Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


Leave a comment

All You Need is Love: The Beatles Fifty Years Later

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I remember when my older sister Ginny bought her first Beatles record in 1963. Listening to this strange new sound, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Before I knew it, I too was singing “All you need is love.” Little did I know that I was in the middle of a cultural and musical revolution.

One of the most enjoyable books that I have recently read is Mark Lewisohn’s biography The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1: Tune In. Lewisohn’s book gave me new insights into what made these four unknown Liverpuddlians into the unforgettable Beatles. I had no idea that the Beatles were originally a Skiffle band modeled after the No. 1 Skiffle artist Lonnie Donegan, who sold over a million copies of ‘Rock Island Line’. Paul McCartney commented: “(Donegan) was the first person we had heard of from Britain to get to the coveted No. 1 in the charts, and we studied his records avidly. We all bought guitars to be in a skiffle group. He was the man.” Skiffle music, using guitars, washboards and the tea-chest bass, was big in North America in the 1940s. In the 1950s, there were around 40,000 UK Skiffle bands. The Skiffle bands became so popular that you couldn’t purchase a guitar in the UK. John Lennon’s first guitar had to be shipped from Durban, South Africa, where Skiffle and Rock had not yet caught on.(1) His Aunt Mimi, who raised John, ironically said: “The guitar’s all right for a hobby but it won’t earn you any money.”(2)

Lewisohn showed how each of the Beatles came from very difficult family backgrounds. The Beatles were raised in mixed Catholic/Protestant families, except for Ringo who was raised in a Protestant family. Church did not have a huge impact on the Beatles, though they sang in the early days at church fairs. John Lennon was fascinated throughout his life by crucifixes, the greatest symbol of God’s love. George Harrison said: “The only thing that came across to me in the church was these oil paintings of Christ struggling up the hill with the cross on his back. I thought, ‘There’s something going on here.’” (3) Paul McCartney failed an audition to become a choirboy at the Anglican Cathedral through deliberately cracking his voice. Paul also abandoned music lessons after four or five weeks, when he was given homework.(4)

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?, the Bible asks. Can anything good come out of Liverpool?, many asked. Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles had been devastated by the World War II bombing. Poverty was rampant. Black soot covered everywhere. Fifty thousand Liverpool houses had no bathroom or inside toilet. Youth unemployment was higher in Liverpool than anywhere else outside of London. Violent youth gangs controlled the streets. Almost one-third of the population, 200,000 people, left Liverpool looking for a better life. In 1962, the UK Home Office report identified Liverpool as England ‘s worst for drunkenness with arrests.(5)

John Lennon was known as a Teddy Boy, and seen by some as a delinquent. Lewisohn said that “John Lennon could be a horrible drunk, shedding the humour that vitally checked his roughest edges to become verbally abusive and physically aggressive, an unadulterated, obnoxious pain in the backside.” (6) His girlfriend Cynthia Powell said of John, “His attitude was extremely ‘Don’t look at me’—but he wanted to be loved.”(7) “We knew we could make it,” said John. “We dreamed of being the British Elvis Presleys, and we believed it.”(8)

Richy Starkey, later Ringo Starr, was the last one to join the Beatles. At age six, he was in a near fatal coma for ten weeks and a year in hospital after contracting peritonitis. Ringo experienced a further long spell in hospital at age fourteen, after pleurisy turned into tuberculosis.(9) Ringo’s health challenges led him on a lifelong search for love and for God.

For several years, the Beatles remained undiscovered. Thanks to the influence of Chuck Berry, the Beatles morphed from Skiffle to Rock. John Lennon said of Berry “He’s the greatest rock ‘n roll poet. When I hear rock, good rock of the caliber of Chuck Berry, I just fall apart and have no other interest in life. The world could be ending if the rock ‘n roll’s playing. It’s a disease of mine.” (10) Their biggest break happened when the Beatles began to play extensively in Hamburg, Germany. Lewisohn calculated that the total time spent onstage on their first two German visits was 918 hours: “the equivalent of 612 90-minute shows in just 27 weeks.” As the most experienced rock band at the time, says Lewisohn, Hamburg toughened their voices, seasoned their characters, enriched their personalities and strengthened their voices. (11)

Virtually all of the early Beatle songs were about searching for love. When the single Love Me Do came out in 1962, said Ringo, “the whole of Liverpool went out and bought it en masse. They were proud of it: a group from Liverpool. It was fantastic.” (12)

From there, their fame exploded through the UK and around the world. Recently Ringo at the Grammy Museum in LA, admitted: “I have found God…I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way [back] onto it, thank God.”  Finding God has enabled Ringo to give up his sixty-cigarettes a day and move away from alcohol and drug abuse: “I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself.”(13) Ringo discovered that the love of God changes everything. Because God is love, all we need is love.

