Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Have a Little Faith

I discovered Mitch Albom when he visited George Mason University for Fall for the Book.  His book at the time was For One More Day, a tantalizing slender volume whose premise intrigued me.  However, I had pooh-poohed his book as sentimental.  Weren't all of his books like that?

Then I read one.

And I fell in love with Mitch's writing.

However, I still approached this book with trepidation.  It was about death,  religion and faith.  It was about poverty and drugs and loss.  It was about a whole lot of issues I wasn't ready to confront when I got the book for Christmas.

But I had faith in Mitch, and when I was ready, so was his book.

I did not know what to expect from this book, and I was again delighted by Mitch's deft touch that never, ever veered to maudlin. 

May I say I love Albert Lewis?  His idea of faith is so similar to mine, only he takes it a step further.  After reading The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, I decided everyone was right.  However, I didn't stop to think about how I could be right, too.  This rabbi took his faith and his acceptance of others' faiths and turned it into his life, a testament of his beliefs.  I admire that.

I enjoyed how Mitch introduced us to the Reb.  I saw him through Mitch's eyes, with love and fear and misunderstanding, understanding and history and faith.  I was being introduced to someone's old friend whose history was bound tightly to my friend.  I liked the Reb the way Mitch liked the Reb: from a distance.  However, the more time we both spent with the rabbi, the more we could decide our own relationship with him.  I liked that.

Henry Covington, on the other hand, was more of a challenge to get to know.  Mitch introduced him to us the way he met him: not just through his own eyes, but through the eyes of his parishioners.  Henry's faith was tangible in a way only trial and tribulation can make it.  He was real, though his regret about his own life of sin was hard to read.  I have a hard time thinking human beings, the creatures created by a loving God/ess in His/Her own image, are wretches who are undeserving of God's love — and Henry acted as if he was a wretch.  I wanted him to act like a man who was loved by his God, not a man who still carried his burden of sin with him.   Maybe his regret was too much to put down.

In the end, the book fulfilled Mitch's promise to the rabbi, and that was fulfilling.  Seeing Henry's parish benefit from the readers of the Detroit Free-Press was fulfilling.  Albert's beliefs made me start discussing faith again, re-examining my own, which always is fulfilling (if not a challenge).

I've said it before, and I will say it again: go buy Mitch's books. Every single one.  And please attend one of his book events.  (I did, and I am so glad.)

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