Have a Little Faith: A True Story

Have a Little Faith: A True Story

4.2 808
by Mitch Albom
     
 

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What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?

In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom offers a beautifully written story of a remarkable eight-year journey between two worlds-two men, two faiths, two communities-that will inspire readers everywhere.

Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, Have a Little Faith

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Overview

What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?

In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom offers a beautifully written story of a remarkable eight-year journey between two worlds-two men, two faiths, two communities-that will inspire readers everywhere.

Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, Have a Little Faith begins with an unusual request: an eighty-two-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy.

Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor-a reformed drug dealer and convict-who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof.

Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Albom observes how these very different men...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Albom delivers a command audio performance. He brings his two clergymen-protagonists-an elderly rabbi from Albom's home synagogue and an African-American pastor leading a ministry to Detroit's homeless population-to vivid life and conveys their messages of faith with sensitivity and respect. The audio's most memorable moments feature the humility-and eccentricity-of the two spiritual leaders who, despite their deep religious commitment, refuse to be placed on a pedestal. From the ail-ing Jewish leader breaking out into whimsical songs in the middle of his grueling medical treatments and his Christian counterpart savoring the joys of barbecuing, Albom's characterizations brim with humor and compassion. A Hyperion hardcover.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

People

"Everybody should read it."
--Hoda Kotb in PeopleBest Book of 2009

Sydney Morning Herald

"The nonfiction equivalent to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist."

Jim Wallis
"Clear some space on your bookshelf for Mitch Albom's, Have a Little Faith, the story of a faith journey that could become a classic. Those who were born into faith, have lost faith, or are still searching will all be engaged and challenged by this powerful story of "finding faith" in relationships with others and with something greater than ourselves. Never satisfied with easy answers or soft platitudes, Mitch explores some of life's greatest mysteries and unanswered questions with great honesty, depth and self reflection."
From the Publisher
"Clear some space on your bookshelf for Mitch Albom's, Have a Little Faith, the story of a faith journey that could become a classic. Those who were born into faith, have lost faith, or are still searching will all be engaged and challenged by this powerful story of "finding faith" in relationships with others and with something greater than ourselves. Never satisfied with easy answers or soft platitudes, Mitch explores some of life's greatest mysteries and unanswered questions with great honesty, depth and self reflection."—Jim Wallis, CEO and Founder of Sojourners and author of The Great Awakening

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401394196
Publisher:
Hachette Audio
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 5.86(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Author's Note

This story spans eight years. It was made possible by the cooperation of two unique men, Albert Lewis and Henry Covington-who shared their histories in great detail-as well as their families, children, and grandchildren, to whom the author expresses his eternal gratitude. All encounters and conversations are true events, although for purposes of the narrative, the time line has, on a few occasions, been squeezed, so that, for example, a discussion held in October of one year may be presented in November of the next.

Also, while this is a book about faith, the author can make no claim to being a religion expert, nor is this a how-to guide for any particular belief. Rather, it is written in hope that all faiths can find something universal in the story.

The cover was inspired by Albert Lewis's old prayer book, held together by rubber bands.
Per the tradition of tithing, one-tenth of the author's profits on every book sold will be donated to charity, including the church, synagogue, and homeless shelters in this story.

The author wishes to thank the readers of his previous books, and welcome new readers with much appreciation.

**
In the Beginning...
In the beginning, there was a question.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
I don't understand, I said.
"My eulogy?" the old man asked again. "When I'm gone." His eyes blinked from behind his glasses. His neatly trimmed beard was gray, and he stood slightly stooped.
Are you dying? I asked.
"Not yet," he said, grinning.
Then why-
"Because I think you would be a good choice. And I think, when the time comes, you will know what to say."
Picture the most pious man you know.Your priest. Your pastor. Your rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him tapping you on the shoulder and asking you to say good-bye to the world on his behalf.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, asking you for his send-off to heaven.
"So?" he said. "Would you be comfortable with that?"

In the beginning, there was another question.
"Will you save me, Jesus?"
This man was holding a shotgun. He hid behind trash cans in front of a Brooklyn row house. It was late at night. His wife and baby daughter were crying. He watched for cars coming down his block, certain the next set of headlights would be his killers.
"Will you save me, Jesus?" he asked, trembling. "If I promise to give myself to you, will you save me tonight?"
Picture the most pious man you know. Your priest. Your pastor. Your rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him in dirty clothes, a shotgun in his hand, begging for salvation from behind a set of trash cans.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, begging not to be sent to hell.
"Please, Lord," he whispered. "If I promise?.?.?."

This is a story about believing in something and the two very different men who taught me how. It took a long time to write. It took me to churches and synagogues, to the suburbs and the city, to the "us" versus "them" that divides faith around the world.
And finally, it took me home, to a sanctuary filled with people, to a casket made of pine, to a pulpit that was empty.
In the beginning, there was a question.
It became a last request.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
And, as is often the case with faith, I thought I was being asked a favor, when in fact I was being given one.
A few weeks earlier, Albert Lewis, then eighty-two years old, had made that strange request of me, in a hallway after a speech I had given.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
It stopped me in my tracks. I had never been asked this before. Not by anyone-let alone a religious leader. There were people mingling all around, but he kept smiling as if it were the most normal question in the world, until I blurted out something about needing time to think about it.
After a few days, I called him up.
Okay, I said, I would honor his request. I would speak at his funeral-but only if he let me get to know him as a man, so I could speak of him as such. I figured this would require a few in-person meetings.
"Agreed," he said.
I turned down his street.
***
Meet the Reb
To that point, all I really knew of Albert Lewis was what an audience member knows of a performer: his delivery, his stage presence, the way he held the congregation rapt with his commanding voice and flailing arms. Sure, we had once been closer. He had taught me as a child, and he'd officiated at family functions-my sister's wedding, my grandmother's funeral. But I hadn't really been around him in twenty-five years. Besides, how much do you know about your religious minister? You listen to him. You respect him. But as a man? Mine was as distant as a king. I had never eaten at his home. I had never gone out with him socially. If he had human flaws, I didn't see them. Personal habits? I knew of none.
Well, that's not true. I knew of one. I knew he liked to sing. Everyone in our congregation knew this. During sermons, any sentence could become an aria. During conversation, he might belt out the nouns or the verbs. He was like his own little Broadway show.
In his later years, if you asked how he was doing, his eyes would crinkle and he'd raise a conductor's finger and croon:
"The old gray rabbi,
ain't what he used to be,
ain't what he used to be?.?.?."
I pushed on the brakes. What was I doing? I was the wrong man for this job. I was no longer religious. I didn't live in this state. He was the one who spoke at funerals, not me. Who does a eulogy for the man who does eulogies? I wanted to spin the wheel around, make up some excuse.
Man likes to run from God.
But I was headed in the other direction.
****
Life of Henry
About the time that, religiously, I was becoming "a man," Henry was becoming a criminal.
He began with stolen cars. He played lookout while his older brother jimmied the locks. He moved on to purse snatching, then shoplifting, particularly grocery stores; stealing pork chop trays and sausages, hiding them in his oversized pants and shirts.
School was a lost cause. When others his age were going to football games and proms, Henry was committing armed robbery. Young, old, white, black, didn't matter. He waved a gun and demanded their cash, their wallets, their jewels.
The years passed. Over time, he made enemies on the streets. In the fall of 1976, a neighborhood rival tried to set him up in a murder investigation. The guy told the cops Henry was the killer. Later, he said it was someone else.
Still, when those cops came to question him, Henry, now nineteen years old with a sixth-grade education, figured he could turn the tables on his rival and collect a five-thousand-dollar reward in the process.
So instead of saying "I have no idea" or "I was nowhere near there," he made up lies about who was where, who did what. He made up one lie after another. He put himself at the scene, but not as a participant. He thought he was being smart.
He couldn't have been dumber. He wound up lying his way into an arrest-along with another guy-on a manslaughter charge. The other guy went to trial, was convicted, and got sent away for twenty-five years. Henry's lawyer quickly recommended a plea deal. Seven years. Take it.
Henry was devastated. Seven years? For a crime he didn't commit?
"What should I do?" he asked his mother.
"Seven is less than twenty-five," she said.
He fought back tears. He took the deal in a courtroom. He was led away in handcuffs.
On the bus ride to prison, Henry cursed the fact that he was being punished unfairly. He didn't do the math on the times he could have been jailed and wasn't. He was angry and bitter. And he swore that life would owe him once he got out.

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What People are saying about this

Bishop T.D. Jakes

"Albom helps show the true definition of ‘Church.' It is not the building, it is the people and their faith."
--Bishop T.D. Jakes, Chief Pastor, The Potter's House

Scott Turow

"An absolute wonder—tender, transporting, and deeply moving."
--Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent

"The nonfiction equivalent to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist."

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