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Best-selling author Mitch Albom speaks before a crowd in the Kelly Alumni Center about spirituality and his newest book “Have a. Little Faith.”. At the same time, Have a Little Faith is the deeply personal story of Albom's journey of faith, as he examines why he strayed from his Jewish roots and, through. Read Have a Little Faith PDF - A True Story by Mitch Albom Hachette Books | Now including a new chapter for the paperback edition.

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, Mitch observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi, embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat. As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Mitch and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers and histories are different, Albom begins to realize a striking unity between the two worlds — and indeed, between beliefs everywhere. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself. It was chosen by Oprah. I had to ask myself this question nine years ago. I was asked to give a eulogy. Not just any man. A clergyman. My clergyman. The man who sends people off to heaven was asking me for his sendoff to heaven — me, a fallen, barely participating member, should stand in front of our entire congregation and sum up their spiritual leader of the last 60 years. Why me? What was the trick behind this odd request?

Someone balled up the wet newspaper and took it away. Feel good. But the pastor smiled and asked the Lord to protect Henry and that was mostly what he wanted, a prayer of protection. It made him feel safe when he returned to his neighborhood. Henry ingested the Holy Ghost that night. But soon he ingested other things, too. He started smoking cigarettes. He tried alcohol. He got tossed out of the sixth grade for fighting with a girl, and soon he added marijuana to his list.

One time, as a teenager, he heard his mother talking to relatives about how, of all her children, Henry was the one, he had the heart and the temperament. And a sense of humor. Once we sat, I cleared my throat. My question was simple. Something one would certainly need to know to construct a proper eulogy. Why did you get into this business?

A dream? The Bible. He grinned. God up there. Us down here. Them in between.


This was easy to believe with the Reb, at least when I was younger. In addition to his imposing presence and his brilliant reputation, there were his sermons. Delivered with passion, humor, roaring indignation or stirring whispers, the sermon, for Albert Lewis, was like the fast- ball for a star pitcher, like the aria for Pavarotti.

It was the reason people came; we knew it—and deep down, I think he knew it. Not ours. I would later learn that, while he was trained in a formal, academic style—start at point A, move to point B, provide analysis and supporting references—after two or three tries in front of people, he gave up.

They were lost. He saw it on their faces. So he began with the first chapter of Genesis, broke it down to the simplest of ideas and related them to everyday life. He asked questions. He took questions. And a new style was born. Over the years, those sermons morphed into gripping performances.

Anything was fair game. There was a sermon where he pulled up a stool and read Dr. You could glance around the room and see how no one looked away; even when he was scolding them, they were riveted. I remembered Moses and the burning bush; Elijah and the still, small voice; Balaam and the donkey; Job and the whirlwind.

To preach holy words, I assumed, one must have had some revelation. So what drew you in? I left. There were many things you could have said about Albert Lewis. But not having what it took to inspire and lead a congregation? Maybe he was too gentle for the seminary leaders. Or too shy. Whatever the reason, the failure crushed him. He took a summer job as a camp counselor in Port Jervis, New York.

One of the campers was particularly difficult. If the other kids collected in one place, this kid went someplace else. If asked to sit, he would defiantly stand. Al understood adolescent angst. So Phineas found a kindred soul in his counselor. And by the end of camp, the kid had changed. It turned out the man was Max Kadushin, a great Jewish scholar and a major force in the Conservative movement. You sent back a different kid. You sent me a young man.

He excelled. He was ordained. Not long after that, he took a bus to New Jersey to interview for his first and only pulpit position, the one he still held more than fifty years later. No angel? I asked. No burning bush? I scribbled a note. The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his.

As I left his office, I tucked away the yellow pad. From our meetings I now knew he believed in God, he spoke to God, he became a Man of God sort of by accident, and he was good with kids. It was a start.

We walked to the lobby. I looked around at the big building I usually saw once a year. I shrugged.

Is it okay, I asked, to tell these stories, when I…you know…do the eulogy? He stroked his chin. Henry wore a suit to the funeral home, because Willie Covington insisted all his sons have suits, even if there was no money for anything else.

The family approached the open coffin. They stared at the body. Willie had been extremely dark-skinned, but the parlor had made him up to be an auburn shade. His mother wept. Henry watched quietly. He only wanted his father back. Before God, Jesus, or any higher power, Henry had worshipped his dad, a former mattress maker from North Carolina who stood six foot five and had a chest full of gunshot scars, the details of which were never explained to his children.

Give your daddy a kiss. Willie hacked and coughed. He developed emphysema and tuberculosis of the brain. In the last year of his life, he was virtually bedridden. Henry cooked his meals and carried them to his room, even as his father coughed up blood and barely ate a thing.

At the funeral, Henry heard a Baptist preacher say something about the soul and Jesus, but not much got through. He kept thinking his father would come back, just show up at the door one day, singing his favorite songs. Months passed. Unknown MAY Ritual S pring was nearly over, summer on its way, and the late morning sun burned hot through the kitchen window.

It was our third visit. Before we began, the Reb poured me a glass of water.

His body was tall and strong, his hair black and combed back—the way I remembered him from childhood. Nice photo, I said. I was traveling with a group of scholars.

