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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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G.K. Chesterton and St. Francis

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The late G.K. Chesterton is one of the most significant writers in the past hundred years.[1]  His ‘friendly enemy’ George Bernard Shaw called him a colossal genius.[2] Chesterton wrote many biographies, including those of Robert Louis Stevenson, William Chaucer, St Benedict and St Francis of Assisi.  Chesterton’s biography on St Francis told us as much about Chesterton as about St. Francis. They had remarkable things in common.  Both Chesterton and Francis had a grateful appreciation of the gift of God’s creation.  Rather than exploit nature, they both cared for it as faithful stewards.  Who can forget the classic 1972 movie ‘Brother Sun Sister Moon’, with its message of peace so loved by the hippies of San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis)?[3]  As Chesterton noted, “St Francis was so fiery and even fidgety that the church officials, before he appeared quite suddenly, thought he was a madman.”[4] To renounce his wealthy father’s materialism did not make any initial sense to most people in his home town of Assisi.  Both Francis and Chesterton were radically spontaneously generous to the poor and hurting.  Everything they did for others was out of gratitude for Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross.

There was a playful laughter with both Francis and Chesterton that won the hearts of millions.   Both used humorous drama to awaken the world from its cynical slumber.[5]  Chesterton was called the Angelic Jester.[6]  There is in both Chesterton and Francis an endearing childlikeness and innocence that draws people to Christ.  Joseph Pearce, a Chesterton biographer, noted that “…the paradox of innocent wisdom was a fertile ground for Chesterton’s imagination.”[7]  The famous Oxford atheist CS Lewis came to faith after reading Chesterton’s book The Everlasting Man.   It has been said that Chesterton, as one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed, made up for being deep by being witty.[8]  Both Chesterton and Francis not only made you think but also made you laugh.[9] In a very Franciscan way, Chesterton taught that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility.[10]  Only grateful people are humble enough to laugh at themselves.

Both Chesterton and Francis were romantic troubadours of hope calling people away from fashionable despair and cynicism.[11] As self-described jugglers and jesters of God, they passionately romanced our hearts.[12]  At the heart of this romance was the key idea of taking things with gratitude and not taking things for granted.[13]  Without gratitude, said Chesterton, all we are left with is the emptiness of ‘bread and circuses’.[14] Gratitude to God enables us, with Francis and Chesterton, to enjoy the gifts that are all around us.  Chesterton commented about the joy of seeing a dandelion after temporary blindness, and how true pessimists can’t even notice the sunset.[15]

My prayer for those reading this article is that we like Chesterton and Francis will notice the dandelions and sunsets with new gratitude.

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 

[1] Joseph Pearce, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of GK Chesterton“, (Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK, 1996), vii ‘…one of the giants of 20th Century literature’

[2]  “Orthodoxologist”, Time, 11 October 1943, (Accessed August 4, 2016); Pearce, vii “His wit was a match for that of Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and a host of others.”

[3]  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069824/  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG5jVcYA1aM

[4] G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas (Catholic Book Club, London, UK, 1933), 14-15

[5] J. D. Douglas (24 May 1974). “G.K. Chesterton, the Eccentric Prince of Paradox”. Christianity Today. (accessed August 4th 2016)

[6] Fr John O’Connor, Father Brown on Chesterton (Frederick Muller Ltd, London, 1937), 157.

[7] Pearce, 92.

[8] Maisie Ward, Return to Chesterton (London, 1952), 526.

[9] Dale Ahlquist, “Who is this Guy and Why Haven’t I Heard of Him?”, The American Chesterton Society, 2014, http://www.chesterton.org/who-is-this-guy (Chesteron) “doesn’t merely astonish you. He doesn’t just perform the wonder of making you think. He goes beyond that. He makes you laugh.”

[10] G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (Wilder Publication, London, UK, 1909), 131.

[11] Pearce, 161 “…cynicism pollutes and destroys wisdom as much as it pollutes and destroys innocence.”

[12] The Times Literary Supplement, October 3rd 1933, “As the nineteenth century clutched at the Franciscan romance, precisely because it had neglected romance…”; Pearce, 297; Chesterton, Francis of Assisi, 74-77. “The jongleur (of God) was properly a joculator or jester; sometimes he was what we should call a juggler.”

[13] G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography, (Hutchinson, London, UK, 1936) 330.

[14] G.K’s Weekly, December 13th 1934. “The vulgar school of panem et circenses only gives people circuses; it does not even tell them how to enjoy circuses.”

[15] Ward, 10.; Pearce, 70.


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Catharine Parr Traill: Pioneer Canadian Mother

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

Catharine Parr Traill was a pioneer Canadian mother who made a phenomenal impact on the life of our nation.

England in the early 1830s was caught in a Canada-mania.  In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, England was thrown into an economic depression.  Thomas Strickland, the father of Catherine Parr Traill, was caught in the economic downturn, resulting in near-bankruptcy and his premature death.  He left behind an impoverished widow and six unmarried daughters whose chances of marriage were seriously limited.

Both Catherine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna married economically-challenged Scottish soldiers who were offered land grants in the colonies.  Canada began to be seen as the land of milk and honey!  Altogether 655,747 people sailed away from British shores between 1831 and 1841 (almost three times as many as had moved abroad during the previous ten years).

The two key Canada-promoters William Cattermole and Captain Charles Stuart were being paid so much per head for every Brit that they could recruit for Canada.  In their glowing description of Canada, Cattermole and Stuart forgot to mention the backbreaking work required to clear the forests, the total absence of household comforts, the aching loneliness, and the grinding poverty of most early Canadian pioneers.  Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna, being gifted writers, were able to record a vital part of our Canadian pioneering history.  In Catherine Parr Traill’s book ‘The Canadian Settler’s Guide’, she insightfully wrote:

“In cases of emergency, it is folly to fold up one’s hands and sit down to bewail in abject terror: it is better to be up and doing.”

Catharine’s book “The ‘Backwoods of Canada quickly sold its first printing of eleven thousand copies, being translated into German in 1838 and French in 1843.

Of the six Strickland daughters including Catherine, five of them became published authors!  Catharine’s older sister Agnes in England was the leading royal biographer of the 19th century.  Sister Agnes caustically commented: “Who in England thinks anything of Canada?” and “Nothing that is first published in Canada will sell well in England”.

 In Charlotte Grey’s book ‘Sisters in the Wilderness’, Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna are described as laying “the foundation of a literary tradition that still endures in Canada: the pioneer woman who displays extraordinary courage, resourcefulness and humour.  This ‘Canadian character type’, as critic Elizabeth Thompson calls her, is a pragmatist who discovers her own strength as she overcomes adversity.”  Sir Sandford Fleming, inventor of one-hour time zones, and the engineering genius behind the Canadian Pacific Railway, said of Catharine: “She has rendered service of no ordinary kind in making known the advantages offered by Canada as a field for settlement, and by her very widely read writings she has been instrumental in inducing very many emigrants from the United Kingdom to find homes in the Dominion.”

Catharine Parr Trail had a remarkable ability to rise above adversity and make the best of every situation.  Charlotte Grey: writes in her book about ‘the stamina, talent and determination that allowed two English ladies to overcome the hardships of pioneer life and leave a powerful legacy to Canadian culture.’  It is hard for us almost two hundred years later to fully imagine the miseries of hunger, disease, cold, and disappointment faced by our early Canadian pioneers.  I was shocked to discover that both Catharine and her sister’s families came down with malaria, a widespread problem in Canada as pioneers were struggling to drain mosquito-infested swamps.

Catharine Parr Traill commented in the early days: “I have not seen a woman except those in our company for over five months….”  As Charlotte Grey put it, “Being wrenched from one’s homeland leaves deep scars in the psyche of every emigrant in any era:  Susanna and Catharine bore these scars for the rest of their lives.”

Catharine’s motto was ‘Hope! Resolution! And Perseverance!’.  She would assure her relatives back home that Canada is the ‘land of hope.’ Her sister Sarah spoke of Catherine/Kate: “Her blue eyes always sparkled with happiness and curiosity about the world.  She had a warm smile and an air of stolid contentment, and even as a baby, Catharine ‘never cried like other children –indeed we used to say that Katie never saw a sorrowful day – for if anything went wrong, she just shut her eyes and the tears fell from under the long lashes and rolled down her cheeks like pearls into her lap.  We all adored her.”

 Charlotte Grey commented how Catharine loved “the wild and picturesque rocks, trees, hill and valley, wild-flowers, ferns, shrubs and moss and the pure, sweet scent of pines over all, breathing health and strength.”  Nature, for Catharine, was saturated with divine meaning – its splendor and concord displayed the authority and goodness of its Creator.  That is why Catharine wrote many “books that reflected sheer love of nature’s bounty and admiration in God’s handiwork.”  The flowers of the field, for her, were good reminders of the teachings of Christ.  Catherine often illustrated her dried specimens with biblical quotes, particularly from the Psalms or the book of Revelation.

Charlotte Grey commented that in future years, Catharine would rely on her love of nature, the beauties of which she saw as the expression of God’s will, to carry her through one disaster after another:
“Strength was always given to me when it was needed.” As she dug and weeded in the kitchen garden, or lifted heavy cast-iron pans of porridge from the stove, she would pause briefly, straighten her aching back, close her eyes and utter silent prayers.  She noted at the end of her life: “In great troubles and losses, God is very Good.”

In the midst of her very busy writing and pioneering, Catharine never neglected her family.  As Charlotte Grey put it, “Motherhood came as naturally to Catharine as breathing.  It was the most meaningful activity in her life.  She was always prepared to give more love than she took, and she saw no conflict between her family and her impulse to write.”

My prayer is that every mother reading this article would receive that same strength as Catharine Parr Traill in the challenges of life.

 

 

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

-previously published in 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 Ave, Surrey, BC 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 Ave, 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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Lord and Lady Baden-Powell: Character Builders

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird DSCF2431

As I was taking our three sons toboganning up Mount Seymour, I saw the Baden-Powell Trail, and was reminded again of the lasting impact that the Baden-Powells have on our society.

 

From the very beginning, Lord and Lady Baden-Powell were committed to making a significant difference in the lives of young people. They saw the effect of our industrialized, urbanized society: the decline in physical health, the erosion of moral standards, the loss of self discipline. Robert Baden-Powell (B.P. as he is affectionately known) returned from South Africa in 1903 as a war hero.

 

He had bravely defended the South African town of Mafeking with only a small band of soldiers for 217 days. During the siege, he used the boys of the town as messengers, first aid attendants, and other vital jobs. These boys, who were the first prototype of the boy scouts, played a vital part in saving a beleaguered town. The Boer War as a whole was a great embarrassment to the English nation. Their troops performed poorly and inefficiently. B.P.’s 217 day defense of Mateking provided a bright spot in an otherwise dark period.

 

When B.P. returned to England, he was appalled at the deterioration of morale in English youth. He described ‘thousands of boys and young men pale, narrow chested, hunched up, miserable specimens, smoking endless cigarettes, numbers of them betting.” He was also concerned about the rampant sexual immorality, resulting in disease, poverty, and unwanted children. B. P. the war hero wanted to use his popularity to help rebuild the vitality and dynamism of young people. The amazing popularity of his scouting movement probably surprised B.P. as much as anyone else.

 

Within one year after writing the best seller ‘Scouting for Boys’, over 100,000 boys had already enrolled as Scouts. The scouting movement quickly crossed the seas to numerous countries around the world. King Edward VII was very interested in scouting and suggested that B.P. give up his army career and devote all his time to scouting worldwide.

DSCF2430After meeting the future Lady Baden Powell on an ocean cruise in 1912, Robert and Olave Baden-Powell were married in a quiet church wedding that same year. The two formed a powerful alliance that has unforgettably shaped the character of countless young people throughout the world. At Robert’s request, Olave took on the leadership of the floundering Girl Guides movement. Under Olave’s loving and capable direction, the Guiding movement exploded with new energy and growth.

 

Thanks to this remarkable husband/wife team, over 17 million boys and 8 million girls worldwide are now involved in the scouting/guiding movements. Some people mistake the scouting/guiding movements as merely a recreational diversion for rambunctious children, In fact, Robert and Olave B.P. saw recreation as merely one of many tools to build lasting character. B.P. saw scouting/guiding as “… education in high ideals, in self reliance, in sense of duty, in fortitude, in self respect and regard for others  in one word, in those Christian attributes that go to make character.”

Robert and Olave B.P. believed that character could not be imposed from outside. Character and self-discipline had to come from within. Character building for the B. P.’s had a lot to do with trustworthiness, honesty, loyalty, duty, responsibility, friendliness, courtesy, thriftiness, and moral purity. Robert and Olave believed that the heart of character building came from loyalty to God and country. That is why in the very first part of the Scout/Guide Promise, they built in “doing one’s duty to God”.

 

Olave and Robert Baden-Powell were both committed Christians. OlaveDSCF2432 expressed her Christian commitment by serving as godmother to over 40 baptized children  a responsibility she took very seriously. In her autobiography she wrote: “If I have any message to leave, it is this: Believe in God. He guides and protects you all through life …” Robert, when dealing with conflicts in the Scouting movement, recommended that people ” … ask themselves the simple question, “What would Christ have done under the circumstances?” and be guided accordingly.” Character building for Lord and Lady Baden-Powell was a very spiritual activity.

 

Both Robert and Olave were impressed by the character building impact of taking urban young people away from the city, and back to the great outdoors. At the formal opening of campfire, they had the campers recite Rudyard Kipling’s poem: ‘Who hath smelt wood smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birchlog burning? Who is quick to read the noises of the night?”

 

Robert saw camping as a golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of Nature and her store of wonders.” He said that “Our aim is to get hold of the boys and to open up their minds, to bring out each lad’s character (and no two are exactly alike), to make them into good men for God and their country, to encourage them to be energetic workers and to be honourable, Lord and Lady Baden Powellmanly fellows with a brotherly feeling for one another.”

Olave was equally impressed with the beauty of God’s creation. She said: 1 am sure that God means us to be happy in this life. He has given us a world to live in that is full of beauty and wonders, and He has given us not only eyes to see them but minds to understand them  if we only have the sense to look at them in that light.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that the inspiring example of the Baden-Powells may encourage each of us to be more thankful for the beauty of God’s world.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

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

 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.

– 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