Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


2 Comments

G.K. Chesterton and St. Francis

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[7] Pearce, 92.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


11 Comments

Don Quixote: Chasing After Marriage’s Windmills

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdman of la mancha

As a child, I read a comic book version of Don Quixote, and concluded that he was a total fool to go chasing after windmills.  Years later, I’ve observed that many of us as adults end up chasing after windmills in business, politics, relationships, or sports.

 

One of those windmills is twisting ourselves into a knot, trying to have the perfect marriage relationship.  Anne Wilson Shaef, a well-known 12-Step writer, comments that relationships are always better in the abstract, and that reality is the stuff that ruins what dreams are made of.  Her counsel is that when we let go of what marriage should be and let marriage be what it is, we can have a chance for marriage to be what it can be.

don-quixoteIf you’ve never seen the award-winning Broadway musical and Hollywood movie Man of La Mancha, I recommend that you and your spouse rent or borrow it in the near future.  There is something about those songs that stir me every time I hear them, especially To Dream the Impossible Dream, Dulcinea, and Aldonza.

Peter O’toole does a brilliant performance as Don Quixote, a skinny old gentleman with wispy white hair and a care-worn face, a seeming mad-man who dreams the impossible dream of restoring love and gallantry to everyday relationships.  Sophia Loren memorably lives out the character of Aldonza, a sullen and abused kitchen-wench, who is transformed into Dulcinea by Quixote’s unfailing respect.

The so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s was supposed to remove barriers that kept people from reaching their full potential.  Instead it slowly eroded an appreciation for the sanctity of the marriage relationship, and often left women more vulnerable to abuse and abandonment.

Don Quixote symbolizes a recovery of chivalryman_of_la_mancha2 and mutual respect in the male-female relationship.  Upon encountering Aldonza, Don Quixote sings: “I have dreamed thee too long, never seen thee or touched thee but know thee with all of my heart.  Half a prayer, half a song, thou has always been with me, though we have always been apart, Dulcinea…Dulcinea”.  Don Quixote repeatedly speaks blessing into Aldonza’s life, calling her Dulcinea (meaning sweetness).

Despite her rejection of his love, Don Quixote still keeps speaking into her life with patience and gentleness.  Again and again Quixote reaffirms that the male-female marriage relationship is far more than just physical: it is a spiritual reality, an experience of one flesh intimacy.

That is why Quixote, the Man of La Mancha, sings: “I see heaven when I see thee, and thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers, Dulcinea…I have sought thee, sung thee, dreamed thee, Dulcinea”.  Because of how deeply Aldonza has been hurt by other men, it seems almost impossible that she could ever learn to trust again.  She struggles between the fear that Don Quixote is just an old fool and the faint hope that he might indeed be her knight in shining armour.

windmillAt one point in the movie, Quixote’s relatives try to take him away from Aldonza, claiming that he is mad.  The priest pauses and says: “One might say that Jesus was mad, or St. Francis.”  In one sense, Don Quixote functions as a Christ-figure, one who gives his life for others, even though dismissed as insane by his own family (Mark 3:21).  In another sense, Don Quixote symbolizes the faithful pilgrim, like Francis of Assisi, who saw so clearly through the hypocrisy of his age that he was rejected as a “fool for Christ”(1 Corinthians 4:10).  Either way, Don Quixote reminds us as men that sometimes we have to humble ourselves and look foolish, if we really want our marriages to blossom.

Don Quixote was shameless in his affirming of Dulcinea.  In response, she cynically said: “Your heart doesn’t know much about women”.  Instead of giving up, Quixote gently responded: “Woman is the soul of man, the radiance that lights his way. Woman is glory”.  Dulcinea was deeply afraid that he would just use her and discard her, like all the rest.  She said to him: “What do you want of me?”

As a true errant knight, Quixote said: “I ask of my lady that I may be allowed to serve her, that I may hold her in my heart, that to her I may dedicate each victory and call upon her in defeat, and if at last I give my life, I give it in the sacred name of Dulcinea.”

Gradually Dulcinea melts in the face of Don DulcinaQuixote’s gentleness and patience.  She sings: “Can’t you see what your gentle insanities do to me? Rob me of anger and give me despair.  Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, Tenderness I cannot bear.”

Tenderness is what we most need in our marriages today.  Tenderness is what will heal the deepest wounds.  Tenderness is a gift of love from the heart of Jesus himself. May Don Quixote’s gentle insanities give each of us hope for our marriages in the days and years ahead.

 

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

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

for better for worse

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

-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