National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Book Review: Looking for Answers Through Dirty Glasses: Finding the Divine in a Challenging World by Matt Kuntz
CreateSpace (2011), $11.99
By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations
Matt Kuntz is NAMI Montana’s executive director. He’s a West Point graduate. He is a lawyer. He worked successfully to have the Montana National Guard adopt a suicide prevention program for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It became a national model—leading to an invitation to ride President Barack Obama’s inaugural train and a story in People magazine.
But you won’t find Matt dwelling on achievements. I’ve always found him to be a humble, low-key person, but never realized how much so until I read Looking for Answers through Dirty Glasses, which is based on his personal blog. It is a series of reflections about loss, uncertainty, desperation and pain, including bouts with depression that have both challenged and shaped his religious faith. It is a matter-of-fact, revealing work—revealing vulnerabilities that most people prefer to hide, if not forget.
At one point several years ago, Matt was poised to take his own life—“I stepped up on the wobbly white and blue chair”—when he-remembered that he still needed to pay his rent, if only out of courtesy to the landlord. He wrote a check, put it in an envelope, and took it outside to the mailbox for his apartment complex. Headed back, he realized that a neighbor was sitting on a porch, crying.
Matt sat with him and they talked for hours. His neighbor was about to lose his job, his marriage was in trouble and he was “terrified” about what it would mean for his children.
“I didn’t have any answers, but I let him talk until he felt better somewhere along the way, I began to feel better too,” Matt writes.
“Wrapped up in my own struggles, I’d forgotten how much peace could be found trying to help others—It was another door out of the darkness—a door I wouldn’t have found if something higher than me hadn’t planted the idea that I couldn’t say good-bye without paying the rent.”
In another chapter, Matt’s whitewater passion, including a failed business venture, leads a veteran struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder to embrace the river-boarding as a port. He ends up using it to develop a therapeutic program for veterans with PTSD. Matt reflects that the “fiasco” of his own business failure still allowed him to be “a domino in the chain” that brought peace to others.
Each chapter is short and thought-provoking. Matt quotes scripture easily, but doesn’t take himself too seriously. Reading the book is like having a serious, engaging conversation with a good friend; a conversation that will be relevant to whatever spiritual issue you may have on your mind.
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