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

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20

Apr

2016

Not good for lakes, or for us

Author: Jim Taylor
The lake below our house has been glassy calm lately. This happens, sometimes, in spring and fall. The water lies so still that it’s hard to tell the reality from the reflection.
I feel compelled to take pictures. My computer enables me to turn photographs upside down. Sometimes, the mirror image is so perfect even I don’t know which way is up.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: lakes

17

Apr

2016

Aboriginal suicides based on loss of hope

Author: Jim Taylor
Only one of my long-term friends ever committed suicide. I found his death much harder to get over, to get reconciled to, than the “normal” deaths of other friends. And so I can’t help wondering about the emotional effect of 11 suicide attempts in a single night. And then a plot by13 more to kill themselves just a few nights later. My mind reels. That’s the situation in Attawapiscat, an aboriginal community about halfway up the western shore of James Bay. A few years ago, Attawapiscat made national headlines when former chief Theresa Spence held a hunger strike near the parliament building in Ottawa. Perhaps the social conditions are worse in Attawapiscat than in other reserves; perhaps they’re not.
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13

Apr

2016

Revisiting the Ten Commandments

Author: Jim Taylor
A correspondent suggested that I should re-read The Ten Commandments, to get my faith straightened out. So I did.
The Ten Commandments are terse, imperative, and unconditional. They offer no wiggle room, no exceptions, no loopholes for special situations.
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6

Apr

2016

The mind is a many-layered thing

Author: Jim Taylor
I sit here at my computer, thinking about the words that my fingers will type into the next line of text. At the same time, part of my mind stands outside, watching me as I work, noting the way my shoulders tense when I’m searching for a word. And behind that, still another layer observes how my mind is able to observe itself. And behind that, perhaps, still another layer….
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: mind

3

Apr

2016

Five dollars a year keeps girls in school

Author: Jim Taylor
Everyone looks for “tipping points” -- the place in a social structure where the smallest input will have the greatest effect. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term with his 2000 book by that name. Tipping points can be, and often are, little things overlooked by people obsessed with the bigger picture. In New York, apparently, fixing broken windows and beautifying basketball courts started the city towards renewal. Polio vaccines and Rick Mercer’s mosquito nets have also captured tipping points -- small individual actions that can make a huge difference. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the obvious.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Uganda, girls, school

30

Mar

2016

Irreverence won’t hurt God

Author: Jim Taylor
A few years ago, I wrote a satirical ditty to the familiar sea shanty whose chorus goes, “Way, hey and up she rises.” Only I connected it to Easter: “Way, hey, and up He rises… early Easter morning.”
The first verse asked, “What shall we do with a risen saviour…?” The rest of the verses were, umm, a shade more irreverent:
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: irreverence

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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23

Mar

2016

Games that shape our later lives

Author: Jim Taylor
Today is halfway between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It’s also Spring Break for my grandchildren -- five extra days off school, plus the Easter weekend.
Most of the year, parents have their children’s after-school free time fully organized. Soccer practice, perhaps. Or swimming. Music lessons. Boys and girls club. Gym classes. Ballet. Whatever it is, it keeps the kids occupied, with some kind of adult supervision, until the parents get home from work.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: games

20

Mar

2016

A eulogy for disappearing trees

Author: Jim Taylor
I went for a walk in the wood last weekend. But the woods weren’t there anymore. I hadn’t been on that network of trails since autumn rains and winter snows began. When the snow melted, I headed back to my favourite hillsides. The gravel road leading to the trailhead was gone. “Closed,” a sign said. The hillside slopes looked like a testbed for a Mars probe -- not a living thing left anywhere. The developer is expanding his subdivision. Okay, I accept that he has a legal right to do so. I also accept that a municipality cannot collect taxes from trees. But why this obsession with eliminating everything green?
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: eulogy, trees, green

16

Mar

2016

Epitaph for a song writer

Author: Jim Taylor
The world’s Joy Quotient declined a little on Sunday March 6, when Ian Macdonald died. 
        Ian was one of those rare people who never let his inner child get buried under the overburden of grown-up concerns. He took an almost wicked delight in wit. The prospect of trying something new and different -- whether a children’s tale for adults, or Bible study through improv drama --brought out a crooked grin, a glint in his eye. 
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