Thursday, August 09, 2018

"Positive Thoughts Will Change Your Life: A Handbook For Personal Transformation"

"I grew up in Corning," writes Tony Palermo. "Everyone there, including my own family, are good, hardworking loving people." But after "a very tough break-up" at 19 he was plunged into sadness and depression and didn't ask his family for help. Perhaps, he thought, they wouldn't understand. 

He studied business at Butte College and moved up the ladder to a managerial position with Media News Group (the parent of this newspaper) but lasting happiness proved elusive. By age 36 it seemed clear that nothing would stop the emotional roller coaster. "As far as I was concerned, all my energy for the last 16 years had been expended in a continual effort to keep the darkness at bay."

Things began to change when he "decided to work with a life coach." Palermo learned "how to productively manage my negative thoughts … learning how to turn my negative thoughts into positive thoughts." The affirmations of self-love he practiced began to have an effect. 

Palermo himself became a life coach ( and what he teaches is embodied in "Positive Thoughts Will Change Your Life: A Handbook For Personal Transformation"($9.99 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle).

Central chapters focus on changing negative thoughts to positive ones. "One of the most commonly-used healing methodologies of this New Age are affirmations … something you say to yourself repeatedly." The affirmation "validates the precise role that thoughts and emotions play in creating our lives." 

The idea is to avoid negative affirmations ("I hate school") and embrace positive ones ("I'm a good student"). "If we focus on positive thoughts," Palermo writes, "the universe rallies round us, ushering in our deepest dreams."

In line with New Age teaching, affirmations are seen as a creative force. They require one to "consciously do what aligns with and supports the manifestation of your affirmations" knowing that "the universe will support me in every way." Separate chapters are devoted to forgiveness, relationships, and health.

Those who do not subscribe to New Age metaphysics can nevertheless affirm with Palermo the importance of cultivating appropriate habits of life and, as he has learned, to let others help. 

"The heart is built for sharing."

Thursday, August 02, 2018

"Heart Of The Poppy: From War To Amor"

When the Evangelical Free Church of Chico partnered with Amor ministries ( to build homes in Mexico, Amor's founders, Scott and Gayla Congdon, little knew of a historical connection with World War I. 

Now, after seven years of research, church member Dan Irving tells the story in vivid detail. "Heart Of The Poppy: From War To Amor" ($10 in paperback, self-published, available at ABC Books in Chico; also for Amazon Kindle) begins with "The War to End All Wars" and a Christian hospitality ministry that arose near Ypres, in Belgium, during the height of the conflict.

Trench warfare is unimaginable. "Your senses are numb, you are surrounded by death. Its lifeless stare bores right through you…. The stench of death is everywhere, and it will never leave you. Never! You cannot escape death’s objective: to hunt you down and destroy you, anyway possible. You would prefer a merciless bullet to the brain. … For now, this is your home, where the mud and blood flow together in the trenches on the Western Front."

In 1915, a man named Philip Thomas Byard Clayton, ordained by the Anglican Church, was sent to the Western Front, to Poperinge, Belgium, in West Flanders, a small town near Ypres. "He was short and pudgy," Irving notes, and his nickname, "Tubby," stuck with him.

Tubby performed services on the front lines and saw the need for respite. He turned a damaged mansion in Poperinge into "Talbot House," named for one of the war dead, a place of hospitality known by its initials, Toc H (the "toc" sound a way for Army Signal Code to distinguish t from p).

The Toc H movement grew worldwide, later including a ministry in Mexico building homes, which influenced the Congdons and, years later, led to the formation of Amor. 

It is an extraordinary history, involving 800,000 dead at the Third Battle of Ypres ("for the Allies it represented a gain of two inches for every dead soldier"), and, astonishingly, a field of dark red poppies "sprouting up in life" in Flanders fields, a memorial to death--yet one day, a hundred years hence, yielding life and hope for Mexico.