An ‘Idea’ Worth Spreading [v129]

NOVEMBER 2009

AN ‘IDEA’ WORTH SPREADING
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the first “TEDx” gathering in Detroit. It was an intense one-day conference of almost 300 people intended to spark unexpected connections, extraordinary insights, and powerful inspirations. The ‘catalyst’ for this was more than a dozen “visionaries” sharing their passion, wisdom, and innovations—who were challenged to put forth a “big idea” that would change Detroit in a dramatic way, and would jump-start the city’s ‘engine’.

The speakers come from a variety of industries—biotech, media, software, furniture, and alternative energy (bios available here:
http://www.tedxdetroit.com/presenters.html
and some of the presentations videos are available on the Mlive site:http://topics.mlive.com/tag/TEDxDetroit/index.html ).

The TED organization (standing for the convergence of Technology, Entertainment, and Design) had its first conference in 1984 presenting the newly released Apple Macintosh, the Sony compact disc, a presentation about “fractals,” and a new model of the mind. Ever since, these conferences have attracted a growing and influential audience from many disciplines united by their curiosity, and desire to think ‘outside the box’. For many of the attendees, TED has become one of the intellectual highlights of their year. Their corporate ‘slogan’ is “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Some of the recent ‘ideas’ presented at the past global conference in July explored the theme, “The Substance of Things Not Seen”—looking beyond the obvious at the ‘hidden forces’ shaping our future, the mysterious ‘functioning’ of things, and considering the ‘invisible’ or the ‘not-yet-discovered’.

When we look around us, there are things we can observe: buildings; people; and nature—and then there are things that run ‘unseen’ through our lives. TED presenters were challenged to investigated these hidden forces—social conventions, biological links, cultural frameworks, and coded meanings—in new ways, and try to present their insights of how these “connective tissues” binds societies together, and how these “engines” can propel organizations and individuals forward. They were asked to show how, when illuminated, these things would offer vital insights into our relationships with one another and our world.

These are some of the questions they delved into:

– What is an accomplished life?
– Which universe do we live in?
– Is life a mathematical equation?
– Where does motivation come from?
– Who’s defining the new geopolitical map?
– How can we observe what we can’t see?
– Can we design the air we breathe?
– What’s the economic impact of terrorism?
– Should we fear faith?
– What makes big cities function?
– What do top-secret places look like?
– What’s the true nature of modern crime?
– Can a solar-powered plane fly?
– What’s the power of music?
– Can we put biodiversity in a bank?
– How does the brain create the mind?

[ Note: Here’s a link to a web site by “frogdesign” that captured, and expounded on the key moments of TEDGlobal2009 ( http://designmind.frogdesign.com ), and a link to the official TED web site so you can investigate the ideas that have been put forth over the past 5 years ( http://www.ted.com ) ].

The TED organization believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world—and that every so often it makes sense to emerge from the ‘trenches’, and ascend to a ‘30,000-foot’ view, where we sometimes see, to our astonishment, an “intricately interconnected whole.” Their mission is spread ideas—and particularly those IDEAS that are WORTH SPREADING.

TED tries to spread a deeper understanding of the world via the world’s most INSPIRED THINKERS, and the hope this community of “curious souls” engages with ideas and each other to turn that understanding into a better future for us all.

It just so happens that I had just finished a book by Philip Yancey, “Rumors of Another World–What Are We Missing?”—and though I don’t know if he has ever been to a TED conference, I believe he an “inspired thinker.” In his book, he tries to articulate his belief that we are missing the “supernatural hidden in everyday life”—and in his investigations ‘shows’ how the supernatural is ‘hiding’ in plain view.

He posits that nature and “super nature” are not two separate worlds, but different expressions of the same reality. To encounter the world as a whole, he believes we need a more supernatural awareness of the natural world—something that this year’s TED theme was also trying to ‘prove’ that exists.

Yancey believes that the man made world around us seems, for the most part, to take us farther away from this “hidden world.” He mentions that it’s most evident when he experiences the beauties of nature, classical music, romantic love, or just sitting in ‘quietness’ that he ‘sees’ the rumors of another world, ‘pointers’ to something beyond, and posits that our modern society ‘sends’ these rumors too far into the background.

Yancey points out that Sociologist Peter Berger, in his book “A Rumor of Angels,” talks about the ‘in-built’ sense of right and wrong we all have as a ‘link’ to another world, a uniquely human ‘sense’ among all the beings on this earth. Yancey adds his own list of qualities—compassion, generosity, justice, and forgiveness—that speaks to him of another world.

Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shaker community said to “Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow.” In other words, keep aware of two time ‘dimensions’—do your best at all time in the here-and-now, and ‘store up’ for yourself eternal ‘treasures’, which you get by living your best in the here-and-now! (circular reasoning?)

This concept has been investigated for many generations. In the early 5th century, Augustine of Hippo presents human history as being a conflict between what Augustine calls the “City of Man” and the “City of God” (a conflict that is destined to end in victory of the latter).

The City of God is marked by people who forgo earthly pleasures and dedicate themselves to the promotion of Christian values. The City of Man, on the other hand, consists of people who have strayed from the City of God—being deceived and debased, fallen under the sway of pagan gods, which appear to be either demons or, at best, indifferent or benign spirits that are mistakenly worshipped. The City of God, on the other hand, is a ‘pilgrim’ on this earth, toiling here in the joyous expectation of final salvation in God’s Kingdom. Thus there are two ‘cities’, two loves, two ways to understand the big questions of existence, two destinations.

