Have a Little Faith: A True Story
P. LaBelle "Rambling @ 2009-11-12
Mitch is a sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press (and I remember him fondly from my growing up years in Detroit), who became well known nationally through his book
Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson
. This is Albom's first non-fiction book since then, and it is fantastic.
The story begins with Mitch's childhood rabbi (aka "Reb") asking him to give the eulogy at his funeral. Mitch looks at Reb wondering if he is dying, but Reb tells him it's coming but not in the near future. Mitch accepts and begins meeting with Reb, this man of God he used to fear, on a regular basis as part of the agreement. Mitch wanted to get to know Reb as a human being. The book chronicles the 8 years Mitch travels from Detroit to New Jersey to meet with the rabbi, a wonderfully joyous man who sings all the time, ("How are you doing, Reb?" Singing "The old gray rabbi, ain't what he used to be....") and who has given his life's service to building a single community of faith.
The vignettes are marvelous, ranging from snippets from Reb's sermons throughout the years, to how the Reb handled inter-faith connections in his community, including a scene with the Roman Catholic priest from the church across the street. Just fabulous.
But intertwined with the Reb's story are the details of another man Mitch has gotten to know during this same time: an African-American pastor in the inner-city of Detroit who ministers to the homeless. Henry is a former drug dealer and addict who had a life changing experience with God, and now leads this small congregation called "I Am My Brother's Keeper" in a dilapidated church abandoned by the Presbyterians. Mitch, in part through his interactions with his rabbi, wants to give back to his community. Tentatively, this well off Jewish man begins reaching out to the impoverished Christian people he meets.
I won't give more than this away. This is a remarkable story and one that will stay with you for some time about how even though we have differences in our lives, we have so much more in common than we could ever imagine.
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