Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Does the belief in a higher power fit into our modern world of technology, emails, and DNA mapping? Spirituality is a personal issue, rarely discussed among friends and co-workers, and a subject we are warned to avoid in order to keep the peace in mixed company. How ironic, that we avoid discussions regarding religion to keep the peace. Given all the controversy in the world today, I suppose we are afraid to approach this subject with those outside of our own religion, or to assume that a person has a spiritual belief at all
Mich Albom's Have a Little Faith story does not preach a particular way of life, he simply describes his own journey, from being raised in a traditional Jewish congregation, walking away to a very successful writing career, marrying outside his religion (a Christian Arab), and then coming back to reconnect with the rabbi he has known from childhood. The story itself is an easy to read true story of his renewed relationship with his rabbi and a new relationship with an African American pastor, with the events unfolding during the current chaotic economic conditions. It is a book that encourages looking at ourselves all as children of the world, and highlights the commonality of world religions, rather than the differences.
The book has Albom's bestseller style and wit. I really enjoyed all of Albom's previous books, especially the fictional bestseller For One More Day. Albom's touching true story of his professor's battle with Lou Gehrig's disease in Tuesdays With Morrie was also a very gripping account of his own spiritual journey. Albom's books never preach one way and I did not believe that Have a Little Faith would be any different. It was a beautiful story, tenderly written, about Albom's discovery that while he, "thought he was being asked a favor, instead was being given one."
Albom is asked by his rabbi to deliver his eulogy, and Albom is stunned, however he accepts. The story starts with Albom's journey into learning more personal details about his rabbi, whom he's only known as a 'Man of God', a go-between to the higher power, and has somewhat been intimidated by his importance. Albom simultaneously describes a story of another clergy from New York, one with a very different past life and present in a crumbling church in Detroit. There are many moments in the book that make the reader pause, and reflect on the enormity of a simple sentence.
Albom has the gift of writing truly inspirational and moving words, in an easy to read real-life account, that does not feel like a typical spiritual read. For example, what is the purpose, especially in our modern world, for ancient religious rituals? Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and most other major religions all partake in rituals. Do these rituals make sense? Albom gets a simple, yet profoundly meaningful, answer from his rabbi that will speak to all of us. Also, is it easier not to believe in a higher power at all? Albom's writing does not claim to have the answer, yet describes one account of someone dealing with loss and not having faith to help them through their pain. Another gem of advice is the answer Albom receives when he asks his rabbi the secret to happiness. Again, a simple answer is given: be satisfied, be grateful. Wonderfully simple, yet many of us spend a lifetime without ever being satisfied or grateful.
The choice is ours, we can choose to live our lives the way we want. We may follow the path we were shown as children, or one that we discovered ourselves as adults, or are yet trying to find in our future. Albom's book affirms that whatever path we do choose, a little faith can't hurt. This was another quick read, and spiritually uplifting book by one of my favorite authors.