship of the Father in spirit and in truth, turning the issue of location into a secondary issue.  The primary issue is a life of worship in spirit and in truth directly and only to God.  Overintentionality, as we know it (or often don’t), is a danger that can easily become the center of our lives rather than Christ.  The Gospel must not just be the foundation of our lives, but as well something that permeates all of life.  Don’t lose your original goal of direct life worship for a chic, flashy, and sync-able experience.

Romans 12:1

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.


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