By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Every summer the Hird family goes away on a BC Christian Ashram retreat to Sumas Mountain. The United Christian Ashram movement was founded in 1930 by Dr. E. Stanley Jones in India. As a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Jones wrote twenty-eight books that sold millions, including Christ of the Indian Road and Abundant Living. As the most widely read spiritual author during his lifetime, Jones left a remarkable impact that is rapidly increasing in our social media world. Jones’ short aphorisms are very quotable, being often reposted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
For the last year, I have been rereading Jones’ book The Way to Power and Poise. Jones memorably warns us against the herd: “If we are herd-centered people, then we are insecure, for the herd is fickle and may quickly change.” Teenagers, when facing peer pressure, are often tempted to be herd-centered. When we give up self to the herd, we lose identity, focus and creativity. The desire to be popular and to fit in can be very deadly. It takes courage to be ourselves. Jones taught that if we are dominated by the herd, we are doomed by the herd – doomed to a life of up and downness.
There are four possible attitudes, said Jones, to the herd urge. We can 1) withdraw from the herd 2) defy the herd 3) succumb to the herd or 4) surrender the herd to God and then live within it.
The problem with the first attitude of withdrawal is that we are left in isolation and eccentricity. All forms of separation, segregation or apartheid backfire upon themselves. Emotional cut-off solves nothing. We are called to be in the herd but not of the herd.
The second attitude of defying the herd leaves us on the defensive. As Jones put it, you cannot live constantly objecting without becoming objectionable. Defensiveness is negative and self-defeating. Healthy people do not define themselves by what they are opposed to.
The third attitude of succumbing to the herd, said Jones, robs you of your voice: “you are an echo; you don’t act; you only react; you are not a person but a thing.” Mindless conforming is ultimately deforming. Giving up self to the herd leaves us flat and empty. Mob mentality, as with the 2011 Vancouver Canuck riot, is rooted in the herd mentality. Many young people going to that Canuck game had no idea how destructive they would become.
The fourth attitude, said Jones, is to break the dominance of the herd by surrendering the herd to God. Then we cease to be people-pleasers and become God-pleasers instead. We become people who have the courage to speak, to risk, to be different. Bullies and dictators no longer control us. When God is God instead of the herd, then we receive a peace that passes all understanding. We become non-anxious catalysts that change our families, workplaces and herds.
Only when we let go and let God can the herd become healthy. The herd will drain you of life and energy, if you let it. The herd is never satisfied. You can never do enough to please the herd. Jesus gives you the ability to transform the herd into a thing of beauty. Say no to the herd, and yes to life.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article for the September 2014 Deep Cove Crier
-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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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