Author C.S. Lewis, also commented about this saying, “If you read history you will find out that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

The Bible also portrays this world as a “temporary home,” but one that will be “refashioned” to match God’s original design. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world, so therefore go and fulfill the two greatest commandments—to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself—and in so doing you will ‘point the way’ to that Kingdom.”

Whenever I am sensing a curious ‘transformation’ at work inside me—trying to keep the unseen world in mind while living on planet earth—I begin to see this planet as God’s beloved ‘work of art’. And as I understand it, from His ‘perspective’, there are not two ‘worlds’ but one—and His presence fills both.

St. Ignatius of Loyola expressed it better than I can by saying:

“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever. God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we mat attain our goal of everlasting happiness with Him in Heaven.

All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know Him better, love Him more surely, and serve Him more faithfully.

As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.”

A French cardinal said that, “Saints live in such a way that their lives would not make sense if God did not exist.” I’m thinking the reverse also applies: the true skeptic lives in such a way that life would not make sense if God does exist!

Blaise Pascal, a scientist and mathematician who lived at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment (1623-1662), sympathized with those who had trouble believing in an “unseen world.” Nonetheless, he could not understand the attitude of glee with which skeptics proclaimed their disbelief in God and immortality, treating it as a kind of liberation—shaking a ‘yoke’ off themselves. Can anyone truly welcome the prospect of a brief life in a ‘meaningless’ universe, and then annihilation? Would this not be the saddest thing in the world?

Pascal saw faith as a “cosmic wager” saying one faces uncertainty either way. He postulated, “If I choose to believe that there is a God and it turns out in the end that I’m wrong,” he said, “I have actually probably gained something because I had a sense of purpose and meaning and direction in my life by believing there is a God and have lost nothing. But if it turns out that I’m right, I’ve not only gained in this life, but I’ve gained in a major way because I’ll end up for eternity with God in heaven. So, if I choose to believe, I have nothing to lose and an enormous amount to gain.” On the other hand, if a man chooses to reject God and it turns out that he’s right and there is nothing once this life is over, well, he really hasn’t gained anything by his rejection of God. But if on the other hand, he chooses to reject God and it turns out that there is in fact a God and there is life after death, then you’ve lost everything.”

So, to kind of sum up Pascal’s wager, if you choose to believe in God you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. By rejecting God, you have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. After weighing the ‘odds’, wouldn’t it be better to believe in something that isn’t, than to disbelieve in something that is?

A few years ago TV interviewer Larry King was asked, “If you could select any one person across all of history to interview, who would it be?” Larry responded, “Jesus Christ.” The person delved a bit deeper by asking, “Being a skeptical Jew, what would you ask Him?” Larry said, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”

Christians hold up Jesus’ birth as an example of the unseen world impinging on the visible—God’s own Son entering the world of ‘matter’ with full humanity, but no earthly father. So, Larry King is right—such an ‘invasion’ would redefine history. No longer could we see ourselves as ‘cosmic orphans’, inhabiting a speck of a planet in an insignificant galaxy, we would become ‘central characters’ in a ‘drama’ involving not merely now, but time beyond—not this world only, but worlds beyond imagination!

To me, this is an IDEA WORTH SPREADING—that the person of Jesus Christ is God, and came ‘down’ from Heaven to save us from spiritual death (a separation from God which we all born with), offered Himself as the once-for-all ‘sacrifice’ for our sins and to be reconciled with God—but, even more than that, He resurrected from dead to offer those who believe in Him the ‘gift’ of eternal life!

This is definitely a BIG IDEA (as TED would put it), and, in my opinion, is not something to be taken ‘lightly’—and I would like to suggest that you ‘investigate’ and decide for yourself if this is true.

To help you out with some of this, visit the following link for some info on what it means to “believe”:

http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q10_d1_1of10.html
[Excerpts from: Phillip Yancey, TED, Dick Staub]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v129) for NOVEMBER 2009

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Thanks to:
Candace Cesarz

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“Whoever plans for this life, but fails to plan for the next, is wise for a moment, but a fool forever.”  [C.S. Lewis]

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Let me ask you a very serious question. This is actually a question Jesus once asked. He said,” What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?” When Jesus was in the desert being tempted by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights, at one point Satan showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world and told him to worship him and they would all be His. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’ ” You see, Christ understood that the things of this world are but temporary. The REAL Kingdom is not in this world, but in Heaven. The REAL riches are not in this world, but in Heaven. [Bill Keller]

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10 THINGS GOD WON’T ASK YOU IN HEAVEN

1. God won’t ask what kind of car you drove, 
He’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.


2. God won’t ask the square footage of your house, He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

3. God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet, He’ll ask how many you helped clothe.

4. God won’t ask what your highest salary was, He’ll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

5. God won’t ask what your job title was, He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

6. God won’t ask how many friends you had, He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

7. God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

8. God won’t ask about the color of your skin, He’ll ask about the content of your character.

9. God won’t ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation, He’ll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.

10. But God will ask you how many people you loved enough to talk to about Him (hopefully, you can honestly say you can’t remember them all).
[Received from Candace Cesarz]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“The worst moment for an atheist is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.”
[G.K. Chesterton]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
[Matthew 6:19-21].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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