Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Real-Life Writing...Have a Little Faith

One of my dreams is coming true; my husband and I are reading a book together, he in my language and I in his. We take turns reading one chapter out loud, I in French and he in English.

(A little background history: I married a Frenchman nearly three years ago and moved to his native country, speaking hardly a word of his native tongue. I went to the University of Bordeaux for two semesters and now am fairly fluent in everyday conversations and can muddle my way through a book or writing an email. My husband speaks English fluently, but has not had a lot of opportunity to exercise his written English.)

We have a French translation of an American book, “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom. While he also has written several short novels, I personally think his biographical non-fictions are his best work. You may know his bestseller, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a beautiful true story from his professor. Here is the first part of an interview with Morrie (find the rest on youtube).

"Have a Little Faith" is another excellant example of writing the stories given to you in your real life. Mitch Albom's childhood rabbi, the Reb as he was called, was aging and asked if he would write his euolgy. They started meeting for the next eight years until the Reb's funeral, when Mitch fulfilled his request.

While Morrie's story is about living and dying, the Reb's story is combined with that of a inner-city Baptist preacher talking about losing faith and finding it again, belief, tolerance, forgiveness. One man had lived a holy life, full of service to his God and others; the other had a dark past, had found redemption and had dedicated his life to service. In his words, "You can't work your way into heaven. Anytime you try to justify yourself with works, you disqualify yourself with works. What I do here, every day, for the rest of my life, is only my way of saying, 'Lord, regardless of what eternity holds for me, let me give something back to you. I know it don't even no scorecard. But let me make something of my life before I go...' " (pg.220-221)

Mitch is not a "religious" writer - I'm not sure this book is found in Christian bookstores. It goes between the clean suburbs and the bums on the street, taking in questions about all faiths. The Rabbi spoke of his Hindu home care worker; he had asked her about her faith and apologizing for not knowing more about it. In response to Mitch's surprise, the Reb said "You should be convinced of the authenticity of what you have, but you must be humble enough to say that we don't know everything. And since we don't know everything, we must accept that another person may believe something else." (pg.161)

While dealing with heavy subjects and questions, Mitch has created a book that remains very enjoyable and easy to read. The chapters are short, rarely more than two or three pages, on one subject before swinging back to the other man or a different thought. It is filled with fast-moving dialogue, precise purposeful descriptions and engaging real-life characters. 

I hope you read this and that it encourages to write the inspiring stories in your life!
Quotes: Albom, Mitch. Have a Little Faith. New York: Hyperion Books, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for reading a book in French! That's a huge accomplishment!