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

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

16

Jan

2019

Singing is breathing together

Author: Jim Taylor

The most radical thing that churches do these days is not their social justice programs, their housing for the homeless, or even their political lobbying. It’s their singing.

            Have you noticed that the younger generations don’t sing? Oh, they’re never without music. They have music -- or at least what they consider music -- pumped into their ears constantly by their Bluetooth earbuds. They have audio systems in their cars that can rattle windows a block away.

            But they don’t sing along. They kinda grunt and twitch along.

            Increasingly, I think that singing is a counter-cultural phenomenon. And it happens mostly in churches.


Comments (0) Number of views (22)

13

Jan

2019

Don’t blame charities for drop box deaths

Author: Jim Taylor

Recently, a woman got trapped in a donation box in Toronto and died. A week earlier, a man died in a West Vancouver donation box. The media found that since 2015, eight people have died trying to get inside these clothing bins.

            Critics called the bins “death traps.” A witness to the Toronto woman’s death said, “She was just utterly pinned in there… It was like an animal trap designed not to release her.”

            In a collection of panicky responses, West Vancouver ordered all donation bins in the city locked. Vancouver considered banning them completely. Diabetes Canada decided to retrofit all of its 4000 clothing donation bins across the country. Burnaby called for the removal of all bins.

            All of which seems to imply that hundreds of charities – national, regional, or local – are at fault for risking the public’s health.

            No one seems to be asking why the public is getting into the bins anyway.


Comments (0) Number of views (20)

9

Jan

2019

Dealing with life’s disabilities

Author: Jim Taylor

My dog is going deaf. At thirteen and half, she’s earned it -- that’s a ripe old age for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

            First we noticed that she no longer came running to greet us when the garage door opened.

            Then she didn’t hear the doorbell ring.

            And she didn’t come when I whistled.

            When a Chessie doesn’t respond to the word “Food!” we knew something was seriously wrong with her hearing.

            Her deafness has affected our relationship. She now ignores commands that she used to obey, if reluctantly. Then she looks puzzled about why we’re upset with her. She apparently never developed the skill of lip reading.

            Once, when we had conversations on our walks, she didn’t know what I was saying. Now, she doesn’t even know I’m saying anything.

 


Comments (0) Number of views (49)

6

Jan

2019

No joking about bombs

Author: Jim Taylor

On New Year’s Eve, as 100,000 rain-soaked revellers gathered in Times Square to watch the giant ball descend at midnight, someone at the U.S. Strategic Command headquarters in Nebraska posted a Twitter message.

            The tweet, accompanied by a video clip of a B-2 bomber dropping nuclear warheads, declared: “"#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball...if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger."

            Three hours later, a more senior person posted an apology: “Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.”

            Those tweets were inevitably followed by hundreds of replies --  roughly divided among

a)    thanking Strategic Command for keeping America safe,

b)   insisting that the whole thing was supposed to be humorous, and

c)    wondering why anyone who thinks nuclear weapons are a joking matter should be trusted with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

 


Comments (0) Number of views (21)

2

Jan

2019

Don’t depend on definitions

Author: Jim Taylor

I’ve made my New Year’s Resolution. I hereby resolve that I will not participate in arguments based upon definitions. 

            A definition, by definition, defines. More precisely, it de-fines. Note the prefix. If you look up “de-” in  a dictionary, you’ll find it means to remove, reduce, lower… In other words, definitions narrow any discussion. They shift the focus from lived experience to someone else’s wisdom, frozen into print. 

            Once, in an early essay, I used the phrase “by definition.” My instructor scribbled, “Whose definition?” 

            Because definitions change. 

           Many people, I suspect, don’t realize the un-examined definitions they’re working with. 

            A friend yearns for mystical experiences. It won’t happen. Because, under pressure, he admits that an encounter with God requires getting knocked senseless, blinded -- or at least blind-sided -- and ordered by a disembodied voice like Paul Robeson’s to change his life.



 

Comments (0) Number of views (44)

30

Dec

2018

The death of optimism offers hope

Author: Jim Taylor

Here we are -- like deer on a road, transfixed by the headlights of 2019 bearing down on us. I don’t know anyone who’s looking forward to the new year.

            Is it just me? Or is this a pervasive view in North America?

            Climate change, hurricanes, floods, droughts, volcanoes, tidal waves, crashing stock markets, meaningless mass murders, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies, trade wars, toxic chemicals, crumbling infrastructures, refugees, terrorists, nuclear re-armament, computer hackers -- the news is as bleak as a winter day. And I haven’t even mentioned the White House yet…

            The world, it would seem, is going to hell in a handcart.

            What I am feeling, I think, is the death of optimism.


Comments (0) Number of views (25)

26

Dec

2018

Standing at the gate of the year

Author: Jim Taylor

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown…”

            King George VI used those words in his Christmas address to the British Empire, in 1939--three months after World War II had begun. They seemed prophetic, given the “unknown” massing across the English Channel.

            It seems appropriate again, as we head into a new year in which the unpredictable Donald Trump is likely to be even more explosively unpredictable, a new year  in which China and Russia flex their muscles, in which financial markets display suicidal impulses, and in which global warming draws closer to irreversibility.

            The night looks dark.

            “Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown…”


Comments (0) Number of views (37)

23

Dec

2018

A nativity story updated

Author: Jim Taylor

           In those days a decree went out, from the emperors living in their glass houses with closed circuit surveillance cameras and 24-hour security patrols, that all the world should be embroiled in civil wars, so that their spheres of influence might be extended over unwilling populations. 

