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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Hey Mr Tambourine Man

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 

When is the last time that you won a Nobel Peace Prize?  Who would have imagined that Bob Dylan at age 75 would be given this honour? Even as an avid Dylan fan, this was not on my radar screen.

One of my most exciting finds was a new biography by Ian Bell, entitled Once Upon a Time: the lives of Bob Dylan. The Financial Times describes this book as the best Dylan biography yet.”  WB Gooderham of The Guardian, UK described ‘Once Upon a Time as “Knotty, beguiling, contrary, infuriating and as ambitious as its subject, this could be the most vital Dylan biography yet.”  As part of writing this Deep Cove Crier article on Bob Dylan, I have been asking friends, neighbours, relatives and local business people as to what they think and know about Bob Dylan.  I discovered that Dylan has had a remarkably long shelf life, appealing to a wide variety of very diverse people.

My favorite Dylan song is Hey, Mr Tambourine Man.  No one can ever fully agree as to what Dylan means in his mysterious, playful lyrics.  Hunter S Thompson dedicated his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Bob Dylan because of this song allegedly promoting Mr Tambourine Man as a drug pusher.  Dylan told Joni Mitchell’s husband Chuck that the Tambourine Man was the one common musician in the New Orleans funeral Jazz Bands that helped people grieve the death of their loved ones, and embrace their own mortality.   I see Dylan as an enigmatic Tambourine Man who is playing songs for us in our jingle jangle world.

The Byrds’ version of this song convinced Dylan to switch to rock & roll. Like our Canadian Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan is one of the most private, elusive public figures in the world.  The grueling pace of touring and interacting with the media has destroyed many musicians over the years.  Dylan himself often lost himself for a while in the midst of such media onslaught.  As June Sawyers ironically put it in Book List, Dylan is an artist who, to this day, defends his right of “artistic autonomy, refusing to be anyone but himself, whoever that may be. “

Michael Dyer of the Japan Times Newspaper has called Bob Dylan the single most important artist in the history of popular music.  What pains many of Dylan’s fans is that he keeps artistically reinventing himself again and again.  Just when you have ‘figured’ Dylan out, he surprises you.  The real Dylan is always blowing in the wind.  At age 74, Dylan the Tambourine Man will likely reinvent himself many more times before he goes home to the Lord.  You cannot put Dylan in a box.  When Dylan switched from folk to rock, he was publicly booed and called a ‘Judas’.  When he embraced Jesus in the 1980s, many people walked out of his concerts.  Geoff Dyer of the New York Times commented: “The conversion to Christianity was the point at which I, like many others, first jumped ship, but again, bootleg recordings have since made clear that as a result of his newfound faith, Dylan rocked harder than he has ever done since.”  Some people have never been able to forgive Dylan for spiritually reinventing himself.  After Dylan’s explicit spiritual trilogy of albums “Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love”, he has become more parabolic and subtle in talking about his faith.  Sometimes less is more.  When I came to faith, some people dismissed my conversion as a phase that I would get over.  My hunch is that Dylan’s coming to faith was more than just a phase.  Dylan the Tambourine Man, far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow, is continuing to enable us ‘to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands.’

Back in 1976, The American Guide magazine asked Dylan how he imagined God.  He memorably said: “I can see God in a daisy. I can see God at night in the wind and rain. I see Creation just about everywhere. The highest form of song is prayer. King David’s, Solomon’s, the wailing of a coyote, the rumble of the earth. It must be wonderful to be God. There’s so much going on out there that you can’t get to it all. It would take longer than for ever.”

I am struck by how deeply the African-American churches have embraced Dylan’s Gospel music.  Blues and Folk music have deep roots in the African-American community.  While other people may have been offended by Dylan’s Gospel music, the African American churches have transformed these songs into large choir productions.  Even if Dylan never again writes such explicit Gospel music, I believe that his Gospel songs will continue to impact many new generations.  Music has a way of outliving its composer, even Dylan.

I thank God for Bob Dylan the Tambourine Man who continues to fascinate so many of us.  Through his evocative songs, he takes us ‘down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves, the haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach.’  Only God really knows Bob’s heart.  Our calling is to enjoy his music and remember to pray for him and other musicians.  There are few tougher callings than that of a travelling Tambourine Man.

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

-An article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News and the Light Magazine

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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Johnny Cash: Remix

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

 

selective focus photo of guitar

Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

Johnny Cash’s mother Carrie said to Johnny at age 15:  “You’ve got a gift, JR. You’re going to sing. God’s got his hand on you. You’re going to carry the message of Jesus Christ.”(1)  Cash saw the song ‘I walk the Line’ as his first Gospel hit.  He sang it not just to his wife, but also to God. (2)  His mother Carrie always believed in her son even through the worst of his addictions.  Sadly Johnny’s alcoholic father did not know how to bless his son.  When his older brother died tragically, his father unfairly blamed Johnny, saying “Too bad it wasn’t you instead of Jack.” (3)

Johnny Cash was a seventeen-time Grammy winner who sold more than 90 million albums in his lifetime.(4)  But his life was full of tragedy and heartbreak.  Johnny Cash self-medicated for much of his musical career, saying: “You know, I’ve had my years in the wilderness, had my years when the demons crawled up my back. That was only when the drugs started, and they’ve gone away now…I had to finally accept it, you know, that God thought there was something worth saving, so who was I to say, ‘You’re wrong?.’ I had to accept it and go along with it, and that’s what I did.”(5)

Cash said that he used drugs to escape but it devastated him, making it impossible to communicate with God.  Amphetamines and alcohol were literally killing him.  Cash admitted: “you’re on the suicide track when you’re doing what I was doing.”(6)

Through his addictions, many family members and co-workers were deeply hurt.  As part of his recovery, Johnny Cash worked hard to rebuild many destroyed relationships.  His son John Carter Cash said: “When Dad returned from the Betty Ford Center, he had a new lease on life, a new direction. Like the Apostle Paul, the scales were pulled from his eyes.” (7)  As Cash sang about painful broken relationships, many identified with his struggles.  Bob Dylan said of him: “If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black.”(8) Cash was described as the poet for the common person: the cotton picker, the gravedigger, the roughneck, the coal miner, the train engineer, the lumberjack, the spike driver.(9)

 Cash’s music spoke up for the voiceless, the rejected, the abandoned, and the prisoner.  Who can forget when he did a live album in Folsom Prison? Time Magazine said that “Cash and his songs are rooted in the basic of country life: the land, lost loves, wanderlust, the seasons, lonely trains hooting across the still prairie night, preachers, prison and Sweet Jesus and home sweet home.”(10)

A major part of his recovery was the relentless love of his wife June Carter Cash. Johnny Cash said of June: “She loves me in spite of everything, in spite of myself…She’s always been there with her love and it certainly made me forget the pain for a long time many times.”(11)  June often flushed his drugs down the toilet, and prayed for him when he was near death with an overdose.  She and Johnny’s mother were there waiting for him when he pulled out of a suicidal tailspin at Nickajack Cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Another key to Johnny Cash’s recovery was the loyal friendship of the late Billy Graham.  John Carter said: “When my father fell short, he could always reach out to Billy Graham.  Billy didn’t judge my father.  He was there as his friend unconditionally.  Billy would lift him up, support him and say, ‘You can do this. Stand back up. You know who you are.’”  He and June would eventually share and sing at nearly three dozen Billy Graham Crusades in front of nearly two million people. (12)

Many people don’t know that Cash wrote a novel about the apostle Paul, saying: “If God could embrace an avowed and bloodthirsty enemy of his son Jesus Christ, he’d make a place for Johnny Cash.”(13)  Few were aware that he was an ordained minister, even performing weddings, including  one for his daughter Kathy.(14)  Johnny Cash commented: “The Master of Life’s been good to me…He gives me strength to face past illnesses, and victory in the face of defeat.  He has given me life and joy where others saw oblivion.”(15)

In the last ten years of his life, Johnny Cash came back to his creative roots and was rediscovered by the younger generation of musicians.  Bono of U2 commented: “To me, Johnny Cash –with all his contradictions– was a quintessential character of the scriptures, or at least of the characters in the Bible that interested me. If God had time for these flawed characters, then God had time for me.” Bono said that he would rather spend a day with Johnny Cash than a week with most other pop artists. (16) Bob Dylan said: “Listen to (Cash) and he always brings you to your senses. He rises high above all, and he ‘ll never die or be forgotten, even by persons not born yet –especially those persons…”(17) As an artist, Johnny Cash wanted to make records that made a difference.

Johnny Cash finished well.  His last producer Rick Rubin drew out that which was best and truest about Johnny Cash, particularly in the video  Hurt.  Cash noted: “Rick saw something in me that I didn’t know was there anymore.”(18)  Johnny Cash rediscovered what made him tick musically. Rick Rubin commented: “When I asked artists what they admired about Cash, that’s what they often mentioned –that vulnerable, hurt aspect, that man who wouldn’t give up.”(19)  Bono said that Hurt was perhaps the best video ever made.(20)  It was raw and real.  Cash’s unshakable faith in Christ shone through this remarkable video.  His daughter Rosanne commented: “It’s so unflinching and brave and that’s what you are. I thought it was an enormously courageous . It was a work of art, excruciatingly truthful.”(21)

My prayer for those reading this article is that we like Johnny Cash may finish well, that we may be creative and faithful until the end of our lives.

 

 Hurt Video with Johnny Cash

 

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

-previously published for the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-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. 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 

(1) Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: the Life ( Little, Brown & Company, New York, NY, 2013), p. 23.

(2) Hilburn, p. 104.

(3) Hilburn, p. 20.

(4) Reinhard Kleist,Johnny Cash: I See the Darkness (Abrams ComiArts, New York, NY, 2009), p. inside Cover

(5) Johnny Cash: My Mother’s Hymn Book CD and notes, p. 15.

(6) Cash by the Editors of Rolling Stone, edited by Jason Fine (Crown Publishing, New York, NY, 2004 ), p. 162-163.

(7) John Carter Cash , House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father Johnny Cash. ( Insight Editions , San Rafael , CA, 2011), p. 73.

(8) Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 205.

(9) Michael Streissguth, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: the making of a masterpiece (Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004),  pp. 13, 27.

(10) Hilburn, p. 363.

(11) Hilburn, p. 606.

(12) Hilburn, p. 370, p. 375.

(13) Hilburn, p. 506.

(14) John Carter Cash, p. 59.

(15)  Johnny Cash: American III: Solitary Man, 2000, CD liner.

(16) Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 139.;Hilburn, p. 538.

(17) Hilburn, p. 628.

(18)  Cash, edited by Jason Fine, p. 149.

(19) Hilburn, p. 546.

(20) Hilburn, p. 629.

(21) Hilburn, p. 603.


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Why is it so hard to let go?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdlet_go_let_god

I often notice car bumper stickers saying ‘One Day at a Time’, and ‘Take it Easy’.  One of my favorite bumper stickers is ‘Letting Go and Letting God’.

Popularized by the 12-step movements. this phrase reminds us that excessive striving and drivenness is damaging to our health, our families, and our inner lives.

Our North American culture is becoming more and more frantic and fear-bound, especially in our shaky economic and political context.  Is it little wonder that A.A. teaches us that the first step to sanity is to admit that we are powerless over our problems and that our lives have become unmanageable?  This admission of powerlessness is very humbling to our ego.  It is a real death to our illusions of grandiosity and immortality

The 3rd Step to sanity is making a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.  The heart of Step 3 is ‘Letting Go and Letting God’.  Most of us put enormous energy into remaining in control of our own private lives.  The idea of surrendering control to anyone, let alone God, can be enormously threatening.  Yet the act of surrender can be the most healing step that we may ever take.

CrossThe heart of spirituality, in fact, is surrendering our will and lives to God who really cares for us.  As Jesus was hanging in agony on the cross,  he cried out,  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.  Such a surrender can be our choice one day at a time.  Either we commit our lives daily into God’s hands, or we commit our lives into our own hands.  Either God ends up at the centre of our lives, or our self ends up at the centre.  There is no greater disease than finding one’s self at the centre, the essence of self-centeredness.  As Dr. E. Stanley Jones puts it, anything that leaves you at the centre is off-centre.

Self-centeredness is rather like bad breath or body odor.  Everyone knows about it but yourself, though you can certainly detect in other people.  I have discovered that the heart of my problems in life is not usually other people. Rather it is my own self-centeredness.  As a teenager, I tried to live life seeking my own personal happiness.  I was never unhappier.  I have learnt the hard way that happiness is a by-product of serving others and caring for others in a Christ-like way.

The A.A. Big Book has a passion for honesty as a key to sanity and sobriety.  In one section, it ironically comments that blaming others and anger is a luxury that alcoholics cannot afford. You cannot indulge bitterness and finger-pointing and stay sober.  The truth, of course, is that none of us can indulge self-centered blaming of others, and stay healthy.  Bitterness always eats the bitter person alive.

“The deepest necessity of human  nature”, says Dr. E. Stanley Jones, “is to surrender e-stanley-jonesitself to something, or someone, beyond itself.  Your self in your own hands is a problem and pain; your self in the hands of God is a possibility and power.”  Why is it so hard to let go and let God?  Why does our ego so often fight self-surrender with all its might?  Because self-surrender is choosing to die to the false self, the self-centered way of living, that the true self might live for the sake of others.  “Fears, worries, anxieties, and resentments”, says Dr. Jones, “are all roots in the unsurrendered self.”

Letting go is to surrender to creative love.  Letting go is to align ourselves with God’s healing peace in our lives.  Letting go is learning to stop and smell the coffee, enjoy the sunsets, rejoice in our children.  Letting go is all about learning to slow down in our pressure-cooker world.  Dr. Jones comments that ‘the surrendered are quietly creative and actually produce twice as much as the unsurrendered with all their fussy activity.”  You may have heard of the old expression: ‘The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get’.

Slow Train ComingAs Bob Dylan once wrote, ‘you gotta serve somebody…It may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody’.  The choice is ours one day at a time. We may choose to surrender to fear, to pride, to money, to resentment, to popularity, or we can choose to surrender to God who really cares for us.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may learn to slow down, let go, and let God.

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

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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. 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, Canada V4A 0A5.

– 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, Canada 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