Thomas Schulte Meet & Greet

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Fleur Fine Books

1720 Magnolia Avenue

#104

Port Neches, TX 77651

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Join us on Saturday April 27th to welcome Thomas Schulte, here at Fleur Fine Books. Thomas will be here to discuss and sign copies of his two books “SPIRITUAL AMBITIONS ” and "THE LAST LEAF".

THE LAST LEAF

In Schulte’s debut novel, a dying man shares lessons about faith and life with his grandson.
The story begins in the hospice room of a wise old man who’s accepted his impending death. When an attendant says that they want to make his space more “cheery and comfortable,” he merely responds, “Bah. One should spend his last days in reflection, not pleasure. We should embrace the end, not avoid it.” When his grandson, Kevin, comes to visit, he tells him how his own life was powerfully transformed by embracing Christianity. He also gives Kevin a set of numbered notebooks in a briefcase. In each, Kevin finds a single story. At first, he believes the books to be journals, but he quickly realizes that the main character of the first tale—a man who becomes consumed by greed—doesn’t resemble his grandfather at all. “No, it never happened,” the old man explains. “But…I imagined how my life might go.” Kevin reads the remaining tales in his grandparent’s presence, and each introduces a new alter ego and addresses a different theme: “Wealth,” “Career,” “Pleasure,” “Shame,” “Family,” and others. His grandfather takes on the personae of a lonely prisoner in isolation, a hotshot businessman who loses all his material possessions, and even a young man who’s committed murder; the stories aren’t based on real events, but they do draw on lessons that the elderly man learned throughout his life. Readers may find that the novel’s central conceit—stories of roads not taken—offers an intriguing variation on the idea of a deathbed confession, but in practice, the stories tend to blur together. They rush to drive home lessons about faith, and several (such as “Wealth,” “Career,” and “Pleasure”) deal with similar themes that might have been more powerful if they were presented in a single story. There are standout chapters, however; “Shame,” for example, delivers a truly moving depiction of schoolyard bullying, and “Family” arrives at a unique and unexpected moral: “Family is important but not worth dedicating one’s life to.”

SPIRITUAL AMBITIONS

A manual explores the meaning of success for Christians.
Schulte’s (The Last Leaf, 2018) punchy book assures readers throughout that they have a purpose in this life and a duty to find out what that objective is—and that the path to that discovery isn’t free of obstacles. “The devil wants to steal God’s mission for you,” readers are told. And the challenge for all Christians is to rise above their circumstances and make plans to realize the spiritual ambitions God wants everyone to have. The author is concerned with outcomes. A Christian’s nature is determined by actions, and, in the reading set forth here, the results are built on obedience to God’s will—a submission that becomes pure when it springs from love rather than rote compliance. Schulte lays out his own spiritual ambitions, including to feel the Lord’s presence, to hear “the gentle wind of God,” to inspire others to do likewise, and to seek inner spiritual peace. And all of these goals are predicated on the love between God and the faithful, a state that can often be challenging in its own right to achieve and maintain. As the author points out with typical, friendly bluntness, “Stuff crowds out God.” In ample and engaging personal asides, Schulte stresses that the surest way to stop stuff from crowding out the Lord is to cultivate a relationship with the Creator through prayer, which the author characterizes simply as talking with God. In the pursuit of this relationship, the faithful are encouraged to be “bold”—a quality that, Schulte maintains in his readable book, comes about when believers open their souls to God. “He rummages around,” the author asserts, “dusts this, throws junk out, and basically cleans up the joint.” The portrait of the faith relationship that emerges from Schulte’s list of ambitions is a warm and appealing one, something his fellow Christians should find extremely inviting.
An accessible and compassionate reimagining of ambition in the service of faith.

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Fleur Fine Books

1720 Magnolia Avenue

#104

Port Neches, TX 77651

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