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HIS MISSION ON EARTH is a reissue of KENNY: THE MAN WHO LOOKED LIKE THE SHROUD published in 1989. While the book's message may be even more relevant today, what inspired me to present it to the public anew was witnessing the effect of the original KENNY version on a woman painting our Massachusetts house. Estranged from her husband, this recent college graduate was struggling to pay her bills, retain custody of her two children, and keep her old van running. Seeing an open box of the KENNY books in our garage, the harried young woman asked to borrow a copy. This was on a Friday; when she returned on Monday, the person I saw appeared to have been elevated to some higher joyous plane and was now tripping the light fantastic with angels, as she gushed, "You don't know how lucky you are to have known Kenny."
This is a first-hand account about the inspired mission of Kenny Klinkert, a startling Jesus look-alike alike, who feels a strange kinship to the image of the man imprinted on the ancient burial cloth known as the Shroud of Turin.
Kenny's overwhelming frustration is trying to communicate in words the reality to which he alone considers himself to be privileged. I will always remember the first time Kenny skipped past me along a sidewalk in Laguna Beach, pumping his arm in the air while proclaiming to the world his message of life over death. He stopped and our eyes locked momentarily -- a strange unfocused gaze as if trying to penetrate some distant obscuring mist of time and place, perhaps beyond this life and this earth, to a dimension in which he and I might have known each other before. I began to follow Kenny with a microcassette tape recorder, keeping up alongside of him as he skipped along the boardwalk and streets of Laguna Beach in his frayed running shorts, and hearing people call out to him, "Hey, Jesus!" I can still feel the force of his delivery and the thrust of his words. With his demeanor reminiscent of a disoriented Biblical prophet, he was the message no less than his challenging words.
People who have read the original 1989 KENNY book have often asked me," Well, what do YOU think? Is he just a mentally troubled Vietnam ex-G.I with an uncontrollable penchant for sharing his "truth" or could he in fact be some sort of an embodied herald or emissary from another dimension? I invariably feel myself shrug and say, "It's all there. I'm certainly not holding back any relevant information or vital insight." The fact is that I myself have continued to wonder: who is this Kenny Klinkert anyway? I can never forget the time I watched Kenny skip away into the night after one of our recorded meetings, and saw huge sparks racing along the high tension wires between the utility poles he had just passed. Then there is the mystery of the photos I had attempted to take of him, one of which makes him look as if enclosed within a shroud and another is likewise inexplicably distorted. Curiously, Kenny's mother, shortly before her death, confided to her son that she had a similarly distorting experience when she looked into a mirror a few days before his birth.
Here's another assessment from an unbiased observer in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, Carl Fleischaker:
"The first time I saw Kenny was from a car. Normally, I would have seen just another long-haired hippie-type walking down the street, carrying a bicycle wheel. He had a kind of a scowl on his face -- not too unusual a sight. But as I was driving by, it flashed on my mind that this was no hippie but a modern-day prophet, a seasoned avatar carrying the wheel of life and determined to bestow wisdom on the world. I am a relatively straight sort of a guy, and I don't usually see prophets and avatars. I have a degree in psychology, I sell real estate, I keep my lawn cut and the pool clean, and I voted for Ronald Reagan twice. But all the same, I felt compelled to pull over and check this guy out."
May I invite you to check "this guy out" yourself?
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About the Author
Born in Prague in 1935, Ernest Kolowrat attended schools in the former Czechoslovakia, Turkey and England before immigrating to the United States following the Communist coup in 1948. He graduated from Yale in 1956 and served as a naval reserve officer for three years with the U. S. Pacific Fleet. His assignment to a refueling ship included a tour in the Bikini-Eniwetok area, where he witnessed more than dozen A-bomb and H-bomb tests. During the decade of the 1960s, Ernest Kolowrat was successively employed as world affairs editor for Scholastic Magazines in New York, director of information for the American Institute for Foreign Study in Greenwich, Connecticut, and director of 10th Anniversary Programs of the Peace Corps in Washington. Since 1971, he has been a free-lance writer, publicist and film maker. His books include "Hotchkiss: A Chronicle of an American School," and "Confessions of a Hapless Hedonist," which was published as a best-selling trilogy in the Czech Republic. Ernest Kolowrat is married to Barbara W. Newell. They met some 35 years ago when he was directing a political action video and she was among those he interviewed. They divide their time between Florida, Massachusetts and the Czech Republic.