Archive for the ‘Various Memories and Opinions’ Category

Growing Into Myself   Leave a comment

Learning from My Past

Recently I have spent much time plumbing the depths of my memory regarding some of my childhood years, especially the two years spanning June 1980-June 1982, when my family and I lived in Vidette, Georgia.  I have covered much of that ground on this weblog, as in a post about memories and another one regarding the now-demolished parsonage at Vidette.  As I have examined old photographs, studied images from Google Earth, and poured over artifacts from that time, I have pondered who I was then–at the ages of seven, eight, and nine years–and why I was that way.  I have done this out of a desire to, as much as possible, stand on the ground of objective reality, not to assign blame.

Besides, what good would assigning blame in these matters accomplish?  Stating objective reality, however, proves helpful.

To borrow a line from Sigmund Freud, the child is the father of the man.  For once I agree with the figure my Psychology 101 professor referred to as “Sigmund Fraud.”  The child is the father of the man; this is self-obvious.  Our early experiences shape us, for better and worse.  I can trace intergenerational influences upon my development back as far as two great-grandfathers.  Many more intergenerational influences upon me exist, I am sure, but I cannot document them.  Many of the positive and negative influences upon me reach back at least to George Washington Barrett (1873-1956) and John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936).   Understanding that many of the positive and negative aspects of my past are partially due to previous generations proves helpful in determining an objectively accurate understanding of my past.

Another factor, of course, is me.  How I respond to various stimuli is my responsibility.  Yet I know I should refrain from being too harsh toward my younger selves, for, as much as I ought to forgive others, I need to forgive myself also.  Without making undue excuses, I focus on acknowledging and learning from my past.

Just as my parents did the best they could much of the time, so did I.  Just they made mistakes, so did I.

I harbor no ill will toward them or myself.  No, I embrace the exploration of my past for the purpose of learning more about who I was and who I am.  I seek lessons regarding how I should proceed from the present.  To dismiss the past as irrelevant (“That’s history.”) is wrong-headed.  To live in it is also erroneous.  I embrace my younger selves and thereby understand myself better than I did.  I focus not on sins and errors, but on growth.

We human beings learn by doing.  If we do not attempt anything, we will fail by default.  If we do attempt something, we risk failure.  We might also succeed.  Hopefully we will learn the proper lessons, regardless of whether we succeed or fail in our ventures.

One lesson I have learned from analyzing my past is that moving as often as I did during my childhood (every two or three years, usually) was more of a negative factor than a negative one.

This was beyond my control; I was just a child in a parsonage family.  My way of coping was to become more inwardly focused.  This was easy for me, an introvert.  I chose not to get too close to anyone, for I knew I would not be staying long.  This made saying goodbye easier than it would have been otherwise.  Yet the protective bubble I entered became self-destructive.  Opening myself up to others has been my great project for the last few years.  My father, with his entrenched inferiority complex, contributed greatly to these moves.  He perceived the world through a filter that led him to react to other people in ways that were not helpful.  I recall hearing him complain about many patronizing people, for example.  Some of them were patronizing, I am sure, but not all of them were.  Yet he acted as if they were.  That caused needless problems for him, my mother, my sister, and myself.  The blame for moves was not only his, however; each of those congregations included people notorious for engineering the departures of ministers.  I have come to sympathize with my father (now deceased).  He struggled with that inferiority complex and with the frustration of constantly being a fish out of water.  He did the best he could.  I was not kind and understanding toward him when he was alive.  I did not do the best I could.  I have forgiven myself for that sin.

As I strive to move along the proper course into the future, I seek to do so unencumbered by guilt and resentment yet aware of my previous path.  The future-not the past–awaits.  Many of what I perceive as my missteps may have actually prepared me for a better future.  My record lacks certain large mistakes because I have learned from smaller errors, for example.  Also, grace can transform a negative into an opportunity for the positive.  I look to the future, therefore, and hope and work for the best.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2017 COMMON ERA

Happy July Second!   Leave a comment

Above:  Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull

Image in the Public Domain

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The Second Continental Congress approved the independence of thirteen colonies on July 2, 1776.  That assembly approved the text of the Declaration of Independence two days later.

