Monday, February 8, 2010

have a little faith

I have read a few books by Mitch Albom now and recently finished "have a little faith". A friend lent it to me, as she enjoyed it and thought I might as well. We had recently been talking about faith and religion, so I believe this is what lead to the thought that I might find this book interesting. She did forewarn me that there was much religious talk in the book though, so hopefully it would not deter me or bore me. I have to say, it did not.

Mitch Albom is a Sports writer based out of Detroit, Michigan. Normally that would preclude me from even thinking about picking up a book he had penned. I am not a huge sports aficionado. You might have guessed that already. I do like books though, as is noted elsewhere in this blog. Everyone who knows me, knows this fact about me. As a young child, I always had my nose stuck in a book and often gave up playing with friends to just finish a few more pages. Geek, I know, but I have had some wonderful friends found in the pages of books. I digress.

For Christmas a few years ago, my uncle gave me several books as my present in our family gift exchange. "The Five People you Meet in Heaven" was one of the books and I liked it well enough. I do not recall recognizing the name Mitch Albom and certainly did not recognize him as a sports personality at the time. Shortly thereafter I heard very good things about "Tuesdays with Morrie", so decided to pick that up as well. This was a wonderful little book that had just gone into its tenth anniversary re-release. What I liked about "Tuesdays with Morrie" was Albom's honesty in his writing. He tackled a difficult subject matter, dying, with grace. He was not afraid to paint an candid picture of himself, sometimes awkward or saying the wrong thing, while at the same time expounding on another's good points. It was a heart-warming true story of letting go, but more importantly in discovering the joys that life holds in simple things every day. He steps into "have a little faith" with that same tone.

"Have a little faith" is a true story. It begins with Albom's rabbi asking him to write a eulogy for his funeral. The rabbi has known him all his life and has always taken on a sacred and looked-up to role for him. Albom is surprised and overwhelmed at first, but decides that if he is to take on this responsibility, he must get to know the Rabbi as a man as well.

Similarly to "Tuesdays with Morrie" visits are begun that look at life in all its glory, beauty and ugliness. This story is told parallel to the story of another man that Albom meets. This man is also a holy man, but his faith is that of Christianity. Where Albom's Rabbi is upheld as pure and all-knowing, the Minister's past is unearthed and it is far from pure. Drugs, alcohol, violence and prison all saturate the Minister's past. An ugly picture is painted, but this man finally finds Jesus and gives over his life to him. Where I appreciate Albom's storytelling the most is in his difficulty in moving beyond the Minister's past. He shows his true feelings and offers himself up to criticism with his honesty in questioning this man's faith and character. Could he really have changed so much? Will he not fall back into old ways? The beauty of the two men of faith is that they both show a love for humanity and the will to want to help their fellow man. Albom allows us to see his own growth and in some ways asks us to look beyond our own comfort zones. He asks us to look at the people around us and see beyond what we think we know. We all have our crosses to bear and  regardless of background we are all worthy of love and forgiveness. I looked at Albom as a busy hotshot sports writer that had little time for faith or life and watched him gain a little more humanity. While he painted the picture, I made my own judgement call. He has done the same himself. What he does ask is for  us all to look back at ourselves. Make time for oneself. Make time for others. Make time for life. Thanks Mitch.

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