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

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15

Mar

2020

Serenity in short supply these days

Author: Jim Taylor

           As Scott Gilmore editorialized in Maclean’s, “It’s not the end of the world, it just feels that way.”

            Gilmore recalled his childhood days, reading a framed poem on a church wall. He assumed it must be “a piece of ancient wisdom, a psalm from the Old Testament.”

            It was neither. It was a prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in the 1930s:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”

            It’s commonly called the “Serenity Prayer.” Alcoholics Anonymous popularized it. Other self-help programs have picked it up.

            Are prayers the answer to today’s chaos?

 


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29

Aug

2018

Hello. Hello? Anyone there?

Author: Jim Taylor

I tried to pray about a controversy over sex education in our schools -- what should be taught, and how. 

            A heavenly voice answered: “Thank you for your prayer. All our angels are presently busy dealing with other customers. Please stay on line and an angel will be with you shortly.”

            Some harps played mood music. 

            “Your continued devotion is very important to us. Please note that your prayer may be recorded for training and/or monitoring purposes.”

            I prepared my church membership papers, my baptismal certificate, my password (“Jesus,” of course) and my Personal Identification Number (666, of course) just in case they asked for authentication. 

            “For service in English, press 1. For service in Latin, press 2. For service in any other language, press 3 and wait for a Google translator to assist you.”

            I chose English.

            “King James thanks thee for thine loyalty. To speak to a confessor about sins thou mayest have committed by thought, word, and deed against thy Father Almighty’s divine majesty, press 1. To confess sins committed against another human, press 2. To confess sins of omission, press 3." 


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21

Jul

2018

The intensity of good intentions

Author: Jim Taylor

At a guess, the little girl would be about eight years old, her first year as a piano student. When she squirmed up onto the piano bench, her red patent leather shoes hung high above the floor. There was no way she could reach the pedals. 

            She poised one finger to hit the first note. 

            She followed that note with a second, and a third. And she stopped. Something wasn’t right. 

            She tried again. One note, another, a third. And stopped again. She didn’t know how to go on. 

            She froze. Afraid to make another mistake. Afraid to risk another try. 

            Utter silence filled the room. No one breathed. The audience – parents, grandparents, siblings, fellow students – leaned forward as one. Wishing her on, willing her unwilling fingers to continue. 

            The intensity was physical. The old cliché says “You could cut it with a knife.” Well, perhaps not that palpable. But there was certainly something there in that room, a presence that filled the space, a spirit that moved in waves to support the little pianist. 


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31

May

2017

Help wanted: divine intervention

Author: Jim Taylor

Okay, God, I apologize. In the past, I have occasionally argued that you don’t intervene in worldly events. I have even suggested that you cannot intervene to fix things down here.

            I was wrong. I must have been. Because Dan Rather writes in his Facebook blog, “I end each of my days with a silent prayer for my country… I hope against hope as I slip off to sleep that our rapid descent into governmental chaos has hit a nadir -- only to awaken to a new set of incoherent tweets or explosive headlines. I pray again that our Constitutional government, the great gift of our Founding Fathers, will provide a safety net to catch us before everything we hold dear is no more…”

            If a famous news anchor like Dan Rather believes you can do something about the state of the world, who am I to disagree?


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