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to Abigail, his wife.  Part of his letter read:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Why not have a July 2 party?

Happy July 2!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Site of the Former Parsonage, Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia   2 comments

Related to my previous post is this one.

I visited Google Earth again and saved some pictures of the Vidette United Methodist Church, the former parsonage (in street view, dated January 2008 and August 2008) and of the site where the parsonage was (from above, dated October 30, 2016).  Then I cropped one of those images, inserted it into a Word document, and dredged up memories from 1980-1982.

I have examined this fuzzy image, for which I have no street view counterpart yet.  I have noticed the shadow in it–presumably from a chimney.  In my bedroom I did have a closed-up fireplace with a heater in front of it.  That chimney had therefore marked one corner of the site of my former bedroom.

My memories regarding the dining room are vague.  I recall about where it was (between the kitchen and my sister’s bedroom), but I do not recall the relative size of the room.  I am likewise vague about the size of the kitchen.  It was a small house, however, so none of the rooms was cavernous.

I will not post any of the saved images, except for scan of a printed, black-and-white version of a cropped satellite photograph.  I do, however, encourage any of you who might to curious to look up Vidette in Google Earth, find the church and the site of the parsonage next to it.  Finding the church should not be difficult, for the town is really small.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

Memories of Vidette, Georgia   2 comments

Vidette UMC 01

Vidette United Methodist Church 1980-1982

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I have been spending much time using Google Earth recently.  In particular I have been examining satellite and street view images of Vidette, Georgia, in western Burke County, where my family and I lived from June 1980 to June 1982.   My father was the pastor of the Vidette-Friendship-Green’s Cut United Methodist Charge.  I was seven, eight, and nine years old at the time, so I did not pay attention to most of the local ecclesiastical matters.  (Battle of the Planets, a dreadful  and frequently nonsensical American dubbing of a superior Japanese cartoon series, was much more interesting to me.)  I have learned, however, that the responsibility for the move in 1982 was a joint matter shared by my father and certain lay members.  Moving away was also a blessing.

Vidette Parsonage 01

The Parsonage, 1980-1982. My sister’s bedroom was on the right. The front room was in the center, off the porch. My bedroom was to the left, behind the twin windows at the porch.

The parsonage, located next to Vidette United Methodist Church, was in need of repair.  It was an old structure with one bathroom, no corridors, and no central air or heating.  The den was a narrow room in the middle-back section of the house, located between the master bedroom and the bathroom on one side and the kitchen and the dining room on the other.

Vidette Parsonage 02

I come from a bookish family.

Vidette Parsonage 04

The den. The dining room was to the left and the bathroom as to the right. My sister’s bedroom was to the left, through the front room. My bedroom was to the right, through the front room.

Vidette Parsonage 03

Look at me!

How many parishioners would have chosen to live in a house in that condition?  But the structure was good enough for the pastor and his family, right?  No!

The front room, just off the front porch, separated my sister’s bedroom from mine.  My bedroom, facing onto the front porch, was obviously supposed to be the pastor’s study, for it had a built-in closet and lacked a closet.  It had to be my bedroom, however, for there was no other room.  It was good to have the use of a built-in bookcase, however.  The large heater provided heat during the winter.  I dressed in front of it on cold mornings.

Much of life during the main part of the week during the school year occurred in Waynesboro, the county seat.  There we visited the bakery some Mennonites owned.  In that town my mother worked in the city hall and my sister and I attended school.

Vidette UMC 02

Me

1980-1982 were not good years for me.  I was struggling with life.  Certainly moving every few years did not help with regard to that matter.  I was not very sociable, and not just because of my introversion.  So I was possibly the worst Cub Scout ever.  At least I tried to be sociable, I suppose.  When we moved away, I terminated my involvement in the Cub Scouts.  Also, my physical awkwardness (evident in P.E.) contributed to my social awkwardness, as some of my classmates took the opportunity to mock me.  When my third grade class received Honorable Mention in the dodgeball tournament at Waynesboro Elementary School, many classmates blamed me.  Also, when (not by my doing) classmates learned of my middle name (Randolph), I became “Randolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  My friend was Ola Mae Bailey, the kindly elderly woman who lived next door.  She did more for me than perhaps she knew.

