I've been a Mitch Albom fan for a long time. I used to watch him and the late Dick Schapp on The Sports Reporters before the sun was up. They were old school news guys. Their insights on the sports world were marvelous. Over the years, Mitch Albom has shown himself to be quite insightful on life as well.
I became a fan of Mitch Albom's books when I first read Tuesdays with Morrie. What a great book! I've read everything he's put out since. His latest book is entitled, Have a Little Faith. The book begins with Albom's childhood rabbi asking him to perform the eulogy at his funeral—despite their lack of connection since Albom's childhood. Albom accepts the request and spends time getting to know "Reb" better over time. Have a Little Faith, a true story, weaves together a number of real faith journeys, including that of Mitch Albom himself. It's a quick read, and an absolutely delightful one. I recommend it to all Christians, and ministers in particular.
In addition to reading scholarly and devotional Christian books, I try to read lots of non-Christian (fiction and non-fiction) books to hear other perspectives. In particular, I like to read books by people who really know how to write. It makes me a better writer, preacher, and storyteller. Mitch Albom is one of the best storytellers writing today. The book is not written from a Christian perspective, nor is it hostile to Christianity. It's a book about the role of "faith" (in the general sense) in human life. Albom does an amazing job of writing what a faith journey actually feels like to different people. His experiences with Christians throughout the story are also fascinating.
Here are some quotes from the first few chapters.
- "I should tell you why I shunned the eulogy task, where I was, religiously, when this whole story began. Nowhere, to be honest. You know how Christianity speaks of fallen angels? Or how the Koran mentions the spirit Iblis, exiled from heaven for refusing to bow to God's creation? Here on earth, falling is less dramatic. You drift. You wander off. I know. I did it."
- "Over time, I honed a cynical edge toward overt religion. People who seemed too wild-eyed with the Holy Spirit scared me. And the pious hypocrisy I witnessed in politics and sports—congressmen going from mistresses to church services, football coaches breaking the rules, then kneeling for a team prayer—only made things worse. Besides, Jews in America, like devout Christians, Muslims, or sari-wearing Hindus, often bite their tongues, because there's this nervous sense that somebody out there doesn't like you. So I bit mine."
- "I remember, as a kid, the Reb admonishing the congregation—gently, and sometimes not so gently—for letting rituals lapse or disappear, for eschewing traditional acts like lighting candles or saying blessings, even neglecting the Kaddish prayer for loved ones who had died. But even as he pleaded for a tighter grip, year after year, his members opened their fingers and let a little more go. They skipped a prayer here. They skipped a holiday there. They intermarried—as I did. I wondered, now that his days were dwindling, how important ritual still was. "Vital," he said. But why? Deep inside, you know your convictions. "Mitch," he said, "faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe."