Have A Little Faith
I recently finished reading Mitch Albom's newest book, Have A Little Faith. Albom is also the author of For One More Day, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, & Tuesdays with Morrie. He is a newspaper columnist, a sports writer, playwright, journalist and screenwriter who lives in Detroit.
Have A Little Faith is a book that was part of Albom's eight year journey toward a new understanding of faith, God & community. It began with a strange request from Albom's 82-year old rabbi--that Albom deliver the rabbi's eulogy when he passed. Albom, who had all but left the faith of his youth behind, was flummoxed by the request, and agreed to do so only if he could take the time to get to know the man he had always known as "Reb." What followed was eight years of trips from Detroit to New York as Albom did his best to get understand what it meant to live of a life of faith, devotion and selflessness.
At the same time he was visiting and learning from his rabbi, Albom got involved with an African-American pastor, who was serving the homeless from a run-down, abandoned Presbyterian Church with a hole in the roof located in downtown Detroit. In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, and the disillusionment created by the failure of the "American Dream" for so many people, Albom begins to see the importance of faith and faith communities in redemption and renewal. And he begins to see the unmistakable commonalities between his devoted rabbi from the suburbs and the equally committed urban pastor. In the end, Albom's cynicism is replaced by hope and he begins to see that without belief in something (or someone) greater than yourself, Life can lack meaning and direction.
Albom delivered the eulogy for his rabbi. He also learned how to trust the urban pastor from Detroit and to believe in his calling.
I recently saw Albom being interviewed about the book and he said in the interview, "We put our faith and trust in the workplace, and that failed us." He went on to say that our greed and our misplaced trust in earthly success has proven to be false. What matters now, Albom suggests in Have A Little Faith is that we begin to focus on the things that are truly important--the things that last. The last words of his rabbi to his congregation, which were delivered via audio tape, were: "Please love one another, talk to one another, don't let trivialities dissolve friendships..."
Albom also discovered that God was not only very real, God was closer than he had believed. "And it hit me finally," he wrote, "that this was the whole point of my time with the Reb and Henry: not the conclusion, but the search, the study, the journey to belief. You can't fit the Lord in a box. But you can gather stories, tradition, wisdom and in time, you needn't lower the shelf; God is already nearer to thee."
Some Christian readers might be challenged by the rather broad strokes that Albom paints with in relation to God and concepts of salvation, Heaven, etc. There is a humility to Albom's theology, however, that is refreshing. Each of us, if we are being honest, has to admit that we don't know the mind of God, have no clue what lies beyond this life, and are not in charge of who is "in" or "out." In the end we must be faithful and true to what we know. God is God and we are not. And this is how it should be.
Ten percent of the profits (a tithe) of the book go to support the Hole In The Roof Foundation, which helps refurbish places of worship that aid the homeless. To contribute, or to learn more, visit www.aholeintheroof.com.