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About the Author
Date of Birth:May 23, 1958
Place of Birth:Passaic, New Jersey
Education:B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982
Read an Excerpt
This story spans eight years. It was made possible by the cooperation of two unique men, Albert Lewis and Henry Covington-who shared their histories in great detail-as well as their families, children, and grandchildren, to whom the author expresses his eternal gratitude. All encounters and conversations are true events, although for purposes of the narrative, the time line has, on a few occasions, been squeezed, so that, for example, a discussion held in October of one year may be presented in November of the next.
Also, while this is a book about faith, the author can make no claim to being a religion expert, nor is this a how-to guide for any particular belief. Rather, it is written in hope that all faiths can find something universal in the story.
The cover was inspired by Albert Lewis's old prayer book, held together by rubber bands.
Per the tradition of tithing, one-tenth of the author's profits on every book sold will be donated to charity, including the church, synagogue, and homeless shelters in this story.
The author wishes to thank the readers of his previous books, and welcome new readers with much appreciation.
In the Beginning...
In the beginning, there was a question.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
I don't understand, I said.
"My eulogy?" the old man asked again. "When I'm gone." His eyes blinked from behind his glasses. His neatly trimmed beard was gray, and he stood slightly stooped.
Are you dying? I asked.
"Not yet," he said, grinning.
"Because I think you would be a good choice. And I think, when the time comes, you will know what to say."
Picture the most pious man you know.Your priest. Your pastor. Your rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him tapping you on the shoulder and asking you to say good-bye to the world on his behalf.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, asking you for his send-off to heaven.
"So?" he said. "Would you be comfortable with that?"
In the beginning, there was another question.
"Will you save me, Jesus?"
This man was holding a shotgun. He hid behind trash cans in front of a Brooklyn row house. It was late at night. His wife and baby daughter were crying. He watched for cars coming down his block, certain the next set of headlights would be his killers.
"Will you save me, Jesus?" he asked, trembling. "If I promise to give myself to you, will you save me tonight?"
Picture the most pious man you know. Your priest. Your pastor. Your rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him in dirty clothes, a shotgun in his hand, begging for salvation from behind a set of trash cans.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, begging not to be sent to hell.
"Please, Lord," he whispered. "If I promise?.?.?."
This is a story about believing in something and the two very different men who taught me how. It took a long time to write. It took me to churches and synagogues, to the suburbs and the city, to the "us" versus "them" that divides faith around the world.
And finally, it took me home, to a sanctuary filled with people, to a casket made of pine, to a pulpit that was empty.
In the beginning, there was a question.
It became a last request.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
And, as is often the case with faith, I thought I was being asked a favor, when in fact I was being given one.
A few weeks earlier, Albert Lewis, then eighty-two years old, had made that strange request of me, in a hallway after a speech I had given.
"Will you do my eulogy?"
It stopped me in my tracks. I had never been asked this before. Not by anyone-let alone a religious leader. There were people mingling all around, but he kept smiling as if it were the most normal question in the world, until I blurted out something about needing time to think about it.
After a few days, I called him up.
Okay, I said, I would honor his request. I would speak at his funeral-but only if he let me get to know him as a man, so I could speak of him as such. I figured this would require a few in-person meetings.
"Agreed," he said.
I turned down his street.
Meet the Reb
To that point, all I really knew of Albert Lewis was what an audience member knows of a performer: his delivery, his stage presence, the way he held the congregation rapt with his commanding voice and flailing arms. Sure, we had once been closer. He had taught me as a child, and he'd officiated at family functions-my sister's wedding, my grandmother's funeral. But I hadn't really been around him in twenty-five years. Besides, how much do you know about your religious minister? You listen to him. You respect him. But as a man? Mine was as distant as a king. I had never eaten at his home. I had never gone out with him socially. If he had human flaws, I didn't see them. Personal habits? I knew of none.
Well, that's not true. I knew of one. I knew he liked to sing. Everyone in our congregation knew this. During sermons, any sentence could become an aria. During conversation, he might belt out the nouns or the verbs. He was like his own little Broadway show.
In his later years, if you asked how he was doing, his eyes would crinkle and he'd raise a conductor's finger and croon:
"The old gray rabbi,
ain't what he used to be,
ain't what he used to be?.?.?."
I pushed on the brakes. What was I doing? I was the wrong man for this job. I was no longer religious. I didn't live in this state. He was the one who spoke at funerals, not me. Who does a eulogy for the man who does eulogies? I wanted to spin the wheel around, make up some excuse.
Man likes to run from God.
But I was headed in the other direction.
Life of Henry
About the time that, religiously, I was becoming "a man," Henry was becoming a criminal.
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. Young, old, white, black, didn't matter. 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 1976, 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 sixth-grade education, figured he could turn the tables on his rival and collect a five-thousand-dollar reward in the process.
