Jon Ferguson was born on October 26, 1949 in Oakland, California into a devout Mormon family. As a child, church services were held in his living room. He was a sports fanatic until the age of seventeen at which time he decided to devote his life to helping people. The only Mormon teaching that really influenced him was the notion that Jesus was a good guy. And Jesus was his mentor. He attended the Mormon-financed University, BYU in Provo, Utah, where he was vice-president of the freshman class, voted “most preferred man” by the woman, and was briefly a member of the “Cougar Club” with Mitt Romney. Then his belief in the Mormon Church began to unravel. Little by little he could not philosophically accept the truth of Christianity, Mormonism, and the idea that man could “know the truth”. The big moment of change in his life came when he was “called”, at age twenty, to serve a Mormon mission in Argentina. He agreed to do the two-month monastic preparation period, but when the time came he was the only missionary out of 120 bound for South America who didn’t get on the plane. He went back to BYU and was miraculously elected vice-president of the student body, but he spent all his free time studying philosophy (Camus, Sartre, Nietzsche Schopenhauer, and Heidegger were his primary influences) and the vast field of social anthropology. Man and being became a great mystery.

The next telling moment came three years later when he decided not to do a doctorate degree at the University of Chicago where he intended to marry philosophy and anthropology and further expand his senior thesis: “Symbolic Reality: A Socio-Anthropological Essay on the Nature of Reality”. He suddenly felt the academic world was suffocating him and he wanted to “see” the world. He hopped a plane in 1973 and ended up, by chance, in Nyon, Switzerland where he got a job playing basketball in the top Swiss league. In a sense he wanted “to play again”.

But after a year of just basketball he was bored so he found a job teaching English in a Swiss high school. He has coached and played basketball for 35 years and taught school concomitantly.

In the meantime he has become a prolific writer. He has written twenty-three novels and a book on Nietzsche, Nietzsche au Petit Déjeuner” (“Nietzsche for Breakfast”). His only novel published in America is “Farley’s Jewel” (Cinco Puntos Press 1998). It won a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers of America” prize.

Ferguson also wrote a bi-weekly column in the Lausanne newspaper called “Ainsi Parla Schmaltz”.

Ferguson is also known for his painting. Over the last thirty years he has had 20 painting exhibitions in and around Lausanne. Finally, in 1979 he started the first basketball camp for kids in Switzerland with 32 children. Today the “Wilson Swiss All-Star Basketball Camp” is the largest such camp in Europe with over 750 participants each summer over a two week period. The camp is not just about basketball but is also about learning to be a decent human being. Sports and fun are united. The camp motto is “Each child is the most important child”. It is difficult to describe Ferguson’s writing other than to say he draws on all his experience to paint a picture of what it is to be a human being and the great mystery of existence. He pushes thinking to its limit, but he doesn’t push it down your throat. There is always room for levity and humour no matter how profound the subject. As he once said, “The deeper one digs, the bigger the hole.” He tries to get people to appreciate the amazing opportunity we have to be alive. As Camus said, “There is really only one real philosophical question: Why is there something and not nothing ? ” With regard to religion, Ferguson has said, “Religion tells us nothing about metaphysical truth, but tells us everything about the make-up of the human head.” As for sports (he is the winningest coach in the history of Swiss basketball): “The first reason for the existence of sports is to have a beer after the game; the second reason is to have a beer with a friend after the game; the third reason has yet to be discovered.”

It might be said that for Jon Ferguson “Nothing is sacred, but everything is sacred.”

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