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

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

 

14

Nov

2018

The wonders and terrors of touch

Author: Jim Taylor

It started as a straightforward presentation, with the usual statistics and PowerPoint slides. 

Holly Routley from Okanagan College had come to to raise awareness -- and funds, of course -- for a new Health Sciences complex.

            Then Holly did something unexpected. While speaking, she stepped down from the podium and began to massage the neck and shoulders of a young woman near the front.

            I heard an audible gasp. Because in our culture We. Just. Don’t. Do. That.

            But Holly made contact deliberately, to make a point. Nursing is one of the few professions where the practitioner has to make physical contact with the other party.


Comments (0) Number of views (9)

7

Nov

2018

Beyond my understanding

Author: Jim Taylor

At this time of year, the trail that I walk daily with my dog along the shore of Okanagan Lake is littered with long brown pine needles. 

            They lie on the ground looking like that old game of Pick Up Sticks. Pine needles lie on top of each other in crazy patterns, pointing every which way…

            As I crunch those needles underfoot, I find myself wondering about the chances that the pattern of fallen needles in any one square inch (okay, 2.54 cm squared) might exactly duplicate the pattern in any other square inch. Vanishingly small, I’d guess.

            I find big numbers – really big numbers, I mean – meaningless. The U.S. federal deficit, the chance of winning a Power-Ball lottery, the diameter of the universe – are all incomprehensible. 


Comments (0) Number of views (18)

31

Oct

2018

The comfort of familiar ways

Author: Jim Taylor

Tonight is Halloween. Or Hallowe’en, if you’re a pedant about spelling. Or even All Hallows’ Eve, if you’re obsessive about religious history. 

            Traditionally, All Hallows’ Eve was the night preceding All Saints’ Day, the dark night when the ghosts of the dead – the “hallowed” ones – returned to earth. All Saints was a time to honour the dead; All Hallows Eve was, in a sense, their time to take revenge on us still-living souls by scaring the bejabbers out of us. 

            I don’t know anyone who still believes that the souls of the dead flit among us on Halloween night. But we still enjoy the dressing up, the parading door to door, the make-believe world of ghosties and goblins. 

            It’s a comforting kind of ritual, a dip into a warm bath of familiarity. These emotions cling, long after reason takes over.

 

 

Comments (0) Number of views (35)
Read more

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Rituals, Habits

24

Oct

2018

What did you say?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sometimes I hear people insist that Jesus was the Son of God, or God fully embodied as a human. And because God, to be God, must know everything, therefore Jesus must also have known everything. About everything. Including his own forthcoming death and resurrection.

            Let’s play with that idea. Let’s imagine that we have a time machine. And we can go back 20 centuries, and listen to Jesus talking to the crowds that have come out to hear him.

            He’s standing on a hilltop. 

            “You think that this rock I am standing on is solid,” he tells the crowd. “I tell you, this rock consists of billions of electrons and protons -- far tinier than a mustard seed -- which are not things at all, just positive and negative electrical charges, which you don’t know about yet, which can only be defined as probabilities. In fact, there is nothing under my feet, and nothing under you, except what you imagine is there.”

            Fast forward a few decades. (Our time machine has split-screen capabilities.) The disciples are trying to reconstruct what Jesus taught them. 


Comments (0) Number of views (32)
Read more

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Jesus, time machine

17

Oct

2018

Seasons of the year, and of life

Author: Jim Taylor

As I sit at my computer, typing these words, falling leaves drift by my window. And I can’t help thinking about the song penned by Johnny Mercer back in 1945 about “autumn leaves of red and gold…”

            Mercer wrote his words as a love song: “I see your lips, your summer kisses… but I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.”

            But I think the song’s haunting quality derives from its universality: “Soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…” 

The days are clear and bright, the temperatures temperate, the nights brisk. Here in the Okanagan Valley, we don’t get the flaming colours of Vermont or Ontario. But the golden leaves of aspens, back-lit by low sun, framed by the dark greens of spruce and fir, still make me catch my breath.

            Part of the beauty, though, comes from knowing it can’t last. 

