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

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

 

23

Sep

2018

How to write 1000 columns

Author: Jim Taylor

This is my 1000th Sharp Edges column. At around 50 columns a year, that’s almost 20 years of writing a weekly column! 

            “How do you find something to write about every week?” people ask me. 

            That’s easy – by paying attention. To the world around me. To my own reactions. To what other people are saying. 

            Given the number of issues in the news each week, the problem is not finding a topic, but selecting which topic to focus on. 

            But there is a second step. If a local story grabs my attention, how does it connect to a larger topic? If an international story, how does it relate to life here in the Okanagan Valley. Or closer still, in little Lake Country. Or even in my own home. 

            There’s no point in raging about Donald the Dump – or lobbying for an endangered salamander in the Congo – if it isn’t relevant in some way to life here and now. 

            Macro and micro, universal and particular, belong in the same picture. I don’t care whether I zoom out or zoom in; the big picture and the small picture belong together. 


Comments (0) Number of views (149)
Read more

Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Writing

19

Sep

2018

Learning how to learn

Author: Jim Taylor

           Of course, we did learn specifics. The inexorable logic of Euclid’s geometry theorems, for example. How to conjugate Latin verbs. Memorizing famous monologues from Shakespeare. The difference between a rabbet and a dado joint. The periodic table of chemistry elements. 

            But more importantly, we learned to learn. It was not just WHAT our teachers taught, but HOW they taught it. They gave us a safe environment in which to make mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes. They had faith in us, as learning beings, even when we made fun of them. 


Comments (0) Number of views (212)

16

Sep

2018

Learning to distrust everyone

Author: Jim Taylor

The scammers are getting smarter. 

            We’ve all received those emails that tell us there is $27 million waiting for us in an unclaimed Nigerian bank account, haven’t we?

            One arrived the other day, from “Miss Vivian Ibrahim Coulibaly, only child of my late father, Late Chief Sgt. Warlord Ibrahim Coulibaly…” Miss Vivian needs my help, because her wicked stepmother – of course! – is trying to swindle her out of her father’s illegitimately acquired fortune. 

           The same day, I received a second email that assumed I had fallen for scams like Miss Vivian’s, headed FRAUD ALERT: “This letter is to notify you about your compensation as one of the scammed victims…”


Comments (0) Number of views (166)

12

Sep

2018

Maligning my lifelong friend

Author: Jim Taylor

On my last visit to Vancouver, I took a walk along False Creek.

            Vancouver's waterfront is open to everyone, regardless of age, ethnic origins, or income.

            And the Parks Board has thoughtfully placed benches along the way, where passers-by can sit, catch their breath, enjoy the view, or just meditate.

            Most of the benches have small bronze plaques attached -- memorials to a family member or friend. I read them, casually, as I strolled along. Until I got to one that offended me.

            It eulogized a child who had died. It described how wonderful she was. And the last line said, “Jesus always picks the finest flowers first.”

            And I found myself instantly angry.


Comments (0) Number of views (147)

9

Sep

2018

Brazil’s national lobotomy

Author: Jim Taylor

The video images of flames shooting skyward out of the National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, stabbed me in the heart.

            I spent close to 20 years alternating between president, secretary, and grunt volunteer with the infinitely smaller Lake Country Museum. I know from personal experience how hard it is to document the past, especially from societies that maintained no written texts. 

            Every artifact, every letter, every story, is like a clue in a mystery novel. Clue by laborious clue, a museum puts together a coherent picture of what life was like, back then -- whenever “then” was. 

            The Rio fire, in effect, ripped out almost all the pages from the novel about South America. 

            How can you read a novel that isn’t there any longer?

 

Comments (0) Number of views (427)

5

Sep

2018

Change is the only constant

Author: Jim Taylor

I had my 82ndbirthday last weekend. I’m headed for 100! Wooo-hooo!

            Anticipation makes me think back to how things have changed over the last century, or two. My wife Joan’s grandfather arrived from Sweden a century ago with an axe-head, a plane blade, and a handsaw. With those, he made all the rest of his carpenter’s tools.

            I wonder what he would think of modern chainsaws. 

            A century before that, my ancestors arrived from Scotland, to farm 40 acres in southern Ontario. I wonder what they would think of tractors with air-conditioned cabs. Of hay-balers and combines and automatic milking machines.

            Nothing stands still. Ever. And it shouldn’t.

            Not even religion.


Comments (0) Number of views (188)

2

Sep

2018

Abuse of power applies to all institutions

Author: Jim Taylor

The Roman Catholic church is taking flak from the mass media. The most recent attacks follow revelations from a grand jury in Philadelphia, described by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General as the "largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States."

            According to the report, more than 300 "predator priests" in six Pennsylvania dioceses have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims over 70 years -- prior to 2002, when scandals involving Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston forced the U.S. Catholicbishops to adopt new rules for reporting abuse. 

            The reaction has even led to demands that the Pope himself resign, for failing to act sooner.


Comments (0) Number of views (182)

29

Aug

2018

Hello. Hello? Anyone there?

Author: Jim Taylor

I tried to pray about a controversy over sex education in our schools -- what should be taught, and how. 

            A heavenly voice answered: “Thank you for your prayer. All our angels are presently busy dealing with other customers. Please stay on line and an angel will be with you shortly.”

            Some harps played mood music. 

            “Your continued devotion is very important to us. Please note that your prayer may be recorded for training and/or monitoring purposes.”

            I prepared my church membership papers, my baptismal certificate, my password (“Jesus,” of course) and my Personal Identification Number (666, of course) just in case they asked for authentication. 

            “For service in English, press 1. For service in Latin, press 2. For service in any other language, press 3 and wait for a Google translator to assist you.”

            I chose English.

            “King James thanks thee for thine loyalty. To speak to a confessor about sins thou mayest have committed by thought, word, and deed against thy Father Almighty’s divine majesty, press 1. To confess sins committed against another human, press 2. To confess sins of omission, press 3." 


Comments (0) Number of views (233)

26

Aug

2018

Fires and floods mark the new normal

Author: Jim Taylor

This has been a summer of natural disasters. Some rain has finally come to B.C., but by the end of this summer, the province will have fought some 2000 forest fires. Smoke from those fires has spread across the prairies, into northern Ontario, even crossing the Atlantic to Europe. Just as smoke from fires north of the Arctic Circle, in Sweden and Siberia, drifted into Canada. 

            Meanwhile, California had its worst wildfire season. In Greece, some residents chose to drown in the Aegean Sea, rather than to burn on land. 

            Fires rampaged in Australia. And an estimated half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died, from rising ocean temperatures. 

            At the other extreme, southern India had its heaviest monsoon in 100 years, displacing close to a million people. Floods ripped through almost any country you can name. Highways washed out. Cars vanished into sinkholes. Mudslides swept houses off their foundations.

            But still some people deny that all this has anything to do with climate change. And certainly deny that humans had anything to do with it. 


Comments (0) Number of views (155)

22

Aug

2018

Both beautiful and fragile

Author: Jim Taylor

From my mother, I inherited a Belleek china tea set. Belleek is both beautiful and fragile -- porcelain china so thin you can see shadows through it, so light it feels like paper. And so delicate that just dropping a teaspoon can break a teacup. 

            What we call community is also incredibly beautiful, and incredibly fragile. It can be shattered by a casual comment taken personally, by differences of opinion over minor matters, by trust betrayed…

            It’s easier to describe what community is not, than to define what it is. 

            Community is not just a group of people. Merely gathering people together in one place – whether for a rock concert, a sports event, or a church service – does not create a community. 

            Nor does having a million followers on Facebook or Twitter.

            For the same reason, simply being a member of an organization does not create a community. You can be a member of a Rotary club or a Baptist church for 40 years, and have never visited another member in their home, heard their passions, held them while they cry… 

            Passive presence is not enough. 


Comments (0) Number of views (148)
RSS
First234567891011Last

Tags

"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G A God That Could Be Real 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 Amanda Todd Amherst analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac App Store Archives Ardern armistice Art artifacts astronomy atonement atropine Attawapiscat attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears Beethoven beginnings behaviour belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo berries Bible biblical sex birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin 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 Brexit broken bubbles Buber 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 Christchurch Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas trees church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration collective work 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 corruption Cosby Cougars counter-cultural courtesy courts CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes creation creche crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing crucifixion crypto-currencies 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 deaths decision Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's departure Depression Descartes despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas Earth Day Easter Ebola eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or email embassy emergent emotions encryption English Entropy epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion 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 fate fear Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Field figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations Fitbit flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow charts flowers fluency flying Flying objects 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 Gandhi Garrison Keillor Geese Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Golden Rule good Good Friday good intentions goodness Google Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper grief Grinch Group of seven growth Guiado guilt guns Habits hackers Haidt haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki handshake harassment Harjit Sajjan harmony Haskins hate Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Hell helping herd instinct heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses Huawei human rights Humboldt 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 Itzhak Perlman 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 joy judgement judges Julie Payette jury justice Justin Trudeau Kaepernick Karen Armstrong
Copyright 2019 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada