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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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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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The Unforgettable Benjamin Franklin

100 top blogs awardBy the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I remember as a young child being taught Benjamin Franklin’s proverb: ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.’  As my father and I were both early to bed, early to rise, I have a lot of happy memories of time spent together around the breakfast table together at 6am.

Benjamin Franklin picture

Benjamin Franklin had the common touch. As a brilliant philosopher, he shared wisdom through short pithy sayings like ‘He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.’  Many of Franklin’s sayings are so well known that people confuse them as coming from the Bible. ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is from Benjamin Franklin, not from Jesus.

Many of his sayings were published in Poor Richard’s Almanack, a book series that has had a profound impact on North American culture and identity. Some would say that the middle class dreams and ideals can be traced back directly to Benjamin Franklin’s homespun philosophy. Many of us unknowingly quote Benjamin Franklin on a regular basis: haste makes waste; no pain, no gain; and nothing is certain but death and taxes. Most of Franklin’s sayings were about encouraging diligence, honesty, industry and DH Lawrencetemperance.  Franklin saw the Judeo-Christian ethic as “the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.”

Not everyone liked Benjamin Franklin. DH Lawrence said: “I do not like him….that barbed wire moral enclosure that Poor Richard rigged up….Benjamin Franklin tried to take away my wholeness and my dark forest, my freedom.”

Benjamin Franklin’s father had intended that his son Benjamin train to be a clergyman, but lacked the resources to do so. Instead Benjamin became a printer and an inventor.  Benjamin Franklin is world-famous for his kite experiments with lightning, proving that lightning was made up of electricity. Some see him as the world’s first electrician.  While visiting England, he attached his latest invention, the lightning rod, to St Paul’s Cathedral.  He also created hot-water pipes to warm up the chilly British House of Commons. Other significant Franklin inventions were bifocals and the Franklin stove.

Benjamin Franklin was far ahead of his time in terms of understanding workplace toxicity.  As a printer, he discovered that newspaper workers were being poisoned through handling hot lead type, causing stiffness and paralysis. Franklin found out Benjamin Franklin lightningthat this lead poisoning was also affecting glazers, type-founders, plumbers, potters, white-lead makers and painters.

Benjamin Franklin was so successful in business that he retired at age 42 and devoted the rest of his life to public service. He moved to England twice in order to help the relationship between England and its American colonies. While in England, Franklin wrote most of his autobiography at the home of the Bishop of St. Asaph, Jonathan Shipley. His book became the world’s most popular autobiography, and has been translated into most major languages.  Franklin’s autobiography was the one book which Davy Crockett had when slaughtered at the Alamo.

Despite his being a strong Royalist, Benjamin Franklin ended up being resented by the British House of Lords who publicly humiliated him for his efforts to bring reconciliation between England and its American colonies.  This was Franklin’s tipping point where he became a strong advocate for Independence. As America’s first postmaster general, Franklin was also put in charge of establishing the first US currency.  In the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, Franklin recommended that Americans give up tea drinking as a way to fund their new government. The constitution’s phrase ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident’ was the direct result of Franklin’s editing.  Franklin was the only one to sign all four of the USA’s founding papers: the Declaration of Independence, the treaty with France, the Benjamin Franklin Great Sealpeace accord with Britain, and the Constitution.  His unsuccessful proposal for the American Great Seal was to have Pharaoh being swallowed by the Red Sea, along with the words ‘Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.’

Franklin’s greatest popularity was among the French who lined the streets when he entered Paris as the USA’s first foreign diplomat. The French saw him as a simple frontier sage, and promptly put his likeness everywhere, causing the French King to become very jealous. Without Franklin’s winning the moral and financial support of the French, it is doubtful that the United States would have survived.

Franklin was a very complicated, even tragic individual with strong approach/avoidance tendencies. He loved the United States but spent most of his last years in England and then France. His relations with the opposite sex were muddled and confused.  He loved his wife and family but was away more than at home and suffered a painful split with his son William over politics.

Despite Franklin’s reputation as a religious skeptic, he went out of his way in his newspaper to promote the Rev George Whitfield who led North America’s first Great Awakening in 1739-1741.  As a scientist, he was amazed that Whitfield’s voice could be whitfieldpreachingheard without amplification by over 30,000 people at one time.  Franklin published all of Whitfield’s books and posted his sermons on the front page of his Philadelphia Gazette.  Whitfield wrote to Franklin, saying: “As you have made a pretty considerable progress in the mysteries of electricity, I would now humbly recommend to your diligent unprejudiced pursuit and study the mystery of the new-birth. It is a most important, interesting study, and when mastered, will richly answer and repay you for all your pains.”

After jealous clergy closed their pulpits to Whitfield, Franklin and other trustees built a large hall where Whitfield could preach. Franklin commented: “It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants.” After the revival ended, Franklin converted the hall into the Academy of Philadelphia which later became the University of Pennsylvania.

As Governor of Pennsylvania, Franklin in 1748 proposed a day of fasting and prayer. In 1778, Franklin wrote to the French Government, saying: “Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principals of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”, recommending that every French home have a Bible and newspaper, and a good school in every district.

Benjamin Franklin 2 pictureAt the 1787 American Constitutional Convention, Franklin commented: “the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” On that basis, Franklin arranged that prayers led by local clergy would be held each morning before Assembly business. Franklin said: “If I had ever before been an atheist, I should now have been convinced of the Being and government of a Deity!”

Franklin memorably commented: “Think of three things: Whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must give account.”  May each of us, like Benjamin Franklin, be willing to be accountable to God in the midst of life’s challenges.

 

 

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/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