 

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

-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.

-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) Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1: Tune In (Crown Archetype, New York, NY, 2013), p. 115.

(2) Lewisohn, p. 224.

(3) Lewisohn, p. 65.

(4) Lewisohn, p. 62.

(5) Lewisohn, p. 738.

(6) Lewisohn, p. 162.

(7) Lewisohn, p. 228.

(8) Lewisohn, p. 537.

(9) Lewisohn, p. 453.

(10) Lewisohn, p. 169.

(11) Lewisohn, p. 398, John Harris,

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/02/beatles-tune-in-mark-lewisohn-review

(12) Lewisohn, p. 720.

(13) Andrew Hough, The Telegraph, Feb 3rd 2010, “The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr admits: ‘I have found God’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/the-beatles/7142630/The-Beatles-drummer-Ringo-Starr-admits-I-have-found-God.html


1 Comment

Bella: Lightning a Candle

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

Many of us are unaware that BC was once a Spanish Territory.  Our famous Captain Vancouver, after which our city is named, was sent to the West Coast by the British Government to receive this land from the Spanish.  I took one year of Spanish in Grade 10 after finishing Grade 12 French in Grade 9.  Languages have always fascinated me, perhaps because I spent two years in Montreal learning French during the time of Expo 67.

Our St. Simon’s NV community has been on many mission trips over the years, especially to Mexico and Rwanda.  Our first St. Simon’s NV mission trip was to the Hispanic Anglicans in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the world.  It was a wonderful opportunity to refresh my Spanish, preaching, teaching and even singing on the radio in Spanish.  Our Latino Honduran friends were very kind to me as I sought to improve my Spanish diction.  I think that they appreciated my making the effort to speak in their heart language.

The largest ethnic minority in North America is the Hispanic-speaking people with over 52 million in the United States, 14 million in California, and almost 5 million in Greater Los Angeles.  Fifty percent of all those recently added to the USA population were Hispanic.  Many commentators  predicted that the very close American Presidential election  would be won on November 6th by whichever way the Hispanic voters lean. (Hindsight comment: It was.)

One of the most delightful movies that crosses the Hispanic/Anglo divide is Bella.  My wife and I recently borrowed Bella from the local library, after a good friend recommended we check it out.  We were not disappointed with our ‘date night’ movie.  This stunning ‘once in a lifetime’ movie left us both in tears.  It left me with the conviction that Bella has the potential to do something beautiful in the world. Bella lights a candle in people’s heart.

Bella struggled for visibility until winning the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as a Heartland Film Festival award.  Then our North Shore-based LionsGate Films and Roadside Attractions became the distributors.  LionsGate Films is part of the reason why with so much film activity, the North Shore is often called Hollywood North.

As the top-rated movie on the New York Times Reader’s Poll, the Wall Street Journal called Bella ‘the fall’s biggest surprise’.  With more than $10 million in domestic box office, it became one of that year’s top-ten-grossing independent films, breaking the record for a Latino-themed film in total box office earnings.

Alejandro Monteverde, Bella’s Producer with Metanoia Films, wanted to produce a movie that showed the real face of Latinos.  So often Hispanic people are portrayed in movies in less than flattering ways.  We need more culturally sensitive movies like Bella.  For Latino people, the kitchen is at the heart of the family.

Everything in Bella was food-related, whether speaking of the key actors who worked in restaurants or the intimate family times where Nina a pregnant non-hispanic waitress is welcomed into their Latino hospitality. Bella reminded me that the Hispanic people have a rich family heritage and deep spirituality that is an important contribution to our North American multicultural mix.  In an age where marriages and families are often collapsing, the Latino people have much to teach us about human dignity and making room for everyone.

