A debut memoir of drug abuse, mental illness, and eventual Christian redemption.
Beginning with his teenage years on Long Island in Smithtown, New York, Kurtzer details growing up with a difficult father and periods of reckless drug abuse: “I started out smoking marijuana and popping pills (uppers and downers); then I went on to do acid and LSD-25.” At the age of 19, he writes, “my life fell apart”; he received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which would eventually be changed to one of manic depression. The author’s struggles with mental illness would continue for many years, and would include numerous brushes with the law, time in prison and mental health facilities, and a maniac episode that culminated in an attempt to drive his car up the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Despite years of taking medication, the author asserts that he only received lasting relief from his condition after surrendering himself to Christ; doctors, he says, “are only men practicing medicine, but Jesus Christ is the Great Physician who can heal any sickness or disease if you believe in Him and trust Him to heal you.” After using his faith in Christ as a means to recovery, the author continued his rigorous study of the Bible and ministered in the Philippines. This is a meandering tale by its very nature, but it takes readers to a number of novel places. The early pages devoted to drug use prove somewhat dull, though some sections, such as when Kurtzer was questioned by members of the U.S. Secret Service, help illuminate the reality of dealing with a debilitating condition. Skeptical readers will likely find the episodes of faith healing here difficult to swallow, such as an account of the instant cure of a deaf girl (“The minister then commanded the deaf spirit to come out in Jesus’ name, and the child instantly turned her head”). However, the tone throughout the work is effectively earnest.
An honest, if sometimes-fantastical, account of a strange life journey.