Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Jackie Robinson: Number 42

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By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife and I loved seeing the highly-acclaimed baseball movie 42.  When the movie was finished, no one left, and people began to spontaneously clap.  In the lobby, I met some long-lost friends who told me in great detail how much the movie meant to them.  We were all deeply moved by the costly courage of Jackie Robinson when facing intense hatred.  Robinson was a ground-breaker in both Canada and the United States.  Before playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson played in Canada for the Montreal Royals farm team in 1946. Delirious Montreal fans mobbed Robinson after his scoring the final hit that won them the Little World championship. Sports Reporter Sam Maltin commented: “It was probably the only day in history that a black man ran from a white mob with love instead of lynching on its mind.” Mr. Robinson himself called Montreal “the city that enabled me to go to the major leagues.”

As the first Afro-American to play in Major League Baseball, Robinson faced much prejudice, but turned the other cheek, refusing to retaliate.  Robinson said: “There’s nothing like faith in God to help a fellow who gets booted around once in a while.”  Both Robinson and his Coach Branch Rickey, being committed Christians, knew that loving their enemies was key to a lasting breakthrough in the deeply racist baseball culture.  As Jesus commanded us, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Quoting Giovanni Papini’s book Life of Christ, Rickey called Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek the most stupefying of Jesus’ revolutionary teachings.

Rickey, played well by Harrison Ford, unforgettably said: “I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.” At one point, Rickey pulled out hundreds of hate letters which had been sent to him with threatening messages.  It was consistent nightly prayer that kept Rickey and Robinson from succumbing to the relentless animosity they faced.  Rickey was told by a reporter that signing Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers would cause all hell to break loose. He replied, saying that signing Robinson would cause all heaven to rejoice.   Rickey memorably said: “Jackie, we’ve got no army. There’s virtually nobody on our side. No owner, no umpires, very few newspapermen. And I’m afraid that many fans may be hostile. We’ll be in a tough position. We can win only if we can convince the world that I am doing this because you’re a great ballplayer and a fine gentleman.”  Robinson led the Dodgers to their only championship in 1955. Signing Robinson proved to be literally a game-changer for the game of baseball.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that Robinson was a legend and a symbol in his own time, that he challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration.  King commented: “Back in the days when integration wasn’t fashionable, Robinson understood the trauma and humiliation and the loneliness which comes with being a pilgrim walking the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom.  He  was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”  Dr Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s niece, commented that the movie 42  brings an inherent message of courage, compassion and composure that prevailed in the lives of Jackie and Rae Robinson as well as Dodgers Manager Branch Rickey.   Robinson once said: “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”  This movie reminds us that we all are made in God’s image, we all are people for whom Christ died, and we all are of deep worth in God’s sight.

Robinson played in six World Series, was chosen for six consecutive All-Star Games, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949.  He stole home nineteen times, more than any other player since WW2.  In 1962, Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The number 42 is the only jersey number retired by all the Major League baseball teams.  Once a year in April, all the Major League players wear the number 42 in honour of Robinson’s breaking the colour barrier.

I thank God for Jackie Robinson’s sacrificial refusal to give in to bitterness and rage. May his example of forgiveness be a shining light to those of us reading this article.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-an article for the May 2013 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 andebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book 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 we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, 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, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. 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 $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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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

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