The gist of the story is that Jose, a famous soccer star, becomes involved in a tragic car accident that ends his career.  He lost his passion for life and for soccer.  Meeting Nina changes everything for him and for her in a most unexpected way.  More than romance, Bella reveals the beauty of sacrificial love.  I thank God for Bella’s celebration of family, food, music and life-affirming Judeo-Christian values.  You could check this movie out of your local library or view it online.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we will daily rediscover the importance of family, kindness and compassion for others in need.

Bella Movie Trailer  (click to watch online)

Bella Movie Trailer (en Espanol/Spanish)

 

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

-an article 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 


1 Comment

Walking the Line with Johnny Cash

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird

During Johnny Cash’s nearly fifty years of music, he sold over ninety million albums.  He learned to sing while picking cotton as an impoverished sharecropper’s son in Kingsland, Arkansas. His 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.”[i]

 

Cash recorded more than 1,500 songs including well-known hits like ‘A Boy named Sue’, ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Ring of Fire.’  Johnny Cash is the only musician who has ever been threefold-inducted into the Songwriter’s, Country Music, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.”

 

More than 100 other recording artists and groups have recorded Cash’s song “I Walk the Line.”  Cash commented: “I wrote ‘I walk the Line’ when I was on the road in Texas in 1956, having a hard time resisting the temptation to be unfaithful to my wife back in Memphis”: ‘I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.  I keep my eyes wide open all the time.  I keep the ends out for the tie that binds. Because you’re mine, I walk the line.’  Cash saw ‘I walk the Line’ as his first Gospel hit, because he sang it not just to his wife, but also to God.[ii]  Cash’s life was often fraught with tragedy and heartbreak. “After my brother Jack’s death”, said Johnny, “I felt like I’d died too. I just didn’t feel alive.  I was terribly lonely without him.  I had no other friend.” His father unfairly blamed Johnny for his brother’s death, saying “Too bad it wasn’t you instead of Jack.”[iii] Like his father before him, Johnny struggled for many years with addiction issues.  His father was never able to tell his children that he loved them.

 

Johnny Cash’s first marriage ran aground in the midst of workaholism and pill-popping.  In Cash’ autobiography, he comments: “Touring and drugs were what I did, with the effort involved in drugs mounting steadily as time went by.” Amphetamines keep him going without sleep, and barbiturates and alcohol knocked him out.  Cash comments: “I was in and out of jails, hospitals, and car wrecks.  I was a walking vision of death, and that’s exactly how I felt.  I was scraping the filthy bottom of the barrel of life.”

He knew that he had wasted his life and drifted far from God.  In desperation, Cash decided to end his life in 1967 by crawling deep into the inner recesses of Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River.  There in pitch darkness he met God and then miraculously was able to crawl to the opening of the cave. There waiting for him was his future wife June Carter and his mother.  That was one of Cash’s turning points, along with the birth of John Carter Cash, in getting serious about battling his addiction.

 

Cash had relative freedom from drugs until attacked in 1981 by an ostrich that ripped his stomach open and broke several ribs. While in hospital, he became heavily re-addicted to painkillers.  In 1983, his family and friends did an intervention, which included Cash’s going to the Betty Ford Clinic. Cash comments: “I’m still absolutely convinced that the intervention was the hand of God working in my life, telling me that I still had a long way to go, a lot left to do.  But first I had to humble myself before God.”  Because of the enormous pain from sixteen failed jaw operations, Cash well understood the cunning, baffling, and powerful pull of self-medication.

In the midst of great trauma, Cash found that spiritual music helped bring him back from the despair of his addictions.  “Wherever I go, I can start singing one of them and immediately begin to feel peace settle over me as God’s grace flows in. They’re powerful, those songs.  At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.” Cash began to find great strength in reading the bible and in prayer.  He learned to stop hating himself, and to forgive himself and  others.

During this time, the late Billy Graham became a personal friend and mentor.  Billy Graham “was interested, but never judgmental…I’ve always been able to share my secrets and problems with Billy, and I’ve benefited greatly from his support and advice. He’s never pressed me when I’ve been in trouble; he’s waited for me to reveal myself, and then he’s helped me as much as he can.”  Johnny and June would eventually sing and share at almost three dozen Billy Graham Crusades in front of around two million people.

I thank God for the late Johnny Cash’s recovery from serious addiction, and pray that all of us will have the courage to change the things that can be changed.

 

 

 

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 

[i] Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: The Life (Little, Brown, & Company, New York, NY, 2013), p. 23.

