from the expensive-echo-chamber dept.
Megan Hustad writes in the NYT that while it’s not exactly fair to say that the TED conference series and web video function like an organized church, understanding the parallel structures is useful for conversations about faith, how susceptible we humans remain to the cadences of missionary zeal, and how the TED style with its promise of progress, is as manipulative as the orthodoxies it is intended to upset. According to Hustad, a great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon, a gathering of the curious and the hungry. "A persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit," says Hustad. "Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for: Will you remain complacent, or change?" TED talks routinely present problems of huge scale and scope — we imprison too many people; the rain forest is dying; look at all this garbage; we’re unhappy; we have Big Data and aren’t sure what to do with it — then wrap up tidily and tinily. Do this. Stop doing that. Buy an app that will help you do this other thing. "I never imagined that the Baptists I knew in my youth would come to seem mellow, almost slackers by comparison," concludes Hustad. "Of course they promoted Jesus as a once-and-done, plug-and-play solver of problems — another questionable approach."