Tag Archives: love

a little book about believing

I want to introduce you to A Little Book About Believing: The Transformative Healing Power of Faith, Love, and Surrender. It follows the quite astonishing events that took place in Brazil when I  underwent ‘spiritual surgery’ from renowned healer John of God, and it opens the door to a new perspective on what it takes to heal from serious illness. Oprah herself visited the same place in March 2012, and that’s about the biggest spiritual endorsement you can get these days.

Anyway, this book, as unlikely as it seems at first, might just change your life. I don’t say this glibly. The effect it’s having on people’s perceptions of life and how they live theirs is quite astounding, even to me – and I wrote it. And this only increases every day as more and more of you read it and absorb its revolutionary message.

Apparently, the U.S. Army has ordered copies of the book twice, a nurse in one California hospital bulk-ordered some to give to patients, and a famous actor who’s seriously ill right now insisted on taking me to lunch after reading it. Plus, countless copies have been mailed around the world to regular people like you and me who were, as they say, “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and hungry for alternatives to poisonous pharmaceutical drugs, invasive surgery, and harmful radiation. More than any of that, though, they were looking for hope, as well as an assurance that there might possibly, after all, be another way.

“Started reading the book last night at elevenish,” someone wrote on Twitter recently. “Read til 4am, passed out. Finished it today less than an hour ago. I have you and your exquisite little book to thank for changing my life forever, intimately and positively.”

Those words gave me chills, quite honestly. And it’s a common reaction.

Having said all that, this wasn’t an easy book to get through the system. My agent turned it down outright, telling me there was no market for it and she wouldn’t take it on, which was a terrible bummer at the time.

However, rarely down for long, I did the next best thing: I dumped that agent for having no vision and set out to find a new one.

I approached a guy I knew who worked for a big New York agency. He’d loved my previous work, and, sure enough, he loved this too. Adored it actually, and said so. “I couldn’t put it down,” he gushed in an email. Which, to be honest, is what everyone says. “It kept me awake at nights thinking about it.”

So clearly he’d want to represent it, right?

Wrong!  Too dangerous, he said. “If I represent this, I’ll be in trouble. I come from a family of doctors. They’ll never forgive me.”

Unbelievable. But here’s the thing: he didn’t really mean it was dangerous, did he? He meant it was new and different, and he was scared of it. That’s been true of many wonderful books in the past. Everything from Harry Potter to Chicken Soup for the Soul, they’ve all met with resistance at the start. Obstacles are part of the game.

It was then that it struck me.

What I was facing here was not opposition, was it? It was a series of sobering encounters with reality, to help me clarify my intention and galvanize my resolve. That’s all adversity is. It clarifies and galvanizes. Only when you’re faced with obstacles and setbacks do you find out what you’re made of. Did I believe in my wonderful little book enough to keep going with it through thick and thin until it made it to the stores? That was the question.

YES! –  was the answer. Because, although I may lack certain qualities in other areas – God only knows! – I do have one quality which has got me through many a tight scrape in my life, and that’s fortitude. Otherwise called follow-through. Or persistence.

In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, I “…never, never, never, never give up.”

The Pay-Off

And sure enough, my fortitude paid off. The book is now a glorious, wonderful paperback. The kind of paperback I want to stroke and hug and flick through countless times, even though I know every word in it. Because I also know the amount of persistence it took to fend off the naysayers and get it to this point. If I built it, they would come, I was convinced of it.

And you know what? They did come. They came in impressive numbers, gushing praise, proving the naysayers wrong.

“Your book is important, incredibly well written, and totally compelling,” someone else wrote.

And today I found another comment on Facebook: “Wonderful, surprising, challenging, eye-opening, sensitive, touching….I’m running out of words. Just get it and read it. You will discover things about yourself, and about everything else! It’s life changing!!”

On page 18 of a little book about believing, it says the following:

“In this book we are crossing a bridge into the unknown, ready to challenge some of our holiest preconceptions about health and healing. In my view that’s a good thing. The mere fact that we’re discussing this topic at all will bring us to a place of new understanding. A place where hopefully someday we, the ordinary people, may not be such easy prey for serious illness and can instead choose to be its master, or even avoid it altogether.

