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

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The way God does things

Author: Jim Taylor

Christmas Eve, 2022


Christmas and Easter sometimes remind me of the Bobbsey twins. They’re inextricably bound together, Can’t get along without each other. And yet they’re constantly competing with each other. 

           Briefly put, the Incarnation argues that God – whoever or whatever God is – became a human being in Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem. The Resurrection claims that that same baby, some 30 years later, triumphed over death and will never die again. 

            Both focus on the uniqueness of the event. This only happened once, we declare. The rule –we commonly assume – is that God is “out there” somewhere. Or perhaps “up there”. But certainly different from us. Not mortal flesh-and-blood. 

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Jewish song writers who invented modern Christmas

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 27, 2022 


Years ago, I thought I was giving the Sunday School kids a treat – no dull boring lesson today; we’d just sing some familiar Christmas carols. 

            We tried. One of the mothers bravely played the piano. A teenager hoping to emulate Eric Clapton played a 12=string guitar. The singing, however, was less than enthusiastic: 

            “Okay,” I said, “you’re not keen on our choices. What would you like to sing?”

            Bigmouth at the back called out, “Rudolph!”

            Without waiting for either piano or guitar, the whole group of kids launched into Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

            They sang lustily. With enthusiasm. They knew all the words. They also knew all the words to Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. And to Silver Bells.

            I didn’t have the heart to tell them that those had all been written by Jews. 

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Christmas -- how God does things

Author: Jim Taylor


Thursday December 23, 2021


What I like most about Christmas, I think, is that it forces me to sharpen my beliefs.

            I call myself a Christian (though I’m sure some would consider me a humanist at best, an atheist at worst). Certainly, I come from a Christian tradition. And Christian tradition has asserted, for centuries, that God was born as a human baby. We call him Jesus. Other cultures call him Jesu, or Yeshua, or some name that I don’t know. 

            Think about the sheer audacity of that claim. God became human! God didn’t just pretend to become human. God didn’t put on a human mask and go around in disguise. God became a human. A very specific historical human.

            The Incarnation makes my faith much simpler. If I want to know what God is like, I need only look at Jesus. 

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When Christmas is a difficult time

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 19, 2021


I had trouble doing my Christmas decorating this year. 

            Last year, I found the bins of Christmas decorations Joan had put away in our basement the Christmas before.  I set them up as I remembered what she had done.

           This year, though, I couldn’t remember all the details anymore.

            This Christmas, I realize, I’m not decorating for her. I can now only decorate for me.

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Christmas all year long

Author: Jim Taylor

I’ve been taking my time putting Christmas decorations away.

            Long ago, everything came down on Twelfth Night, January 6 -- when, tradition says, the Magi from the east visited Jesus and brought gifts of gold, and myrrh, and incense. 

            We put them all away. Somewhere. That wasn’t part of my job. 

            My job was to take the tree and any evergreen wreathes outside. To burn them in the yard. A single match usually sufficed to demonstrate the combustibility of coniferous forests. 

            This year has been different. 

            Some of my Christmas decorations have come down, and been tucked away in boxes in the basement storage room. But some are still out. 

            Because I think, I don’t want Christmas to end. 

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