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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Howard Hughes the Tortured Aviator

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By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the most fascinating and tortured movies I have  watched is ‘The Aviator’, a look at the life of Howard Hughes.

 Howard Hughes’ father invented a revolutionary drill bit that, within ten years, was used in 75 percent of the world’s oil wells, allowing them to drill deeper to previously unreachable oil fields.  Standard Oil used fifteen thousand of these Hughes drill bits, leased out from Hughes at $30,000 per well.

 At age eleven, Howard built the first wireless broadcasting set in Houston so that he could communicate with ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

With the ‘Hells Angels’ talking movie, Hughes created the first ‘talking movie’ blockbuster, astounding his critics who were convinced that this Texan upstart would lose his shirt.

 Hughes once said to his top assistant Noah Dietrich: “I intend to be the greatest golfer in the world, the finest film producer in Hollywood, the greatest pilot in the world, and the richest man in the world.”  On his death bed, Hughes commented: “I want to be remembered for only one thing – my contribution to aviation.”

 As I watched ‘The Aviator’ movie and read several biographies on Howard Hughes, I kept being reminded of Jesus’ comment: ‘What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul?’ What can a person give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37)  Brown & Broeske noted in their HH biography, “Hughes acted as if he owned the whole world.”

 Hughes ordered RKO Film Executive, William Fadiman, to cut his staff by 25 percent.  When Fadiman started to protest, Hughes quickly cut him off.  “I know what you’re going to tell me.  You’re going to tell me, probably, that you know someone who has cancer or someone who just got married or just had a baby, and that you can’t do that to those people…A corporation has no soul. I can’t know about those things and be a corporation.”

 “We brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out”, intoned Reverend Robert T. Gibson during Howard Hughes funeral at Houston’s Christ Church Cathedral. Howard Hughes was baptized in an Anglican/Episcopal Church, married in an Anglican/Episcopal Church, and buried in an Anglican/Episcopal Church. He was truly part of the hatched/matched/&/dispatched crowd.  But nowhere is there any clear indication that a living faith in Jesus Christ ever impacted Hughes’ soul.

Howard Hughes, as North America’s first billionaire, had everything, and yet was deeply lacking.  Brilliantly gifted technologically, he was profoundly crippled in his abilities to sustain the very relationships that make life worth living.  Tragically enmeshed in his mother’s apron strings well after her death, Hughes was never able to leave and cleave, never able to commit to a lifelong relationship. It was a dark, troubling relationship that a counselor would later describe as ‘emotionally incestuous’.

Much like Howard Hughes’ womanizing father, Howard found it difficult to connect with women as real human beings. Brown & Broeske wrote that Hughes ‘saw women as possessions.  He had to have total control. They were under his command like prisoners’. Faith Domergue, one of his younger conquests, said of herself: “I felt like a butterfly on a pin – beautiful, vibrant, and utterly trapped.”  Noah Dietrich his right-hand man said of Hughes that “When it came to women he really cared for (like Kate Hepburn or Ginger Rogers), he sabotaged every time.  He simply could not be faithful.” In the divorce petition by his first wife Ella Hughes, she called Hughes ‘irritable, cross, cruelly critical, and inconsiderate, rendering living together inappropriate.’ Brown & Broeske commented that “Hughes always believed that the problems (with women) could all be solved by externals: fur coats, new houses, expensive cars, and showers of jewelry.” For all of Hughes’ money and all of his lovers, Howard Hughes became lonelier and lonelier. Kathryn Grayson one of his Hollywood paramours said that Hughes seemed to be ‘the loneliest man in the world.’

Howard Hughes’ life is living proof that possessions and things are not where it is at.  It has been said that life’s temptations can be summarized in three categories: sex, money, and power.  None of these are wrong in themselves, but all of them can be destructive if we forget their purposes and parameters, such as family, marriage and service to our community. Jesus in Luke 14:33 memorably said that ‘anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.’  Howard Hughes’ tortured life reminds us that anything that we cling to will ultimately destroy us.  Everything needs to be surrendered back to our Maker.  As we choose, no matter how painfully, to ‘let go and let God’, we rediscover our soul.  And as the Great Physician puts it, what can a person give in exchange for his soul?

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

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Author: edhird

I am the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C., having served there since 1987. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was the Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm05.htm For the past 26 years, I have been privileged to write over 400 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to lead conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Toronto. My new sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, with a foreword by Dr JI Packer, is online with Amazon.com in both paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097820221X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile and ebook form http://tiny.cc/tanhmx . In Canada, Amazon.ca has it available in paperback http://tiny.cc/dknhmx and ebook http://tiny.cc/wmhmmx . It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook). Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online: http://tiny.cc/vj3bmx . Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version: http://tiny.cc/kreonx . You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook: http://tiny.cc/1ukiox The book 'Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit' focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus' healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how North Americans can embrace a holistically healthy life. In order to obtain a copy of the prequel book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', please send a $18.50 cheque to 'Ed Hird', #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. For more info, please click on www3.telus.net/st_simons/nsnews030.html

One thought on “Howard Hughes the Tortured Aviator

  1. Pingback: Howard Hughes | Trends Pics

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