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Charles Dickens’ 1841 wisdom regarding the 2016 Presidential Election

charles-dickensFamilies and even countries have systemic and generational patterns that need to be understood, in order to become more healthy and even transformative.  Charles Dickens was deeply loved by the American people, then deeply resented when he told them in his 1841 book American Tales what he saw, and finally loved again after the Civil War, when they bought over a million of his book Christmas Carol, saving him from bankruptcy.

After the often agonizing and endless American election, Dickens’ wise words are well worth pondering, regardless of one’s political preferences.

American Tales, Chapter XVIII, Concluding Remarks

“(Americans) are by nature, frank, brave, cordial, hospitable, and affectionate. Cultivation and refinement seem but to enhance their warmth of heart and ardent enthusiasm; and it is the possession of these later qualities in a most remarkable degree, which renders an educated American one of the most endearing and most generous of friends.  I never was so won upon, as by this class; never yielded up my full confidence and esteem so readily and pleasurably, as to them; never can make again, in half a year, so many friends for whom I seem to entertain the regard of half a life.

These qualities are natural, I implicitly believe, to the whole people. That they are, however, sadly sapped and blighted in their growth among the mass; and that there are influences at work which endanger them still more, and give but little present promise of their healthy restoration, is a truth that ought to be told.

It is an essential part of every national character to pique (i.e. pride) itself mightily upon its faults, and to deduce tokens of its virtue or its wisdom from their very exaggeration.  One great blemish in the popular mind of America, and the prolific parent of an innumerable brood of evils, is Universal Distrust.  Yet the American citizen plumes (i.e. prides) himself upon this spirit, even when he is sufficiently dispassionate to perceive the ruin it works; and will often adduce it, in spite of his own reason, as an instance of the great sagacity and acuteness of the people, and their superior shrewdness and independence.

dickens-at-desk‘You carry,’ says the stranger, ‘this jealousy and distrust into every transaction of public life.  By repelling worthy men from your legislative assemblies, it has bred up a class of candidates for the suffrage, who, in their very act, disgrace your Institutions and your people’s choice.  It has rendered you so fickle, and so given to change, that your inconstancy has passed into a proverb; for you no sooner set up an idol firmly, than you are sure to pull it down and dash it into fragments: and this, because directly you reward a benefactor, or a public servant, you distrust him, merely because he is rewarded; and immediately apply yourselves to find out, either that you have been too bountiful in your acknowledgments, or be remiss in his deserts.  Any man who attains a high place among you, from the President downwards, may date his downfall from that moment; for any printed lie that any notorious villain pens, although it militates directly against the character and conduct of a life, appeals at once to your distrust, and is believed.  You will strain at a gnat in the way of trustfulness and confidence, however fairly won and well deserved; but you will swallow a whole caravan of camels, if they be laden with unworthy doubts and mean suspicions.  Is this well, think you, or likely to elevate the character of the governors or the governed, among you?’

The answer is invariably the same: ‘There’s freedom of opinion here, you know.  Every man thinks for himself, and we are not to be easily overreached. That’s how our people come to be suspicious.’

Another prominent feature is the love of ‘smart’ dealing: which gilds over many a swindle and gross breach of trust; many a defalcation (i.e. misappropriation), public and private; and enables many a knave to hold his head up with the best, who well deserves a halter (i.e. noose); though it has not been without its retributive operation, for this smartness had done more in a few years to impair the public credit, and to cripple the public resources, than dull honesty, however rash, could have effected in a century.  The merits of a broken speculation, or a bankruptcy, or of a successful scoundrel, are not gauged by its or his observance of the golden rule ‘Do unto others as you would be done by,’ but are considered with reference to their smartness.  I recollect, on both occasions of our passing that ill-fated Cairo on the Mississippi, remarking on the bad effects such gross deceits must have been when they exploded, in generating a want of confidence abroad, and discouraging foreign investment: but I was given to understand that this was a very smart scheme by which a deal of money was made: and that its smartest feature was that they forgot these things abroad in a very short time, and speculated again as freely as ever.  The following dialogue I have held a hundred times: ‘Is it not a very disgraceful circumstance that such a man as So-and-so should be acquiring a large property by the most infamous and odious means, and not withstanding all the crimes of which he has been guilty, should be tolerated and abetted by your Citizens? He is a public nuisance, is he not?’  ‘Yes, Sir.’  ‘A convicted liar?’ ‘Yes, Sir.’ ‘He has been kicked and cuffed and caned?’ ‘Yes, Sir.’  ‘And he is utterly dishonorable, debased, and profligate?’ ‘Yes, Sir.’  ‘IN the name of wonder, then, what is his merit?’  ‘Well, Sir, he is a smart man.’

