tedLike most people my age, I think, I was told as child that you can’t do your homework in front of the television.  Through 9 years of grade school, 4 of high school and a decade and a half of college, I was faithful to my Mom’s dictum.  Even when I took creative writing in my fifties, writing time was no TV time.  But in what is perhaps an act of geriatric rebellion, it has become my habit to blog in front of the TV.  Yes, it’s on, tuned, if possible, to a film that I’ve seen many times before.  See, Mom, I can.  Well, sometimes … if there’s been a post rattling around in my head all day waiting to spill onto the keyboard.   But if I’ve got a case of poster’s block, I’m likely to sit numbly watching a film so familiar that I can mouth the lines.  Tonight, the film on AMC was The Rock, starring two of my favorites, Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage.

In an attempt to use my remaining time on this planet more productively when that happens, I’ve been turning off whatever ancient film has caught my eye and switching to the TED channel on my Samsung Smart BluRay player.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.   The TED network offers the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less), referred to by TED as Ideas Worth Spreading.  TED’s lectures often challenge me intellectually, bringing voices into our family room that I’d normally skip … and sometimes, they provide blog-fodder.    Last night, I watched two TED lectures, one by ethnologist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, titled Militant Atheism, and another by evangelist Christian pastor and author, Rick Warren, titled A Life of Purpose.   Both Dawkins and Warren are off my spiritual radar, too far left and too far right, if you will, but viewed together the TED talks provided an interesting contrast.  I’ve included them here in case you have a half an hour to spare.


Just in case you are gainfully employed and don’t have a half hour to spare, let me give you the Older Eyes One Paragraph Summary.   Richard Dawkins is urbane, cocksure and witty.  He preaches to the TED audience, which he assumes (probably correctly) has a high IQ, as if it is his congregation.  He absolutely can’t understand how anyone with a high IQ can be anything but an atheist, and goes out of his way to be condescending toward those of ordinary intelligence who believe in God.  He correctly observes that societal bias against atheists causes many to say they are agnostics and encourages such people to become militant atheists.  Warren, on the other hand, talks about his own experience of becoming a best-selling author (of the book, A Purpose-Driven Life) and how that affected his ministry.  He talks about God but mostly in the context of having a life purpose, and explains how he and his wife have been able to broaden their purpose with the profits from the book.  He, too, clearly knows his audience and avoids an evangelical Christian message.  Still, it’s interesting to hear the scientist evangelize and the evangelist simply share his own experience.  While Dawkins mocks, Warren inspires.

Neither convinced me of anything.  I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable with my beliefs, somewhere in the wide space between Darkins and Warren.  I am no longer an evangeliphobe but I prefer not to be evangelized.  But I don’t mind being inspired once in a while.  Belief can be a choice, Mr. Dawkins.  You’ve simply chosen differently.

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4 Comments on “Choice”

  1. sharon Says:

    love the last two lines!

  2. territerri Says:

    I don’t have an hour at the moment to watch the videos, but I do appreciate a good TED talk. Funny… I bought A Purpose Driven Life and never read it. (I started it but didn’t ever dig into it.) Now I’m curious to hear what Mr. Warren has to say, so I will try to come back to this soon. Maybe I’ll read the book after all.

  3. cherperz Says:

    Unfortunately, I too, don’t have the time today to listen to both the videos, but will save this post as unread so I can come back when time allows.

    For now, I will respond according to your synopsis of both. I probably am going to be irritated with Mr. Warren’s condescending attitude that would assume that the more intelligent person should be atheist implying that if one is smart then one surely can’t believe the fairy tale of religion.

    I do believe in a higher power so maybe, in fact, I am a total dumbass. But then again, I question things all the time and struggle to believe the stories that seem incredulous given the facts of science and logic. I pray for understanding and a stronger faith.

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