I am fascinated by TED Talks. The people presenting them are able to take complex ideas (their life’s work in some cases) and condense them into a fifteen minute schpiel, many times using even less time than that. Because TED is such an interesting presentation format, I’ve subscribed to their channel on YouTube and have taken to watching a couple TED Talks almost every day. This week it seems I focused mostly on health and well-being (the result, no doubt, of eating lots of cookies and crisps these past few days…): making stress your friend, longevity, how where you live affects your health. All the talks had great tips for how to rewire your thinking, eating, consciousness in order to live a healthier and better life, and I highly recommend watching the above videos to judge for yourself.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in church this morning, however, that I realized the talks I’d listened to this week really fit in with what today’s Gospel reading teaches. Today, the Evangelist, Luke, tells how Jesus visits two sisters, Martha and Mary. While Martha takes to preparing food and cleaning house, Mary simply sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to His words. Martha becomes quite frustrated and demands Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus surprises Martha, however, replying with, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42, NRSV Catholic Edition, biblegateway.com).
The way our priest explained this passage in his homily is that we are constantly in motion, and the busier we get, the ‘less time’ we have to focus on God. This message is exactly the same as a lot of what I hear when I’m watching TED Talks, especially the one above on longevity. Perhaps Dan Buettner wasn’t specifically talking about focusing on God, but the message of taking a break and a breath is one and the same. In the Bible, taking a break means to focus on making yourself quiet so you can hear what God is saying; with TED, taking a break is crucial to your health because if you’re always on the go, you’re not able to recuperate as easily.
The other thing that struck me while I was listening to Father’s homily is Mary’s role in the Scripture: she focuses on simply being with and listening to Jesus. In his talk on longevity, Buettner speaks about the importance of community in living well into your 90s and even your 100s. Both the Bible and TED, then, recognize how crucial it is to be with people and truly connect with them, not always focusing on the outside.
So, what am I trying to say? Maybe these ideas we’re seeing in TED aren’t as new as we think they are. Maybe those ideas have already been thought up and put into a collection of stories and analogies: the Bible. So, maybe next time you have a problem you should check inside there to find your answer. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not because the ideas are the same as our more contemporary ones, like the ones you find in TED.
One thing is for sure: a lot of shit goes down in the Bible, so at least you might have fun combing through those parts.
Have a wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving!