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Kansas author encourages others to ‘Just Think’

By Doug Weller
The Salina Register

Plainville — For most of his life, Craig Davidson has been on a journey — physically and spiritually.

He has lived around the world and studied other religions, but in the end, he came home — to Kansas and the Catholic Church.

Both of those journeys eventually took the form of a book, “Just Think: A Personal Journey to God Through Faith and Reason,” newly published by Two Harbors Press.

Now a resident of Plainville with his wife, Elizabeth, Davidson said he hopes his book — a collection of essays — encourages readers to take time to think.

“I encourage people to make the time to think of things spiritual. It’s so easy to go through the day and not do that,” he said.

It’s easy for him, he admitted, now that he’s retired. The quiet solitude of his small farm in Rooks County gives him plenty of opportunity to contemplate and to write.

“Being retired frees up time to think about spiritual things,” he said.

And as he did, he began putting his thoughts into words.

“I didn’t set down to write an autobiography. It’s about the spiritual and intellectual high points that led me to joining the Church,” Davidson said.

It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least.

His family moved frequently while he was growing up, “so I really have no hometown.”

After a brief attempt at college in West Germany, he joined the Army, then worked as a military journalist and later as a legal investigator in defense of soldiers facing court martial.

A return to the United States led to completion of college and a graduate degree, then a career in the Foreign Service at several overseas embassies.

At graduate school at Colorado State University, he met his wife, Elizabeth, a Catholic from Plainville. They married in 1980, but it would be nearly 30 years later before he joined her as a member of the Church.

That spiritual journey — from an upbringing that included little religious education — to joining the Catholic Church is recounted in 14 essays in paperback form.

“The element of the Church that is so inspirational to me — I had a lot of experiences and did a lot of different things — [is that] I never had an organizing principle of the intensity and efficiency of the Catholic Church,” he said. “The Catholic Church gives you a framework on which to hang your individual thoughts and hopes.”

During his journey, he was nudged toward the Catholic Church, first by a fellow investigator when he was working in Vietnam, and later by his wife.

By the time he retired and the couple moved to Plainville, Davidson said he knew he had found the answers he had been seeking.

He enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Sacred Heart Parish in Plainville and joined the Church at the Easter Vigil seven years ago.

The book is dedicated to his wife and the two priests at Sacred Heart — Father Bill Surmeier and Father Galen Long — who helped him make the journey. He also cites the help of Sister Regina Marie Massarotti, a Franciscan nun who was parish life coordinator at Plainville when Father Surmeier was serving as priest supervisor.

His continuing study of the faith — and writing down his thoughts — led to some essays that he showed Father Surmeier.

“He urged me to consider publication, which was something I’d never done,” Davidson said.

Surmeier then served as an editor of sorts, offering suggestions.

“As a convert, I wanted someone to look at it, someone with a deeper knowledge of theology,” Davidson said of Father Surmeier.

When Davidson decided to turn his thoughts into a book, it came easily, he said.

“The whole experience of the book … I was never at a loss, never any writer’s block,” he said. “Even though they are short essays, I spent a lot of time on them. I’d come to the end of one, and the next one would just appear in my mind, and I rolled right into it.”

He has received some good feedback so far from the book, which was published Feb. 4.

But he mainly hopes readers will take heed of his advice to think.

“I encourage taking time just to contemplate who we are, where we’re from, where we’re going,” he said. “If you can set aside time for a meal, you can set aside time to think about it all.”

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The book is available from booksellers at Davidson’s website, williamcraigdavidson.com, or from Messenger bookstore in Hays.

 

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