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

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12

Nov

2022

Happy Birthday, dear Universe…

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 20, 2022

 

The universe will be 6026 years old this weekend. According to Irish Archbishop James Ussher, in 1650, the universe began on October 23, 4004 BCE (Before Christian Era).

            It’s easy to make fun of Ussher. Years ago, I had a part in the play Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized treatment of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925.

            During one rehearsal, the actor portraying prosecutor Matthew Brady declared, in a voice like God playing Spencer Tracy, that the earth had been created at “precisely 9:00 a.m.”

            And a voice from the audience cracked, “9:30 in Newfoundland…”

            The cast erupted in laughter.

 

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8

Aug

2018

Long before the Bible

Author: Jim Taylor

            You’ve probably seen pictures of cuneiform writing – little wedge-shaped marks pressed into clay tablets. They go back to the Mesopotamian cultures of the Tigris-Euphrates valley, many millennia ago. 

            In school, I was told, cuneiform was a primitive form of accounting. Lacking pen and paper – let alone computers and spreadsheets – the ancient tribes of what is now called Iraq used soft clay tablets to record the number of sheep or bags of wheat someone had bought or sold. It was just a numbering system, I understood.

            Of course, I didn’t bother thinking that those ancient traders also needed symbols for sheep and wheat they were trading. 

            Most of those clay tablets eventually returned to the mud from whence they came. But a few were baked, to preserve them longer. And some got baked, unintentionally, when marauding tribes burned houses and granaries. 


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