charles-dickens-1-728In like manner, all kinds of deficient and impolitic usages are referred to the national love of trade; though oddly enough it would be a weighty charge against a foreigner that he regarded the Americans as a trading people.  The love of trade is assigned as a reason for that comfortless custom, so very prevalent in country towns, of married people living in hotels, having no fireside of their own, and seldom meeting from early morning until late at night, but at the hasty public meals.  The love of trade is a reason why the literature of America is to remain for ever unprotected: ‘For we are a trading people, and don’t care for poetry:’ though we do, by the way, profess to be very proud of our poets: while healthy amusements, cheerful means of recreation, and wholesome fancies, must fade before the stern utilitarian joys of trade.

These three characteristics are strongly represented at every turn, full in the stranger’s view. But the foul growth of America has a more tangled root than this; and it strikes its fibres, deep into its licentious Press.

Schools may be erected, East, West, North and South; pupils may be taught, and masters reared, by scores upon scores of thousands; colleges may thrive, churches may be crammed, temperance may be diffused, and advancing knowledge in all other forms walk through the land with giant strides: but while the newspaper press of America is in, or near, its present abject state, high moral improvement in that country is hopeless.  Year by year, it must and will go back; year by year, the tone of public feeling must sink lower down; year by year, the Congress and the Senate must become of less account before all decent men; and year by year, the memory of the Great Fathers of the Revolution must be outraged more and more, in the bad life of their degenerate child.

Among the herd of journals that are published in the States, there are some, the reader scarcely needs be told, of character and credit.  From personal intercourse with accomplished gentlemen connected with publications of this class, I have derived both pleasure and profit.  But the name of these is Few, and of the others Legion; and the influence of the good, is powerless to counteract the moral poison of the bad.

Among the gentry of America; among the well-informed and moderate: in the learned professions; at the bar and on the bench: there is, as there can be, but one opinion, in reference to the vicious character of these infamous journals.  It is sometimes contended — I will not say strangely, for it is natural to seek excuses for such a disgrace — that their influence is not so great as a visitor would suppose.  I must be pardoned for saying there is no warrant for this plea, and that every fact and circumstance tends directly to the opposite conclusion.

When any man, of any grade of desert in intellect or character, can climb to any public distinction, no matter what, in America, without first groveling down upon the earth, and bending the knee before this monster of depravity; when any private excellence is safe from its attacks; when any social confidence is left unbroken by it, or any tie of social decency and confidence is held in the least regard; when any man in that free country has freedom of opinion, and presumes fmimg8302753006214740978to think for himself, and speak for himself, without humble reference to a censorship which, for its rampant ignorance and base dishonesty, he utterly loathes and despises in his heart; when those who most acutely feel its infamy and the reproach it casts upon the nation, and who most denounce it to each other, dare to set their heels upon, and  crush it openly, in the sight of all men:  then, I will believe that its influence is lessening, and men  are returning to their manly senses. But while that Press has its evil eye in every house, and its black hand in every appointment in the state, from a president to a postman; while, with ribald slander for its only stock in trade, it is the standard literature of an enormous class, who must find their reading in a newspaper, or they will not read at all; so long must its odium be upon the country’s head, and so long must the evil it works, be plainly visible in the Republic.”

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. 

 


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Search for the historical Victor Hugo

 Victor Hugo1By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

With the success of the movie Les Miserables, people have been looking again at the author Victor Hugo.  What is it about Hugo that enabled him to write what Leo Tolstoy called the greatest of all novels? Who was the real historical Victor Hugo?

Every day around 3,000 words are published about Victor Hugo.  It has been said that to read the complete works of Hugo would take no less than ten years.  Every important poet, novelist and dramatist of his age was shaped by Hugo’s prolific endeavours.   Some call him the greatest of French poets.  He was the dominant figure in 19th century French literature.  By the time he left France in 1851, Hugo was seen as the most famous living writer in the world.  Upon his return to France, thousands of people in Paris chanted ‘Vive Victor Hugo’, reciting his poetry, and throwing flowers on him.  On his eightieth birthday, six hundred thousand Parisians marched past his house in his honor.  At his death, a day of national mourning was declared.

By the time Hugo died in 1883, he had become a symbol of France with all its struggles and challenges.  Hugo lived through bloody uprising after uprising.  Almost a million Frenchmen had died during this revolutionary period, half of them under the age of twenty-eight.  Les Miserables with its passionate message about the barricades reflect this deep trauma of chaos upon unending chaos.

When Hugo was born, his parents were horrified by his appearance.  His own mother could not bear to look at him. His own doctor indicated that without a miracle, Victor would not last out the month.  With an enormous head and a tiny body, his father said that Victor looked like the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  Such an insensitive comment led to his second most favorite novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Ironically after the success of his Hunchback novel, all the nouveau riche wanted their homes to be ornamented with gargoyles.

Sophie HugoVictor adored his mother Sophie but she cared little for her children.  During his childhood, Victor deeply resented his father Leopold who was always away at war.  As an adult, Victor became his father’s closest companion.  His own parents had divided loyalties between the royalists and the republicans.  Hugo’s parents met in Brittany while his Napoleonic father was stamping out a local royalist rebellion.  Both of his parents were unfaithful to their marriage vows, something that repeated itself in Victor’s own marriage.

While only fifteen, Victor applied for the French Academy’s annual poetry contest.  His poetry was so advanced that the Academy refused to accept him until his mother produced his birth certificate. Victor loved to write, commenting that ‘every thought that has ever crossed my mind sooner or later finds it onto paper. …Ideas are my sinews and substance.’

His father Leopold saw Victor’s involvement in literature as being like ‘pouring good wine down an open sewer’.  So he refused to help fund his literary education: “If you were to elect a career as a lawyer or physician, I would gladly make sacrifices to see through university.”  Victor often went without food in his early literary years, saying ‘I shall prove to my father that a poet can make sums far larger than the wages of an Imperial General.’  With great talent and a strong work ethic, Victor became one of a very small band who could earn their living with their pens.  One of Victor’s closest friends was Alexandre Dumas, the famous author of the Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers.

Adele HugoOne of Victor’s greatest sorrows was that his wife Adele was indifferent to his writings.  Even his passionate love poems for his wife, she ignored.  Adele warned Victor that ‘it is the fault of passionate men to set the women they love upon a pedestal. To be placed so high produces dizziness, and dizziness leads to a fall.’  Adele’s affair with her husband’s best friend Saint-Beauve crushed Victor, leading him into his own ongoing infidelity. There was great tragedy in Hugo’s life with his own brother Eugene having a mental breakdown at Victor’s wedding and his youngest daughter suffering the same fate after being abandoned by her lover Pinson.  One of the deepest wounds was the drowning of Victor’s daughter Leopoldine shortly after her marriage.   Out of this great sorrow came great dramatic writing, especially in his novel Les Miserables.  Andre Maurois commented that Hugo possessed and would retain all his life long, one precious gift: the power to give to the events of everyday life a dramatic intensity.

