Theodicy and the Steve Jobs story

I do not expect a second wave of Steve Jobs religion coverage at this stage of the game, even with the fascinating, almost civil religion tone of the official Apple memorial service. But it could happen.

Why? For starters, the Associated Press news story about that Walter Isaacson biography of the Apple visionary opened with a strong religion-angle hook and then -- longtime GetReligion readers know that this is rather rare -- it backed that lede with a strong piece of new information, drawn from the book.

Sure enough, Job's religious journey into Zen Buddhism began at a familiar starting point, one that GetReligion has underlined many times in mainstream coverage of major news events -- "theodicy."

the·od·i·cy noun, plural -cies.

a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.

Thus, the opening by Rachel Metz, as featured in USA Today:

SAN FRANCISCO -- A new biography portrays Steve Jobs as a skeptic all his life -- giving up religion because he was troubled by starving children, calling executives who took over Apple "corrupt" and delaying cancer surgery in favor of cleansings and herbal medicine.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, to be published Monday, also says Jobs came up with the company's name while he was on a diet of fruits and vegetables, and as a teenager perfected staring at people without blinking. ...

The book delves into Jobs' decision to delay surgery for nine months after learning in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine tumor -- a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable.

Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He also was influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, the book says, before finally having surgery in July 2004.

Now here is my main line of questions about that. Is it really accurate to say that he gave up religion as a child, since it's clear that alternative forms of religion and/or religious practices played a crucial role in his life? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that he walked away from the Missouri-Synod Lutheran faith of the family that had adopted him? He eventually chose another religious path.

Also, what does "skeptic" mean in this context, in light of his life-and-death trust in elements of Eastern faith? Is the implication that he was skeptical about a personal God, about theism? Was he simply skeptical about the miraculous?

There seems to be some connection between the religious issues and the medical issues. In the heart of the story, readers learn:

Fortune magazine reported in 2008 that Jobs tried alternative treatments because he was suspicious of mainstream medicine.

The book says Jobs gave up Christianity at age 13 when he saw starving children on the cover of Life magazine. He asked his Sunday school pastor whether God knew what would happen to them.

Jobs never went back to church, though he did study Zen Buddhism later.

In the print edition, the wording is somewhat different -- but the content remains the same.

OK, GetReligion readers, has anyone out there already dug into the book? Does this AP story do justice to the religion angle in this seeker's life?

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