Brother John: A Monk, A Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life

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August Turak has written a delightful little book – and by ‘little’, I mean the term in a way similar to Christ’s usage of the term, humble, simple, without much in the way of guile and pretence. The story is an illustrated version of an essay, for which Turak won the much-esteemed Templeton Prize in 2004.

The accompanying watercolours by Glenn Harrington, beautifully bring even more life to this reminiscence, which describes, with some spiritual commentary, one of Turak’s many stays at the Mepkin Cistercian Abbey in South Carolina, with a particular focus on the hidden, yet very evident, unadorned sanctity of one of the monks, ‘Brother John’. One is left with very vivid image of why these men, hidden away from the world, offered their ‘all’ to God, a gift that Turak – and many of us likely, who follow some sort of spiritual path – desire in some inchoate way.

We will all be like the ‘monks’ in heaven, when our true nature will be revealed in all the glory of God, which really is what the mystery of Man is all about.

We should thank August Turak for sharing what part of that divine, eschatological treasure he has been permitted to glimpse. Well worth a read, the book was published by Clovercroft, Franklin, Tennessee, in 2018.

About the author:

August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive and award-winning author who attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey since 1996. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. Service and selflessness are at the heart of the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition’s remarkable business success. It is an ancient though immensely relevant economic model that preserves what is positive and productive about capitalism while transcending its ethical limitations and internal contradictions. Combining case studies from his thirty-year business career with intimate portraits of the monks at work, Turak shows how Trappist principles can be successfully applied to secular business settings and to our personal lives as well. He demonstrates that monks, people like Warren Buffett and other “transformational organizations” are successful not despite their high principles but because of them. He lives in North Carolina.

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