Ground-zero in Les Miserables was the gracious Bishop Bienvenue who transformed Jean Valjean by his generous act of forgiveness.  Victor Hugo’s son Charles was upset by his father’s choosing of Bishop Bienvenue.  Charles suggested instead that his father should have made Bienvenue to be a medical doctor instead of a clergyman.  Victor replied to his son: ‘Man needs religion. Man needs God. I say it out loud, I pray every night…”  Victor held that humanity is an ‘unspeakable miracle.’   Of all the French Romantics, Hugo made the most explicit usage of the Bible.

I thank God for the life and work of Victor Hugo who had such a passion for life, freedom and forgiveness, especially as seen in his novel Les Miserables.

 

(Click to watch)

 

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.  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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The Heart of Valentine’s Day

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife Janice and I  celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary.  Over four decades later, I can say without reservation that I love her more deeply with each passing year.  It is too easy to take one’s marriage partner for granted in our extremely busy world.  Yet each of us want to feel special and appreciated.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to go to the very heart of what marriage is really all about.  Valentine’s Day was birthed in a time much like nowadays when people were encouraged to look down on marriage as an interference with their personal freedoms and careers.

Through attending a Marriage Encounter weekend, I have learned that one of the most romantic things that one can do on Valentine’s Day (and every day) is to write a personal letter to one’s sweetheart.

Despite Napoleon Bonaparte’s extreme busyness in leading France, he took time to write as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to his beautiful wife, Josephine, both before and during their marriage. This letter, written just prior to their 1796 wedding, shows surprising tenderness and emotion from the future emperor.

“I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?  My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.”

Each Valentine’s Day, approximately 1 billion letters and cards are sent each year to loved ones.  So where does this remarkably popular Saint Valentine’s Day come from anyway? In the city of Rome around 270AD, there lived an Emperor known as Claudius the Cruel.  Claudius was having problems recruiting men to serve in his armies, because the men selfishly wanted to stay home with their wives and children. Angry that his men were more loyal to their wives than to himself, Claudius decided to outlaw marriage!

Couples who were in love searched for someone who would help them get married, even in secret.  A priest named Valentine performed wedding ceremonies for these desperate young lovers. When a young couple came to the temple, he secretly united them in marriage in front of the sacred altar. Another pair sought his aid and in secret he wed them. Others came and quietly were married. Valentine quickly became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.

But, such secrets could not be kept for long in Rome. At last word of Valentine’s acts reached the palace and Claudius the Cruel was angry, exceedingly angry.  On the orders of Claudius, Valentine was dragged from the temple, away from the altar where a young maiden and a Roman youth stood, ready to be married, and taken off to jail.

Valentine’s jailer had a daughter, Augustine. She was so kind to Valentine during his brutal imprisonment, that Valentine sent a ‘Valentine’s Card’ with a grateful “thank you” message for all that she had done.

Many asked Claudius to release Valentine but Claudius refused to do so.  As a punishment for supporting marriage, Valentine was beaten to death with clubs and then beheaded.  Valentine laid down his life for others because he passionately believed in the sanctity of marriage.  His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes.   The date of his tragic murder was February 14th AD 270. .

History tells us the first modern valentines’ ‘card’ date from the early years of the fifteenth century. The young French Duke of Orleans, captured at the battle of Agincourt, was kept a prisoner in the Tower of London for many years. He wrote poem after poem to his wife, real valentines, of which about sixty of them remain. These can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum.

All of my Valentine’s Day Cards to my wife over the past 34 years have been marked with a string of “X”s to represent kisses.  The practice of using an “X” for a kiss grew out of the medieval practice of letting illiterate people sign documents with an “X” to represent their name. This was done in the presence of witnesses and a kiss was given upon the “X” to show sincerity. The “X” then became synonymous with a kiss in the minds of most people.  Why did they sign with an “X”?  One reason was because the “X” shape represented St. Andrew’s cross which is also used in the Scottish and British flags.  But most importantly for our ancestors, the “X” represented the first Greek letter (Chi) in the name ‘Christ’.  (That’s why Xmas stands for the ‘Christ’ in CHRIST-mas.)

For our forebears, “X” = Kisses=Love=the Cross=Christ.

As my wife and I will be celebrating thirty-four years of a loving committed marriage, I am reminded that ‘X’ marks the spot in our grateful marriage.  ‘X’ has been the open secret to our perseverance through good times and bad times.  ‘X’ has been the key to our hanging in there through sickness and health.  ‘X’ will be the key to our having and holding till death do us part.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us, like Saint Valentine, may be open to a personal encounter with the eternal ‘X’, Jesus Christ.

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

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

-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.  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.


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The Birth of the Book

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I love libraries. In our family, we have four favorite places for ‘down-time’ and restoration: beaches, parks, gyms, and libraries.  I see lifting weights and lifting up books as equally stimulating and healthy. One exercises the body; the other one the mind.

My parents love books. My father reads so extensively that he exhausts virtually every library he joins, and has to move on to another neighbouring library just to find new options.  Scholars have discovered that the best way to motivate one’s children to learn is by example. If your children never see you reading, it has a profound impact on their likelihood to pick up a book themselves.  There is no better way for your children to expand their minds than to turn off their video games, iPods, or TV, and actually crack open a thought-provoking book or e-book.

The latest library book that has fascinated me is Dr Andrew Pettegree’s “The Book in the Renaissance”.  Dr Pettegree is the Head of the School of History at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, and founding director of the St. Andrew’s Reformation Studies Institute. I have learned so much from reading this amazing book. I was shocked to discover that before the sixteenth century in Europe, educators did not teach history in school. One of my growing passions is history, which is why I included so much Canadian history in my last book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada.’  Dr Pettegree comments that “the teaching of history was in many respects the most original curricular innovation of the Renaissance period. History was not taught in the classrooms in classical times…”

I was also surprised to discover that in England, there was no formal provision for teaching writing in the grammar schools.  Few classrooms even had desks.  If one wanted to learn how to write, it had to be done during school vacations, perhaps employing a private writing master.

The existence of books can be traced back to before the 7th century BC.  Some of the earliest books in Mesopotamia were made of clay tablets. Others were made of silk, bone, bronze, pottery, shell, dried palm leaves, or wood.  The Greek word for ‘book’ biblos originally meant “fibre inside of a tree”. The Chinese character for book is an image of a bamboo tablet.

The ancient Egyptians developed a very sophisticated form of book-making, using papyrus made of stretched-out reeds, pasted together in scrolls, sometimes up to forty feet. Beginning in the 3rd century BC, parchment made out of animal skins gradually replaced papyrus as the dominant form of book-making. Parchment was both very durable and very expensive. Until the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the fifteenth century, virtually all books were handwritten manuscripts, often painstakingly transcribed in monasteries.

We are all very aware of how the internet and social media has revolutionized our 21st century.  Gutenberg’s printing press was just as revolutionary.  Before Gutenberg, books were only for the wealthy elite.  After Gutenberg, books democratized Europe by making new ideas available for ordinary people. His revolution did not just birth printed books, but gave rise to newspapers, further educating ordinary people and infusing their minds with dreams of freedom and equality.

The first book that Gutenberg printed was the Bible.  The ready accessibility of the Bible in one’s own language was a radical innovation that many bureaucrats resisted with a passion.  Bibles were burnt openly in every part of Europe.  Tyrants knew that if ordinary people were given a chance to read the Bible for themselves, liberty would break out everywhere.  As the Great Physician put it, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

I was fortunate to be number seven of the eight people to receive an IPhone 4 at a local phone store. My only problem was that I didn’t know how to make it work. So I went back to the phone store, asking about the user guide. None of the three employees had ever seen or read the user guide. All had IPhone 4s. “How did you learn to use it?” I asked. One of the young employees said to me “I just pressed buttons until something happened.”  Eventually I found the user guide, and actually read it. What an amazing difference it made.  As my math teacher said in Grade 10, “When all else fails, read the instructions”. We live in an amazing age when most of us are able to read, yet we still often fail to make the most of this gift.

Gutenberg gave us the gift of printed Bibles available for all to read. Isn’t it about time that we take a look once again at God’s user manual?

 

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

– previously published in the  Cove Crier

-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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Confessions of a Reluctant Charismatic

By  the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I will never forget how I fell in love with my future wife Janice, disagreeing with her about the Holy Spirit.  Both of us were attending the University of British Columbia and took the same bus home each day.  Janice told me that she had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and received her prayer language the summer of 1974 at a Christian Ashram retreat.  I could see a real difference in her.  Her eyes sparkled and her face lit up.  I was attracted by what I saw, but was determined to improve her theology.  In short, I had the books and she had the experience.  In my approach/avoidance relationship to the Holy Spirit, I had read dozens of books on charismatic renewal: pro, against, and muddle-of-the-road.  My attempts to solve the Holy Spirit ‘problem’ from the ‘neck up’ had ended up in a ‘paralysis of analysis’.

 

Anything to do with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as I saw it, was covered by one’s personal conversion.  Tongues, of course, were only intended for a few Christians.  Part of the reason that I was convinced that tongues were only for a few, was because I had asked for the baptism of the Spirit & tongues many times and nothing ever seemed to happen.  So, like the fable of the fox and the sour grapes, I constructed my theology to fit my own experience.

 

During the historic Jesus movement, I was powerfully converted to Jesus Christ in February 1972, the same year that the Rev. Dennis Bennett’s landmark book ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’ was published.  Being a good confirmed Anglican, I didn’t have the faintest idea who the Holy Spirit was.  One of the fruits of conversion was that I started to read the bible voraciously.  This formerly unintelligible book suddenly felt like reading the latest news from the morning paper.  My younger sister Wendy who came to Christ a week later than myself, read ahead of me and stumbled upon the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians.  ‘What is the world is all this stuff about tongues and the Holy Spirit?’, Wendy asked me.  Being the older mature Christian by a week, I responded by saying: ‘No idea.  I haven’t read that far yet’.

 

That week I ran into a new friend, Christina Violini, who offered to pray with me on the girl’s field at our High School for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and tongues.  She prayed up a storm for me on two occasions but nothing seemed to happen.  I then checked with my youth minister who told me that tongues were of the devil.  I momentarily felt glad then that the prayers hadn’t worked!  After my youth pastor was fired, the next youth minister told me that tongues weren’t of the devil after all.  They were just for a few.

 

Having reconnected with my original home parish St. Matthias & St Luke’s Vancouver, I became good friends with the rector (Rev Ernie Eldridge) who had a real hunger for spiritual renewal.  Everybody but everybody in our parish was reading Dennis Bennett’s ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’.  We were all very excited about the book but none of us knew how to break through.  We soon concluded that it just wasn’t our gift.  We were still so interested though in the Holy Spirit that we had the Rev. Jim Gunn lead us in a ‘Life in the Spirit’ Seminar.  As the evening came for people to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and their prayer languages, I worked behind the scenes to ensure that the evening was watered down to offend no one.  As a result, no one broke through.

 

After marrying Janice, I used to love to listen to her praying in tongues as we said our bedtime prayers.  When Colin Urqhuart came to St. Margaret’s of Scotland in Burnaby, I fully expressed my approach/avoidance to renewal.  Without realizing it, I had arranged it so that I would arrive at the meetings just as everyone was leaving.  Janice said: ‘Let’s go home’.  I said: ‘No, we’ve come all this way. I want to meet the speaker.’  So I walked into St. Margaret’s, shook Colin Urqhuart’s hand , and promptly went home!

 

Unable to forget about the Holy Spirit, I received a scholarship to attend the Billy Graham School of Evangelism in Seattle, Washington.  I thought to myself: ‘Here is the perfect chance to settle the Holy Spirit issue once and for all.  I can go anonymously to Dennis Bennett’s St. Luke Church in Seattle.  That way if nothing works, I don’t have to tell anyone and I can forget about it.”  Despite being deeply impressed with all that I saw at St Luke’s, I still had no breakthrough and promptly put the issue back on the shelf.

 

In the summer of 1979, our Rector the Rev. Ernie Eldridge became involved with the ‘Festival of Faith’ involving the late Rev. David Watson from St Michael’s Le-Belfrey in York.  I very reluctantly attended one meeting, out of respect for Ernie Eldridge.  Greatly to my surprise, David Watson wasn’t ‘swinging from the chandeliers’.  Instead he was very down-to-earth and even a bit boring.  This made me feel comfortable enough to come back for the rest of the meetings!  Each evening, David became more and more interesting.  By the end of the week, I said to myself: ‘I might as well give it another try’.  So I went up and received prayer for the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit.  Once again, nothing seemed to happen.  As I went home that night however, I started to hear a few words in my head.  As Janice my wife prayed for me at home, I spoke out those words and began to speak in tongues.

 

Still suffering from paralysis of analysis, I didn’t decide for three weeks whether I would accept this new language.  In the meantime, I was praying so much in tongues and receiving such a blessing that my wife the charismatic started to complain that I was ignoring her by praying too much.  I soon got over that!  After three weeks, through the discernment of a fellow social worker Penny Hicks, I accepted God’s gift and never looked back.

 

Through the release of the Holy Spirit in my life, God has been teaching me for the past 31 years that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

 

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

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

-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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Does the Truth Really Set Us Free?

 By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Many people around us have given up on a search for truth.  It just seems too costly, too frustrating, too ethereal.  Many fear that the truth, if we can ever find it, will trap us with rules and regulations, turning us into slaves.  Many years ago, the world’s most famous human being said: ‘You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.’  A radical claim indeed.

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate replied to this claim by cynically saying: ‘What is truth?’  He was probably so used as a politician to lying and being lied to, that truth had become a meaningless commodity.  All of us crave for politicians that will tell us the truth and stop lying to us.  It is so easy to dismiss such yearnings as naïve fantasies.  Yet if no one can be trusted in our society, then the foundations of our democratic culture are indeed fragile.

True democracy is based on the gift of freedom, and the gift of freedom comes from the knowledge of truth.  “You shall know the truth” means that truth is attainable, truth is knowledge, truth matters.  “The truth shall set you free” means that truth is not abstract and irrelevant, but powerful and liberating.  Truth changes everything.  Lies kill everything.

The ‘Big Book’ in Alcoholics Anonymous says that anyone can get well if they are willing to be totally honest and truthful with themselves, God, and others.  I deeply admire the radical honesty and vulnerability of AA folk.  They have a lot to teach many people in church.  One of my relatives, who is a professional counsellor, has a poster at his office that says:  ‘The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable’.  The truth really does hurt, but when the truth is spoken in love rather than in judgement, there is amazing healing that can take place.

Jesus said;  ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life’.  He claimed to embody the essence of truth and meaning in his very person.  To Pontius Pilate, he provocatively said: ‘Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’.  Many people want to patronize Jesus and say nice things about him.  But how many of us really want to listen deeply to him and let his words impact the core of our personalities?

The problem with the truth is that it is most often deeply inconvenient, morally inconvenient, socially inconvenient, financially inconvenient, politically inconvenient.  I remember how Mark Twain once said that it is not the parts of the Bible which he doesn’t understand that trouble him, but rather the parts that he does understand.  The truth will set us free, if we are willing to pay the price.  But the cost can be very high indeed.  The gift of democracy has been won again and again because many of our ancestors laid down their lives so that we might be free.

All dictators hate the truth.  Mussolini did, Hitler did, and Stalin did.  But the truly great leaders love truth, because they know that only the truth sets people free.  Only the truth brings growth.  Only the truth brings life, abundant and overflowing.  As Canadians, we need to rediscover our forebears’ passionate commitment to truth and freedom.  Democracy cannot survive without it.  Families cannot survive without it.

