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

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29

Sep

2019

Leadership conference lacks leadership

Author: Jim Taylor

It was billed as the biggest, most important, leadership conference ever held in this area -- the Level Up Executive Leadership Conference -- 10 hours with eight great leaders -- yesterday.

            If you bought tickets ranging in price up to $1600, plus tax, you got to hear about leadership from two former prime ministers of Canada: Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper.

            The term “former” applies to several other speakers too.

            Darren Hardy is the former publisher /editor of Success Magazine.

            Walter Bond is a former star in the National Basketball Association.

            Omar Johnson is the former CEO of Beats by Dre, the premium headphone company.

            Lane Merrifield is the former owner of Penguin Club, sold to Disney for $350 million.

           I tried to think back to Jean Chretien’s years as prime minister. Only two things spring to mind -- his attempt to strangle a man who objected his policies, and his long-standing feud with Paul Martin that split the Liberal Party and led to its humiliation in the 2011 federal election.

            If that’s leadership, count me out.

            I remember much more about Stephen Harper’s leadership.


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25

Sep

2019

I still don’t know what worship is

Author: Jim Taylor

You’ve probably heard someone say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” They might apply the saying to music, cars, or cooking. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. 

            Lately, I’ve been saying it about worship. 

            I’ve probably had more experience of worship than most lay people. Since I was a child, I’ve attended worship services pretty much every week.

            As a journalist writing about religion, I’ve attended worship in Africa, India, and South America – places where I understood not a single word said or sung. I’ve worshipped in big churches and small churches, in affluent churches and struggling churches, in churches with long-term clergy and in churches with no professional leadership at all. 

            I’ve shared the Eucharist with 5,000 at a World Council of Churches Assembly. And I’ve sat with six strangers on wooden benches in a converted garage where a lay preacher harangued me about hell and the woman next to me sounded as if she might be having an orgasm.

            I’ve heard a lot of sermons. Some were brilliant. Others — to quote my friend Ralph Milton — “barely dribbled over the edge of the pulpit before expiring on the floor.”

            But worship is more than a sermon. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: worship, sermon, WCC

22

Sep

2019

On the wrong side of a watershed

Author: Jim Taylor

My granddaughter is black. She’s in Grade 10, in a comfortable, friendly little city with a population of around 40,000 -- almost entirely white.

            My granddaughter is discovering racism. She’s the only black person in her class. Some of her classmates -- one boy in particular -- call her “nigger.” They make fun of her. She feels excluded. 

            She says she desperately wants to move to Vancouver. Or Los Angeles. Or even Atlanta. Where she won’t stand out, be different, where there are more black people and she can blend in.

            She doesn’t realize that blending in -- especially in Los Angeles or Atlanta -- might be more hazardous than standing out in Canada. Blending in might mean getting pulled over, interrogated, searched and manhandled, for the crime of being black while driving. She might be denied educational opportunities, or shut out of job opportunities. At worst, she might be a target for a white-supremacist’s bullets. 


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17

Sep

2019

flipped images

Author: Jim Taylor

I don’t write poems in a flush of enthusiasm. I start writing because there’s something in my gut that I want to express, but I don’t know how. So I write, and I set aside, and some day months along I come back to those inarticulate gropings and see something in them, and start rewriting, amending, polishing. 

            This is one of those long-buried beginnings, resurrected. 

flipped images

 

my printer went to sleep

it dozes off, when it’s not

making black marks on white paper

it has to keep itself busy

when it’s not, it turns its neurons off

grabs a nap, goes dormant

puts its digital processes on hold

to save energy

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16

Sep

2019

Water should be treated as sacred

Author: Jim Taylor

I stepped out the front door of the theatre last Saturday night just as the first drops of rain fell. The drops felt as big as marbles.

            I ran for my car.

            Then the rain came pounding down. Too much, too fast, for windshield wipers to keep up.

            Driving home, I counted the gaps between flashes of lightning. Three to five seconds. Once, I got to ten seconds before the next flash.

            Water coursed down the gutters. Tree branches, bent under the weight of water running off their leaves, thrashed in gusts of wind.

            And I was not in the Bahamas. Where Hurricane Dorian had wreaked utter havoc earlier that week.

 

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11

Sep

2019

Actions that change the world

Author: Jim Taylor

Today is the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001. 

            My wife and I were wakened early that morning by a frantic call from our daughter, who lived one time zone east. She sobbed, “Turn on your TV! You have to see this!”

            Through the rest of the day, we watched, transfixed by the tragedy. Over and over, we watched the two planes bank, smash into the towers, with a gout of exploding fuel erupting through the far wall of the tower. 

            We watched as the buildings collapsed like a house of cards.

            Of course, there were two other hijacked flights. One crashed into the Pentagon. And another, possibly intended for the White House or Congress, where the passengers refused to sit passively and let it happen. They overwhelmed the hijackers. 

            I wonder what would have happened if the passengers on the two flights piloted into the World Trade Center had shown similar initiative. 


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8

Sep

2019

Evolution and science are not the enemy

Author: Jim Taylor

There have been more mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year than days in the year. CBS News predicts the U.S. will end 2019 having averaged at least one mass shooting every single day.

            It makes reporting fairly easy. Reporters can simply fill in the blanks: “Today in (name of city) a gunman opened fire in (name of church, store, mosque, or synagogue) with a (make or model of gun) killing (number dead), and injuring (number hospitalized) before being shot and killed by police.”

            In the wake of the latest mass shooting -- Which one? Does it matter? -- the TV program  Fox and Friends called in a pastor to explain what was going wrong with the nation.

            Former police officer Tony Perkins, a Southern Baptist minister who heads an organization called the Family Research Council, blamed the rash of mass murders on the teaching of science --  particularly evolution -- in American schools.

            He said, “We've taught our kids that they come about by chance through primordial slime and then we're surprised that they treat their fellow Americans like dirt."


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4

Sep

2019

The changing seasons of life

Author: Jim Taylor

Our hummingbirds have flown south.

            We hung out three hummingbird feeders all summer. Hummingbirds are scrappy little critters, even more so than finches. They fiercely defend their own territory, which includes what they think of as their own private Walmart of sweet nectar.

            Even so, we’ve sometimes had three or four birds zipping around at a time, grabbing a sip here, a sip there.

            The last hummingbird dropped in for a drink about two weeks ago. I think she was a female calliope hummingbird, although she didn’t stay still long enough for an unskilled bird watcher like me to check her anatomical details.

            She fluttered up, slurped, and was gone.

            And didn’t come back for a second martini.

           That last little hummingbird prompted me to read up about bird migration.


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