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

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18

Oct

2022

The apology that changed Canadian history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 2, 2022

 

Friday September 30 was Orange Shirt Day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

            Forty years ago, such an event would have been unthinkable. 

            And then, in March 1985, a woman named Alberta Billie did the unthinkable. She told a meeting of the United Church of Canada’s Executive that the church should apologize for its role in running “Indian” residential schools. 

            A little more than a year later, on August 15, 1986, the church’s moderator, the Rev. Bob Smith, led the church in Canada’s first-ever apology to Canada’s indigenous peoples. 


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12

Jun

2019

Attitudes that are NOT welcome

Author: Jim Taylor

A couple of Sundays ago, Bob Thompson, our minister-for-the-day, talked about what the United Church of Canada believes, or doesn’t  believe.

            He said, “I often hear that the United Church is tolerant. I don’t think it is. Like Coventry Cathedral, we do welcome ‘pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters – and you.’ But when you come in our doors, you need to know that we are not tolerant of attitudes that dismiss or demean others... 

            “If you are racist, misogynist, white supremacist, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, or anti-immigrant, you are still welcome to come in. But don’t bring those ideas with you, and don’t expect them to be welcomed.”

            I like Bob’s distinction. Many religious communities have Statements of Faith – things you MUST believe if you want to belong. Anything else you want to believe, beyond that official statement, is up to you. 

            Sometimes it’s equally important to state what you may NOT believe. 


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26

May

2019

U.S. legislators see women as slaves

Author: Jim Taylor

Women in eight U.S. states have now been told that they have value only as wombs and child-care workers. Eight states have now effectively banned abortion, in what appears to be a coordinated attack on the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.

            Arkansas and Utah moved the permissible date up to 18 weeks of pregnancy. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri moved it up to six weeks, when the embryo’s heartbeat can be first detected -- before many women even know they’re pregnant.

            Alabama enacted the most stringent restrictions, banning abortion entirely. At any stage.

            After the Alabama votes, gloating representatives declared their legislation a triumph for human rights. For protecting the most vulnerable members of society.

            But the smirk on the face of those representatives as they faced the media’s cameras told the real story. It said, “Ha! Gotcha, you bitches!”


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21

Nov

2018

The old systems don’t work anymore

Author: Jim Taylor

Our son was 14 when he came up for confirmation. For those not familiar with the policies of the United Church of Canada, confirmation was a ritual by which young people who were already members of the church by their baptism became “full” members by “confirming” the promises made on their behalf by their parents before they were capable of making any decisions for themselves, so that they could participate fully in church life.

            Back then, it was still believed that young people actually wantedto join the church.

            So they went through a three-step process. First, they had to learn what the church historically believed. And why. And why it mattered.

            Then they were allowed to belong to this community of faith. And then, once they been absorbed into the body politic, they were expected to act – to behave, in other words – like true Christians.

            Believe. Belong. Behave. That was the way it was done.


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