TED Conversations

Jason Wolfe

Speaker Curator / Teacher, TEDxTokyo

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What is the difference between a sermon and TED Talk?

Alain de Botton asked and answered "What's the difference between a sermon and our modern, secular mode of delivery, the lecture? Well a sermon wants to change your life and a lecture wants to give you a bit of information."

I have always felt that TED Talks are more than just giving some information. Sometimes I feel that my life has been changed by a TED talk...and then I stop and look at all the time I spend watching them and the time I donate to TEDx events in my community and I am certain that my life has changed.

Being involved with TEDxTokyo has brought me into a community of people helping other people for the common good. Sounds like some of the things de Botton was talking about.

Is TED already doing some of what he is asking for?

Is TED then a type of religion ?


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  • Apr 4 2012: I would say they are similar. Both address issues that are relevant to the audience and cultural context. A sermon is just an exposition on the written, living word of God. Or a testimony to the working of God in ones life. Ted talks are expositions of some thing someone has expertize on or believes in. I would argue in some talks the subject is an Idol to the presenter. A false God in which they put all their hope, meaning, worth, time, money, energy into. One other difference is that Ted speakers achieve their result through their own power while a pastor giving a sermon SHOULD be intent on getting out of the way and letting the holy spirit use him to bring a message to those listening. Ultimately it is the spirit that "changes peoples' lives" not the speaker. He is just a tool. (in a good sense of the word)

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