Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


Leave a comment

Hey Mr Tambourine Man

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


Leave a comment

Why is it so hard to let go?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdlet_go_let_god

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca