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

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30

Jan

2019

Religious rituals that boggle our minds

Author: Jim Taylor

The biggest religious event in the world is taking place right now, and I expect you haven’t heard a word about it. It’s the Kumbh Mela, where 130 million Hindus will purify themselves by plunging into the Ganges River. 

            Stop! You didn’t let that figure sink in -- 130 million! That’s equivalent to gathering in one place the entire populations of metropolitan New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mexico City, Cairo, and London – every man, woman, and child. 

            Or more than three times the whole population of Canada, gathering on a mud flat at the junction of two sacred rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna.

           What do all those Hindus do at a Kumbh Mela? I don’t know; I’ve never been there in person. Even if I did go, I expect it would be meaningless to me, an outsider. 

            Certainly, nothing connected to the Ganges River suggests purification to me.

 

 

 

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Categories: Soft Edges

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27

Jan

2019

Legislative officers milked the public teat

Author: Jim Taylor

Everyone knows what a “per diem” payment is. Per diem means, simply, “each day.” Corporate bodies -- whether public or private -- use the term to identify the amount that an employee may be repaid for meals, local expenses, and accommodation paid out of pocket.

            Of course, hardly anyone pays for those expenses out of pocket any more. They go directly onto the corporate credit card.

            So, theoretically, there should be little need for per diem payments.

            Unless those employees feel entitled to receive those payments, regardless of what they didn’t actually spend.

            Per diem payments exemplify, to my mind, the underlying issue in the scandal involving two senior officers of the B.C. Legislature, Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.

            Speaker Darryl Plecas noted that both claimed full per diem compensation for occasions where meals had been provided by their British hosts.

            And they had also claimed, on their expense accounts, $1000 suits. Jewelry. Luggage. Souvenirs.


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24

Jan

2019

Reading life below the surface

Author: Jim Taylor

There was a time, I seem to recall, when a handshake was worth more than a legal contract. The hand-shakers had reached an agreement; they would stick to it, come hell or high water.

            But in literal fact, a handshake is simply a momentary meeting of palms.

            The example of a handshake came up during a discussion of a blog posting by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who heads the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico. Rohr wasn’t writing about handshakes, of course. He was writing about how people read the Bible. Or any other sacred text.

            “While biblical messages often proceed from historical incidents, the actual message does not depend upon communicating those events with perfect factual accuracy,” Rohr suggested.

            “Spiritual writers are not primarily journalists… Scripture can be understood on at least four levels: literal meaning, deep meaning, comparative meaning, and hidden meaning.”

            He explained, “The literal level of meaning doesn’t get to the root and, in fact, is the least helpful to the soul and the most dangerous for history." 

            It occurred to me that the same approach might enrich our understanding of everyday events. Like handshakes, for example.


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21

Jan

2019

When it’s time for me to go

Author: Jim Taylor

When it’s time for me to go,

I drift to the edges

of the bubbling broth 

of chatter

and then I slip 

silently 

into the night outside. 


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: death, departure

21

Jan

2019

Pointy hoods

Author: Jim Taylor

I added a picture to this poem, so that you would have a better sense of the scene that prompted this reflection. You'll have to go to the main page to see it, though. 

 

Fresh snow coats the spiky crowns of evergreens

into narrow cones of shining white

steepled against a brillig sky -- 

a vast convocation 

of pointy white hoods.

 

Do spruce trees also

have pointy little brains

beneath their whited hoods?

 

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