Recap: The lives of two clergyman are juxtaposed against each other in this true story, written by bestselling author Mitch Albom. Have A Little Faith weaves together the stories of Rabbi Albert Lewis and Pastor Henry Covington.
Rabbi Lewis — or the Reb — is Albom’s childhood Rabbi, a Man of God, who asks Albom to write his eulogy. As one would assume, Albom immediately thinks that the Reb is close to dying. But he’s not. In fact, he lives for another 8 years. It’s during this time that Albom spends much of his free time flying from his Detroit home to his hometown in New Jersey to meet with the elderly Rabbi and learn about his life both in and outside the Temple.
Albom was never particularly close to the Reb. In fact, Albom is not very religious at all. He married out of faith. He only attends synagogue on the high holidays, and yet here he is, researching a man he barely knows so he can write his eulogy. It’s not your average task, but it’s one that Albom takes on and begins to enjoy, as he gets to know this wonderful, spiritual man and restore some of his own faith as well.
It’s during this time that Albom also meets Pastor Henry Covington, a Pastor at an old Church that’s falling apart at the seams in downtown Detroit. When Albom decides he wants to donate money to a charity, he comes across the disheveled Church and offers to help out with a gaping hole in its ceiling. Henry suggests that Albom learn more about him before he gives him money. In doing so, Albom comes to find that Henry is a former criminal, drug dealer, and alcoholic who went through a religious rebirth until he found himself literally preaching to a choir. Of course, Henry’s background makes Albom skeptical. But in meeting with Henry and the Reb, he learns that sometimes you just have to have a little faith.
Analysis: Like any Mitch Albom book, fiction or nonfiction, Have A Little Faith focuses on life, death, and the afterlife. It’s also a tearjerker. So if you’ve ever read a Mitch Albom book, consider yourself prepared on some level.
That being said, Faith‘s focus on religion is something that stood out to me, something that separated it from his other books. And though I only consider myself to be slightly more religious/spiritual that Albom, it was still consuming and enjoyable. As a Jew, I could relate to Albom’s tales of spending time in a synagogue. But all that aside, Albom does an excellent job of weaving together the two religions, the two clergymen, and two different belief systems, pointing out that ultimately, all religions preach the same core values.
As always, Albom’s writing is succinct — probably from his journalistic background — yet moving. Albom doesn’t write much, but what he does is powerful.
MVP: The Reb and Henry. It’s impossible to choose a favorite among these two prolific men, who have been through so much and overcame their pasts in order to help others in the future.