Monday, August 2, 2010

Have a Little Faith

Have a Little Faith

I never cry this hard when it comes to read a book. But turned out, this book is different. It touched me in many ways that the author could possible touch his readers with his book. Well in this case, Mitch Albom come up with his beautifully written, a soft and caring, a based on true story book called Have a Little Faith. He has a way of helping you walk a mile in his shoes as he learns to walk a few miles in someone else's shoes. The book focuses on two men, one of which is a rabbi named Albert Lewis and the other one is an African-American pastor named Henry Covington. However, the true essence of the book is Albom's own walk with his faith that more or less, tickled me how I walk with my own faith.

The soft and caring tale begins when Albert Lewis, the singing rabbi, who happened to be Albom's childhood rabbi asks him to do his eulogy when he dies. Albom accepted and he begins to meet more regularly with The Reb or simply he call him, Al (Albert's nickname). One meeting leads to another, Albom ask many questions to know him more. From his family, his past, his point of view from many religions in this world, and most of all, his faith, his belief, what he believes in. The story continue with Albom's encounters with the second man on this book, Henry Covington. He's an inner-city pastor who runs a Detroit mission with a hole in its roof. Henry Covington was former convict, drugs abuser, dealer, and once involved in a murder. These encounters soon cause Albom to confront his own childhood Jewish faith and the Christian faith of Henry.

I'll write some of my favorite quotes from this book. Albom admitted that he pretty much walked away from his faith. "I attended no services. Who had time? I was healthy. I was making money. I was climbing the ladder. I didn't need to ask God for much, and I figured, as long as I wasn't hurting anyone, God wasn't asking much of me either."

I gasped. That's exactly how I often feel regarding my relationship with God. :(

Albom's thought about the Reb or often he referring him as the Man of God. "There was, in the construction of the universe, us down here, God up there, and you in between. When God seemed too intimidating to face, we could first come to you. It was like befriending the secretary outside the boss's office."

There's this part when Albom questioning a "Greatest Question of All" to Al. He asked "How do you know God exists?". Albom said, "We live in a world where your genes can be mapped, where your cells can be copied, where your face can be altered. Heck, with surgery, you can go from being a man to being a woman. We have science to tell us of the earth's creation; rocket probes explore the universe. The sun is no longer a mystery. And the moon - which people used to worship? We brought some of it home in a pouch, right? So why, in such a place, where the once-great mysteries have been solved, does anyone still believe in God or Jesus or Allah or a Supreme Being of any kind? Haven't we outgrown it? Isn't it like Pinocchio, the puppet? When he found he could move without his strings, did he still look the same way at Geppetto?"

Reb Al simply answered, "No matter how small they take it back, to a tadpole, to an atom, there is always something the can't explain, something that created it all at the end of the search. And no matter how far they try to go to the other way – to extend life, play around with the genes, clone this, clone that, live to one hundred fifty - at some point, life is over. And the what happens? When life comes to an end?" Al leaned back. He smiled. "When you come to the end, that's where God begins."

When Al encountered a doctor whom an atheist, he said something like, "It is far more comforting to think God listened and said no, than to think that nobody's out there".

Another intriguing question that Albom ask was about happiness. Al tried to define the word "Happiness" by saying, "The number of marriages that have disintegrated when they had all the stuff in the world. The families who fought and argued all the time, when they had money and health. Having more does not keep you from wanting more. And if you always want more – to be richer, more beautiful, more well known - you are missing the bigger picture, and I can tell you from experience, happiness will never come." So have we solved the secret of happiness? "I believe so," he said. Are you going to tell me? "Yes. Ready?" Ready. "Be satisfied." That's it? "Be grateful." That's it? "For what you have. For the love you receive. And for God has given you." That's it? He looked me in the eye. Then he sighed deeply. "That's it".

You know what? I just get slapped in my face right away. Sometimes, we're as human beings often feel discomfort and unsatisfied for what we have. Al was right. When we always keep wanting more, we'll stop at one point where it's too little too late to realize how lucky we are. Then, we're missing the bigger picture.

There are many other parts from this book that I'd really want to write in my blog, such as those thoughtful sermons. But I think it would be even nicer if you read the book and experience the journey all by yourself. If I write here mostly about Albert Lewis, it doesn't mean I have no respect for Pastor Henry. I really admired him the way he deal with his life. Dare I say, I think he already know how it feels to be in heaven and hell. It's a good thing that finally he asked forgiveness to God and turn his life upside down, from a convict a.k.a drugs abuser, stealer, and drugs dealer.. and become a Pastor.

This book is refreshingly simple. It doesn't try to overwhelm you with elaborate symbolism or shallow religios stuff. Albom masterfully handles class, religious, and economical differences, as well as, many other issues that we face in our everyday lives without passing final judgement. The book is a journey, but it's up to the reader as to where the final destinations end. As for me, my journey ends in a way that can't even describe in one word. I feel relieved. Yes I feel wrong through all this time, but don't we all. Hence, the book. So please, if you have a little bit amusement here and there and keep questioning about faith and what's above you, do read this book. But then again, the final destination is in your heart.