Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 19, 2004
God's wisdom reveals simple truth
Title, by John Kurtz. Simple Truth Publications and Signature Graphics: Regina, 2003. Paperback. 245 pages, including 12 pages of colour photos by the author.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
Special to the WCR
"The way you get meaning in life," writes Mitch Albom, author of the recent bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie (quoting a dying friend, Morrie Schwartz) "is to devote yourself to loving others, to your community around you . . . (and) to creating something that gives you purpose."
Simplex Veritas: The Simple Truth by author John Kurtz - a well-known Regina entrepreneur, long-time patron of the arts; supporter of service clubs, native and non-native education and his Lutheran church in that city - describes what gives his life meaning while coming to terms with his own legacy.
Many books have been written suggesting how people may find happiness, overcome grief, or understand the true meaning of life, says the author. "The Simple Truth is a personal attempt to declare my faith and confirm that God's Holy Word has the answers to any problems that human beings may face in this life."
Kurtz is not a trained theologian, but he lives his life with a healthy appreciation for Sacred Scripture to which he regularly resorts, the community of faith where he belongs, his loving, supportive family and a broad network of friends. He celebrates these priceless gifts, frequently referring to them in his book.
Reading Kurtz reminded me of words I heard my own father speak. Dad, now deceased for more than a dozen years, always supported my efforts to learn and to live life fully. Constantly, however, he would remind me that the wisdom of God, rather than the mere accumulation of knowledge and experiences, was what was most important.
Kurtz uses 30 short chapters to describe much of what my father was talking about. He writes, for example, about creation, communication, choices and children. About laughter, doubt, reassurance, joy and sorrow. Through and beyond the words, it is possible to discern an understanding borne of much lived experience. Not all of it was good, or easy.
A central chapter is entitled: In Life Death - In Death Life. Here, the author writes of the loss of his son James eight years ago. The one upon whom he and wife and mother Monica had showered so much love (as had the young man's finance, Suzanne) died suddenly when a simple case of the flu turned fatal. James died alone in his apartment.
Since that time, Kurtz has been very conscious of the transient nature of life and his contribution to it. The simple truth, Kurtz comes to realize, is not always so simple. "Unfortunately," he concludes, "in a lot of cases the simple truth is not so easily come by." But that does not make it any less desired or precious when finally we sort out what is real from what is not.
Most important about a volume such as this is the authentic experience and the transparency reflected here.
Cindy Halmarson, the Lutheran bishop of Saskatchewan who writes the book's Foreword, comments that this is a work of thoughtfulness expressed in words and art (richly illustrated by a friend of the author, George Buytendorp).
"As I read many of John's reflections," she says, "I was drawn into my own reflection on Scripture and life . . . whether or not you agree or disagree with John's perspective is not important. What is important is that one man has given us a window on his view of The Simple Truth and invites us to reflect on our lives and the Word of God in the same way for ourselves."
(Wayne Holst is an adult educator at St. David's United Church, Calgary. He has taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary.)