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

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Published on Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Encounter with a crashing boar

The trail that leads down to the shores of Okanagan Lake clings to a steep hillside. One side of it goes up like a cliff, held together a network of  juniper roots. The other side of the trail is a tangle of thorny wild blackberry bushes that not even Peter Rabbit would welcome being thrown into.

            I was going down the trail when I saw something with its head in among the blackberry canes.

            Then the animal pulled its head back to glare at me. It was a boar. A wild boar. A very big wild boar. With vicious tusks.

            It came charging up the hill on its spindly legs.

            I tried to back away. My feet slipped. I landed on my back. The boar was almost on top of me. I started kicking frantically to keep the beast away.

            That’s when Joan shook me awake.


Dream interpretation

            I have no idea why I would have a nightmare about a wild boar. Unless my mind is playing puns with me, warning me that I am becoming a bore.

            Not too long ago, dream interpretation was a fad. Supermarket racks had at least one book describing the meaning of symbols in dreams. As if dreams worked with a universal vocabulary.

            Today, I gather, the question is more likely to be, “How did you feel at the moment you woke up?”

            Frankly, absolute panic. But I don’t know yet what I was so scared of.

            Sometimes I’m assured that the dreamer plays all the roles in any dream. If so, I wonder who or what I wanted to attack.

            National Geographicmagazine did an issue on sleep and dreams. Its main point was that, in dreaming, “the brain can operate independently of sensory input. Like an artist ensconced in a secret studio, our mind appears to experiment without inhibition…

            “When we’re awake, the brain is occupied with busy work -- all those limbs to control, driving and shopping and texting and talking, money-earning, child-rearing. But when we’re sleeping… the most elaborate and complex instrument known in the universe is free to do what it wishes. It self-activates. It dreams.”


Significant messages

            In North American  culture, we generally treat dreams as unreal. Imaginary.

            But I remember that in other cultures, dreams are considered just as real as real life. In the Bible, for example, dreams were often treated as divine revelations. Jacob dreamed about wrestling with an angel; it was real enough to leave him with a lifelong limp. Joseph’s skills at interpreting dreams saved the Egyptian nation -- and his own long-lost family -- from famine. During the Exile in Babylon, Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams; he also had his own apocalyptic visions, still beloved by fire-and-brimstone preachers.

            Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Nathan, Isaiah -- the prophets all had dreams. Visions. Perhaps hallucinations, in the case of Ezekiel and John of Patmos, author of the last book in the Bible. No matter -- they treated their dreams and visions as direct revelations from God.

            Although modern skepticism tends to discount dreams, I remember that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. It galvanized the American civil rights movement.

            So I keep wondering what my wild boar was trying to tell me?


Copyright © 2019 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca





I suspect that when I wrote last week about small groups being able to work together without supervision, when they clearly understand their goal, I was merely telling you what you already know.


Tom Watson focussed on the task we had undertaken, to coil up and dispose of abandoned barbed wire: “Kudos to you and your small group of mighty persons for undertaking that important task!”


Bob Rollwagen and Isabel Gibson both reflected on the ideal size for a working group.

            Bob wrote, “Organizations look to membership [numbers] to push dues and networking influence; Jesus was building a leadership team. He didn't do a bad job. I wish I had picked 11 good out of 12 when I was the boss.”

            Isabel commented, “For ideal work groups, I think 5 to 8 is a common number in modern business writing. If Jesus could herd 12 disciples, he had impressive supervisory or leadership skills.”






The original Psalm 52 sets itself in the context of royal conflict, between David and Saul. We don’t have those kinds of conflicts any more (unless you count the U.S. presidential situation) but the business world offers a modern parallel.


1          You boast about beating your competitors; 
you brag about evading taxes; 
you use other people's money for leveraged financing.

2          You think you're worth millions. 
But everything you do exposes your moral bankruptcy.

3          You'd rather lord it over your neighbors than love them; 
you'd rather fire your employees than nurture them.

4          You're a bundle of malevolent reflexes.

5          Someday, you will get what you deserve. 
Your spouse will leave you, your children will despise you, your colleagues will avoid you. 
Your empires will come crashing down around your shattered ego.

6          Even those you exploited will laugh at you.

7          They'll say, "How the mighty are fallen!" 
They'll laugh, "The bigger you are, the harder you fall!"


8          I'm not powerful or successful. 
I'm a child compared to you. 
But I can still laugh in the rain and sing in the sunshine. 
I ride my roller coasters in the park, not in the stock market. 
I'd rather hold a hand than hold a meeting.

9          What I do, I do for God. 
If any credit is due, I give it to God. 
And God frees me to enjoy the goodness of living.




For paraphrases of mostof the psalms used by the Revised Common Lectionary, you can order my book Everyday Psalmsfrom Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.






If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

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                  I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

                  And for those of you who like poetry, I’ve recently posted another poem on my webpage .https://quixotic.ca/My-PoetryI post (occasionally, when I feel inspired) poems that I have written. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca,  or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca(If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)






To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have been blocking my posts because they’re suspicious of some of the web links.

                  Ralph Milton’s latest project is a kind of Festival of Faith, a retelling of key biblical stories by skilled storytellers like Linnea Good and Donald Schmidt, designed to get people talking about their own faith experience. It’s a series of videos available on Youtube. I suggest you start with his introductory section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u6qRclYAa8

                  Ralph’s “Sing Hallelujah” -- the world’s first video hymnal -- is still available. It consists of 100 popular hymns, both new and old, on five DVDs that can be played using a standard DVD player and TV screen, for use in congregations who lack skilled musicians to play piano or organ. The original website has been closed down, but you can still order the DVD set through Wood Lake Publications, info@woodlake,com

                  Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTcaHe’s also relatively inexpensive!

                  I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos.

                  Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom or twatsonATsentexDOTnet



                  I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge.






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Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: fear, dreams, boar, interpretation



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