“It’s an exciting journey, one that requires a flexible mind, a willing heart, and a readiness to release ingrained attitudes.”

Releasing ingrained attitudes is what the book industry needs to do too, by the sound of it. If they can turn their back on my ‘little book that could’, what other gems are they not publishing either? If you too have aspirations to write a book – or do anything else, frankly – and you believe in it enough and feel like the idea came from your very soul, then maybe all you need is to summon the necessary amount of faith and fortitude, keep your head held high, and never, never, never, never give up ’til you push on past the finish line.

a little book about believing: The Transformative Healing Power of Faith, Love, and Surrender (Penner Press).

Read an article on Patheos.com written by Cash about the book and the power of prayer to help heal the body. 

Listen to an interview about the book with Dr. Rita Louise. This is really good. 


Filed under Television commentary

The ultimate sitcom: a central character bows out.

Last night, to relax, I did something I hardly ever do nowadays: I watched TV. An unusual thing to say, you might think, for someone who, over the past eleven years, has been a weekly TV reviewer on the BBC. 

But that’s the great thing about TV nowadays, you don’t have to watch it.

In this modern age, a critic no longer has to bother with the very device he’s meant to be an authority on. He just has to be prepared to spend inordinate lengths of time in front of a computer, trawling sites from Yahoo! to YouTube to Hulu to the networks’ own sites, looking for snippets of shows that seem moderately interesting, then skipping through them with his cursor, cutting out any extraneous dialogue, filler or scenic shots, and all tender moments, to just focus on the key action. In the average hour-long drama, this amounts to roughly four minutes of watchable material.

The process saves hours of my time. Time I can devote to more interesting things: such as learning the oboe, designing my own moon rocket, or eating cake. (I’m doing these in reverse order. Right now, I’m focusing on the cake.)

Anyway, last night, as I said, I did the unthinkable, and caught an episode of Family Guy, which has officially taken over from The Simpsons as the cartoon du choix of all right-thinking people. The Simpsons just doesn’t cut it any more, not since the movie came out.  I know it was a massive hit around the world, but truthfully it wasn’t that good. I laughed twice. And one of those times was at my own foolishness for renting it.  

But anyway, my point is, I watched Family Guy and was immediately reminded, as I always am when I see phony, invented families on TV, of how dysfunctional my own family is.

Current state of play: mother dead; brother not talking to me for eleven years due to his wife’s unspeakable fear of brothers; father not talking to me for a million other reasons. It’s not a happy set-up on the whole and could have been scripted better. Especially the ending, which is imminent but hasn’t happened yet, though already I can tell it’s not going to go well.

In sitcoms, endings are always neatly tied up. Even the most convoluted plotlines are manhandled to a satisfying conclusion in which people decide to get along despite their differences and somehow lessons are learned, redemption earned, and the basic threads of love that knit the family together prevail. Because nothing’s more important than love, right? At least, that’s what I take away from these things.

And I should know. I grew up watching every sitcom around, American and British, from the Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched to On The Buses and ‘Til Death Us Do Part. They were a major influence. Though at the time, I couldn’t help wondering why it was that fictional families were painted so idealistically on TV and why they bore no resemblance at all to families in the real world. My family, for instance.

Then I realized: it was my family that was bizarrely out of step. 

On American TV, in one season alone, sitcom families resolve their differences and move on with their lives twenty-two times. And they do that year after year. Because there’s an undercurrent, albeit contrived, of love and respect behind their actions. The message: nothing is so serious that it should be allowed to break bonds christened in blood. Something I myself believe very firmly. It’s just not within my personal experience, that’s all.

I’ve often wondered why my dad isn’t speaking to me, and why it’s gone on for so damned long. In fact, I’ve debated the issue many times with psychiatrists and other experts I meet during reporting assignments. They always have theories, but nothing concrete, because they don’t know him.   And he’s not a bad guy. Honestly. If they met him, they’d like him. He’s funny and intelligent, exquisitely honest, with a great brain for learning and analysis. We’re very similar in that respect. His influence is all over my work. In theory at least, our relationship should be going gangbusters. So it’s hard to figure out what went wrong.

Having said that, I at least know where the current problem started – with one particular storyline, involving a small misunderstanding that should in theory have led to hilarious consequences, but didn’t. All my fault, it seems, but it caused a rift so divisive and grim that it went into syndication, and is still there.

I won’t bore you with too many details – I’m surprised you made it this far, quite honestly – but here it is in a nutshell, because it’s a lesson in bad writing. Someday, I’m convinced, they’ll teach this crap in colleges.

In 1999, I worked for a public radio show in America called The Savvy Traveler, now defunct. One day, my editor received a press release from my home town, Manchester in northern England, which was being touted as a new vacation destination, albeit a somewhat twisted, you’d-have-to-be-a-maniac-or-high-on-drugs-to-want-to-go-there-on-holiday one, and decided it might be fun to send me back as a tourist. Terrific premise, I thought.

So a three-day press trip was arranged. It was like a combat mission. Fly to Britain, see Manchester in a day, pretend it would make a vacation destination for anything other than lunatics, and fly out again.   

While there, naturally I called my dad to say hi. (He’d since moved to York, which is on the other side of the country.)

“Guess where I am,” I said. “I’m in Manchester.” 

“Oh,” he  replied, sounding happy.  “Are you coming to visit me?”

“Sorry, I can’t. I’m on a press trip. I have to go straight back to America again. Maybe next time.”


And that was that. An innocent moment. All very civil and friendly. 

Yet, apparently, somehow, without even realizing it, I’d sparked an inferno, one that continues to rage with the same intensity ten seasons later as it did when I inadvertently lit it.

“You come to England, you don’t visit your old dad. How could you do such a thing?”

It was a slight but not a slight, if you know what I mean. I’ve apologized a million times, but to no avail. He doesn’t understand. So his anger smolders on, growing exponentially, never to be extinguished.

At the very least, this helped me understand real world issues a little more. I mean, if my own father couldn’t bring himself to forgive me for such a minor infraction, what chance was there of ever satisfactorily ironing out difficulties between Israel and Palestine, for instance? Zero.

Since then, all sorts of peculiar plot twists have happened. So many that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. In fact, some of them are so implausible that I think the show may have jumped the shark. I sent him a lovely card for his 80th birthday, for instance, one that happened to be a whole lot smaller than cards he received from other people. No big deal, but that too was perceived as a slight. As if I could foretell how big the rest of the cards were going to be – c’mon, now! 

It’s all quite funny on one level. Yet immeasurably sad on every other one.

But wait. Things are shifting.

Uh-oh. There are signs that the present season may be the last. 

To begin with, one of the main characters has decided to leave, citing creative differences, and few sitcoms can survive that. 

They could try replacing my dad with someone else, I guess – a younger, more accepting guy, for instance – but it didn’t work on Bewitched, why would it work here?  The original is the best; my dad is my dad. The audience has grown used to the old curmudgeon, they  like him, he’s irreplaceable. So I’m the one who’s moving on. 

For me, the plot of this soap is becoming thin and tired, and beginning to test my allegiance. Much as I love the grumpy old goat, I’ve grown weary of the drama. Being ignored year upon year can really test your patience, I find. Fights without hope of reconciliation eventually lead to a dead end and viewers lose interest. That’s what’s happening here.

These days, I’m driven to flick to other channels in search of fresh material. My partner, for instance, has a large, hearty family that runs like a well-tuned locomotive, fueled by deep love and respect and joy for one another, and they’ve embraced me unconditionally – a set-up I’ve never known, and which feels totally alien, yet the pay-off is very appealing. So that’s what I’m glued to now. My new thing. Though in the back of my mind, I always secretly wish my dad would reconsider: come around, and sign up for another couple of seasons while he still has the chance.

