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William Carey: Educational Pioneer

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed HirdWilliam Carey1

Who was William Carey, and why has he had such a major impact on our global culture?  On May 26th 2013, I graduated with my Doctorate from Carey Theological College on the UBC Campus.  While at Carey College, I often walked past a painting of Carey, showing his humble beginning as a village shoemaker in Paulersbury, England.  Carey was fascinated with reading books about science, history and travel journals of explorers like Captain Cook.  His village playmates nicknamed him Christopher Columbus.  Carey said that he was addicted as a young person to swearing, lying, and alcohol.  A major turning point happened when he was caught by his employer embezzling a shilling.  Fortunately his employer did not press charges.  For such petty larceny, Carey could have easily paid the price of imprisonment, forfeiture of goods and chattel, whipping or transportation for seven years to the plantations of the West Indies or America.  Facing his own selfishness, Carey had a spiritual breakthrough by personally meeting Christ that had a lasting impact on his values and lifestyle.

Carey had a quick mind and a natural love of learning. He would have normally become a farm labourer, but suffered from a skin disease that made it painful for him to go out in the full sun. If Carey’s face and hands were exposed to the sun for any lengthy period, he would suffer agony throughout the night.  So instead he became a cobbler, making shoes.  While making shoes, he was able to read and pray.  Through this, Carey developed a conviction that he was to go to India.  His unimaginative friends and colleagues tried to talk him out of this fantasy.  His five-month pregnant wife Dorothy was also dead-set against it.  His own father Edmund wondered if his son had lost his mind.  Carey said to his dad: “I am not my own nor would I choose for myself. Let God employ me where he thinks fit.”

William CareymapWith unshakable determination, Carey went to India in 1793 which was under the control of the East India Company.  He later ended up becoming a Professor of Bengali and Sanskrit in Calcutta, India.  Through teaching at Fort Williams College in Calcutta, he was investing in young civil servants from England, helping them to have a good start in India.  Carey believed that the future was as bright as the promises of God.  He had an exceptional natural gift for languages.  Carey called himself a plodder; whatever he started, he always finished.   Unlike a number of his family members and closest friends, Carey survived malaria and numerous other tropical diseases.  His first wife Dorothy however had a nervous breakdown before later dying.  Carey was heartbroken.

Some bureaucrats from the East India Company did their best to expel Carey and his team from India.  Anything that might affect financial profit was seen as a threat.  William Wilberforce however, having finally abolished the slave trade, presented 837 petitions to the British Parliament representing over half a million signatures, requesting that ‘these good and great men’ be allowed to stay in India.  Carey’s enemies attacked him in Parliament for being a lowly shoemaker.  Wilberforce won the day in the Charter Renewal Bill of 1813.

William Carey collegeCarey’s motto was “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

            Entirely self-taught, Carey impacted the emerging generation of Indian leaders that birthed the burgeoning modern democracy of India.  Serampore College was founded by Carey and his colleagues in 1818.  He produced six grammars of Bengali, Sanskrit, Marathi, Panjabi, Telugi, and Kanarese, and with John Clark Marshman, one of Bhutia.  He also translated the whole Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, and Sanskrit, and parts of it into twenty-nine other languages or dialects.  Scholars say that Carey significantly contributed to the renaissance of Indian Literature in the nineteenth century.

While an ordained preacher and a church planter, Carey was fascinated with all aspects of daily living.  In 1818 Carey founded two magazines and a newspaper, the Samachar Darpan, the first newspaper printed in any Asian language. He was the father of Indian printing technology, building what was then their largest printing press.  Carey was the first to make indigenous paper for the Indian publishing industry.  He brought the steam engine to India, and pioneered the idea of lending libraries in India.  Carey introduced the concept of a ‘Savings Bank’ to India, in order to fight the all-pervasive social evil of usury at interest rates of 36% to 72%.

William Carey StampCarey introduced the study of astronomy as a science, teaching that the stars and planets are God’s creation set by him in an observable order, rather than astrological deities fatalistically controlling one’s life.  He was the founder of the Agri-Horticultural Society in the 1820s, thirty years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England.  Carey was the first person in India to write about forest conservation. In 1823, he was elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, one of the world’s most distinguished botanical societies even today.  As Carey’s favorite flowers were lilies, he had the honour of having one (Careyanum) named after him.

