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

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

 

23

Oct

2021

When brain synapses fire

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 21, 2021

 

I can tell how old you are, without asking. I merely have to cite three words: “Fibber McGee’s closet.”

            Did you smile? Even laugh out loud?

            Then you’re probably over 80. 

            Fibber McGee, for those of you with blank looks on your faces, was a radio program of the 1940s and parts of the 1950s. It featured the improbably named Fibber McGee. Who put everything he didn’t know what to do with into his closet. So, naturally, every time he opened his closet door, several hundred pots and pans and other clanging things came crashing out.


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15

Oct

2021

Seeking God on a glacier

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 14, 2021

 

On Friday the 13th of October, 49 years ago yesterday, a plane crashed in the highest peaks of the Andes. 

            Thirteen people died instantly; five more died soon after of injuries and cold. Another eleven died when an avalanche buried the remains of the fuselage.

            In the black and freezing night, Mando Parrado sometimes talked with his friend Arturo, slung in a makeshift hammock to ease the agony of two broken legs. 

            “What good is God to us?” Parrado said. “If he loves us so much, why would have leave us here to suffer?


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10

Oct

2021

The fine arts of persuasion

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 7, 2021

 

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. It’s a rational church.

            So it was a new experience for me to attend an all-black evangelical congregation in Barbados, back in my working journalist days.

            My host, the Rev. Kortright Davis, a senior staffer at the Caribbean Conference of Churches, was sent to encourage The United Holiness Church to support the CCC’s social justice program – which was, I would guess, anathema to a denomination deep into personal-salvation theology. 

            As we drove up, I could hear what sounded like a riot down the street. 

            As we got closer, I could see that the riot was at the church. 


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10

Oct

2021

Things that used to be

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 30, 2021

 

On the last day of this summer’s hiking camp, we hiked out to where Ripple Rock used to be, in the channel between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland.

           At one time, Ripple Rock was a major maritime hazard. Two great spikes of rock jutted up from the sea floor, right in the middle of Seymour Narrows, barely three metres below the surface at low tide. 

            So in the 1950s, the federal government resolved to remove Ripple Rock forever. They drilled tunnels under the sea, then up into the rock’s twin peaks. They packed the tunnels with 1,400 tons of high explosive. 

            On April 5, 1958, they blew up Ripple Rock in the world’s largest non-nuclear peacetime explosion. . 

            So we hiked to a viewpoint, to see a rock that used to be there, but wasn’t there anymore, and hadn’t been there for 63 years, and that we couldn’t have seen even if it had been there, because it was all under the surface anyway. 

 

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25

Sep

2021

Letting our senses interact

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 23, 2021

 

A while ago, I was driving along between appointments, listening to classical music on CBC  -- not long enough, unfortunately, to hear the source of a symphonic piece. The sounds of the orchestra filled the car, filled my head, filled my mind. 

            For a few glorious moments, I heard music a different way. 

            I didn’t hear it so much as see it. I saw the sounds as colours, swirling and dancing. The brasses were, of course, brassy. Woodwinds were shades of green; drums, deep brown. The strings ranged from deep purple cellos to sapphire-blue violins. A solo violin soared into a laser beam of pure white. 

            Granted, that’s not how I normally hear music. But why not? 

            Why do we limit music to the single sense of hearing? 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Senses, music, Art

18

Sep

2021

Many roles in one

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 16, 2021

 

Everyone has dreams. So say the medical specialists, who observe our sleep patterns. Rapid eye movement (REM) signals the state of dreaming, even if we can’t remember having had a dream.

            A few years ago, I decided to include my dreams in my daily journaling. It’s been an interesting exercise.

            I wake up, for example, clearly recalling two dreams overnight. I sit down at my computer to write about them. By the time I’ve tapped a few notes for the first dream, the other has vanished. Completely.

            Writing down my dreams has, however, had a practical outcome. I discovered that there’s a flow to my dreams, a progression of themes and contexts.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: dreams

18

Sep

2021

The “temples” we ring bells in

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 9, 2021

 

At some point in the years before his death, Peter Gzowski interviewed a musician who played temple bells in southeast Asia. Was it in Thailand? Cambodia? I can’t remember. Nor can I remember the musician’s name. 

            I can remember the conversation. 

            The musician talked about the resonance of the temple bells. The resonance could still be heard for a minute or more, after a bell was struck. As long as the bell was inside the temple. Taken out into the open air and struck, it made a dull chunk. 

            “You’re not really playing the bells,” Gzowski exclaimed. “You’re playing the temple!”


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18

Sep

2021

The spirituality of soapy water

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday Sept. 2, 2021

 

My minister starts her morning with yoga. “Then I do the dishes. Something about putting one’s hands in hot soapy water is a reset for me -- a mindless task that produces something valuable. I dry the dishes and put them away, so I can begin again.”

            Her confession elicited mild snickers from the congregation. All of them had had, at one time or other, the experience of washing dishes in a sink. Most of them had automatic dishwasher snow, so that they could avoid the chore., 

            But why not let dishwashing be a significant time?

            After all, the Bible often uses the metaphor of washing.


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18

Sep

2021

Conversion therapy a form of bullying

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday August 26, 2021

 

I no longer believe in conversions. I mention this, because conversion therapy has become an election issue.

            I had a classic conversion experience, once -- down on my knees, acknowledging my sinful nature, turning my life over to Jesus, emerging wrung out and tearful.

            In truth, I’ve probably had a dozen conversion experiences. They might better be called Epiphanies -- moments when the pieces I had been shuffling suddenly snapped into place, a “Aha!” moment.

            A couple of friends have been trying to change my mind -- and I theirs -- on several topics for about 20 years. I see no sign that I have influenced them.

            And all they have done for me is push me farther along the direction I was already going.


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20

Aug

2021

Make it personal!

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday August 19, 2021

 

Everything is personal. Everything. Even whatever happened 13.8 billion years ago -- if it weren’t personal you wouldn’t be here to read these words.

            Or, to put it another way, there is no such thing as impersonal information. Abstract terms describing theoretical concepts -- like civil rights, climate change, government corruption, and foreign aid -- take on meaning only in a personal context.

            Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not advocating personal attacks on someone’s appearance or morals. Rather, recognize that whatever you say, the person you’re speaking to will take it personally.

            If they don’t, they’re not listening.


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