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

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24

Dec

2022

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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24

Dec

2022

Homeless, lonely, and hungry

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday Dec. 22, 2022

 

Occasionally, around this time of year, a TV station will send its cameras into an encampment of homeless people for the obligatory human-interest story. But I notice that the cameras stay outside the tents and makeshift shelters. Perhaps to respect their subjects’ privacy. Or perhaps those subjects won’t let the cameras any closer.

            And I wonder how today’s news media would treat the most famous homeless couple of all -- Mary and Joseph. 

            We’ve all heard the story told in the gospel attributed to someone called Luke. About how Mary and Joseph travelled from their home village of Nazareth. To Bethlehem. To be formally registered in the city of their legendary ancestor, King David. 

            But have you really listened to that story?

            When you read that “there was no room for them in the inn,” do you hear those two little words “for them”? 


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24

Dec

2022

Manger and manager -- a study in contrasts

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 18, 2022

 

There’s something about a season of peace and goodwill, a season marked by glad tidings of comfort and joy, that throws into stark contrast the operating systems we take for granted all the rest of the year.

            I imagine that’s what prompted Eli Sopow of University Canada West to write an article for The Conversation Canada on Elon Musk.

            I don’t know what you think of Musk most of the year. Envy of his wealth -- even if he’s no longer the world’s richest person? Admiration for his achievements, such as Tesla and SpaceX? Loathing? Disgust?

            Whatever your feeling, I’m sure it didn’t involve comparisons with Santa Claus.


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24

Dec

2022

When illness disrupts mental pathways

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 15, 2022

 

I was sick a week ago. Medically, I just had a cold. A bad cold. Perhaps the worst cold I have had in ten years. I feared it might be Covid-19, despite a full house of vaccinations. A Rapid Test proved negative. 

            I thought of Covid because I had read that Covid can scramble one’s brain, randomly disrupting neural synapses that have formed a reliable communications channel for decades. 

            So that one suddenly can’t remember how to do the simplest things. 

            They call it “brain fog.”

 

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24

Dec

2022

Let your light shine…

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 8, 2022

 

The first Christmas after Joan died, I decided not to put away all the Christmas decorations. They spoke to me of warmth in winter, of caring and compassion, of togetherness – themes I desperately needed that first year of Covid-19 isolation.

            So, for the last three years, a small ceramic Christmas tree has been sitting on a table in my front hall. It’s not much of a tree – about 12 inches high, dark green, with whitish snowflakes on the ends of its branches. A light bulb inside shines out through coloured plastic plugs stuck into holes in the branches.

            If I’m going out at night, I turn it on before I leave. When I come home again, it welcomes me back, glowing softly in the darkened entry.


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24

Dec

2022

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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24

Dec

2022

A season in a life of waiting

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 1,, 2022

 

This is the first week of Advent. Advent is the four-week period in which Christian churches traditionally prepare for the birth of Jesus. It’s considered a time of waiting, while we tidy up the dusty corners of our lives to prepare for a special visitor.

            I don’t know about you, but I dislike waiting. I feel as if I’ve spent most of my life waiting for something, even if I didn’t clearly know what I was waiting for. 

            As a child, I waited to be considered an adult. 

            As a young adult, I waited for my career to find me. 

            As a father, I waited for my children to grow up. And when they did, I waited for them to come home.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: future, Advent, waiting

24

Dec

2022

Unsatisfactory solution for unmasking lies

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 27, 2022 

 

Occasionally, The Guardian lets its hair down and writes about itself. 

            Recently, Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill, The Guardian’s deputy membership editor, wrote in an e-newsletter that Donald Trump's announcement of running for the presidency in 2024 “renewed a debate about how to responsibly cover him without unwittingly providing the coverage he so expertly manipulates.” 

            She likened it to “walking a tightrope.”

            “We will have no hesitation to call a lie a lie, or indeed a liar a liar, even if they are a former US president," said Paul Harris, head of news for The Guardian US.


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Trump, lies, truth, Guardian

25

Nov

2022

A porcupine teaches about true love

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 24, 2022

 

A porcupine waddled across the road in front of me the other day. It’s an ungainly creature. Little short legs paddle along underneath a jiggling haystack of quills, with its lethal tail flopping along the pavement behind it.

            Clearly, it sensed that it was in no danger. As long as it stayed right side up, that is. A predator can kill a porcupine only by flipping it over to get at its undefended underbelly.

            When I got home, my cat ran to greet me. It arched its back, rubbed against my pantlegs. And then lay on its back, all four legs akimbo, to have its belly rubbed.

           Whether we’re porcupines, cats, or humans, exposing our most vulnerable parts is a profound act of trust in another. 


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25

Nov

2022

Double whammy bodes badly

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 20, 2022 

 

Two news stories juxtaposed themselves this past week.

            In the first story, the eight-billionth human was born somewhere on Wednesday, according to an estimate by the United Nations.

            Maybe not precisely on Wednesday. It might have happened on Tuesday. Or Thursday. But one of the 385,000 babies born during those three days was the eight-billionth member of the human race.

            Just 12 years ago, there were only seven billion of us. A century ago, only two billion.

            We have, in other words, grown like mould.

            That famous “hockey stick” graph of greenhouse gases is duplicated, almost exactly, by the growth of human populations.

            Yet we get all upset about one statistic  and avoid the other.


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