Apple The Religion. Steve Jobs The Man.

If there’s one thing we can all take away from Steve Jobs stepping down temporarily from Apple, it’s this: People love Apple like no other brand, and they are rightfully scared that an Apple without Steve Jobs is not really Apple at all. (we also know that CNBC’s Jim Goldman got pwnd, but that’s another story).

How sick is Steve Jobs? His message is ominous: “my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” but Jobs left Apple before in 2004 for Pancreatic cancer surgery and came back strong. If he’s able, Steve Jobs will come back.

Frankly, I don’t want to know anything further about his health. Yes, it is very relevant to Apple’s stock price because there is no other person who can effectively lead that company. He’s a national treasure and can have his moments of crankiness and paranoia. I’d rather have that than just another vanilla tech exec who reads too many self help and management books.

All the press the last few days about Steve Jobs’ health is really just a tribute to the man and the company. What other top brand has this kind of customer loyalty? None. Apple is on the verge of becoming a for-profit religion among users despite its flaws, and they’ve transformed not one but three industry segments with their PC, music player and mobile phone products. But in the end, Steve Jobs is just a man, with all his failings.

As the news was breaking yesterday I jumped in my car and drove to a Mountain View studio where I joined the Charlie Rose show by satellite. Our interview is below. There isn’t much left to say, except that we all hope Jobs is back at his desk and crankier than ever as soon as possible. In the meantime, we should give the man the privacy any human being is entitled to.