A Christian man and I climbed up. He took that picture. We climbed all night and arrived at sunrise. Such a trip would be impossible now. His narrow shoulders were hunched over, and the skin at his wrists was wrinkled and loose. As he walked on to his office, I noticed a small detail in the photo.

Along with his white shirt and a prayer shawl, the Reb was wearing the traditional tefillin, small boxes containing Biblical verses, which observant Jews strap around their heads and their arms while reciting morning prayers. He said he climbed all night. Which meant he had taken them up with him. Morning prayers.

Have a Little Faith: A True Story

Evening prayers. Eating certain foods. Denying himself others. On Sabbath, he walked to synagogue, rain or shine, not operating a car, as per Jewish law. On holidays and festivals, he took part in traditional practices, hosting a Seder meal on Passover, or casting bread into a stream on Rosh Hashanah, symbolic of casting away your sins. Like Catholicism, with its vespers, sacraments, and communions—or Islam, with its fivetimes-daily salah, clean clothes, and prayer mats—Judaism had enough rituals to keep you busy all day, all week, and all year.

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. But why? Deep inside, you know your convictions. You are how you act, not just how you believe. It made for a more predictable life, perhaps even a dull one by American standards. He never took up fads. But there was something calming about his pious life, the way he puttered from one custom to the next; the way certain hours held certain acts; the way every autumn he built a sukkah hut with its roof open to the stars; the way every week he embraced the Sabbath, breaking the world down to six days and one day, six days and one.

My parents, too.

If I take the pattern and throw it out, what does that say about their lives? Or mine? I said. Oh, I had an exciting life. Traveled a lot. Met interesting people. But my daily routines—work out, scan the news, check e-mail—were self-serving, not roped to tradition.

John Hiatt - Have a Little Faith in Me - [PDF Document]

To what was I connected? A fa- vorite TV show? The morning paper? My work demanded flexibility. Ritual was the opposite. Besides, I saw religious customs as sweet but outdated, like typing with carbon paper.

To be honest, the closest thing I had to a religious routine was visiting the Reb. I had now seen him at work and at home, in laughter and in repose. I had seen him in Bermuda shorts. I had also seen him more this one spring than I normally would in three years. I was one of those disappointing congregants. Why had he chosen me to be part of his death, when I had probably let him down in life?

We reached the door. One more question, I said. He stopped. They ignore ritual, they ignore faith—they even ignore you. He studied me sympathetically. Maybe he realized what I was really asking: Why me?

And he knocks on a door. I warned you! If they spit in your face, you say it must be raining. But you still come back tomorrow. And for the first time in my life, I did the opposite of running away.

I gave him a hug. It was a fast one. But I felt the sharp bones in his back and his whiskered cheek against mine.

And in that brief embrace, it was as if a larger-than-life Man of God was shrinking down to human size. I think, looking back, that was the moment the eulogy request turned into something else. This is the big day. I lean over the holy scrolls, holding a silver pointer; its tip is the shape of a hand. I follow the ancient text, chanting the words. My teenage voice squeaks. In the front row sit my parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Behind them, more family, friends, the kids from school. Just look down, I tell myself. I go on for a while.

Have a Little Faith

I do pretty well. When I am finished, the group of men around me shake my wet hand. He looks down through his glasses. He motions for me to sit. The chair seems huge. I spot his prayer book, which has clippings stuffed in the pages. I feel like I am inside his private lair.

I am finished with the obligatory part of my Bar Mitzvah, but nothing is as unsettling as what is about to come: the conversation with the rabbi. You cannot study for this. It is free-form. Worst of all, you have to stand right next to him. No running from God. When the prayer finishes, I rise. I barely reach above the lectern, and some congregants have to shift to see me. I hear muffled laughter from the crowd.

Do you remember? More laughter. And do you remember what you said? Go ahead. I say. Do you know why? Nobody is perfect. Not even Mom and Dad. He recites a blessing.

The Lord shines on me. Does that mean I get to do more stuff, or less? 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.

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 , 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 sixthgrade education, figured he could turn the tables on his rival and collect a five-thousand-dollar reward in the process. 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 wound up lying his way into an arrest—along with another guy—on a manslaughter charge. One example is this story, delivered in [4] A soldier's little girl, whose father was being moved to a distant post, was sitting at the airport among her family's meager belongings. The girl was sleepy. She leaned against the packs and duffel bags. A lady came by, stopped, and patted her on the head.

Lewis The book, both about individuals with faith and faith itself, [5] concludes with the eulogy that Albom delivered at Lewis's funeral, on February 12, I was afraid. I felt a congregant could never eulogize his leader. But I realize now that thousands of congregants will eulogize you today, in their car rides home, over the dinner table. A eulogy is no more than a summation of memories, and we will never forget you, because we cannot forget you, because we will miss you every day.

To imagine a world without you in it is to imagine a world with a little less God in it, and yet, because God is not a diminishing resource, I cannot believe that. See our Privacy Policy and User Agreement for details. Published on Jun 28, Mitch Albom Pages: Product Group: SlideShare Explore Search You.

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