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

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28

Sep

2016

Another way of knowing God

Author: Jim Taylor
Maybe we’ve gotten it backwards.
When Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the year 313 of our calendar, he inherited a religious landscape that looked rather like a dysfunctional school playground. The children were all playing different games, in the same space. Chaos resulted.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: knowing God, God

25

Sep

2016

Close votes reveal division, not decision

Author: Jim Taylor
A mere 27 votes defeated West Kelowna’s plan to build a new city hall. A three per cent shortfall squashed B.C.’s 1995 referendum on electoral reform. Last June, fewer than two per cent of British voters pulled the plug on the European Union. Do these kinds of figures reflect a clear mandate for action? If just 14 people had voted differently in the West Kelowna referendum, the city council would now be negotiating $15 million in funding, instead of licking its wounds. That’s democracy, some will say. If you give the people a vote, you have to accept their decision. But do a few votes either way genuinely reflect the will of the people? The 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty failed by less than one per cent. The margin was tiny; the consequences massive. A figurative handful of voters could have broken up a country of 30 million people.
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21

Sep

2016

The unwritten rules of hospitality

Author: Jim Taylor
Two springs ago, I took my daughter with me on a trip back to India. I wanted her to see the world in which I had spent my first ten years, the world that has influenced me ever since.
In the city where my parents had served as missionaries, we looked for the house where I had once lived.
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20

Sep

2016

Letters re Gretta Vosper

Author: Jim Taylor
I’ve been overwhelmed by both the quantity and the quality of the letters I have received over the last few days, about my column comparing the United Church’s examination of Gretta Vosper’s ministry to the Inquisition. Forty letters is a new record! The quantity -- 40 letters, covering 18 pages when print out! -- makes it impossible for me to simply append them to this coming Sunday’s Sharp Edges column. The quality of the letters’ reasoning also makes it difficult for me to reduce them to Twitter-length excerpts. Even so, I have done some editing -- mostly for length, but I hope without distorting anyone’s intent. Warning: even with some editing, this is a very long mailing. So instead of the usual “Your Turn” section in the regular Sunday mailing, I’ve set up this special mailing entirely of your letters.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Gretta Vosper

18

Sep

2016

When beliefs matter more than behaviour

Author: Jim Taylor
If there is a life after death, Torquemada must be clapping his hands in glee. My church, The United Church of Canada, has re-instituted the Inquisition. Torquemada, you may recall, headed the Inquisition, the Roman Catholic Church’s attempt to stamp out heresy. A week ago, a 23-member committee appointed by the United Church’s Toronto Conference recommended revoking the Rev. Gretta Vosper’s ordination. Her non-standard theology offended too many traditionalists. The mandate of the Inquisition -- sorry, the committee -- was to examine Vosper’s fitness for ministry. They did not do that. In their own words, “This interview did not assess whether Ms. Vosper meets the Standards of Practice with respect to administration, community outreach and social justice, continuing education, denomination and communities, leadership, pastoral care and self-care. The question that Toronto Conference asked this Committee to address was limited to her beliefs and her theology…
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14

Sep

2016

Breathe first, then swallow

Author: Jim Taylor
I was tired and thirsty, so I pulled into our favourite American-owned Canadian fast food chain. I got a coffee. I took my double-double -- two cream, two sugar -- outside to the car. I took the first sip. And choked, spraying the inside of the windshield with streaks of beverage.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: swallow, breathe

11

Sep

2016

Defenders of the status quo are always wrong

Author: Jim Taylor
Phyllis Schlafly died on Monday September 5. Phyllis who? Exactly. Unless you’re over 70 -- or you’re Sarah Palin -- the name Phyllis Schlafly probably draws a mental blank. Newspaper obituaries in the U.S described Schlafly as an icon of the right-wing, the woman who re-shaped American politics. Her influence continues in the Eagle Foundation based in St. Louis, Missouri. She was anti-communist. Anti-abortion. Anti-immigration. Anti- legalized same sex marriage. But above all, anti-ERA. She saw the Equal Rights Amendment as taking away women’s privileges.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: status quo

7

Sep

2016

I am the splash in the pond

Author: Jim Taylor
“I just don’t get it,” a friend told me recently. “You talk about us being stardust, about being made of the same stuff as the whole of the universe, about worshipping a cosmic God. I don’t feel connected to a galaxy out there in space somewhere.”
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: splash, pond

4

Sep

2016

Terrified rider on a runaway planet

Author: Jim Taylor
There’s a tasteless joke about an old man who died peacefully in his sleep. He just closed his eyes, took a final breath, and was gone. “That’s how I want to die,” said his son. “Not terrified and screaming, like the passengers in his car.” I’m one of those passengers, and I’m riding in a car called Earth. And I’m terrified that a bunch of drivers may be taking the planet we’re all riding on off a cliff. The driver may be Donald Trump, if he gets to be president of the most powerful nation on earth. Or it may be Bashar al Assad, who is not president of a powerful nation, but whose regime has been catalyst to a civil war that has generated the greatest flood of refugees since World War II. Or it may be the faceless CEOs of massive corporations like Exxon and Goldman Sachs, who are quite content to let the planet crash as long as they get their bonuses.
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