John Taylor's Column

John Taylor lives in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada and is an essayist

Credentialism Again

Credentialism Again

By John Taylor; 2006 July 27

My midsummer output has been slowed by having the kids around all day and by the heat wave. We do not have air conditioning and I got into the habit of fleeing to the cool Dunnville Library in the afternoon. For days the heat slowed me down to a crawl and exercising seemed too much of a chore. Gradually, I fell back into my normal sedentary routine. Big mistake. With a change in the weather, I was hit by a major or "grand-mal" migraine attack, the only one for at least six months. I had been starting to feel invulnerable. I recovered with a renewed determination not to relent in this new active lifestyle. My reading suffers, as I spend almost all my time working my body, playing soccer, walking, cutting the lawn, playing table tennis. As a result, my writing suffers too, but everything must come second to health.

In my last mail-out, a review of Jane Jacob's Dark Age Ahead, I wrote:

"Credentialism is the result in education of a fearful society prepared to fund any program, no matter how ambitious or wrongheaded, if it will only bring about more credentials for more jobs..."

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My Ideal Neighborhood

My Ideal Neighborhood

By John Taylor; 2006 July 12

It is nigh on ten years since we bought this house. The first five years I was ambitious, did everything I could myself and read everything I could get my hands on about how to make the place better and more efficient. This was silly of me since I have almost zero budget to spend but it kept me busy at least. At one point I called in a local contractor to see if it would be possible to install some special type of heating system that I had heard about -- we are presently electrically heated. He probably knew right off that our house was not air tight enough but he knew the story of every house in town and seemed to be curious to see ours from the inside. He told me that the same Toronto contractors who built the townhouses behind us did our place as well, and that their sole object was to build houses as quickly and cheaply as possible, make a quick buck and then get out.

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Matsek Cleans My Clock

Matsek Cleans My Clock

By John Taylor; 2006 July 18

I return to writing after several days called away. We had guests for the weekend, three Czech sisters with whom Marie lodged as a child, the daughters of her godmother's sister, and the husband of the eldest, Olga, whose name is Vashek -- I kept calling him Matsek, which means "kitty" in Czech, an error I regard as fortunate, since most of the Czech words I have picked up over my years as spouse of a Czech are somehow related to the bathroom. Matsek is working in Sherbrooke, Quebec, as a telecom programmer. Anyway, the highlight of the weekend for me were the table tennis matches with Matsek, who cleaned my clock, who cut me a new rectal sphinctor -- to clean up a favorite expression of Kurt Vonnegut -- by beating me five out of five games. He told me, in broken English, that his grandmother had a Ping-Pong table and in his youth he had several cousins to hone his skills against. He had a twisty, complex little serve that I could not figure out for the life of me.

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Seven Days and Seven Valleys, Part I

Seven Days and Seven Valleys, Part I

By John Taylor; 2006 July 14

Every day I try to be as physically active as I can, often struggling against waves of turpitude that strike with the overwhelming force of an ocean surf. My cornerstone exercise is practicing table tennis by hitting the ball against a wall and trying to return it. The harder I smash it the harder it is to return. This is the least boring of exercises, but it is still tedious, so I relieve the boredom of the repetition by listening to books on tape on a stereo that I hooked for our garage. The latest acquisition is a compilation of inspiring essays about spirituality by self-help gurus that I picked up at the Haldimand Library's annual summer book sale. The best of the essays is by the author of "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," Kushner I think his name is. [Robert Fulghum, perhaps? -ed.]

{josquote}Most inspiring is to hear how taking the Sabbath seriously revives his soul.{/josquote}

Kushner describes in loving detail his ideal daily routine, a set of slow, relaxing rituals such as reading scripture morning and evening, holding hands with his wife and telling her that he loves her before they sit down to break bread, ending his day with reading something funny, that kind of thing. These he tries to work into his week at least four out of the seven days of the week. Most inspiring is to hear how taking the Sabbath seriously revives his soul. He takes his Sundays off work completely and does only soul-refreshing activities; since he is no longer a minister, he attends worship services at a variety of local church denominations, including the Greek Orthodox, whose rituals in a foreign language liturgy he finds relaxing. I was impressed by how his observance salves his week. I have decided, therefore, if I ever get over this anemia, that I will observe the Baha'i Sabbath, which of course is Friday, or Istiqlal (Independence).

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Oneness and Equality

Oneness and Equality

By John Taylor; 2006 July 12

Let us return today to the Oneness of God as manifested in the principle of equality of the sexes. The "Great Being" selection from the Tablet to Maqsud that seems most applicable is the following:

"The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility." (Tablets, 173)

It is impossible intelligently to discuss issues dealing with equality of the sexes without being well grounded in our universal reasons for being, our common service as human beings, man or woman. This Great Being statement does just that.

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