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

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

 

27

Jun

2018

Living with a stopped clock

Author: Jim Taylor

My watch quit, at seven seconds after 5:16 p.m. I can be absolutely precise about the time, because I consulted my watch several times over the next few hours.  I can’t imagine why I kept checking my watch, when I knew it would give me the wrong time, but I did. Time seems, for some reason, to be important for me. 

            Finally, I gave up fighting the inevitable; I went to a watch store and got a new battery. My watch is working fine again. 

So why, I wonder, do some church-goers prefer to live with their clocks stopped? Why won’t they do, for their faith and doctrine, what they do for their watches?


Comments (0) Number of views (142)

20

Jun

2018

Free will changes all futures

Author: Jim Taylor

“If I could only go back and do it again,” I hear people lament. “If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.”

            But, says logic, if you went back in time, you would still make the same decision, for good or ill. Because at that time you acted on the basis of the knowledge you had. All of the knowledge you had. And if you went back, that would still be the same. Because you can’t take 50 additional years of experience and learning back with you. 

            You were what you were. And your decisions were determined for you by your experiences. 

            All of this depends on an underlying assumption – that we humans are nothing more than a product of our environment.

            Or, to put it in more traditional language, that we have no free will. 


Comments (0) Number of views (153)

13

Jun

2018

Work together for the good of all

Author: Jim Taylor

Being polite isn’t always the best policy. 

            I’m not suggesting that it’s good to be rude, harsh, contemptuous, or difficult. Not at all. But if being polite, being nice, gets in the way of true cooperation, social manners may need to take second place. 

            I doubt if my father ever said an angry word to another human. He was the kind of person who tried to see the best in everyone. Who would never push his way to the front of a line. Who always let someone else go through the door first. 

            But there were occasions when the usual rules of courtesy didn’t work.  Entering Lion's Gas Bridge in Vancouver, for example, where eight lanes of traffic have to merge into two,

or sometimes into one. 

On one occasion, though, my father couldn’t break the habit of being polite. When it was his turn to mesh, he gestured to the car on his left to go ahead. 

            The other driver jammed on her brakes, expecting my father to slip into his slot. 

            Dad waited for her. 

            Both cars came to a standstill, waiting for the other to make the first move.


Comments (0) Number of views (125)

30

May

2018

The awesome power of a volcano

Author: Jim Taylor

For weeks, I’ve watched the pyrotechnics on television of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. Fountains of lava squirting up to 300 feet into the air – the length of a football field set on end.

               Generally, I gather, reddish-coloured lava is about 900 degrees Celsius (about 1,600 Fahrenheit). Orange is hotter, about 1100 C. Yellow goes up to 1250 C.

               And it’s even hotter underground. The magma – the name for lava before it erupts to the surface -- is under pressure, which raises its melting point. When the lava is released from that pressure as it surfaces, it bubbles like champagne. It is actually boiling.

               This is rock we’re talking about, folks. Rock. The stuff mountains are made of. 

               If you tried to heat rock to those temperatures on your kitchen range, most of your range would melt before the rock did!


Comments (0) Number of views (104)

23

May

2018

The prophets of our times?

Author: Jim Taylor

I love poetry. I don’t read it often enough. 

            Most of my reading is factual stuff. I want to know more about the origins of a movement. The mysteries of the universe. How plants communicate. 

            So I skim. Some call it speed-reading, but in fact, it’s mostly training my eyes to look for relevant keywords. 

            I can’t do that with poetry. Poetry, really, needs to be read aloud. Because reading aloud forces me to slow down, to savour the sounds of each word, to measure the musical rhythm of vowels and consonants, of rests and highlights…. 

            I read aloud, so that I can feel the poet’s message resonating from my vocal cords into both head and belly.

            Because poetry is not about facts, or arguments, or even about story. It’s about feelings. Poets try to evoke feelings with the fewest possible words. Which means that mental images get compressed, juxtaposed, overlapped. As they mesh, they create new connections, new images, new insights.


