You know when one of those paths you walk converges and leads to something great? You know when you have spent a lot of time doing something, enjoying and learning and then life presents an opportunity for a moment of unexpected connexions? When separate aspects of yourself, hobbies or interests suddenly root deeply both personally and publicly? Well for me this happened this week!

Since 2006-ish, I have personally been inspired by a movement, organisation, and ideal encapsulated in TED. TED – for those who do not know – is an organisation that endeavours to embrace an ethos named in this way: “Ideas worth sharing.”

Though TED’s history reaches back to 1984, its current manifestations offer events, presentations and learning opportunities in a way that encourage action, fosters hope and presents examples of an alternative narrative to the story we too often hear in traditional media about deficit, degradation of the environment and oppression of human dignity. TED does not deny these exist, in fact they often confront them directly through the lived experience of scientists, artists, politicians and activists who have found and/or are designing ways to make change. As participants, TEDsters are implicitly expected to help bring about and support such ideas. After all, they are indeed worth sharing!

TEDxManitoba (2014)

TEDxManitoba (2014)
Photo: Richard Manley-Tannis

So back to that convergence … in Manitoba there are four independent TED organisations: Manitoba, Winnipeg, Youth and the University of Manitoba. This last week, I was overjoyed to attend – after being selected – TEDxManitoba. This was a rich, diverse, tear-filled, and laughter-wrenching celebration of some of the most creative ideas being fostered by men and women from Manitoba. It was – to say the least – both humbling and exciting!

What struck me as I tweeted madly away, was the sometimes implicit, most often explicit nature of social justice causes, environmental stewardship and the place of faith that threaded throughout. In some of the difficult and vulnerable places from which presenters had drawn strength, they illustrated how they had made the conscious choices to step into light and offer it to others through creative, innovative and fresh ideas

The other constant connexion was that regardless of motivation – faith or philosophical – was humility. There in the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre, as enthralling speaker after another offered her or his challenge to the audience about how ‘to be the change,’ there was a lack of ego. There was certainly confidence, but not judgement. There was obviously clarity of thought, but not ideological polarity.

As I knew that I would be blogging about this experience (that’s one of the things expected of being a TEDster: share the ideas based on your context), I was aware that though faith was present, I was the only person tweeting from an explicit perspective of faith. Though I know that all of the work we have done as a denomination about generational awareness identifies that our ideals or social justice, environmental issues and questions of human dignity and diversity resonate strongly with the secular culture, we sometimes find ourselves ‘out of touch.’ In addition, it was made manifestly clear how sidelined we may have become.

In fact, while I heard so many things that resonate with our own work, I also realised we are generally not present in these contexts, which is not only a shame, but a loss for all. We have – as a faith expression – I believe, been quite instrumental in nurturing a secular culture so comfortable identifying issues of concern that we sometimes lose sight of that profound impact. And – when I try to reflect such organisations as TED as places of hope within our highways and byways, often people ask, “Who’s Ted?”

So … I am going to honour my promise to TEDxManitoba to share the ideas of TED. I am going to begin a 3rd regular feature for A Deacon’s Musing (the first is the serial story, Feather’s Fall serial story and – the second – the recently begun Vignettes) called TED|Episodes. The intent is to highlight one TED Talk in each episode and offer a musing about connexions, both secularly and internally to the church.

Knowing of such movements, I believe, allows us to recognise where we have been, in order that we might better name where we might be called. Perhaps, just as importantly to step with confidence to share in the pluralism about us a truth that resonates well outside of our walls …

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