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

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

 

29

Mar

2022

Getting a grasp of my own ego

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 17, 2022

 

From my office chair, I can look up and see a an eight-foot shelf filled with books I helped to publish. I recognize every title. I know every author. I remember delving into every subject. 

            I had a hand – or at least a pencil – in every one of those books. 

            And then, abruptly, the authors, the subjects, the textual content, are all strangers. They’re still good books. Still worth reading. But they’re not mine anymore. 

            In serious discussions of faith and doctrine, a friend frequently ventures something like: “I’m not sure that I know what I’m talking about, but isn’t this all about ego somehow?”

            Yes it is. It’s almost always about ego.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: God, books, ego

29

Mar

2022

Two men, two statues, a taste of history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 13, 2022

 

I love coincidences. Today’s coincidence is the name Volodymyr. Or Vladimir, if you prefer the anglicized Russian spelling. As a person who intuitively roots for underdogs, I’ll use the Ukrainian spelling. But it’s the same thing, either way. 

            There are four Volodymyrs involved in this coincidence. 

            There’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the comedian with no political experience who came out of nowhere to become Ukraine’s president, and has since shown himself to have leadership qualities many other nations might envy.

            There’s Volodymyr Putin – yes, same name, but usually with a  different spelling – who sees the burgeoning democracy led by Zelenskyy as a threat and wants to take Ukraine back into Mother Russia.

 

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29

Mar

2022

Giving God a name

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 10, 2022

 

The “Golden Guys” meet on Mondays. Mostly, we talk about what it feels like to grow older. 

            On a recent Zoom call, we talked about how our lives have changed. 

            There were six of us:

·      One university professor, no longer teaching any students.

·      One high-school principal, no longer administering anything.

·      One orchardist, no longer tending trees.

·      One business executive, no longer running any business.

·      One minister, no longer offering leadership in any kind of pastorate.

·      And me, the only one of us still doing what I had done most of my life – writing – although at a significantly reduced level.

            We all wondered who we were, now that age and circumstance decreed that we could no longer be what we used to be. 


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12

Mar

2022

Two men, two statues, a taste of history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 6, 2022

 

I love coincidences. Coincidences are like bits of information floating on an ocean of meaninglessness until they drift up onto a beach and a passer-by – me – fits them into some kind of pattern. 

            Today’s coincidence is the name Volodymyr. Or Vladimir, if you prefer the anglicized Russian spelling. As a person who intuitively roots for underdogs, I’ll use the Ukrainian spelling. But it’s the same thing, either way. 

            There are four Volodymyrs involved in this coincidence. 

            There’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the comedian with no political experience who came out of nowhere to become Ukraine’s president, and has since shown himself to have leadership qualities many other nations might envy.

            There’s Volodymyr Putin....


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12

Mar

2022

Giving God a name

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 17, 2022

 

The “Golden Guys” meet on Mondays. Mostly, we talk about what it feels like to grow older. On a recent Zoom call, we talked about how our lives have changed. There were six of us:

·      One university professor, no longer teaching any students.

·      One high-school principal, no longer administering anything.

·      One orchardist, no longer tending trees.

·      One business executive, no longer running any business.

·      One minister, no longer offering leadership in any kind of pastorate.

·      And me, the only one of us still doing what I had done most of my life – writing – although at a significantly reduced level.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: God, Moses, Exodus, YHWH, Yahweh, names

6

Mar

2022

If shunning doesn’t work, why do we keep doing it?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 6, 2022

 

The last two weeks, I’ve tried to keep up with the changing scene in Ukraine, and our reactions to it. First, Russian forces were merely threatening to invade Ukraine. Then they invaded, but ostensibly to enable two eastern regions to breakaway from the rest of Ukraine. Then they clearly invaded all of Ukraine, from the north, east and south. 

            I’m shocked. Appalled. Disgusted with Vladimir Putin. 

            Let me be clear -- I am 100% opposed to the Russian invasion. 

            I’m less confident about the effectiveness of the western deterrents. 


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6

Mar

2022

Dear Mr. Prime: about those robocalls

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 3, 2022

 

Dear Mr. Amazon Prime,

            Thank you so much for looking after the best interests of your customers. The other morning, before I was even out of bed, one of your Customer Service Representatives called to inform me that they had detected suspicious activity on one of my credit cards. 

            Someone in Dayton Ohio had used my credit card to make a purchase of $197.33.

            I asked her to wait a minute, while I checked my wallet. Both of my credit cards were safely there. But when I got back to the phone, she had hung up on me.

            That wasn’t very courteous of her. 

 

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26

Feb

2022

Personal stories trump international news

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 27, 2022

 

Two important things happened on Tuesday February 22. 

            On the international scene, Vladimir Putin thumbed his nose at world opinion and declared two sections of eastern Ukraine “independent states.” The next day, he sent “peacekeeping” troops across the border to invade Ukraine. 

            The second event? I had to have my dog euthanized. 

            Guess which event I will remember for the rest of my life. You’re right. The personal always trumps the universal.


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25

Feb

2022

Prejudice visible only to victims

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 24, 2022

 

Oliver is a peaceful little town of 5,000, nestled in the south end of the Okanagan Valley.  Earlier this month, though, an apparently racist incident outside the high school made headlines. While a “Freedom” rally went on outside the school, a young mother was caught haranguing a student. The video clip where she directed profanity and racial slurs at a high school girl has since gone viral.

            She has been fined. She has apologized. The regional newspaper has published her letter expressing regret.

            Even so, one sentence in that letter caught my attention: “My intent was never to cause anyone any harm.”

            Right there is the problem with prejudice. We -- speaking generally here -- seem to assume that prejudice has to have some kind of ill intent.

            The essence of prejudice, in fact, is the failure of the persons expressing prejudice to recognize that their words and actions HAVE any ill intent, that they may cause harm -- or pain, or humiliation -- to someone else.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Prejudice, victims

25

Feb

2022

Coat-tails and bandwagons

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 20, 2022

 

I usually build my Sharp Edges columns around a current news item. The Rev. Kenneth Bagnell died in February. That’s the end of the hard news for this column. The rest is rumination.

            Readers of my age may remember Bagnell as the editor of Imperial Oil’s award-winning periodical, The Review. And before that as a columnist for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. And before that as Managing Editor of The United Church Observer magazine

            Ken was my immediate predecessor at The Observer. When I first went there in 1968, I lived in his shadow.

            But this column is not a eulogy for Ken. It’s about mentors.

            I look back on my life as a succession of mentors.


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: mentors, Bagnell

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