For Christians, too, Silicon Valley is a place to which someone might be called. It's a place of influence and a place of opportunity, where men and women harbor lofty ambitions about changing the world and changing people's lives for the better. It's also a place with its own values, norms, and subcultures. Those norms include jargon speak about things such as "cloud-based solutions" and "hockey stick growth" and "unique value propositions."
Silicon Valley, the show, then deftly pops through the bubbles of arrogance in the new tech economy. Mike Judge ably deconstructs the subcultures, lingo, and behaviors of people in the startup world, helping to show the limits and the shortcomings loudly along with the merits and wonders of the place. That seems like a great starting place for anyone considering technology work as a noble calling, with their eyes wide open and hubris detector shields on.
The show should force thinking Christians to ask a question similar to the one they should be asking about careers in all kinds of fields, like law, medicine, Wall Street finance, modern art, and journalism: "What calling can a young person find in web startups, programming, and tech entrepreneurship?" Are many, or any, Christian institutions thinking about that these days?
Like many HBO shows, Silicon Valley is rife with foul four-letter (and more letter) filth words, drug references (and depictions) and sexual jokes. Besides a raunchy graffiti artwork in Episode 5, nudity and sexual situations are at a minimum for an HBO show. Give it time.
Glader is an associate professor at The King's College and a magazine journalist covering several topics, including tech and startups. He spent 10 years as a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, including a year covering technology in San Francisco. He's launched his own startups with name and trademark problems. You can follow his semi-regular postings on Twitter @PaulGlader.