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November 27, 2009

have a little faith

Mitch Albom - ISBN - 9780786868728

It has been said that this new offering from the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, is better than that memoir. It is not. But how could one do better after pitching a No-Hit game, or, having bowled a 300, get a better score? It can't be done, but one can try to duplicate the feat. He did!

While his intervening books (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and For One More Day) were wildly received best sellers, they were, in my opinion, o.k. but not that great. Just books from a now/then famous author who had written the best selling memoir of all time.

Like "Tuesdays," this is another memoir which records contact with the now elderly rabbi of Albom's youth in New Jersey. "Reb" asked that Mitch deliver the eulogy at his funeral, whenever it takes place. Albom was reluctant, but agreed to do it, but insisted that he be permitted to get to know the old man as a person, not a cleric. Therein is the essence of the tale.

Actually, there are several tales wrapped up in one. The life of another preacher is included, with a pairing of chapters dealing with somewhat parallel lives, all-be-they poles apart. The rabbi is a Jewish man of God from day one, albeit with challenges. The preacher is a black man who has "broken all of the Ten Commandments" and now seeks to somehow reconcile that fact by ministering to the destitute and the homeless in Detroit. He does not believe in redemption by deeds, but does feel he owes the world the remainder of his life dedicated to "doing good" in daunting circumstances. He expects no reciprocity from God, only mercy.

Both of the principals have families who are loyal and helpful to the end. Both have many contacts and friends. Both have impacted enormously upon their congregants. Both are loved and appreciated by multitudes. Both are noble; the minister only in his later years

As with Morrie--a professor he worshiped in college--Albom resurrects contact with an old and important mentor in earlier years. As he climbed the ladder of success he had abandoned both rabbi and religion. He reflects upon what he has given up in that quest, and finds new meaning in life.

When reading the first memoir I found myself choked and tearful on frequent occasions throughout. The second reconstructs the aura.

Do read have a little faith. And consider giving it to all of your friends and family as a holiday gift, be that Christmas, Hanukah or whatever. It is sufficiently non-denominational as to motivate and appeal to Hindus and Muslims as to Jews and Christians; as well to Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Taoists and the rest. It is full of insight and wisdom, compassion and forgiveness universal to all . . . even to Atheists, if they'd only admit it. And faith is reinforced by the fact that it is universal, especially, I'd observe, to Atheists.

I guarantee you will tear up more than once as you re-learn some long suppressed, perhaps forgotten, lessons of life and how it should be lived.

Reb counsels that "The genius of life is its variety. Even in our own faith, we have questions and answers, interpretations, debates. In Christianity, in Catholicism, in other faiths, the same thing--debates, interpretations. That is the beauty. It's like being a musician. If you found the note, and you kept hitting that note all the time, you would go nuts. It's the blending of the different notes that makes the music."

And what is the music? . . . "believing in something bigger than yourself."

But what if someone wants you dead for it? "That is not faith. That is hate . . . and if you ask me, God sits up there and cries when that happens."

Posted by Curmudgeon at November 27, 2009 10:03 AM