Comments (0) Number of views (93)

16

May

2018

An unintentional parable

Author: Jim Taylor

I was driving north, up the main highway. As I came down the hill into town, traffic slowed to a standstill. The truck ahead of me turned on its four-way flashers. 

            Something was happening, but I couldn’t see what. 

            I peered through the gap between the vehicles ahead of me. 

            And I saw a woman, walking backwards across the four lanes of traffic, beckoning to something or someone with her hands, encouraging them to come on. 

            Then I saw what she was encouraging. A pair of geese. Canada geese. Big birds. When they spread their wings and hiss, they can be terrifying. 

            But these two waddled along following the woman. And right behind them came a pair of goslings, balls of fluff on toothpick legs.

            And finally, behind them all, came a man pushing a bicycle, making sure no one got left behind. Or run over.


Comments (0) Number of views (154)
Read more

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: trust, Geese, parables

9

May

2018

Save someone’s life today

Author: Jim Taylor

My wife would probably be dead by now, if it weren’t for blood donors. 

            I can’t prove that assertion, of course. It’s almost impossible to prove that something didn’t happen, that could have happened. Safety regulations can argue that traffic controls reduce the total number of accidents; they can never claim that they prevented a specific driver from having an accident.

            But consider the facts. 

            Ten years ago, my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, to be precise. In those ten years, she’s had seven different chemotherapies. Six have failed; her white cell counts came down, for a while, but they wouldn’t stay down. 

            Here’s a vastly oversimplified explanation of a very complicated process....


Comments (0) Number of views (284)

2

May

2018

How to respond to tragedy

Author: Jim Taylor

Sixteen members of a hockey team dead in a bus crash in northern Saskatchewan. Ten strangers killed on a sidewalk in Toronto. My mind reels. How do the survivors, the families, the friends and lovers, get their minds, their emotions, around these and countless other tragedies?

            A caveat -- I write this column as a personal expression.

            What do you say to someone who has just experienced a massive loss? What do you do?

            Some responses are less than helpful.

            The students at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas high school in Florida rightly told President Trump to keep his meaningless “thoughts and prayers” – instead, to do something about gun violence.

            That doesn’t mean you can’t offer prayers, or that you can’t feel sympathy. Given a choice between someone offering prayers, and someone NOT offering prayers, I would certainly choose the former. But platitudes are too often a way of avoiding getting involved. And you have to get involved. Even at some personal pain. 


Comments (0) Number of views (134)
Read more

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Losses, helping

25

Apr

2018

Start small to make a difference

Author: Jim Taylor

My father was a pretty good painter. While at university in Toronto, he took lessons from A.Y. Jackson and others of the famed Group of Seven. But as the years passed and his life got taken over, more and more, by academic studies in psychology and religion, he grew more and more cautious in his use of paint. 

            One day, a friend who was also a painter dropped in. She watched him working with fine brushstrokes and tiny dabs of paint. She squeezed flaming magenta onto his palette. She took his brush. She slapped a blob of magenta onto his canvas. 

            It stood out like an erupting volcano. 

            “There!” she commanded. “Paint to that!”

            To his credit, my father did. A single blob of vivid colour changed that painting. And all the paintings\ he did thereafter. 

 


Comments (0) Number of views (122)

18

Apr

2018

Earth Day and goddess worship

Author: Jim Taylor

This coming Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day. Not to be confused with Earth Hour, back in March, which promoted turning off surplus electric lights for one hour, causing a wave of darkness to sweep all around the earth. Earth Day has a larger focus this year, to “End Plastic Pollution.”

            “Plastics,” says a promotion piece, “poison and injure marine life, disrupt human hormones, litter beaches and landscapes, [and] clog our waste streams and landfills. The exponential growth of plastics now threatens the survival of our planet.”

            I don’t disagree. But I see plastics as a symptom of a deeper malaise. We didn’t have plastics until we made them out of fossil fuels. And our use and abuse of fossil fuels reflects the belief that this planet is a lifeless landfill site where we humans can dump our waste products forever.

            Basically, we don’t care much about the earth that gives us life.


Comments (0) Number of views (177)
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