HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story
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About the Book
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 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, Albom 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 recognize a striking unity between the two worlds --- and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.
In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the rabbi’s last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself.
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.
Ten percent of the profits from this book will go to charity, including The Hole In The Roof Foundation, which helps refurbish places of worship that aid the homeless. To contribute, visit Aholeintheroof.com.
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1. HAVE A LITTLE FAITH asks, “What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?” How would you begin to answer this question? Which of the world’s ills could be healed, which wrongs could be made right, if religion were more of a unifying force?
2. How would you react if someone you knew asked you to write their eulogy? How would you go about doing so?
3. In describing the journeys of faith taken by the Reb and Pastor Henry, Mitch Albom discusses his complicated relationship to his Jewish beliefs. Talking about one’s religious faith is a personal endeavor; do you find it easy or difficult to talk to others about religion, specifically your relationship to it? Are you comfortable discussing religion with someone with different beliefs?
4. In continuation of the above question, do you think anyone can ever “win” a religious argument? What do you think lies at the core of disagreements about religion?
5. How can many faiths coexist? If different faiths have different beliefs, how can they all be correct? Does one faith have the right or obligation to convert members of the others? When Mitch asks this of the Reb, he explains that just as there are a variety of trees, multiple faiths all come from the same God (page 160). What do you think about the Reb’s explanation? Can dialogue and debate about different beliefs, as the Reb argues, really enrich one’s own faith?
6. Compare and contrast the Reb and Pastor Henry. How are their stories similar, and different? Did you identify with one man more than the other?
7. Were you uncomfortable with Henry’s troubled past, especially when he admits his violation of the Ten Commandments? What did you think of Mitch’s initial hesitancy toward him? Do you think that someone who turns so far away from God, even though truly repentant, can really be a “Man of God”?
8. Think about some famous eulogies delivered in recent memory: Charles Spencer’s eulogy of his sister, Princess Diana; Oprah Winfrey’s of Rosa Parks; Cher’s emotional tribute to her former husband Sonny Bono; President Obama’s stirring remarks about Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Re-read Albom’s eulogy of the Reb at the end of the book. What does it have in common with other eulogies you’ve heard or read? What makes a eulogy truly memorable --- does it rely solely upon the personality of the person who died?
9. Have you ever experienced a crisis of faith? How did you approach it? Was it resolved? Was there a lesson you took away from it?
10. In the chapter called “A Little History” (page 11) Albom describes his early religious education, and his resistance to it. Did you receive any religious instruction as a child? If so, did you enjoy it, or did you experience it the same way Mitch did, going to lessons feeling like a “dragged prisoner”?
11. Albom talks about his ambivalence toward his New Jersey childhood home, characterizing it as being “too small for what I wanted to achieve in life, like being stuck wearing your grade school clothes” (page 25). What do you think of your hometown now? Why are hometowns so pivotal to how people are shaped?
12. Consider what the Reb says to Albom in the chapter “May: Ritual” (page 42): “‘Mitch,’ he said, ‘faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.’ ” Do you agree with the Reb’s sentiment?
13. Re-read the anecdote that Albom relays on page 76, about his interpretation of the story of the parting of the Red Sea. What does this story mean to you?
14. “It is far more comforting to think God listened and said no, than to think nobody’s out there” (page 82). What do you think of this statement by the Reb? Do you agree?
15. Both the Reb and Pastor Henry describe what they believe to be the keys to happiness. What do you think the secrets to happiness are? Where might faith fall on such a list?
16. In “September: What Is Rich?” (page 112) Albom explores the Reb’s childhood as an impoverished son of immigrants living in New York City. After finishing this chapter, how would you answer the question asked in its title? What does “rich” mean to you?
17. At the end of the chapter called “Church” (page 140) Albom describes the Hindu celebration of Kumbh Mela, a gathering that’s been called “the world’s largest single act of faith.” In your own life, have you ever been a part of something big while doing something small? How did it make you feel?
18. On page 176, Albom presents a quote from the Robert Browning Hamilton poem “Sadness.” What does this verse mean to you? How does it relate to the themes Albom explores in the book?
19. After reading HAVE A LITTLE FAITH, were you inspired to learn more about religions other than your own? What are some commonalities among different religions?
20. Have you read any of Mitch Albom’s other works, such as TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, or his novels THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN or FOR ONE MORE DAY? What does HAVE A LITTLE FAITH have in common with Albom’s other books?
21. If you had to write your own eulogy, what would you say about yourself? How would you most like to be remembered?
© Copyright 2017 by Mitch Albom. Reprinted with permission by Hyperion. All rights reserved.
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