Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

Published on Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Change is the only constant

I had my 82nd birthday last weekend. I’m headed for 100! Wooo-hooo!

            Anticipation makes me think back to how things have changed over the last century, or two. My wife Joan’s grandfather arrived from Sweden a century ago with an axe-head, a plane blade, and a handsaw. With those, he made all the rest of his carpenter’s tools.

            I wonder what he would think of modern chainsaws. 

            A century before that, my ancestors arrived from Scotland, to farm 40 acres in southern Ontario. I wonder what they would think of tractors with air-conditioned cabs. Of hay-balers and combines and automatic milking machines.

            Nothing stands still. Ever. And it shouldn’t.

            Not even religion.

 

Changes within my lifetime

            In my own lifetime, I have seen teaching about God evolve from God as a noun -- a Proper Noun with Capital Letters -- to a verb, an action, a way of being. 

            I have seen language for God in prayers and hymns evolve from exclusively male terms, to occasional feminine references, sometimes to words with no gender implications at all. And from speaking ABOUT God in the third person, somewhee out there, to speaking TO God with the more direct and intimate second person – “you”.

            I have seen the biblically-justified exclusion of gays, lesbians, and women evolve into acceptance and inclusion.

            I have seen the Bible, once a source of absolute authority on everything, knocked off its pedestal. It is still, probably, the most influential book in the world. But now it is, for me at least, a doorway to deeper truths.

            A woman named Lorraine used to visit me in my office, after she got off work. (Whenever it happened, I had to phone Joan to say I would be late for supper.) Lorraine firmly believed that when she died, she would go to a place called heaven, where the streets were paved with bricks of gold, city gates were made of gigantic gems, and God sat on a golden throne – images largely derived from the book of Revelation. 

            Space travel tells me there’s no such place. 

            Lorraine died suddenly of a massive brain hemorrhage. I hope she wasn’t disappointed in her destiny. But even that hope assumes some kind of post-death existence in which she could be disappointed. Maybe there’s nothing. In which case disappointment doesn’t apply. 

            I wonder how many people still believe  in a physical heaven. Not many, I’d guess. Yet many still cling to words and liturgies that reflect that abandoned theology. 

 

Universal principle

            Author Bruce Sanguin, in a chapter in the book The Emerging Church, charts a spiral of religious and moral evolution over thousands of years, from raw survival to an integrated system of values. The concept is too complex for me to explain here, but his point is simple – values evolve. Although individuals do not all evolve en masse, society as a whole does evolve. 

            Evolution is about more than Darwin. It is universal. Literally. The universe evolves. Life evolves. Religion evolves. I evolve. I am no longer the person I was at 20. I am not yet the person I will be if I reach 100.

            I should not expect my faith to remain static either. 

*****************************************

Copyright © 2018 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

*****************************************

 

YOUR TURN

 

I don’t often risk humour in my columns – at least, not intentionally. So last week’s column about getting voice mail responses to prayer was a bit of a departure for me. But you seem to have liked it. 

            Laurna Tallman sent her shortest letter ever: “Splendid and uplifting and funny. You made my day.”

            Bev Edwards-Sawatzky kept her letter even shorter: “Brilliant, Jim. I love it.”

            And old friend Ruth Buzzard agreed: “I love it, Jim. Also your commentary on Psalm 45.”

 

Chris  Shreve from Edinburgh wrote, “Your words often help me understand things better; or express them better, but this is a delightful way to gently prod the trials of life in the 21st century as a Christian. Many thanks.”

 

Tom Watson stayed on the lighter side. He sent along his version of the inevitable consumer satisfaction survey: “This is an automated call from Celestial Cyberspace Group. CCG has been asked by the various deities to evaluate customer service. This will only take a few minutes of your time. 1. Did your contact with us prove to be satisfactory? 2. Is your issue resolved? 3. How many times did you have to access our services before finding an answer to your query? 4. Do you have any recommendations for improved service? “

 

Bob Rollwagen picked up on the substantive issue, the paragraphs about the content of education systems: “’Ethics’ is a small word for a really big issue. Justification of personal actions generally has the individual bring their own understanding of ethics to bear, and very few of us have had any training or education covering ethics.

            “Just witness how sex education was used to manipulate the uninformed in Ontario’s election, how provincial financial reporting rules justify changing rules midstream to benefit the wealthy, how reducing government revenue is a valid reason to reduce public services  for the disadvantaged, or even how education standards are lowered … I am not aware that Jesus ever used the word ‘ethics’ but his actions were and still are the definition of the word.”

 

Helen Arnott wrote, “Thanks for a good chuckle! I’m sitting here in the waiting room of a very busy medical lab with my new young friend from Syria, surrounded by all kinds of men, women, and children of all colours and descriptions, all sizes and ages, many wearing hijabs, some wearing African outfits or Indian saris, others wearing not much! I wonder who they think God is?! For me, just a human construct to help stave off the dark forces...I guess [that’s] heretical for many in this wonderful country of ours!”

 

*******************************************

 

PSALM PARAPHRASE

 

Once again I go to the alternate reading for this coming Sunday: Psalm 145. It seemed more appropriate to the current political situation than Psalm 125.

 

1          Who can you trust these days? Only God. Forever and ever.

2          You can put your faith in God as long as you live. God will never abandon you.

3          Do not put your trust in any government. You cannot count on them. 

4          Human life is short, but governments are shorter. With each election, their policies change; their promises dry up faster than morning dew.

5          Put your trust in God; for eternal confidence, count on the one who knows eternity.

6          What human agency can claim to have created the earth? What human agency can claim to care for it?

7          Look and see the actions that God favours: To feed the hungry; to set free the prisoners; 

8          To give sight to the blind; to let the lame walk; to grant liberty to the oppressed…. 

9          Those who always take care of their own concerns are brought down by their own vaulting ambitions. God cares for the strangers, the widows, the orphans -- God watches over those who cannot watch out for themselves. 

10        Can any human authority make that claim? God’s stewardship includes all creation. Trust in God forever! 

 

For paraphrases of mostof the psalms used by the Revised Common Lectionary, you can order my book Everyday Psalmsfrom Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.

 

*******************************************

 

TECHNICAL STUFF

 

If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

                  To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to jimt@quixotic.ca. Or you can subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message or subject line) to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at softedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

                  I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

                  And for those of you who like poetry, I’ve started a webpage http://quixotic.ca/My-Poetrywhere I post (occasionally, when I feel inspired) poems that I have written. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca,  or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blankemail(no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca(If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)

 

********************************************

 

PROMOTION STUFF

 

To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have been blocking my posts because they’re suspicious of too many links.

                  Ralph Milton’s latest project is a kind of Festival of Faith, a retelling of key biblical stories by skilled storytellers like Linnea Good and Donald Schmidt, designed to get people talking about their own faith experience. It’s a series of videos available on Youtube. I suggest you start with his introductory section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u6qRclYAa8

                  Ralph’s “Sing Hallelujah” -- the world’s first video hymnal -- is still available. It consists of 100 popular hymns, both new and old, on five DVDs that can be played using a standard DVD player and TV screen, for use in congregations who lack skilled musicians to play piano or organ. More details at wwwDOTsinghallelujahDOTca

                  Wayne Irwin's Churchweb Canada,an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. <http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca>

                  I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom

                  Alva Wood’s satiric stories about incompetent bureaucrats and prejudiced attitudes in a small town -- not particularly religious, but fun; alvawoodATgmailDOTcom to get onto her mailing list.

                  Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony”-- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’sreaders. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom or twatsonATsentexDOTnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)Number of views (74)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: birthday, Evolution, change

Print

Tags

#MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G abduction abortion Abrams abuse addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix aging Ahriman Ahura Mazda airport killings albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations Almighty Almighty God ALS alt-right altruism Amherst Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac App Store Archives armistice artifacts astronomy atropine Attawapiscat attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry baby Bach baggage Bahai Banda banning books Barabbas barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears Beethoven beginnings behaviour belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo Bible biblical sex birth birthday birthdays Blackmore blood blood donors body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women bombings books border patrol both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brains Brazil breath breathe broken bubbles Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bullets bullying butterflies butterfly Calendar Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats Canute caregivers caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cats cave CBC Cecil the lion. Zanda CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking chivalry chocolates choice choices Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty communication Communion community complexity composers conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confusion Congo Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent Conservative Party contraception Conversations coral Cornwallis Cosby Cougars courtesy courts CPP CRA creation Creston crime criminal crucifixion Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Dan Rather Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki dead zone deaf death decision Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's Descartes determinism Devin Kelley dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs dying Dylan Thomas Earth Day Easter Ebola eclipse economics editing Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or email embassy emergent emotions English epiphany epitaph Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy evacuation evacuation orders Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played evil Evolution expectations experiment extinctions extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes faith False Creek fascist fear Fedex feel Fentanyl figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow charts flowers fluency flying Folk sayings forensic Forest fires forests forgiving Four Pests campaign franchises free free speech free will freedom friend friendships fruit fundamentalism future Gaia games Garrison Keillor Geese Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Rule good good intentions goodness Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper Grinch Group of seven growth guilt guns Habits haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki harassment harmony Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Hell helping heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses human rights hurricane ICBMs ice dance identity IMF imitation immigrants immortality immuno-globulin inclusive language income taxes independence India individualism inertia Infinity injustice intelligence intervention irreverence Isaac Watts ISIS Islam Jack McCarthy Jagmeet Singh James Shaw Jr. Jean Piaget Jebusites Jeff Sessions Jerusalem Jessica Farrar Jessie Oliver Jesus John A MacDonald Johnny Mercer Jonathan Kay Joni Mitchell Jordan Peterson Joseph judgement judges Julie Payette jury justice Justin Trudeau Kaepernick Karen Armstrong Kaunda Kavanaugh Keaton Jones Kelly Pocha Kelowna Ken Lam Kick the can Kilauea killing Kim Jong Un Kim Jong-Un Kimberley Jones Kinder-Morgan Kinsbury mosque Kiribati Kissinger Kitimat kneel knitting knowing God knowledge Kootenay Kootenay Lake Kootenays Korean War kryptonite Kurt Weill Lake Country lakes Language Las Vegas law laws leadership learning Lent Leonard Cohen Leroy Anderson Lethbridge letter letters to the editor leukemia Liberal lies life light lightning Linda Newkirk Lionel Shriver Lions Gate Bridge Lisa Genova listening little hens livestreamed video Lizard Brain LNG lobotomy logic lone wolf looking ahead looking back Lorax Lord Cornwallis Lord's Prayer Losses Lovelock Lying lynch lynching Lynn Beyek Macdonald macho Malawi Maldives Manchester Mandela Mao Tze Tung maple syrup Margulis Martensville Mary Mary Oliver Mass
Copyright 2018 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada