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

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28

Nov

2018

The goal of true community

Author: Jim Taylor

We had just arrived in the Okanagan. We moved in, unpacked, and went church shopping.

            The first church we tried was Winfield United. The service itself was, well, so-so. Solid. Perhaps even stolid. Nothing exciting, but nothing offensive either.

            Then, on our way out, Marg Kyle grabbed me. “We need you in our choir,” she insisted.

            I’ve been singing in that choir for 25 years now.

            In the church — and I guess in other contexts too — we talk a lot about community. We value community, even the virtual community supposedly offered by the internet.

            And yet we often get it wrong. A seniors’ care home is not automatically a community. Neither is a housing sub-division. Both can become a community — but that will depend on the relationships of the people who live there, not just on living in close proximity.

            And having a million followers on Twitter or Facebook does not create a community either.


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25

Nov

2018

Think twice before saying something offensive

Author: Jim Taylor

Harjit Sajjan is a Sikh, a man with brown skin, a full beard, and a turban. He’s also Canada’s Defence Minister.

            An unnamed member of Canada’s  Conservative Party posted a Facebook message with a photo of Sajjan and the caption, “This is what happens when you have a cabinet based on affirmative action.”

            I haven’t heard much opposition to affirmative action recently. (Clearly, I move in different circles from the person who posted the message.)

            Affirmative action is a process for righting past wrongs. For admitting more Black or indigenous students to universities, because they were previously discriminated against. For hiring more visible minorities on police forces. For promoting more women to management positions.

So when newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in 2015 that his cabinet would be 50 per cent female, there was shock. Fear that cabinet members would be appointed for their gender, not their competence.

            In fact, Trudeau’s affirmative action didn’t stop with gender equality. He also included non-Caucasians in his cabinet. Among them, Harjit Sajjan, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

            The Conservative party’s Facebook post reveals that some of its members still object to affirmative action. 


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23

Nov

2018

Snowflakes

Author: Jim Taylor

“The fog,” Carl Sandburg wrote, “comes

on little cat feet.”

If so, 

snow 

arrives on kitten paws, 


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Categories: Poetry

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23

Nov

2018

Tangled maze

Author: Jim Taylor

This poem when my friend Arlene Erickson, hearing about what ministers have been taught in most seminaries since the 1950s, demanded, “Why haven’t we ordinary people been told any of this stuff?” Something about the content led me to put it together in lines vaguely resembling the discipline of iambic pentameter.


“Behold,” he said, “thy path unto salvation.”

 

“What path?” I asked, “for all that I can see 

are thickets of incomprehension; thorns

that reach to snare unwary travellers,

quicksand salivating for a sucker,

roots that rise to trip my thoughts; and tigers 

burning bright, crouched to leap with tooth 

and claw upon my slightest flaw.


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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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