brother john – a review

cover painting of Brother John

I’ve always had a certain fascination for monastic life. A couple of my favourite movies (Of Gods and Men & The Mission) are all about monks, and I recently visited the monastic home of the inspiring Thomas Merton. So when I had the chance to review Brother John: A Monk, A Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life it felt like an obvious choice.

It’s a beautiful coffee table book – generously told alongside the paintings of Glenn Harrington. The paintings create a tone of beauty and simplicity, and they drew me in at once.

The story – a true story told by August Turak – fit with this tone. The author was a frequent guest at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, and he tells the story of a subtle but life-changing encounter with Brother John, a man whose life is soaked in integrity and care for others.

I confess that the author almost lost me with the first page of his story. He started to talk about certainty and uncertainty in a way that didn’t resonate with me at all. Fortunately by the time he got to the transforming element of his encounter, the focus had switched to that of trust and commitment – of diving in and doing the right thing, regardless of doubts.

The result is a thought-provoking invitation to choosing a life of compassion in which the meaning sometimes becomes clear only after the experience. It may be just the right gift for someone in need of such an invitation.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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