Why would I, a non-believer (as I have been described by a friend) read this book about faith? Well, for the reason that I have read all Mitch Albom’s book; and also perhaps to learn why believers have faith and I don’t.
If I had expected to get anything profound about faith from the book, I was sorely disappointed. There were some worthy quotes that raised an eye-brow but nothing so awe-inspiring like other books I have read about faith or religions.
This true story links three men each to their faith. Mitch Albom, a non religious Jew, his Rabbi Al from his childhood hometown in New York and a Christian Pastor Henry from his current hometown Detroit.
The author, Mitch, was asked by his Rabbi to do the Rabbi’s eulogy. Although surprised and daunted by the request, Mitch agreed, thereby starting a decade long relationship with Reb to get to know the man. As the author had moved to Detroit, he stumbled upon a dilapidated church and its pastor Henry, and through his friendship with Henry, somehow found a tiny coincidence between Reb Al and Reb Henry, as Henry was known to his congregation, which otherwise, are two individuals as different as night and day.
This book is on the best seller list perhaps for the same reason that Nicholas Spark’s Safe Haven is on the same list: they are popular authors who had written some good books. But like Safe Haven, I could have just given up halfway, as Bee did. If anything, this book can be described as a biography of two men of faiths. While they may have contributed to their community through their faiths, whether their stories are interesting enough to be published is another thing.
Finally, I found the eulogy of Al to be just a summary of the book, but overly dramatized. The man has lived to a ripe old age of 90. If he were Chinese, we would be celebrating by lighting festive red candles instead of the funeral white candles. Somehow, I realize that I don’t like eulogy that sounds like you are talking to the dead instead of the dead.
In the book, there are many snippets unrelated to the story which I suspect is used to fill the pages. Here is one gem I love:
“I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.”
― Robert Browning Hamilton