Having a strong social conscience, Carey was the first man to oppose the Sati widow-burning and female infanticide.  Sati was finally banned by the Government of India in 1829.  He also campaigned for humane treatment of lepers who were being burned or buried alive because of their bad karma.  The view at the point was that leprosy was a deserved punishment in the fifth cycle of reincarnation.

 william-carey grave           Carey loved India and never returned home to England, dying in 1834 at the age of 73.  Near the end, he said: ““You have been speaking about William Carey. When I am gone, say nothing about William Carey-speak only about William Carey’s Saviour.”  My prayer for those reading this article is that we too would have the passion for learning and making a difference that William Carey once had.


Video: William Carey – A Candle in the Dark (click to view)

Ed processing

The Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article for the June 2013 Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News, Academia.edu, and the Light Magazine

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

for better for worse

-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook 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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A Response to Anton Drake from Reverend Ed Hird



A Response to Anton Drake from Reverend Ed Hird

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 23:50

(Before It’s News)

Hollywood, CA — Last week I wrote a press release to promote the new book Atheist Yoga by Anton Drake. As part of that press release, which can be foundhere, I conducted an interview with Mr. Drake, and one of the topics of discussion was a recent article by Reverend Ed Hird that centered on the idea that the practice of yoga is something unsuitable for Christians. Anton had read that particular article, and had several comments about it; Reverend Hird subsequently contacted me and requested a chance to offer a rebuttal, feeling that some of what he had said had been misconstrued.


Here is Reverend Hird’s response to the Atheist Yoga press release:

[ Having read Anton Drake’s new book ‘Atheist Yoga’, I am fascinated by the extent to which so many atheists are focused on a God that they ostensibly don’t even believe in; many of them seem to think more about God than most Christians do, and I can’t help thinking that it’s almost as if they are obsessed with this allegedly non-existent God. When I think of God, I see the face of Jesus.  Anton is correct when he said “if someone is an atheist, they lack a belief in God.” This is undebatable. Many people don’t realize that Buddha, as a reformed Hindu, was an atheist who continued to do Hindu yoga; one of the most famous pictures of the Buddha shows him in the yogic lotus position. Buddhist usually call their yoga ‘meditation’, but a rose by any other name is still a rose. Buddhism was founded as an atheistic religion. In this sense Anton Drake is clearly right—there is no incompatibility between Anton being an atheist and doing yoga. Anton, like his fellow atheist Buddha, is clearly involved in a spiritual/religious practice.


In an interview released May 9th 2013, Mr. Drake made some comments about my article “Culture Wars: Yoga, More than Meets the Eye” that clearly demonstrate the extent to which he has completely misunderstood the meaning and intent of the article. In the interview, Anton stated that “although I am what you might call a dogmatic atheist, I find the reverend Hird’s ideas on this matter to be quite prejudicial, and even somewhat racial and xenophobic” While I enjoyed reading the interview, I find it unfortunate that Anton will dismiss someone as racist and xenophobic simply because they have reservations about syncretistically mixing two different religions. My hero E. Stanley Jones, who lived for 50 years as a Methodist missionary in India and wrote a book about Gandhi called ‘Portrait of a Friend,’ actually started the United Christian Ashram movement, of which I have served on the international board. My main point here is that I have always had great respect for the East Indian people, just as my friend Stanley Jones did.


In the same interview, which was titled “Ed Hird, Encinitas, and the Fear of Yoga, An Interview with Anton Drake Part 2,” Anton mentioned that “Many of the Hindu friends I’ve had through the years have actually kept a picture or a statue of Jesus on their altar or puja, right next to the other pictures of gurus and deities they revered. That always impressed me.” It is a good thing to show respect to other religious traditions; however, because Hinduism allegedly has 330 million gods, adding Jesus to the Hindu pantheon does not really respect the integrity of the Judeo-Christian heritage. To serve two masters, as Jesus cautioned against, is not showing true respect for other religious traditions. I do not question the prerogative of new-agers, atheists, or Hindus to practise yoga. I am asking for some transparency about what yoga really is about, particularly when they package it for Christians. Yoga is the very heart of Hinduism. Nine out of ten Hindus agree that yoga is Hinduism. Without yoga, there is no Hinduism. Without Hinduism, there is no yoga. Many Hindu gurus claim with no evidence that Jesus went to India and became a yoga teacher. They also hold that Jesus as a yogi was teaching reincarnation because he wanted us to be born again. Once again, this does not show respect or understanding for other important religious faiths.


Mr. Drake also seemed particularly offended by my comment that yoga ‘kills the mind’. This is merely quoting key yogis who see that as one of the key benefits of yoga. Christian meditation is about focusing on God’s Word thoughtfully rather than the elimination of thought. Sensory deprivation and sensory overload, both key aspects of advanced yoga, are proven techniques for the ‘killing of the mind’. Yoga does not require belief to alter the mind. It just requires intensive yogic practice. It is the technique that produces the effect. Yoga asanas appear to the uninitiated as if they are just stretching exercises. The more fully initiated realize that asanas are worship postures to Hindu deities. The Warrior asana, for example, is identified with the worship of Lord Virabhadra who has a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and a garland of skulls. The Cobra asana is about identification with and worship of the Kundalini snake, yogically awakened in the chakras. The yoga insiders all know the real scoop. They also know that North Americans are not quite ready yet for the full truth about the religious identity of yoga.


Further into the interview, Anton stated that “Although his [Rev. Hird’s ] article is fairly well written and seems to make some good points on the surface, if one looks a bit closer it reveals itself as absurdly, almost comically xenophobic; simply consider how easy it would be to apply the same arguments he uses to sushi, origami, or Asian forms of dance.” Among other things, I am particularly curious about Anton’s teaser comment “Good points on the surface.” I am hoping that in the future, Anton could perhaps elaborate on this. As for the xenophobic comment, this was clearly not one of Anton’s strongest arguments. To suggest that people who have reservations about yoga must also be against sushi, chai tea, and curry is comical. Anton, who has never met me, keeps saying that I am xenophobic simply because I dare to question yoga. I find Mr. Drake’s comments along this line to be unfortunate and even intolerant. I ask, is there still room within our Western democratic cultures to raise questions without being stereotyped or villified?


Anton Drake then goes on to say that schoolchildren should obviously be taught yoga: “Schoolchildren should obviously be allowed to learn yoga; restricting western children from learning yoga on the basis of religion is barbaric, and not just from an atheistic point of view.” The terms ‘should’ and ‘allowed’ go in two different directions. Public schools do not ‘allow’ religious practices, whether Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or New Age, to be mandated for the children. If yoga is in fact inherently religious, this would be violating the Encinita School Board’s own legal parameters. Is it really respectful to mandate yogic Hinduism for children attending the Public School system? What if this violates the faith perspective of the children’s parents? Should they be dismissed as barbaric, to use Mr. Drake’s words? At the core of democracy is the freedom of religion, and the freedom to question. No one will win if yoga ever becomes so culturally entrenched that our schools begin imposing it as part of their everyday curriculum, and thereby elevate it to the status of an unquestioned academic truth or authority.


Drake also says, and I quote, that “He [Rev. Hird] of course takes it completely for granted that any spiritual tradition outside of Christianity or western culture is intrinsically evil and antithetical to every form of goodness.” However, where he is wrong is that I am in no way a defender of Western culture as somehow superior to Eastern culture. I find much wisdom and value in all cultures, and in all religions. We need to be respectful to other religious traditions, especially when we do not understand them. I simply ask that Christians be not asked to compromise their religious identity in the midst of a well-packaged yoga marketing strategy. Yoga is a ten-billion dollar industry these days in North America, and we simply cannot overlook our core cultural principles in rushing to spread the indoctrination of yoga into our schools. While Anton Drake “the atheist” spoke a lot about demons and evil, you will notice that I did not, and this was not at all the focus of my article. I simply wish to affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ in one’s life. And my contention is that if Jesus is my Lord, then yoga is not. I can live without yoga, while still respecting the right of others who wish to practice it. ]


I am scheduled to do another interview with Anton soon, and I will be sure to bring this topic up to him again and ask him some additional questions as well.


Media Contact
Karen Anderson
Marketing Director
Puragreen Productions LLC
717 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA, 90024
Email: Karen@puragreen.com
Web: http://puragreen.com


for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.