Wondering if anyone has read this Book about Klaus Kenneths spiritual journey ?
What are your thoughts on him ?
Is his story true ?.
Saw this book mentioned somewhere on this forum and bought it with my last round. Read it yesterday.
My initial thoughts are that he has certainly lived a very full life and does not tend to be a person who does things in half measures.
I thought the book was interesting, but could see how a priest might have reservations about recommending it to just anyone.
He seems to have tried to honestly describe himself, warts and all. He is able to trace his life through various stages with a great deal of detail and insight. Some people can remember their past like that, others can't.
He begins life born into a Catholic family, with a mother who practices some syncretic form of Catholicism and the occult, and a father who later deserts his family in wartime Germany. He mentions a generational progression of demonic influence in families, so right off the bat he is not just pointing fingers at eastern philosophies and religions.
He grows up feeling utterly rejected and hated by his mother, has no father figure, and is finally abandoned by his mother, left with a Catholic priest who sexually molests him for years. He goes off to Roman Catholic seminary, and walks into a terrible scene of a group of priests doing the unthinkable together. He drops out of college and starts his long journey of travel and spiritual searching.
As he wholeheartedly delves into various practices, including sex, drugs and rock and roll, then Transcendental Meditation (TM), he is able to recount his thinking process and how he rationalized the obvious problems in each system. He leaves TM and goes to India to delve further into real Hinduism, finds no answers to his spiritual angst, moves onto monastic Buddhism, and on and on. He doesn't so much dismiss other religions as outright demonic, he just gets in them and sees the effect it has on himself, and what the limitations are in those religions. He learns by doing and carefully observing from the inside. He is a hands-on type learner. At one point he even notes that some Hindus live more ascetic and good lives than Christians, but then he sees how Hinduism overall has not contributed to the bettering of general life conditions for many people.
Maybe I read the book too quickly, because somewhere in there he also went to Latin America to study occult practices. The book has various pictures of himself as he goes through these stages, and it actually starts to be a little comedic seeing him dressed up here like a Palestinian Arab, now as a Buddhist monk, now as a Hindu, etc. He's like an actor taking on different roles.
He meets Mother Theresa in India and is really impressed with her. I'm not really sure who Mother Theresa really was, as there are some pretty horrific tales about her allowing people to suffer excruciatingly painful deaths while in her care. She reportedly refused to use palliative care medicine, though she had plenty of money through donations to provide pain alleviation, but she didn't do so because she had that weird Catholic take on suffering. She was also reportedly demonically possessed herself, and had an exorcism. So, who knows.
He becomes more and more jaded as he discovers so much chicanery behind the various religions. He becomes a guru of sorts himself, but is honest in saying what a charlatan he was and how badly he used and abused people. It sounds like he left a lot of spiritually devastated people in his wake, even at one point describing himself as a vampire, which is what he was, a spiritual vampire.
Eventually he meets up with a woman he had married years before with no good intention of staying married. She had been somewhat of a spiritual seeker herself, which is what initially differentiated her from the other girls around him and drew him to her. Though they had gone their separate ways, they run into each other again on their world travels. She had entered a Buddhist monastery, and he had followed her in. They ran into each other yet again back in Europe, but she had since converted to some type of Protestant or Reformed Christian after reading about the Jesus prayer and using it as a mantra during her meditation. The use of the Jesus prayer led her to an utter and terrifying dread of death and realization of her own sinfulness. Because she had no spiritual guidance for the Jesus prayer, she fell into despair. Her Buddhist master and others told her that they were 'just thoughts' and that they would go away, but they didn't. She came across some Christian missionaries who began to pray for her and she eventually left the Buddhist monastery and converted to Christianity. She is the main reason he eventually gives Christianity another chance.
He is converted to Christianity around the age of 36 by people in some sort of ecumenical movement, though he is very resistant at first because, well, in American vernacular, Christians aren't cool, and he thinks he is cool, and he doesn't want to be like them. He was very cynical about religion having had so many disappointing experiences. He does seem to be at the least demonically oppressed, so that causes even more resistance.
After some years as a Christian, he meets Elder Sophrony and sees an authentically realized Christian of a type he had never seen before. He realizes that the type of Christianity he is involved in has very shallow water, and he's ready to tackle some of the more difficult aspects of being a Christian, the one that actually involves denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ. He realizes that he hasn't attained true freedom as he is still a slave to his passions and vices. He becomes Orthodox.
Is it true? I have no reason to think he would lie, but it's hard to say if every little detail is true.
Is it spiritually useful? I found a few things to be helpful reminders. For instance, the New Testament talks about the person who is under demonic influence and is healed from it, those demons will travel around dry places and eventually return back to that person and find the house put in order and tidy, and then bring more demons along to inhabit the clean house. It's a great reminder to be vigilant in the Christian life.
It's also good to remember that God can turn any horrible situation to the good for our benefit, but He won't force it on us. It's also clear that God is with Klaus through all his many mistakes.
I'm not sure who would find his book to be helpful. Seems like, as Symeon mentioned, a genre of writing by European kids who go on spiritual journeys to the east. Would any of those young people read his book and decide not to put themselves through all that? Hard to quantify that. But it very well might plant a seed in someone. He also had written an earlier version of the book, but at Elder Sophrony's advice had waited a number of years then rewritten the book. He said he is glad to have done that because the years of Christian practice helped him write from a more mature perspective.
If just one person come to God through Christ it is worth it.
The book is 271 pages long, and approximately 112 pages cover his formative years to his conversion. The balance is about his personal discovery of Christ Jesus as a living God. The very last part is his conversion to Orthodoxy, pages 245-271.