[ii] Hilburn, p. 104.

[iii] Hilburn, p. 20.


Leave a comment

Seven Deadly Challenges at the Weight Room

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

How is your work-out working out for you these days?  Studies show that many people who start at the gym with every good intention are nowhere to be found within a few months.  Why is it that so many well-intended people drop out and disappear from fitness?  My hunch is that people drop out from going to the gym for similar reasons that they drop out from going to church.  They may find the times inconvenient, the child care inadequate, the music too loud, too soft, too slow, or too fast, the temperature too hot or too cold, the people too cold or intrusive, the instructor/pastor too busy or controlling.

Virtually everyone that I know nowadays believes in the value of keeping physically fit.  It has been drilled into us by our doctors, teachers, media, and family.  Yet so many of us fall short of our personal health goals.  I sense that a lot of people have transferred their guilt about not attending church enough to a new guilt about not attending the weight room enough.  Guilt, shame, and fear paralyze us in our unhealthy procrastination and avoidance of physical and spiritual growth.  Guilt, shame and fear feed our addictions and unhealthy life choices.  I have known people who felt so guilty about not attending the gym or church that they have overeaten, over-drank, and over-indulged.  More guilt is not the solution to our health issues.

So how can we be set free from our spiritual and physical couch-potato tendencies?  Dr. Gil Stieglitz  says that a great way to get healthy is to memorize the seven deadly sins and then daily measure our current behaviour by those seven criteria.  The first deadly sin/challenge is Pride, which Dr. Gil defines as ‘feelings of superiority, self-absorption, and lack of teachability.’  Sometimes people don’t make it to the gym or church because we have become self-satisfied and unwilling to grow.

The second deadly sin is Envy which Dr. Gil defines as ‘the desire for what belongs to others’.  I have been guilty of that sin many times at the gym.  Why is it taking me so long to get in shape physically or spiritually when others around me seem so healthy?  Sometimes the puny size of my weights or my prayer life can tempt me to not bother to try.

The third deadly sin is Anger which Dr. Gil defines as ‘being blocked from a goal, irritated, seething’.  The person we usually feel most angry at is ourselves, angry that we are not losing weight quickly enough, not improving fast enough, angry that it is taking so long to become Christ-like and loving.  You may have heard the angry comment that the church or gym is full of hypocrites, to which I say ‘there is always room for one more hypocrite’.

The fourth deadly sin is Lust, which is far more than just sexual.  It is really about the need to have it all our way immediately.  Many of us give up on the gym and church, because it is taking too long to achieve our goals.  We want it all right now!  Getting healthy takes time!

 

The fifth deadly sin is Sloth which Dr. Gil defines as ‘laziness, working with a minimum effort, procrastination’.  Going to Church or the gym requires effort, time, and money.  It is often tempting to give in to our feelings of tiredness, discouragement and fear.  Why bother to try?  The Tempter wants us to be physically and spiritually healthy, as long we do it next month, not this month.

The sixth deadly sin is Gluttony which Dr. Gil defines as ‘overindulgence, addiction, seeking comfort’.  Many people feel so embarrassed about their body or soul that they won’t even try.  It’s just too painful.

The seventh deadly sin is Greed which Dr. Gil defines as ‘longing after money and things’.  Greedy people will refuse to go to church or the gym, claiming that ‘all the church/gym wants is your money’.  In fact the gym and church are there for our health, and our health is worth every penny that we invest.  What use is wealth without health?  See you at God’s Gym!

 

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

 -previously published in the 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 


Leave a comment

Trouble Right Here in River City

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

There are few things that thrill me as much as seeing young people pull together and put on a high-quality school musical.  My own ‘Winston Churchill High School’, which I graduated in 1972, was famous for two things: an excellent ‘British Bulldogs’ basketball team and an unforgettable drama/music program by Mrs Norman.  The year I graduated, our school put on a smash-hit version of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.  As I had just had a profound spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ that spring, my interest level was high in the school musical.

I remember when my youngest son Andrew had the privilege of playing the part of Professor Harold Hill in his BCCA School’s  The Music Man production  .  If I say so myself as an unbiased parent, he was thoroughly believable.  My favorite song in the production was ‘Trouble Right Here in River City’. What impressed me most in seeing the play was the self-sacrificing attitude of the entire cast.  No one tried to be a prima donna.  No one gave a half-hearted performance.  Everyone, and I mean everyone in the entire cast, poured out their heart, mind and soul night after night at the Evergreen Theatre.  The sense of school spirit and teamwork was palpable and real.  I  particularly enjoyed the performances of Marian Paroo (Ligia Cota), Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Alale Beheshti), and Marcellus Washburn (Robson Liu). But the truth is that everyone in the cast gave it their best.

I have been ordained as an Anglican clergyman now for 38 years.  My undergraduate degree is in Social Work from UBC.  While training in Social Work, I was paid by the North Vancouver Royal Bank to help ‘high-profile young people’ through the North Shore Neighbourhood House.  One of the things I discovered in working at the Neighbourhood House is that teamwork was the key to break-through in the young people’s lives.  Our culture is swallowed by what Dr. Don Faris calls self-regarding individualism.  So often good intentions become neutralized by the ‘unholy trinity’ of ‘I, me, and myself’.  In attending my son’s ‘Music Man’ performance, I was reminded of the wonderful gift of teamwork.  Teamwork brings out the best in all of us. Teamwork reminds us that no one is an island.

The Bible uses the image of a body in which one of us is a foot, another an arm, another an eye.  Everyone needs everyone else in order to become all that we are meant to be.   The leader of my son’s BCCA Fine Arts program, Mrs. Birth, had a passion to call forth the best in every one of their students.  This remarkable instructor led the way in giving and giving and giving until every student wants to also be a giver.  Out of this remarkable dedication was birthed a musical/drama team that literally transformed the lives of its young people.

 Suicide is the biggest killer of teens in our 21st century.  Everyone needs hope for their future to keep going.  Music and drama at its best can be full of hope, full of life, full of new beginnings.  I thank God for teachers like Mrs. Birth who give so generously to raise up teams that actually work. Teamwork is a real solution to ‘trouble right here in River City.’

 

 

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

-previously published in the 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 


Leave a comment

Seventy-Six Trombones Led the Big Parade!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the privileges of parenting is to cheer for one’s children in their various school musicals.  Our boys’ school for eight years was British Columbia Christian Academy (BCCA) in Port Coquitlam. As well as having great academics and strong family values, BCCA  has become well known for its strong drama and music programs.

My three boys were blessed to be involved in several memorable BCCA productions, including Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, and now The Music Man.  My youngest son Andrew had a lot of fun shaving his hair off for his role as Daddy Warbucks,  and the next year became Professor Harold Hill of Music Man fame.  While putting on a school play is a tremendous amount of work (and driving for the parents!), it is an invaluable way to build school spirit and teamwork.

As I carpooled Andrew each morning to school, I listened to Andrew/Professor Harold Hill sing his heart out.  The Music Man has so many unforgettable songs that it’s hard to single any out. “Seventy-Six Trombones” is my favorite, but there are many more: “Gary, Indiana”, “Wells Fargo Wagon”, and “Trouble” are all remarkably gripping.  Paul McCartney and the Beatles enjoyed The Music Man so much that they even recorded one of The Music Man’s hit songs “Till There Was You”.

The original title for the play was “The Silver Triangle.”  The earliest version of “The Music Man” included a young, spastic boy. Willson’s advisors thought it would be best to eliminate the spastic boy from the story, so Willson decided to change the spastic boy into the younger brother of Marian Paroo and have him lisp. The musical “The Music Man” opened on Broadway on Dec. 19, 1957, at the Majestic Theatre and ran for 1,375 performances.  The show became not only a hit but a happening, squeezing out the season’s other Broadway classic, Westside Story, for the Tony ‘Best Musical’ award.

During the 1940’s a relatively unknown musician named Meredith Willson kept fiddling with a musical story about his boyhood in Mason City, Iowa. As a young person, Willson had started off, playing the flute in his town band, before ending up with the John Philip Sousa Band, and then the New York Philharmonic, where he served under Toscanini and Stravinsky.

It took Meredith Willson eight years, forty songs, and thirty revisions to birth one of the world’s most well-loved musicals.   The Music Man is one of those very unusual Broadway hits where one person single-handedly produced the book, music and lyrics. Meredith Willson was also famous for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”(1964) about the Titanic.

