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I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven a little while back, and so when I saw this book, also by Mitch Albom, at a local book sale, I picked it up because I liked the first one I read so much.
Have A Little Faith is a true story about two very different men – a Rabbi and a Pastor. One grew up as a white Jewish kid, in a good neighborhood with a good family, always strong in his faith. The other was African-American, in a not so great neighborhood with a not so great childhood, with a lot of struggles and doubts, until finally finding his faith long after entering his adult years. And yet the two men had so much in common.
I enjoyed this book. From the start, Albom’s “Author’s Note” made the book feel genuine to me. After getting let down by A Million Little Pieces and Three Cups of Tea this year, I’ve become a bit wary of memoir-like books. But Albom lays it all out on the line from the beginning, stating that while the events are true, they may not have happened in the exact order they are listed in the book. He thanks the men and their families that made the book possible. Finally, he reminds us that he is no religious expert, but instead hopes his book provides a chance for reflection about faith and beliefs.
I liked that Albom’s interactions with both men really made him reflect on his own religion and faith, and I enjoyed hearing Albom discuss those reflections. I liked that Albom provided some insight on some Jewish traditions/beliefs, as I feel I know so little about most religions.
I loved Reb’s attitude towards other religions. Even though he was 100% without a doubt Jewish, as only a Rabbi could be, he appreciated that other people have different beliefs. He believed what was most important was that we had faith in something bigger than ourselves, not that our traditions or customs varied. He was about love and understanding, and gave Albom more wisdom than one could ever hope to receive from a single person.
I also loved Henry’s perseverance. When he finally accepted his faith and made changes to his life, he made that change through and through. It didn’t matter that there was a giant hole in the roof of his “church” and that they had no electricity, he was determined to boost the human soul, provide hope, and share his faith.
Here’s a passage that I really liked and really got me thinking:
“The Reb once did a sermon on how the same things in life can be good or evil, depending on what, with free will, we don with them. Speech can bless or curse. Money can save or destroy. Science can heal or kill. Even nature can work for you or against you: fire can warm or burn; water can sustain life or flood it away.
“But nowhere in the story of Creation,” the Reb said, “do we read the word ‘bad.’ God did not create bad things.”
So God leaves it to us?
“He leaves it to us,” he replied. “Now, I do believe there are times when God clenches his fist and says, ‘Ooh, don’t do it, you’re gonna get yourself into trouble.’ And you might say, well, why doesn’t God jump in? Why doesn’t he eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive?
“Because, from the beginning, God said, ‘I’m gonna put this world into your hands. If I run everything, then that’s not you.’ So we were created with a piece of divinity inside us, but with this thing called free will, and I think God watches us every day, lovingly, praying we will make the right choices.”
Do you really think God prays? I asked.
“I think prayer and God,” he said, “are intertwined.”
As always, I find it difficult to review memoirs. How do you rate a person’s life? Still, I feel it necessary to share these books with you, because I want you to get the same feelings I got from reading them. This book made me do my own reflecting on faith, and I think it’s a positive and uplifting read.
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