The TED Sermon

If you have every been forwarded a video clip with “inspiring” or “heartfelt” or “eye-opening” on it, there is a high likelihood is comes from TED. The people that populate TED all have something to say and they typically say it well. The time is usually 15 mins plus or minus 5 mins. There are usually three things that will appear in each talk: 1) a told story that kick-starts or sums up in action the central point, 2) an a-ha! now I get it moment where the speaker reveals the main point and what came together for eureka and 3) an oh crap! moment when the implications of the aha! are spelled out. What I take most of TED to be is a secular sermon. Now I realize that applying the word sermon to anything probably reduces the interest at least 50% (oh, ok, 75%). But, I take TED as proof that even amongst the (over?) smart set, there is still the need to hear the Word. And even to be challenged – that oh crap! portion. (I also fret constantly over what I’ll call the recording effect. At one time in Italy every reasonably sized town employed a tenor for the opera. With the advent of recording, when I could bring La Scala’s tenor into my living room, all of a sudden my local production lost value and the number of unemployed tenors went way up.) But beyond job security worries the other thing that is interesting is how many of the TED sermons when you scratch beneath the secular veneer are just re-iterating either the gospel or the wisdom literature.

These are three that I’ve watched recently that capture some of that.

Think Christmas in incarnation behind this one…

Think confession and absolution for this one…

And this one is just interesting, but I’d put it in the wisdom category with a gospel tie-in around death and resurrection (a seed has to die for the plant to arise; a lecture has to die for real learning take place)…