            And so the imperial forces used remote-control drones to bomb innocent victims in Yemen, and brought 20 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation. 

            And they burned to the ground 400 Rohingya villages in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and forced a seemingly endless line of 900,000 people to seek refuge in Bangladesh, where they lived in bamboo shelters on low-lying land prone to flooding.

            And they bombed prosperous cities in Syria and Iraq into rubble, and turned religious factions against each other, and drove the Yazidi minority to retreat into rocky mountains.

            And they maintained armies of occupation in Afghanistan and Crimea, and confined the residents of Gaza into their own private concentration camp, and built walls to restrict the movement of Mexicans and Hondurans and Palestinians. 

            And behold, the number of displaced people around the world, many of them refugees within their own countries, rose to 70 million. 


Comments (0) Number of views (25)

19

Dec

2018

Christmas trees and memories

Author: Jim Taylor

I woke in the middle of the night, sensing something was wrong. Beyond the bedroom door, I could see light, where there shouldn’t have been any.

            It came from our living room. We had forgotten to turn off the lights on the Christmas tree.

            I could have turned them off, and fumbled through deeper darkness back to bed. But I didn’t. I settled into an easy chair, and sank into a reverie.

            Joan and I had decorated that tree, earlier that day. Every ornament had its story. The spire on top, that she remembers from her childhood. Glass balls accumulated, year after year. Delicate brass symbols bought on trips to Europe. Fabric decorations she painstakingly embroidered…

            We didn’t have any of those when we started life together. Just tinsel, that we hung strand by strand. And walnuts, sprayed gold, for balls. And paper snowflakes stuck to our windows with Saran wrap


Comments (0) Number of views (34)

16

Dec

2018

Two books for every religious liberal

Author: Jim Taylor

At year end, many columnists share their reading recommendations. My recommendations are quite short. Just two books.

            I’ve read more than that, of course. But these two left a lasting impression on me: A God That Could Be Real, by Nancy Ellen Abrams, and The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt.

            I like the Abrams book because it takes a totally different approach to discussing the reality — or not — of a divine being. I don’t recall her ever quoting the Bible. Or the doctrines of any church. Or the theories of any theologian.

            Instead of starting with whatever people already know and assume about the nature of God, she starts with science. With what we already know, and we can know, about the universe we live in.


Comments (0) Number of views (32)
RSS
12345678910Last

Tags

"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G abduction abortion Abrams abuse addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging Ahriman Ahura Mazda airport killings albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations Almighty Almighty God ALS alt-right altruism Amherst Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac App Store Archives armistice artifacts astronomy atonement atropine Attawapiscat attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B-2 baby Bach baggage Bahai Banda banning books Barabbas barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears Beethoven beginnings behaviour belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo Bible biblical sex birth birthday birthdays Blackmore blood blood donors body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women bombings bombs books border patrol both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brains Brazil breath breathe breathing broken bubbles Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats Canute caregivers caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cats cave CBC Cecil the lion. Zanda CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas trees church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty communication Communion community complexity composers conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues Confirmation confusion Congo Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party contraception Conversations coral Cornwallis Cosby Cougars counter-cultural courtesy courts CPP CRA creation creche crescent Creston crime criminal crucifixion Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki dead zone deaf deafness death decision Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's Depression Descartes despair determinism Devin Kelley dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs dying Dylan Thomas Earth Day Easter Ebola eclipse economics Eden editing Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or email embassy emergent emotions English epiphany epitaph Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy evacuation evacuation orders Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played evil Evolution expectations experiment extinctions extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook faith False Creek fascist fear Fedex feel Fentanyl figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow charts flowers fluency flying Folk sayings Food Bank forensic Forest fires forests forgiving Four Pests campaign franchises free free speech free will freedom friend friendships fruit fundamentalism future Gaia games Garrison Keillor Geese Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Rule good good intentions goodness Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper Grinch Group of seven growth guilt guns Habits hackers Haidt haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki harassment Harjit Sajjan harmony Haskins Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Hell helping heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses Huawei human rights hurricane ICBMs ice dance identity IMF imitation immigrants immortality immuno-globulin inclusive language income taxes independence India individualism inertia Infinity injustice intelligence intervention IPCC irreverence Isaac Watts ISIS Islam Jack McCarthy Jagmeet Singh James Shaw Jr. Jean Piaget Jebusites Jeff Sessions Jerusalem Jessica Farrar Jessie Oliver Jesus John A MacDonald Johnny Mercer joining Jonathan Haidt Jonathan Kay Joni Mitchell Jordan Peterson Joseph judgement judges Julie Payette jury justice Justin Trudeau Kaepernick Karen Armstrong Kaunda Kavanaugh Keaton Jones Kelly Pocha Kelowna Ken Lam Kick the can Kilauea killing Kim Jong Un Kim Jong-Un Kimberley Jones Kinder-Morgan King George VI Kinsbury mosque Kiribati Kissinger Kitimat kneel knitting knowing God knowledge Kootenay Kootenay Lake Kootenays Korean War kryptonite Kurt Weill Lake Country lakes Language Las Vegas law laws leadership learning leaves Lent Leonard Cohen Leroy Anderson Lethbridge letter letters to the editor leukemia Liberal lies life light lightning
Copyright 2019 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada