Author Tags: Religion
Born in 1936, James Taylor began his career as a broadcaster, then became managing editor for the United Church Observer for 13 years. He co-founded Wood Lake Books with Ralph Milton in 1980. He lives in the Okanagan Valley, having published more than 15 books that include Sin: A New Understanding of Virtue and Vice (Northstone, 1997) and An Everyday God: Insights for the Ordinary (Wood Lake Books, 2006). He holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity from United College (McGill University. Other titles include Everyday Psalms; Letters to Stephen: A Father's Journey of Grief and Recovery; and Practical Love: Caring for Your Aging Parents.
[BCBW 2006] "Religion"
Minnow: The Children's Story Annual 1996
The stories and poems in Minnow: The Children's Story Annual 1996
(Northstone $12.95) deal with loss, friendship, tolerance and faith. Maria from San Salvador experiences her first Valentine's Day. Benjie mourns the death of his pet goat until spring covers the grave with flowers. Saint Francis offers the natural world to a lonely child. The collection of original work by Canadian writers was edited by James Taylor with illustrations by Margaret Kyle. The publisher invites submissions for the next edition.
Letters to Stephen (Northstone $17.95)
When someone or something close to you dies, a part of you dies, according to Letters to Stephen (Northstone $17.95). James Taylor's book is a father's journey of grief and recovery after his son Stephen died after a long struggle with cystic fibrosis. Taylor's Sin (Northstone $19.95) subtitled "a new understanding of virtue and vice", examines traditional notions of good and evil.
An Everyday God
The tithe that binds
According to theologian and publisher James Taylor, many Christians only expect to find God in a book or in a church. They put their faith in a straitjacket by looking backwards, no longer expecting God to surprise them.
“We treat God as a heavenly jukebox,” he claims, “that can only repeat forever the same selection of pre-recorded tunes.”
Taylor wants to download new tunes. He wants to encourage people to discover God outside of religious ceremonies. He wants people to notice God when they look at the stars, diaper a baby, play touch football or take out the garbage.
To expand the concept of theology—thinking about God—Taylor has collected a series of insights drawn from his day-to-day experiences for An Everyday God (Wood Lake $19.95).
For instance, in ‘Blood Sacrifice’ he writes:
“When I look at it objectively, giving blood to the Red Cross ought to offer little pleasure. How many people enjoy being stabbed in a sensitive fingertip to get a drop of blood for testing? Or having a big needle stuck into a vein? Or watching their blood run into a plastic bag?
“And yet I have always found that after giving blood, my day is a little brighter. Giving blood makes me feel good.
“I suspect it has something to do with my ideals. It’s a way to share my abundance with someone else.
“In one sense it’s the ultimate gift. My blood, after all, is far more valuable to me than any gifts of time or money I can make. Time or money I can survive without—but not blood.
“My pint of blood comes close to the traditional ‘tithe’—it’s a fraction less than one-tenth of all the blood I have.
“But unlike money, I get nothing back for giving it, except a glass of juice or a cup of coffee. No receipts. No income-tax refunds.
“I know I’m giving it to someone who really needs my help. A beggar may use a phoney sob-story to cheat me out of money. But the person on the operating table, the victim of a traffic accident, the leukemia patient, is in no position to cheat anyone or anything—except death.
“I know too that my gift goes only to the person who needs it. Unlike money, none of it can be siphoned off by any intermediary for administrative or publicity expenses.
“And it’s completely anonymous. I don’t even have to cope with embarrassing ‘Thank you’s.’ Or the even more embarrassing lack of them.
“I guess the biggest value for me is a kind of religious symbolism. At the last supper with the disciples, before being betrayed and nailed to the cross, Jesus said, ‘This is my blood which is shed for you.’ Church members hear those words each time and they share the sacrament of the last supper, whether they call it communion, Eucharist or Mass.
“So as I lie here on my back, donating to the Red Cross, I can’t help feeling that giving blood is like a sacrament. It makes his words a lot more real than sipping wine or grape juice.”
A former broadcaster, James Taylor became managing editor for the United Church Observer for 13 years, then co-founded Wood Lake Books with Ralph Milton in 1980. He lives in the Okanagan Valley, having published more than 15 books. He holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity from United College (McGill University).