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

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3

May

2022

Random thoughts on an Easter morning

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 21, 2022

 

My alarm went off at 5:30 Easter morning. Through my window, on the far side of the lake, a full moon was slipping behind the mountains. 

            I heard a thump. A bird had flown into my window. Quail aren’t noted for intelligence – but even they know it’s easier to find sunflower seeds at my feeder than to scrabble around in the undergrowth looking for leftovers from last fall. 

            A quail, a nerf-ball of feathers, lay motionless on my deck. Broken its neck when it hit the glass, I assumed. 

            But I had an Easter sunrise service to attend. So I left it for later. 


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3

May

2022

Easter isn’t about eggs and bunnies

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 17, 2022

 

The sun has not yet risen.  It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Jewish women straggle along a path towards a cliffside cemetery outside the city walls. Gravel crunches under their sandals. Their breath makes little clouds in the chilly morning air. 


 ***************

The sun has not yet risen.  It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Ukrainian women creep from the underground bunker where they have been imprisoned for the last few days. Even underground, they could feel the earth tremble aa bombs showered on the city above them. 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Easter, Ukraine, women

8

Apr

2021

Singing to the Easter sunrise

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 8, 2021

 

The church congregation I belong to has held an Easter Sunrise service for at least 40 years. The last two years, however, Covid-19 has thrown a virus into the works. Health restrictions prohibit any gathering of people. And any singing. 

            This year, for some reason that I cannot fully define, I felt that I needed a sunrise service. 

            If we couldn’t have one collectively, I decided, I would have one individually. 

            Which is why I found myself, half an hour before dawn on Easter Sunday, climbing a steep trail up Spion Kop, a local peak. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Easter, sunrise

20

Apr

2019

Waiting for a resurrection

Author: Jim Taylor

Today is, officially, Holy Saturday – the empty space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It might better be called Holey Saturday. It is a hole, a hiatus, an abyss between the two strongest days of the Christian calendar. 

           Unlike Christmas – which has very little biblical evidence to support a date of December 25 – the date of Jesus’ crucifixion can be quite precisely identified. It happened at the Jewish Passover, which came about according to a 1000-year-old formula based on the spring equinox and the full moon.

            The crucifixion is also one of the few facts in the Bible that cannot be challenged. Every gospel, every letter, agrees that Jesus was crucified. No other world religion claims a leader who was executed as a criminal. 

            And the traditions agree that on the “third day” – counting Friday as Day One, because the counters didn’t have zero, yet – on Sunday morning, he was no longer in his tomb. 

           But Saturday is the day between. When nothing happens. 

            Because nothing could happen. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. The laws of Moses made it a day of rest. Jews were commanded to emulate God, who – according to Genesis – created the universe in six days, then rested on the seventh day. That’s why the women had to wait until Sunday morning to come to the tomb, 


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1

Apr

2018

The biggest religious event in the world

Author: Jim Taylor

Today is Easter Sunday. All around the world, millions of Christian congregations will celebrate the Resurrection (with a capital R) of Jesus of Nazareth.

            It is the single biggest religious celebration in the world – bigger than Islam’s hajj or Hinduism’s mela, which garner much greater media attention. So how could I avoid writing about it?

            You know the story -- Jesus went to Jerusalem, upset the local authorities, was arrested, tried, tortured, and was put to death. As the historic Apostles’ Creed puts it, he “was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again…”

            In the majority of Christian congregations, the preacher will treat the Resurrection as a literal, physical, honest-to-gawd fact. 

            The narratives were intended to offer legal proof of their claim -- under Jewish law, two eye-witnesses were considered sufficient proof. The Bible offers dozens of witnesses; thousands, according to Paul. 

            Legal proof does not equal scientific proof. In science, the results of an experiment can only be considered valid if they can be replicated. One-shot results are either accidents, or frauds.

            Clearly, the Easter Resurrection is a one-time-only event.


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Easter

27

Mar

2016

Re-thinking the Resurrection

Author: Jim Taylor
This is not one of my usual columns. The newspaper which gets “first publication” rights is not publishing today, Easter Sunday. That leaves me free to muse about Easter, in general. Easter, as seen by the secular world, is about bunnies and eggs. And chocolate. And spring in the northern hemisphere. And did I mention chocolate? But in the Christian church, it’s about The Resurrection (with capital letters). When I was much younger, the Rev. Jim Campbell invited his congregation to submit topics they wanted him to preach about. My note said, “Resurrection -- I’d love to see how you handle it!” I knew that Jim was too honest a minister to simply repeat conventional platitudes. He didn’t disappoint me.
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