Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Five Years in Heaven by John Schlimm

Schlimm had been a publicist in Nashville and had worked with superstars and powerful people. He came to the point he was tired of creating layers of appearance around the country stars he represented. He had gone back to university and received his Masters in education from Harvard. Now, at thirty one years old, he was subbing at his Catholic high school alma mater and battling depression.

A friend suggested he visit the ceramic shop at the nearby convent. There he met 87 year old Sister Augustine, a self taught artist who helped Schlimm move through the questions he had about life.

It was interesting to read the interaction Schlimm had with the sister. She was a wise woman and helped him see the possibilities in what he thought were failures. There are some good illustrations about life in the book too. One involved Sister Augustine creating her figures and then putting them in the kiln. Like life, she never knew exactly what each one would be like when they came through the fire. Her wisdom helped him put the puzzle pieces of his life back together.

The book was enjoyable to read. I found it to be as much about Schlimm as it was about Sister Augustine. He shows his expertise in PR by publicizing her work, taking her from obscurity to being well known in their community. He also showed her his own art work, eliciting her positive comments. I thought that took the spotlight off Sister Augustine and placed it squarely on Schlimm.

I was disappointed that there weren't many “big” questions discussed. The topics seemed to be generally practical issues and not earth shaking concepts. Readers should be aware that this is written from a Catholic viewpoint and evangelical protestant Christians will be disappointed in the lack of talk about salvation as they understand it. The discussion about heaven, for example, involved behavior and not a saving belief in Jesus.

(Note: the “five years” refers to the time Schlimm and Sister Augustine were friends before she died.)

John Schlimm is an educator, artist, and award-winning writer. He travels around the country, speaking about inspirational/motivational topics. He has appeared on major television shows.

Image, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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