The gist of the ‘Music Man’ story, for those of you who have never seen it, is that Professor Harold Hill, a traveling salesman and con artist talks an unsuspecting Iowa small town into putting out hard, cold cash for band instruments and uniforms, as a solution to a civic frenzy drummed up by Harold Hill over the town’s new pool hall. “Remember, my friends, what a handful of trumpet players did to the famous, fabled walls of Jericho. Oh, billiard parlor walls come a-tumblin’ down.”

There are few things more captivating to many parents than the gentle form of flattery that suggests our children have some previously undetected musical genius.

In the process of wooing and sidelining the town’s librarian Marian Paroo, Harold Hill himself faces the depth of his own deception, and his longing to be a real-live band leader.  The romance between Harold Hill and Marian Paroo is much like an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.  Like any good salesman, the one thing that Harold Hill could not resist was a challenge.  Whether it was the challenge of selling band instruments to hard-nosed Iowans or romancing a confirmed bachelorette like Marian, Harold jumped in with both feet.

Harold Hill discovered that behind this brusque, off-putting librarian is a passionate heart with standards so high that make her unobtainable: “All I want”, sang Marian Paroo,” is a plain man, all I want is a modest man, a quiet man, a gentle man, a straightforward and honest man…I would like him to be more interested in me than he is in himself…”

Marian’s mother Mrs. Paroo challenged Marian on her ‘paralysis of analysis’ regarding men: “I know all about your standards and if you don’t mind my sayin’ so, there’s not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend’a Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat and Noah Webster you’ve got concocted for yourself outta your Irish imagination, your Iowa stubbornness, and your liberry fulla’ books.”

What The Music Man musical proves to me isthat love conquers all.  Love conquered the ‘conman’ Harold Hill so that he ended up staying and literally facing the music.  Love conquered Marian Paroo’s impossible standards so that she actually opened up her heart to a member of the opposite sex.  Love can conquer all, even your and my hearts.  But unless we open up our hearts, Love can never break in.

If The Music Man ever come to your area, I encourage you to not miss out on the time of your life, seventy-six trombones later.

 

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 $9.99 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 


2 Comments

Embracing Handel’s Messiah

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdhandel picture

Beethoven once said: “Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived.  I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb.”  King George III called Handel “the Shakespeare of Music.”  George Bernard Shaw commented that “Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution.  What is more, he is a sacred institution.”

In North America and England, at the very least, Handel’s Messiah has become the most popular and performed and recorded and listened to choral work.  Many people stereotype Handel’s Messiah as Christmas music, but in earlier years, Messiah performances were more likely to occur at Easter.  For Handel, the Messiah was an Easter event that told not merely of birth but also of death and resurrection.

 

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany within a month of Johanne Sebastian Bach (1685).  Handel’s father was a barber-surgeon who hated music and wanted his son to become a successful lawyer.  His aunt Anna gave Handel a spinet harpsichord that they hid in Handel’s attic, wrapping each string with thin strips of cloth, so that Handel could play undetected.

 

handel picture 2When George was eight or nine, the Duke of Weissenfels heard him play the postlude to a church service and he summoned the boy’s father and told him he ought to encourage such talent.  His only teacher was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, a most learned and imaginative musician and teacher, who instilled in his young pupil a lifelong intellectual curiosity.  At age 11, Handel entered a musical contest at the Berlin court of the Elector with the famous composer Buononcini, and won.

 

When Handel moved to England in 1712, it was a beehive of musical activity with Italian opera ruling the day.  Within the next 30 year period in England, Handel wrote about 40 operas and 26 oratorios.  Handel did not play to easy audiences.  If opera attenders felt bored in Handel’s day, they would often start loud conversations, and walk around freely.  It was also a custom for them to play cards, and eat snacks right during the opera.

 

As Smith/Carlson put it, Handel “…was an inviting target for critics and for satire.  He was a foreigner, and an individual no one could help noticing.  He had large hands, large feet, a large appetite, and he wore a huge white wig with curls rippling over his shoulders.  He spoke English rather loudly in a colourful blending of Italian, German, and French.  He was temperamental, he loved freedom, and he hated restrictions which placed limits on his art…”

 

 Charles Burney, who later sang and played under him, told how Handel once raged at him when he made a mistake, “a circumstance very terrific to a young musician.”  But when Handel found that his mistake was caused by a copying error, he apologized generously (“I pec your parton – I am a very odd tog”, he said in Germanic English).

 

Handel also struggled with his weight, a problem about which critics mercilessly teased him.  His London years were up and down, and unbelievably down at times.  As Romain Rolland has tried to explain it: “He was surrounded by a crowd of bulldogs with terrible fangs, by unmusical men of letters who were likewise able to bite, by jealous colleagues, arrogant virtuosos, cannibalistic theatrical companies, fashionable cliques, feminine plots, and nationalistic leagues…Twice he was bankrupt, and once he was stricken by apoplexy amid the ruin of his company.  But he always found his feet again; he never gave in.”

 

Jesus on Cross picture The situation was so bleak in 1741 that just before he wrote the Messiah, he had seriously considered going back to Germany.  But instead of giving up, he turned more strongly to God.  Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days without once leaving his house.  During this time, his servant brought him food, and when he returned, the meal was often left uneaten.  While writing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, his servant discovered him with tears in his eyes.  He exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!!”  As Newman Flower observes, “Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition.”

 

At a Messiah performance in 1759, honouring his seventy-fourth birthday, Handel responded to enthusiastic applause with these words: “Not from me – but from Heaven- comes all.”  In his last years he worshipped twice every day at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, near his home.

 

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and immediately won huge popular success.  In order to have room enough for the people,  a request was sent afar and wide, asking, “The favour of the Ladies not to come with hoops this day to the Music Hall in Fishamble Street.  The Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords.”  This is how the Dublin Newspaper reported the event: “…The best Judges allowed it to be the most finished work of Musick.  Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded Audience.  The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestic, and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear…”  Handel could have made a financial killing from the Messiah, but instead he designated that all the proceeds would go to charities.

 

In contrast to the Irish, the English did not initially like the Messiah.  This oratorio, after all, had no story.  The soloists had too little to do, and the chorus too much.  It was different, and the audience wasn’t ready for it.  Jennens who wrote the script didn’t like it either.  He commented: “Handel’s Messiah has disappointed me, being set in great haste, though he said he would be a year about it, and make it the best of all his Compositions.  I shall put no more Sacred Works into his hands, thus to be abused.”

 

Twenty-five years later, Handel’s Messiah was so popular with the English that they almost rioted, while waiting to hear it at Westminster Abbey.  People screamed, as they feared being trampled.  Others fainted.  Some threatened to break down the church doors.

 

Handel’s use of biblical words in a theatre was revolutionary, and those who opposed Handel went to great extremes to keep his oratorios from being successful.  For example, certain self-righteous women gave large teas or sponsored other theatrical performances on the days when Handel’s concerts were to take place in order to rob him of an audience.  As well, his enemies hired boys to tear down the advertisements about Handel’s Messiah.  One opponent wrote to a newspaper asking “if the Playhouse is a fit Temple…or a Company of Players fit Ministers of God’s Word.”  This person saw the Messiah as “prostituting sacred things to the perverse humour of a Set of obstinate people.”

 

In contrast, the famous preacher John Wesley liked Handel’s Messiah.  He wrote: “In many parts, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation.”  One clergy William Hanbury in 1759 said that you could hardly find an eye without tears in the whole audience.

 

The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music, that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the chorus echoed through the house.  From this began the custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus.  When a nobleman praised Handel as to how entertaining the Messiah was, Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.”

 

What is it about the Messiah that makes it so popular?  Many scholars point to the spaciousness in Handel’s music, the dramatic silences, and the stirring contrast.  Sadie commented that the music of Handel’s, is a blend of different styles: English church music (especially the choruses), the German Passion-music tradition, the Italian melodic style.  In fact, three of the choruses are arranged from Italian love-duets which Handel had written thirty years before.  Handel’s genius was in bringing new and dramatic twists to the familiar and mundane.

 

In 1759 the almost blind Handel conducted a series of 10 concerts.  After performing the Messiah, he told some friends that he had one desire –to die on Good Friday.  “I want to die on Good Friday,” he said, “in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection.”

 

On Good Friday, he bid good-bye to his friends and dies the very next day on Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1759.  Handel was fittingly buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.  A close friend of Handel’s, James Smyth, said: “Handel died as he lived –as a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and man, and in perfect charity with all the world…”

 

My prayer is that the words and music of Handel’s Messiah may help us experience the intimacy of Handel’s relationship with His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

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

-author of the award-winning 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. 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