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 1 2012: A free litmus test: Religion is man's effort to participate in the supernatural.
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    Apr 12 2012: I agree.. For the short time since I found out about TED I have been educated, enlightened and entertained.. I don't, however, think TED is a religeon. A favorite quote of mine goes something like this.. "Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Religeon is doing what you are told regardless of what is right." TED talks lets YOU decide what you believe to be right or wrong and does'nt condemn you for your beliefs if they differ as does religeon.
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    Apr 1 2012: Not being a religious person myself, and at one point I would have agreed with you, but over my life I have met a few rational, educated and not-desperate people voluntarily take a religion into their lives. So something about the message that those institutions were spreading was good to them. Going back to de Botton's talk I wonder what part they were most intrigued by? Was it the God part or the community? I have to admit after socializing with religious groups I am a bit jealous of the community that they keep.
  • Apr 1 2012: TED is not a religion because there is no person or thing worshiped. TED is good if it serves the common good of man and inspires others to serve without regard to self, individual or group. Great ideas worth spreading include every identifiable aspect of life. Nothing should be left out nor should any topic be forbidden-----if TED is intended to be a conduit for ideas to upgrade mankind.

    Who has the authority to allow or deny topics or comments in TED? Who is using his/her religion or personal ethical concepts to allow or deny?

    What is the more important question is this: Who decides what religion TED's "sermons" shall satisfy?

    Edward Long is right; let the litmus test continue with each person.

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      Apr 1 2012: This is contentious issue to say the least, but there is no person or thing being worshipped in Scientology? You say that "Great ideas worth spreading include every identifiable aspect of life. Nothing should be left out nor should any topic be forbidden" but even TED has some degree of control or censorship. The do not put all the talks online and even can even criticize their own...a search on Sarah Silverman and TED should shed some light on this if you are not aware. Perhaps TEDs curator(s) are like the heads of the church in that they decide what idea is worth spreading.

      Athough you are right in that there is no limit to comments and topics for discussion here, I would say the same for many religions. They may not agree but they are always willing to discuss and debate an issue.
  • Apr 14 2012: A Sermon is almost like a decree from the speaker on a particular thought, philosophy or science. Looking at Ted Talks they are open the speaker speaks freely and personally shared experiences audience
    In a sermon in my mind the speaker has a thought to express with disregard to the listener and more emphasis on the message. A saying I have heard " it is easier to catch a bear with honey than a shot gun"
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    Apr 11 2012: Imagine you can't pee any more due to a car accident : would the imagination of the car accident be a religion ? it could chang your life (particularly you could start thinking: I can't pee any more ) .
  • 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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    Apr 1 2012: Many lectures are sermons. There is not much difference between TED and a religion.

    The main difference, I guess, is that TED ideas spread because they are good, while religious ideas spread because they're injected in vulnerable minds either of children or of desperate adults.