By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: Brother John and the Trappists, a response to a life in which something is missing

March 14, 2019
Column: CEO Learnings

A Review of August Turak’s Brother John: A monk, a pilgrim and the purpose of life.   Author August Turak, a successful entrepreneur in the software business, endured a personal crisis that led him to a Trappist Monastery in Charleston, South Carolina. While there, he began a decades-long journey to find the secrets to a life well-lived.

Turak sought meaning and authenticity. An important initial connection who became a life-long influence on Turak was a monk named Brother John. Brother John was the Abbey’s foreman, overseeing the work assignments for a farm of several thousand acres and 40,000 chickens.

Actions spoke louder than words

Brother John at age 60 was no slacker, notes Turak.

“No one works harder than Brother John.” He rises before three in the morning to make sure coffee is there for everyone and he works well beyond when others retire for the day.

Everyone who visits the monastery takes note of Brother John. Some characterize him as a saint. Turak became obsessed with him.

This humble monk represented everything Turak had ever longed for and… feared.  On the one hand, Brother John was a man of quiet peace and effortless love. On the other hand, he stirred up Turak’s feelings of inadequacy.

Hope, yet fear

Turak was terrified of what might happen to him if he followed Brother John’s example of dedicating his life to others, to self-transcendence.  Did Turak have what it takes?  Or was his own life nothing more than a life of contradictions and a lie?

Brother John is Turak’s story of his response to Brother John…a story of reflection and transformation.

Turak was starving, but he did not know why or for what purpose until his encounter with the Trappists and Brother John. He was hungry for meaning and authenticity but did not know it or how to obtain it until his encounter with the Trappists.

In his journey of discovery, Turak learned the secrets that have sustained the Trappists for over 1100 years:

  • Always aim past the target in all that we do
  • Do all we do with a prayerful attitude.
  • Service and selflessness must become habitual and automatic.
  • Have the courage to “go first” with our vulnerability.
  • Have enough faith to trust the process.
  • Always exhibit authenticity and sincerity.
  • Admit mistakes.

A true story

Brother John is a true story and was the recipient of prestigious Templeton Prize. This large format book is dramatically brought to life by more than 20 full-color paintings by Glenn Harrington, a multiple award-winning artist. 

Turak, with his first book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, and now with Brother John, reveals universal principles that are sorely needed in today’s fast-paced world. We can all share in these miraculous gifts and fulfill our own quest for a life of meaning and authenticity.

As Turak explains, the Trappists and Brother John are great guides. 


View Articles Thomas M. Loarie is a popular host of The Mentors Radio Show, the founder and CEO of BryoLogyx Inc. (, and a seasoned corporate... MORE »

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