But he won’t. I know him. That’s just how it is.

In the meantime, I can always catch the old show in reruns. My memory is phenomenal for small details and odd situations. Plus, I have relatives who keep me posted on developments. Beyond that, though, I think it’s over.

This painful, yet oddly intriguing, piece of homespun theater has been such a major part of my life for so long, even more than Bewitched was, or the Dick Van Dyke Show, or Til Death Us Do Part, that it’ll be hard to let go. I was there at the beginning, so of course I’ll always treasure a certain fondness for the characters and their bitter-sweet interactions. 

The ride wasn’t fun, or even emotionally rewarding, but it was a story I knew and thought I understood, and it shaped me and my world-view in very many positive ways, so I’m grateful. I may not tune in any more, and there’ll be no reunion shows in the future, so everyone will lose track of everyone else. But one thing’s for sure, I’ll always be a fan. 

After all, I still love the main character. I can’t help it.

We’ll be right back after these words….


TV Swami – he say YES to Family Guy.   


Watch the video for Cash’s new book, Naked in Dangerous Places. 


Filed under Television commentary

Celebrity hating: some quick do’s and don’ts.

After Friday’s post about Miss California and the whole gay marriage thing, someone sent me my first piece of real blog hate mail.

Now, working in radio and TV, you grow used to receiving horrible letters. So much so that you can start to lose faith in the goodness of your fellow man, it’s that ghastly.

In fact, I believe I still hold the record for the number of death threats received by any personality on American public radio, following an inappropriately upbeat report I did from Dublin some years ago about an ancient abandoned Irish jail.

For some reason, many irate listeners in the Irish community in Boston, Mass., thought my suggestions for brightening the place up with flower-beds and wallpaper insulted their history, and felt that the only reasonable response to such comments was to give me a good knee-capping, then leave me to bleed to death. Which is fair enough. As we know, and as history shows time and again, especially Irish history, violence solves everything.

Plus, of course, while my TV show was on the air, the network’s message-boards were filled with hateful comments. Luckily, these were countered by copious praise from viewers bright enough to understand the series, who not only loved it but engaged in a running ground battle with the haters, in the hope that the executives at the network were also bright enough to ignore the negative tirades of the minority and keep the show alive. Alas, as we know, the haters won. 

Plus, my books always receive their fair share of detractors.  If you look on Amazon right now, some creep from an obscure magazine I’ve never even heard of, called Booklist, has written a truly unjustified and quite mean-spirited editorial appraisal of my latest, Naked in Dangerous Places.

Only, here’s the thing. You can tell – or at least I as the author can – that it’s based on nothing. He’s barely read beyond the first chapter.

Quite bizarrely, the review appears to be a critique, not of the book  per se, but of my radio style, which he despises. Powerless, however, to get me taken off the air, he’s instead turned his ire on my literary work, hoping that this will teach me a lesson or two, and possibly curb sales. And hey, maybe it will, who knows? Why doesn’t he just go the whole way and suggest a sound knee-capping for my efforts? That would be just as rational.

As it is, every review of the book from people who’ve actually read it has been resoundingly positive, drowning out the reviewer’s voice of hate. 

Which brings me back to Friday and the  comment I received about the gay marriage piece. It came from a guy called Clint. Here’s what he wrote. It’s not pleasant.

“Ok go shoot yourself in the fucking head. That shit was way to long. You need to take yourself to church become a priest and touch little children you fuckin homo. Another thing whats up with the artsy gay ass abstract modern art pic of yourself at the top. I would wipe my ass with that pic and actually talk about gay from an angle that interests people cause your opinion is not doing it.”

Wow! In one short paragraph, and without meaning to, he managed to illustrate the very point I was making in ways I never could. As it happens, the piece probably was too long. And I honestly can’t justify or excuse my artsy gay ass abstract modern art pic. So maybe he’s right about that too. But the abuse about becoming a priest and touching little children? My God, that’s indefensible. Like something my own father might say.  Please, though, not a complete stranger.