Did I mention that I have never really wanted to have children?  My childhood experiences contributed to this decision.

The South Georgia Conference has broken up the Vidette-Friendship-Green’s Cut Charge.  As of last week, when the most recent round of ministerial appointments took effect:

  1. Vidette went onto a charge with Mt. Moriah, north of Matthews, in Jefferson County.  (By the way, I recall a pulpit exchange that took my father to Mt. Moriah one Sunday in 1980-1982.)
  2. Friendship was on a charge with First United Methodist Church, Waynesboro.
  3. Green’s Cut was a station church.

There have been changes to structures since 1982:

  1. Vidette U.M.C. has expanded its fellowship hall and covered the gap between the back of the church and the front of the fellowship hall.
  2. Eventually Vidette U.M.C. ceased to use its deteriorating parsonage.

The Google Earth street view image (dated August 2012) of the house shows a decrepit, abandoned building.  Plywood covers one half of the front windows of my sister’s former bedroom.  In the satellite view (dated October 30, 2016), however, the parsonage is absent.  I get the impression that the demolition of the house must have been fairly recent, based on the obviousness of where the parsonage had been.

As I examine satellite images of Vidette, I recall events, scenes, and routines.  I think of (God help me!) The Lawrence Welk Show.  I recall the church hayride through the local cemetery one Halloween.  I also remember that, one Halloween (I suppose), some people bobbed for apples outside the front of the fellowship hall.  I recall the Sunday morning that Buddy the dog went to church.  I also remember watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Greatest American Hero, and Pink Panther cartoons.  I recall my sister watching the Fame series, before it went into syndication.  I also remember the town park and the only store in town.  I recall ecumenical engagements with the Bethel Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (disbanded a few years ago), whose pastor had an obsession with the Book of Revelation.  One of their vacation Bible schools sticks in my memory.

As I examine satellite images of Vidette, I realize how fortunate I am not to live there any longer and to live in Athens-Clarke County.  I thank God in real time for what I have.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Downsizing   Leave a comment

Above:  My Desk, April 25, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I recall a story a co-worker at a previous place of employment told me years ago.  She and her sister were cleaning out the home of their recently departed mother.  One of the sisters was removing boxes from a shelf when she found a box labeled

STRINGS TOO SHORT TO USE.

It contained strings too short to use.

I have never been that bad.

I have, from time to time, rid myself of a large number of possessions at in short periods of time.  Usually this has happened prior to moving.  A few years ago, in the space of less than one hour, I sold about 1,500 books to someone.  I had about 1,000 books left.  On other occasions I have filled up part of my car and made large donations to thrift stores.  I have also been generous in making donations of books to college libraries.

For about a year now I have been in a nearly continuous mode of downsizing.  This started when a friend and I were helping her friend, a hoarder.  I had to leave the hoarder’s house, which was disturbing in a plethora of ways, as well as unsanitary.  My apartment was far from being a hoarder’s home and from being unsanitary, but I resolved to downsize.  So I did.  For a few days I was extravagantly generous to a thrift store.  I have also made smaller donations to individuals and thrift stores over the past few months.

I have entered a mode whereby I donate items to a thrift store every other week or so.  Life does not, after all, consist of the abundance of possessions, as the Bible says.  In reality, the overabundance of possessions detracts from the quality of life.  Also, I should act out of consideration with regard to those who might have to clean out my home after I die, whenever that will happen (hopefully not for a while).

I am down to between 850 and 900 books.  That is a good count for me, for I use books.  The count is not the best measurement, though, for books come in a range of sizes and thicknesses.  The real standard is book space, which is finite and easy to monitor visually.  I have x amount of book space; so be it.  I must not exceed it.  After a while, adding volumes to the library becomes a zero-sum game; a book I have not consulted for a long time and probably will not revisit must go away.  Thus I also become increasingly picky about what to add to the library.

I like open spaces and empty desk tops.  I do not like too many dust collectors.  I also like having recently found a way to fit all my clothing neatly into one of two closets in my bedroom.  Sometimes more is less.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Posted April 27, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

Tagged with , ,

Speaking Out of One’s Ignorance   Leave a comment

I make an effort, whether I am speaking in public or in private, or writing on a weblog, to do so out of knowledge.  Toward this end I prefer to do homework and check facts.  In conversation I am not afraid to say something to the effect of

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know where I can find the answer,

with the intention of doing so and reporting back.  I would rather do that than be inaccurate.  Even better is to know the answer ahead of time.  At a weblog I strive for accuracy also.  If I can find the answer to a given question before publishing a post, I like to do so.  If my sources prove to be inaccurate, I accept factual correction.  Objective reality is what it is, after all.

I am also a fan of science fiction.  My inherent attention to detail, in combination with my fandom, has made me a person full of science fiction trivia, especially with regard to Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and other franchises.  Recently, when watched the entirety of Lost, I kept track of many details that my viewing partner had missed.  I kept reminding her of scenes from previous episodes or the same episode.

I also know that there is much I do not know, so I endeavor to learn.  Toward that end I consult a variety of sources.  Tor.com, I have found, is a fine source of information about various science fiction franchises, especially Star Trek series, episode by episode.  For Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the official series companion volume sets the standard for other volumes of that genre.  Certain reviewers who create and post video reviews are also fountains of knowledge.  Many podcasters and reviewers at YouTube, however, routinely speak out of their ignorance.  I have decided to stop listening to a number of podcasters and reviewers there because of this fact.  As I have listened to them profess their lack of knowledge or go off on tangents I know to be baseless in universe I have thought or uttered something to the effect of

I know more about this subject than you do.  Why do you have the podcast?

I have also caught myself correcting them audibly.

One can do homework of these matters easily enough.  I know of websites with detailed information about these series, including by episode and character.  Finding them is quite simple.  One can consult the special features on DVD or Blu-ray sets, if one has those.  I have found special features quite informative.  Commentary tracks have proven especially helpful.

So, those who analyze episodes, series, and movies online, do your homework first, please.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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O, For the Wisdom of the United Methodists!   Leave a comment

I spent much of my youth as a preacher’s kid in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Thus I became familiar with the mechanics of church polity regarding the process of appointing ministers.  The one-year renewable terms ran from June to June; appointments (of less than a yea) that began in other months were rare.  On mornings in certain Junes my family and I awoke in one parsonage.  By midday we were settling into another one, as my father’s successor was settling into the one we had vacated.  The process was quick, with just a few hours separating pastoral terms.  The process was not without its flaws, though; the terms should have been longer than a year.  (I have concluded that a four-year term would have been better.)  Nevertheless, the appointment system has demonstrated its virtues.

Recent events in my Episcopal parish have caused me to deepen my appreciation for the United Methodist appointment system.  In August 2015 my rector suffered a stroke.  Supply priests filled in while she remained the rector, going on disability in June 2016.  Our third supply priest continued to serve until late 2016, when our interim rector began to serve the parish.  The search process, which will include a survey leading up to the writing of a parish profile, will take at least a year.  I have not seen a survey yet.

Had I been a United Methodist parishioner, the district superintendent would have moved immediately in August 2015 to change the appointment of the pastor who had suffered a stroke to disability leave.  The district superintendent would also have moved quicklty to appoint a new pastor, to serve until at least June 2016.  There would have been no ongoing saga, with its stresses for the parish.  I know this because, a few years ago, when my father, then a retired minister serving in Americus, Georgia, became unable to serve his congregation due to the regrettable progress of dementia, my mother called the district superintendent, who retired my father fully, appointed an interim pastor immediately, and, in short order, appointed a pastor to succeed the interim pastor.

O, for the wisdom of the United Methodists!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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