Our society desperately needs a fresh infusion of the Spirit of Truth to stir up our consciences, soften our hearts, and enlighten our minds.  As the Good Book puts it, our hearts are deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  We have an amazing ability to fool ourselves and hurt ourselves, yet the Spirit of Truth promises to lead us into all truth.  My prayer for those reading this article is that Jesus the Truth may give to each of us a renewed hunger for truth, truth lived, truth felt, truth embraced.  May each of us know the truth in a deep intimate way, and may the truth radically set each of us free.  May each of us be able to say like Martin Luther King: ‘Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’

 

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 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 


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Lest We Forget…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My Grandma Allen (we called her Nana) was one of the most loving people that I have ever known.  I often wondered as a young person what made her so faithful and caring.  Years later, I discovered that her strong faith developed through great trial and adversity in her life.  Her mother died while giving birth and her father gave the children away to the neighbours and went back to sea.  Two of her brothers Charlie and Harry both went off to war in World War 1 and never came back.

On November 19th, 1917 a caring chaplain wrote my Nana the following note:  “Dear Miss Williams, I dare say you have heard the sad news of the death of your brother Private H.C.W. Williams who was killed in action on the morning of November 6th.  He did not suffer as death was instantaneous.”

“No doubt you will feel the loss of your dear brother very much as it is hard to part with those we love; but it is a consolation to know he did his duty faithfully and died in a righteous cause.  He gave his life for others.  And ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

“I pray that God will comfort you in your sad bereavement and may you find his grace sufficient in your hour of need.  Cast your cares on the Lord and he shall sustain you.  With Deepest Sympathy, Yours sincerely, Alex Ketterson Chaplain 29th Canadians, B.E.F.”

Ketterson was a tremendous comfort to my Nana, because he understood the great sacrifice that her brothers Charlie and Harry made for the cause of freedom.  Chaplain Alex Ketterson knew that the mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can help us make sense of the senselessness of life.

For more than forty years, I have worn a poppy each November 11th.  It helps me remember and reflect on the great sacrifices by so many that we might be free.  It is so easy to take freedom and security for granted.  Freedom and democracy are a precious gift from God that must never be treated lightly.  I wear a poppy ‘lest I forget’.

How did the poppy become connected with Nov 11th anyways? A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were infertile before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the conflict ceased.

During the massive  military barrage of World War One, the chalk soils became loaded with lime from debris, allowing ‘popaver rhoeas’ (poppies) to blossom. When the war ended the lime was quickly absorbed, and the poppy began to disappear again.

During World War One, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, of Guelph Ontario, heroically served as brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery.  With the introduction by the enemy of poison gas, John McCrae worked night and day for seventeen days straight, not even stopping to change his clothes. At times the dead and wounded actually rolled down the bank from above his Yser Canal dugout. McCrae wrote home “We are weary in body and wearier in mind. The general impression in my mind is one of a nightmare”.

The day before John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields”, one of his closest friends was tragically killed and buried in a grave decorated with only a simple wooden cross.  Wild poppies were already flourishing between the crosses that marked those silent graves.  In Flanders Fields” was first published in December, 1915 in England’s “Punch” magazine.  Within months, “In Flanders Fields” became the most popular poem about the First World War.  Translated in several languages, it was used in a 1917 Canadian campaign to help with the war effort, an effort which remarkably raised over 400 million dollars.

Three years later a New York City YMCA worker, Moina Michael decided to begin wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield.  Thanks to a 1920 visit to New York, Madame Guerin of France learned of the New York City poppy.  The poppy symbol so inspired her that upon returning to France, she made handmade poppies to raise money for French children made destitute by World War 1.  From there, the poppies spread like wildfire around the world.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

Why do 13 million Canadians wear a poppy on November 11th?  We wear the poppy, lest we forget.  My prayer is that we may overcome our collective amnesia and remember afresh the sacrifices of so many who gave their lives that we might live.

 

 

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 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