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

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27

Jan

2022

How you measure differences

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday January 27, 2022

 

When Canadians have nothing else to talk about, they talk about the weather. (Or , being Canadian, they apologize for talking about the weather.)

            It’s understandable. 

            Recently, a family of four froze to death in a field near Emerson, Manitoba. News reports say they had warm winter clothes. But they still succumbed to wind chill and minus-35 Celsius temperatures. 

            Apparently they were trying to cross the border, illegally, into the U.S. They died within yards (metres) of the boundary. A few more steps, and they’d have crossed into warmer climes. Where it would have been only minus-31. 

            Fahrenheit, that is.

            That’s a joke, although it’s no joking matter. 


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24

Jan

2022

A constant process of renewal

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday January 20, 2022

 

 “My wife keeps getting younger,” friend Bob bragged the other day. “Since I married her, she’s had a new hip, a new knee, a new kidney, and a new shoulder.”

            He was joking, of course. But it’s no joke. Most people my age have replaced some of our original equipment with spare parts. I have a titanium elbow. Another friend walks on two artificial knees and two artificial hips. 

            And almost all of us benefit from eyeglasses, hearing aids, and enhanced teeth.

            I read an essay, years ago, that wondered what the boundary was between human and artificial. How many parts of the body can be replaced before we  lose our identity as individual human beings?


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16

Jan

2022

Now for something completely different

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday January 13, 2022

 

The only channel where I can watch Jeopardy is a U.S. channel out of Seattle. So, in addition to the contestants’ wit and wisdom, I get to listen to ads for U.S. pharmaceutical products.

            The first few lines urge you to try the drug. Followed by a full minute – or, in magazines, a full page, or more -- of warnings about possible risks and side effects.

            It got me thinking that maybe other human institutions should be equally up-front about potential consequences.

           The most obvious target would be religion. So I’ll chose the one I know best-- Christianity.


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7

Jan

2022

Tears as a sign of rejoicing

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday January 6, 2022

 

I’m turning into a sentimental old fool. I find myself unexpectedly moved to tears, or at least to sniffles, by some act of kindness or caring. 

            It could be anything. A video clip about a group of people working together to extricate a moose from a mudhole. An anonymous donation to my church’s Thrift Shop that prepays purchases for a dozen or more shoppers. 

            The very best present I received this past Christmas was a letter from my granddaughter Katherine.  “Is it okay?” Katherine asked, when I looked up from reading her letter. I couldn’t answer; I was too choked up.


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30

Dec

2021

A toast to lost causes

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 30, 2021

 

There should be a day for celebrating lost causes. 

            My little hummingbird didn’t survive the cold snap after Christmas. She showed up here after all the other hummingbirds had migrated south. I assume that the “atmospheric river” swept her up from the coast and dumped her in an Okanagan winter. 

            I had not bothered taking down my sugar-syrup feeders when all the other hummingbirds had fled south. So there she was, one day in December. 

            Temperatures dropped to minus-6 Celsius. And still she came back, every day. 

 

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28

Dec

2021

Christmas -- how God does things

Author: Jim Taylor

 

Thursday December 23, 2021

 

What I like most about Christmas, I think, is that it forces me to sharpen my beliefs.

            I call myself a Christian (though I’m sure some would consider me a humanist at best, an atheist at worst). Certainly, I come from a Christian tradition. And Christian tradition has asserted, for centuries, that God was born as a human baby. We call him Jesus. Other cultures call him Jesu, or Yeshua, or some name that I don’t know. 

            Think about the sheer audacity of that claim. God became human! God didn’t just pretend to become human. God didn’t put on a human mask and go around in disguise. God became a human. A very specific historical human.

            The Incarnation makes my faith much simpler. If I want to know what God is like, I need only look at Jesus. 


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22

Dec

2021

Christmas dinner reveals hidden prejudices

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 16, 2021

 

A few years ago, my daughter invited three temporary Jamaican workers for Christmas dinner. 

            As the oldest male in the family, I got to carve the Christmas turkey. Of course, I served the guests first. “White meat or dark meat?” I asked.

            The three women looked at each other. Then one of them ventured, “Dark.”

            The other two agreed. 

             When plates were emptying, I offered seconds. This time, all three of the Jamaican women asked for white meat.

            It turned out that they had made an assumption. They thought that references to white and dark related to their skin colour, not the meat. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: racism, Prejudice

22

Dec

2021

We are more than our masks

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 9, 2021

 

The woman standing in line looked vaguely familiar. But because she was wearing a Covid mask, I could see only her eyes and forehead. 

            “Holly?” I asked, tentatively. 

            Her eyebrows shot up. Her eyes crinkled. “Jim!” she exclaimed, flinging her arms around me. (Take that, Covid!)

            I find it hard to recognize people with half their face hidden. 

            In the old days, people used masks to cover other parts of their faces. The Lone Ranger and Batman wore masks over the upper half. 

            Now it’s the opposite. 

 

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22

Dec

2021

The hummingbird who shouldn’t be here

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 2, 2021

 

I had a hummingbird around my house, last week. I shouldn’t have had a hummingbird at all – they migrated south more than a month ago. 

            But yes, a hummingbird was back. 

            One of my hummingbird feeders still had some sugar syrup in it that I, out of sheer laziness, had not emptied out. I didn’t believe my eyes when I saw this little hummingbird, wings beating invisibly, poke its beak into a fake plastic flower to sip some of the remaining nectar. 

            Then he/she/it flew over to my kitchen window. Looked in at me. Nodded acknowledgement. And flashed off to the mountain ash tree where it hunkered down, no bigger than the twig it perched on. 

            She was back again, the next day. So she wasn’t just an accidental, passing through. 


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12

Dec

2021

We are more than our masks

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday December 9, 2021

 

The woman standing in line looked vaguely familiar. But because she was wearing a Covid mask, I could see only her eyes and forehead. 

            “Holly?” I asked, tentatively. 

            Her eyebrows shot up. Her eyes crinkled. “Jim!” she exclaimed, flinging her arms around me. (Take that, Covid!)

            I find it hard to recognize people with half their face hidden. 

            In the old days, people used masks to cover other parts of their faces. The Lone Ranger and Batman wore masks over the upper half. Presumably, if people couldn’t see your eyes, they couldn’t recognize you. 

            Now it’s the opposite. 

 

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