John Taylor's Column

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


Garbasaurus vs. Universal Civil Society

By John Taylor; 2006 July 05

As part of my decision to be more physically active, I have taken to listening to audio tapes while practicing table tennis. That is how I came to listen to Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, who is according to the blurb the most influential apologist for that faith in the last century. I learned a few things from these lectures, which were originally written for radio, do not get me wrong. However, as with Lewis's Screwtape Letters, I came away from the experience with a slightly creepy, clammy feeling. As always with Christians, you can listen all day to what they say and not a word of it makes sense. Their argumentation seems like the "Garbasaurus," a sculpture of a T-Rex made of flotsam from the Speed River that a bunch of do-gooder student volunteers at my Alma Mater, Guelph University, dredged out and put together in order to make a point about art, or recycling, or archeology, or something. You look at the Garbasaurus and try to think of it as art, as an image of a T-Rex, but you cannot get away from what it is literally, a pile of garbage. I do not want to sound insulting about anybody's beliefs, least of all the followers of His Holiness Jesus Christ, but that is just how I react each time I sincerely try to make sense of their logic.

Read more: Garbasaurus

Full Service House

The Full Service House, Part I

By John Taylor; 04 July, 2006

Note: this is a re-write of an essay drafted last October.

The 1960's and 1970's saw a mass retreat by idealistic youth who went "back to nature." The flower children changed how thought, dressed and ate. Organic farming began out of that, and it has since become, in modified form, a billion dollar industry, the fastest growing branch of mainstream agriculture. Some youths "opted out" completely and fled into the wilderness to live as hermits, while others experimented with communal living on cooperative farms. Their ideal was a leaderless community run by common consent, a truer democracy than those implicated in Vietnam and the Cold War. Unfortunately, few communes lasted longer than a decade and those that endured were run by strong leaders more autocratic than old-style leaders in society at large. After the initial burst of enthusiasm the movement died out in North America.

The true inheritors of the commune movement turned out to be certain Danish and other Scandinavian architects and planners. They erected entire housing blocks using some of the best principles worked out by those idealistic youths. In fact, the evolution of communal dwellings, known as the Kollektivhus, predated the youth revolution. It had already started in the early 1950's. In his history of housing, Norbert Schoenauer writes,

Read more: Full Service House

Peace Chapter

Peace and Justice Guide, Chapter on the Peace Plans of Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, Bentham, and Kant

By John Taylor; 2006 July 02

Driven by an impulse I cannot resist, I include today a chapter from the book, "Guides to Peace and Justice, from Ancient Sages to the Suffragettes," by one Sanderson Beck. The full text of this chapter he has made available on the Net at:


This Beck fellow is a very clear writer and this little history of the peace proposals leading up to Kant's Sketch of Perpetual Peace could not be better. I learned a great deal from it this morning when I came across it. Read it carefully, as it will help understand where I am coming from with this ten year recycling decade idea. To my amazement, I discovered that this paperback  history of peace also contains a chapter on the Baha'i peace contribution, called: "Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha on World Peace," which you can read at:


Read more: Peace Chapter

Release from Tutelage, Part II

Year of Release from Tutelage, Part II

By John Taylor; 2006 July 01

Yesterday we discussed the prime directive for year one of the principle planning decade, the involvement of everyone on earth in reflection, be it Ad Hoc and informal or some sort of regular meditation program incorporated into each of the subsequent planning years. Although the main activity of this year is ethereal contemplation that does not mean that there will not be concrete goals to aim for as the Liberation from Tutelage Year rolls around each decade. Indeed the goals of the more practical later years of the decade -- such as promotion of education and economic adjustment -- are not ends in themselves but means to one end: to free up time and energy in peoples' lives, to enable a modicum of happiness, health and leisure. Insofar as the examined life that Socrates and other great teachers modeled as the apex of human existence requires such a measure of well-being, filling practical goals will naturally serve the ends of this year of contemplation. But necessary as they are, they are not sufficient.

Read more: Release from Tutelage, Part II

Release from Tutelage

The Year of Release from Tutelage; Part One

By John Taylor; 2006 June 29

Let us consider a plan to unite and thus save the human race from the dangers rushing at it from all directions. Urgent as is the crisis, a crucial question remains unanswered, where to begin? I have been thinking for some years about a repeating ten-year cycle of planning years starting in 2010 that somewhere along the line would gain official recognition and sponsorship by international bodies such as the United Nations.

The first and most important year would be devoted to meditation and reflection; it might be called the "Year of Planetary Enlightenment," because in order for the collectivity to solve problems individuals will need self-illumination first and foremost. As we noted here not long ago, Emmanuel Kant defined enlightenment as freedom from immaturity or tutelage and suggested the motto: "Sapere aude!," "Have the courage to use your own reason!" Our prime obstacle, Kant said, is not ignorance or lack of understanding but lack of courage and the resolve to use our own minds without being steered astray by others. In the centuries since Kant millions have been deluded by ideologies since discredited as false and deceptive, false gods that lead only to war, injustice and violence.

Read more: Release from Tutelage