Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Greetings from Ontario

an article published in the July 2007 Deep Cove Crier
Greetings from Ontario
By the Rev Dr. Ed Hird

I have always loved books. Most pictures taken of me as a child showed me reading books. I even read books at hockey games, at least during the intermission.

Recently I attended “Write! Canada”, a four-day national writer’s conference in Guelph, Ontario. Rubbing shoulders with 225 other authors, editors, and publishers reminded me that I truly am a bibliophile (book-lover) from a long line of bibliophiles. My father read so many books as a young person that his public library put a restriction on how many books that he could take out per day. All columnists and reporters have a love for words, including my great-grandmother Mary McFadden McLean who disguised herself as a Roman Catholic priest in order to interview Louis Riel. Her Regina Leader-Post Editor told her: “An interview must be had with Riel if you have to outwit the whole police force of the North-west.” Riel said to my great-grandmother on Nov 19th 1885: “When I first saw you at the trial, I loved you.”

Rudy Wiebe, the plenary speaker at The “Write! Canada” conference, reminded me that it is important to share one’s story and one’s experience. It is also important to do this in a way that builds others up. As the proverb says, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Because of my new book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ and my writing for the Deep Cove Crier and the North Shore News for many years, I accumulated enough ‘points’ this year to be accepted as a professional writer in the national writers’ organization, The Word Guild http://www.thewordguild.com/ . The 280-strong Word Guild, which sponsors the annual “Write! Canada” conference, has a mandate of connecting, developing and promoting Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Writers from beginner to professional level were able to sharpen their skills through top-notch instructors. The conference also offered networking and marketing opportunities, appointments with literary agents and editors, manuscript critique services, open-mike reading sessions and a gymnasium-sized bookstore well stocked with reference materials

The long-term vision of The Word Guild is to connect with Canadian culture through writing from a Christian worldview. Its immediate goals are to help writers and editors at all stages interact with each other, develop new skills and discover new publishing opportunities. Many writers and editors struggle with isolation—many often work alone, sometimes from their homes, and do not have the opportunity to interact with their peers very often. The Word Guild also offers prayer support through a dedicated group of people praying for The Word Guild, and the writing-related needs and requests of its members. I was very impressed to discover that The Word Guild offers critique groups, a mentoring program and national and regional conferences, designed to encourage excellence in our craft.

The high point of The Word Guild year is the black-tie Award Gala held this year at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, right before the ‘Write! Canada’ conference. It was hosted by Christine Williams, the producer and host of On the Line on CTS TV; and by Rick Gamble, formerly a reporter at CTV's Kitchener affiliate CKCO, now a communications instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University.

At the event honouring work published by Canadian writers who are Christian, winners ranged from well-known, venerable theologians Dr. J. I. Packer and James M. Houston, to 14-year-old Richard Weening, the youngest-ever winner. Entries were judged according to excellence of writing; impact (the inspirational or informational value making it worthwhile); fulfillment of stated purpose; suitability to target audience; originality and freshness of style. The number of entries more than doubled in the past three years in The Word Guild contest, which is open to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident who affirms The Apostles' Creed. A total of 231 entries were received.

Rudy Wiebe, one of Canada's most acclaimed authors with eight novels to his credit, was given the Leslie K. Tarr Award for outstanding career contribution to Christian writing and editing in Canada. Wiebe, 72, of Russian Mennonite background, is widely published internationally and has twice won Governor General's Literary Awards for his novels.

The Tarr Award capped numerous honours for Wiebe in 2007. His memoir, Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest (Knopf Canada), won the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

Wiebe admitted that he was surprised to be chosen for the Tarr award because he writes for large secular publishers and is better known within literary fiction circles than in Christian circles.

"I write realistic stories about people in tough situations who have problems and conflicts that are not easily resolved—not romances where everything ends nicely,” he explained in an interview.

The Vancouver Island author Mark Buchanan won the Christian living category for the fourth time with his fourth book, for The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (Thomas Nelson). I was short listed as a finalist in three categories, and was pleased to receive top prize in the category of best independently published nonfiction book. So far ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ has sold over 1,300 copies, with another 5,100 just out in a second printing.

I would like to personally thank our Deep Cove Crier publisher Bruce Coney for believing in me over the past two decades. His encouragement has helped me keep writing and growing through the challenges of life. I would also like to thank the thousands of Deep Cove Crier readers who have faithfully read my column, and often said kind words to me when I meet them at Parkgate Shopping Centre, or down in the Cove. Perhaps one-third of my book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ was previously published in my Deep Cove Crier articles. Your support and prayers for me have been a big part in the birthing of this award-winning book. Please continue to pray for me, as I have been told that there are other books inside of me waiting to be birthed.

The Reverend Dr. Ed Hird
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', or any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.

To receive a personally signed copy of any of our books within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

As Sick as Our Secrets

As Sick as Our Secrets
-a Chapter from 'The Battle for the Soul of Canada', pre-published in the North Shore News
As Sick as Our Secrets (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

There's an oft-heard saying in the recovery community: “We're as sick as our secrets.”  Over the years, I have met many people in abusive situations who have paid a great price to eventually extricate themselves from the vicious cycle of manipulation and recrimination. Only the truth, however painful, can really set us free.
Secrecy keeps us chained to our abusers. At the heart of the ‘twelve steps’,[ii] in Step Four and Five, is the willingness to break the power of secrecy by admitting to God, yourself, and another person the exact nature of how you have wronged other people.
I have done many ‘Fifth Steps’ for others over the past twenty-four years. It is always such a privilege. I feel like I grow so much through this opportunity. I notice, however, that ‘Fifth Steps’ are very difficult in our secretive, victim-based culture. Many people want to come to me and admit the exact nature of how they have been wronged, but not how they have wronged other people.
Until we can open up and get such things off our chest, we are still stuck with guilt, recrimination, and self-doubt. We really are as sick as our secrets. The Bible tells us:Cast our cares upon the Lord, for He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)
I have found that sharing deeply my heart with another caring, listening person can be profoundly liberating. That is why we are encouraged by James, Jesus’ brother: confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)
I have a number of friends who have recently had the courage to go see Bonnie Chatwin, a North Shore Pastoral & Clinical Counselor.[iii] It was not at all easy for them to do this, but I was amazed by the breakthroughs that they have achieved. How much do we want to be well? Often the price of being well is giving up our obsessive need for independence and secrecy, and beginning to trust another person with our life story.
We as Canadians live in a culture that has become more secretive and private. The vast majority of Canadians still believe in God, prayer, and Jesus’ resurrection, but such faith concerns have largely gone into the closet. There is a widespread perception that faith is so personal and private that it cannot be mentioned publicly.
The recent Da Vinci Code fad fits totally into that way of thinking. It implicitly teaches that true spirituality is about dark hidden secrets that only the elite may know about: secrets allegedly hidden in Da Vinci’s paintings, secrets covered by an alleged secret society named the Priory of Sion, secrets about Mary Magdalene and Mother Eve in the Garden of Eden. Over one hundred million North Americans have either read the Da Vinci Code book or seen the movie.
There is something in us that is drawn to secret knowledge and secret passageways. But is secrecy really the way to health and life? Is secrecy really the key to genuine spirituality?  Paul taught Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
The false elders that Timothy was replacing in Ephesus had been drawn back into the secret, occult ways of the Temple of Diana/Artemis (1 Timothy 1:3-4). People are sometimes shocked by the word ‘occult’, but all it means, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary[iv], is ‘concealed, kept secret’. ‘Occult’ comes from the Latin root ‘celare’ (to hide).
The most famous person in the world once said: I have spoken openly to the world...I said nothing in secret. (John 18:20)Jesus also said: Whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed or secret is meant to be brought out into the open. (Matthew 4:22)
Rabbi Saul/Paul, who was Jesus’ most famous disciple, commented: We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, we set forth the truth plainly...(2 Corinthians 4:2)Contrary to the claims of the Da Vinci Code, Christianity has no secret codes, no secret initiation rites, no secret vows. Jesus said nothing in secret. Jesus brought everything out in the open.
We really are as sick as our secrets. As we battle for the soul of our nation, may God bring us out of the hidden darkness and into his visible light.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
[iii] Bonnie Chatwin Counselling and Consultation, http://www.bc-cc.ca
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', or any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.

To receive a personally signed copy of any of our books within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.