            This is a precious time, as “the days dwindle down to a precious few” (Anderson and Weill, September Song). I remind myself, as I walk the dog these autumn days, to savour every bit of beauty, every moment of enchantment.

            Because it won’t last, can’t last. 


Comments (0) Number of views (33)

10

Oct

2018

A distorted view of Canada's history

Author: Jim Taylor

I’ve been reading Conrad Black’s 1106-page history of Canada, Rise to Greatness.I can’t recommend it. For two reasons.

            First, because it’s written at a level of turgidity rarely achieved since the Victorian authors. The friend who loaned me the book said he had to read it with his dictionary open beside him. 

            Second, though, because this book is not really about Canada – it’s about Black’s obsession with high-level leadership, an elite to which he thinks he belongs. So although there are voluminous references to Sir John A. Macdonald’s speeches to parliament, there is not one word about the actual building of the transcontinental railway that linked a fledgling Canada “from sea to sea.” Alexander Mackenzie’s journeys to the Arctic and Pacific Oceans get shrugged off in two sentences. David Thompson’s mapping of the Columbia river system gets a single line.


Comments (0) Number of views (40)

3

Oct

2018

Choosing between unequal forces

Author: Jim Taylor

If you swing a bucket of water over your head, centrifugal force keeps the water in the bucket. But your arm keeps the bucket from flying off. 

            You’ve just illustrated Isaac Newton’s principle of two equal forces working together, commonly stated as, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

            The principle explains not only buckets of water, but also the motions of planets in their orbits, satellites circling the earth, and galaxies in space. 

            Newton was not the first to recognize the truth of paired forces. The Chinese identified it centuries before – essentially, stating that beauty requires two contrasting elements. It could be smooth and rough, as in rocks. Or vertical and horizontal, as in lakes and trees. Or hot and cold, sweet and sour, shiny and dull…

            I find this recognition of two forces oddly comforting. Especially in a world that is decidedly not stable. 


Comments (0) Number of views (38)

26

Sep

2018

Salmon and the great circle of life

Author: Jim Taylor

The conference hall was packed full. Five hundred people leaned forward to watch as an elder from a First Nations community along the B.C. coast moved down the aisle towards the microphones on stage. His red-and-black blanket cloak swished as he walked; the mother-of-pearl buttons adorning it flashed back at the spotlights following him. 

            This happened long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for better relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. But the church, my church, was making its first tentative moves towards that goal. 

            The old man – he may not actually have been old, but he was older than I was, and he had a deeply weathered face – climbed the stairs onto the stage. He took the microphone from its stand. He held it to his mouth. 

            We waited, breathlessly, for his words of wisdom. 

            “We are the salmon,” he said. 

            Then he put the microphone back, and left the stage. 


Comments (0) Number of views (44)

19

Sep

2018

Learning how to learn

Author: Jim Taylor

           Of course, we did learn specifics. The inexorable logic of Euclid’s geometry theorems, for example. How to conjugate Latin verbs. Memorizing famous monologues from Shakespeare. The difference between a rabbet and a dado joint. The periodic table of chemistry elements. 

            But more importantly, we learned to learn. It was not just WHAT our teachers taught, but HOW they taught it. They gave us a safe environment in which to make mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes. They had faith in us, as learning beings, even when we made fun of them. 


Comments (0) Number of views (91)

12

Sep

2018

Maligning my lifelong friend

Author: Jim Taylor

On my last visit to Vancouver, I took a walk along False Creek.

            Vancouver's waterfront is open to everyone, regardless of age, ethnic origins, or income.

            And the Parks Board has thoughtfully placed benches along the way, where passers-by can sit, catch their breath, enjoy the view, or just meditate.

            Most of the benches have small bronze plaques attached -- memorials to a family member or friend. I read them, casually, as I strolled along. Until I got to one that offended me.

            It eulogized a child who had died. It described how wonderful she was. And the last line said, “Jesus always picks the finest flowers first.”

            And I found myself instantly angry.


Comments (0) Number of views (57)
RSS
12345678910Last

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