Anyway, I have a way of dealing with this, which I’d like to pass on to you.

Long ago, I used to work for the British government. Every day for several hours I sat on a public desk, dealing with complaints from angry strangers with an axe to grind, who wanted someone’s head to grind it on. And I was that guy. The guy they ground their axes on. It was quite a horrendous time, but very character-building, and it taught me two important lessons about how to deal with angry, hate-filled people.

Lesson 1) When  they shout, don’t shout back. Rather, speak quietly.  They will soon realize they’re shouting and begin talking quietly too.

Lesson 2) Stay calm and agree with them. Agree there’s been an injustice. Agree they have a valid point. Agree that you may have made a mistake, and will do everything to correct it.

Follow these two lessons, and all anger magically dissipates, like angel dust in the opening sequence of Xanadu. The result is usually miraculous.

Most people just feel they’re not being heard, that’s all. That their opinion doesn’t matter, that they don’t have a voice. So listen to them, behave like they matter and that you’re interested, and most times they will immediately calm down.

That’s my trick.

Nowadays, based on that experience, when I receive genuine hate mail from people, I do the opposite of what’s expected. I don’t argue or take offense, I write back agreeing with them. More than that, I discuss their issues in a calm, rational way, hoping to learn something from their points, then make my point in return. Simple. And almost without fail I end up with a positive, harmonious result.

Which is what happened with Clint. 

I have no idea how old Clint is; he could be 15, he could be 85. But he’s angry and wants to be heard. So my reply to his hateful comment was placatory, kind, open, and non-aggressive.

Result: within a couple of hours, here’s what he wrote back:

“Wait who are you and what are you talking about and yes I mess with people. Its nothing to be taken seriously….why do you blog if you dont expect to catch some shit from people. Be truely astonished omg. Get a clue and if you can in any way learn from this experience take it to the head and realize thats life and how it truely works.”

Still aggressive, right? Barely comprehensible, actually. Written English is not Clint’s strong point. The gist seems to be, though – if you’d allow me to translate – that he’s tough and likes to screw with strangers, and if I’m going to post an opinion on the web, well, I should expect to be attacked for it by angry people like Clint.

Disagreeing somewhat with this premise, I wrote back.

“You have every right to say what you think about a blog or anything else. You happen to be on the money about it being too long. You may even be right about my gay-assed picture. But imagine how much more seriously your views would be taken if you aired them with respect and kindness, rather than abuse. It’s so easy to tear something down – it takes almost no effort at all. Making constructive comments is harder. But it gets you a lot more respect.  

“Next time you feel the urge to write an abusive comment, imagine that the person you’re writing to, instead of being a stranger, is your best friend. Someone you value and wouldn’t want to lose. I guarantee your approach will mellow.”

That was my two-penneth. Very fair, very balanced. But in the real meaning of the words, not the Fox News  “saying that, but doing something else” way.

And lo and behold, guess what happened! Almost immediately, Clint, having made a human connection now, and feeling appreciated and understood, wrote back, this time with an entirely different approach.

“Yeah you are right….I owe you an apology. Maybe your opinion do matter to some just not to me at the present moment. That is the way I am though I am rude crude and I wreck stuff. You can think I am an ass thats ok it doesnt bug me one bit. Im sure some one will eventually bag on my blog and I will simpally call it karma. Anyways happy trails and may God be with you.”

Obviously, his use of English isn’t any better when he’s calm, but his approach is entirely positive and kind, even, dare I say, loving in tone.

From hate to love in three moves. Not bad, eh?

And it works almost all the time.

I honestly recommend you all try this. From now on, try dealing with anger in a reasonable, quiet, calm way instead of rising to it and becoming angry too, and see what happens. Well, actually, you can already see what happens. Magic happens. Like the opening sequence of Xanadu.

Now, I have to stop. Once again, this is way too long.  Also, I have to see if I can change that  artsy gay ass modern art pic of mine before Clint sees it and writes to me again. I can only take so much.

TV Swami – he say YES to love, kindness, understanding, and being nice to people.




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