- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2011

By Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow, M.D.
Threshold Editions, $24.99 304 pages

What do green shag carpeting, bread crumbs, “friend vampires” and a Sharpie have in common? They all are indispensable ingredients of “The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life,” a newly released personal-enlightenment saga. Although none of the ingredients is one of the Seven Wonders, each is present in the intensely personal and poignant revelations made by one of America’s most influential, talked-about talk-show hosts, Glenn Beck, and his co-author, Dr. Keith Ablow, a former medical television-show host himself.

Chapters of “The 7” are laid out in alternating fashion, suggesting conversations between patient and psychiatrist. Mr. Beck reveals problems in his life and how a certain “wonder” helped him on the road to alleviating the mess. Dr. Ablow then follows, presenting psychological wisdom associated with the wonder, showing logically how a particular wonder works as part of the natural process of healing and growing.

“The 7” is, at its core, Mr. Beck’s deeply personal journey. He opens up the depths of his soul in an unflinching, sometimes matter-of-fact, manner. “I have a spiritual obligation to be genuine,” Mr. Beck states, and he does so to help others in their struggles to find and traverse their true God-given path.

Many years ago, Mr. Beck was a man both driven to and driven by drugs and alcohol. He surrounded himself with “friend vampires” who used him for his talent and money. Though he knew that a huge part of his ruination was related to the suicide of his mother when he was 13, he refused to face the deeper truths behind that horrific reality.

One Christmas Eve, just hours after a visit from his two young daughters (from his previous marriage) Mr. Beck fell face-down on a dingy apartment floor and tearfully faced the disaster his life had become. In that instance, courage (the first wonder) gave him the glimmer of hope he needed to begin, ever-so-slightly, an incredible, herculean transformation. This process would take years, but, as the ancient Chinese proverb says, “The longest journey begins with the first step” (or first wonder).

According to Mr. Beck and Dr. Ablow, God is constantly leaving “bread crumbs” to guide and draw one forward. Mr. Beck illustrates this myriad times, but the most significant is borne out in how he was led to his future wife, Tania. Mr. Beck, having been sober for a few years, was becoming exhausted meeting the sobriety challenge day in and day out. So he issued the deity he had yet to fully embrace a six-day challenge of his own: Give me a tangible sign - a roadblock - to tell me that you don’t want me to return to the bottle, or back to Jack [Daniels] I will go.

Within the same week a pretty young blond woman who had first crossed Mr. Beck’s path the day he made his six-day challenge appeared again, this time as part of a contest conducted by the radio station for which he was working. However, still believing he had not been given any sign, Mr. Beck gave up on God and went to a bar on the sixth day - at the “eleventh hour.” He ordered a very large Jack and Coke and brought it up to his lips.

Just then he happened to glance over at another table. There he saw (for a third time) that very same pretty young blonde sitting by herself. Fortunately, Mr. Beck was wise and courageous enough to put down Jack and pick up Tania, and his (and her) story began to move in a new and exciting direction.

The aura emanating almost palpably from the pages of “The 7” is honesty. It radiates not only from Mr. Beck but also from Dr. Ablow. The doctor shares an instance when he was asked, point blank, by his own psychiatrist, “Do you ever get the sense while you’re talking that you’re completely full of crap?” To which Dr. Ablow replied, “Yes, sometimes I do.”

Through this amusing exchange, Dr. Ablow makes the point: Do we waste our lives avoiding truth (the third wonder) or do we head onward and upward with quality friendship and strengthened family bonds (the fifth and sixth wonders) to discover our absolute best?

Perhaps the most rewarding pages in “The 7” cover that very important component of compassion (the fourth wonder), forgiveness. Mr. Beck shares how important it is to be able to forgive a whole host of people, including oneself - and that forgiveness must extend even to one’s enemies. “Compassion is one of the most empowering human emotions,” Dr. Ablow writes.

It’s so powerful, in fact, that it can give us the ability to do what may seem impossible: forgive those who hate and wrong us. Mr. Beck quotes Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Deep and powerful maxims, as well as common-sense advice, from “virtually every faith and movement, from ancient times to modern,” abound throughout “The 7.”

Anyone who wants to know more about how the Sharpie plays into Mr. Beck’s narrative - or the true event behind the cornfield vision in his New York Times best-seller “The Christmas Sweater,” or why he became a Mormon, or how developing a “third ear” can be remarkably useful - would do well to examine “The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life.” Readers will be intrigued, inspired, delighted - and possibly even changed - by these and scores of other revelations.

Albin Sadar is a writer living in New York City.

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