So instead of saying "I have no idea" or "I was nowhere near there," he made up lies about who was where, who did what. 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 couldn't have been dumber. He wound up lying his way into an arrest-along with another guy-on a manslaughter charge. The other guy went to trial, was convicted, and got sent away for twenty-five years. Henry's lawyer quickly recommended a plea deal. Seven years. Take it.
Henry was devastated. Seven years? For a crime he didn't commit?
"What should I do?" he asked his mother.
"Seven is less than twenty-five," she said.
He fought back tears. He took the deal in a courtroom. He was led away in handcuffs.
On the bus ride to prison, Henry cursed the fact that he was being punished unfairly. He didn't do the math on the times he could have been jailed and wasn't. He was angry and bitter. And he swore that life would owe him once he got out.
Table of Contents
In the Beginning… 1
The Great Tradition of Running Away 6
Meet the Reb 9
A Little History 11
Life of Henry 15
The File on God 17
The House of Peace 25
The Daily Grind of Faith 34
The End of Spring 46
The Things We Lose… 55
A Little More History 67
The Greatest Question of All 77
Why War? 86
The End of Summer 103
What Is Rich? 112
A Good Marriage 141
Your Faith, My Faith 156
The Things We Find… 164
The End of Autumn 177
Winter Solstice 189
Good and Evil 194
Life of Cass 200
Saying Sorry 209
The Moment of Truth 215
The Eulogy 235
…The Things We Leave Behind 243
What People are Saying About This
"Albom helps show the true definition of ‘Church.' It is not the building, it is the people and their faith."
--Bishop T.D. Jakes, Chief Pastor, The Potter's House
"An absolute wonder—tender, transporting, and deeply moving."
--Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent
"The nonfiction equivalent to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH is REALLY a good read. Beyond the story and the characters (which in true Albom style, jump off of the page and into your heart), the message is deep. It's a book that will stay with you for quite awhile. I highlighted parts and dog-eared pages. In a nutshell, Albom profiles two people: a rabbi who he has been asked to write a eulogy for, and an inner-city convict turned pastor. Two very different worlds, two very different religions, but one strongly shared similarity: faith. The change we see in one of the main characters in the book is something that we rarely see in this world. We only hear about the bad things in the media, but there are people that change their life everyday and this book is a testament to that change. Another book I read last week that I really think you should check out because it's a great fit for Albom fans: EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0. That book has done wonderful things for me personally.
This is a great book, his best yet. A friend read then lent me an advanced copy. Couldn't put it down. It's amazing to read his wonderful touch on this subject.
This book was another great story. I enjoyed the way it was told through two merging stories. I was especially inspired by the secondary story of the man who fell into religion and served the poor. A great read to remind you of what really matters in life and the importance of traditions.
I bought this book as soon as I saw it on the bookstands, as I always do with Mitch Albom books. The book print is easy to read, the book is a good length to read in a couple days, and as usual, I felt a sense of inspiration when I finished reading it. Frequently, Mitch's story lines take death, near death, or dying situations and reflect upon the important parts of living. I see myself in many of his characters, and I laugh, cry, and have a hard time putting the book down. Mitch Albom is one of my favorite authors and he never disappoints me. He writes with an honesty and sensitivity that grips your heart and changes your life.
I love this author - his stories are true and very touching. Similar to Tuesdays with Morrie, this is a story about his visits and learning from a man approaching the end of his life. I have also purchased it on CD for my husband, who is blind, for a Christmas gift. Can't wait for him to hear it.
Nice hit out of the park. I like to call this a bedside book, because it is a great read when you are able to escape distractions and witness, through Mitch Albom, the phenomenal relationship between the rabbi and pastor. You know how to help the reader step in and be a part of their journey. Thank you! Amy Nymark
I also own Mitch Albon's, THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. GOOD TIMING!! This, as THE SHACK, confirms my belief that faith, no matter the denomination is the key! I also recommend THE SHACK and a new discovery of mine, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by Linda Pirrung....A lot of food for thought!!
I loved this book. It was great, a story that won't be easily forgotten
I had the opportunity recently to receive an advanced copy of Mitch's Albom's forthcoming book, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH.  I've been a fan of his books since TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, and have been anticipating this - his first non-fiction book - since MORRIE'S release.  In a nutshell, Mitch profiles two people:  a rabbi who he has been asked to write a eulogy for, and an inner-city convict turned pastor.  Two very different worlds, two very different religions, but one strongly shared similarity :  FAITH.  This book REALLY made me think about my OWN spirituality and what faith means to me these days.  I was raised Serbian Eastern Orthodox.  I went to church every Sunday as a child, but because the services were in Serbian, I never really "got" anything out of church.  You know?  I went because my parents made me go.  I believed in God and Jesus and all of the things that surrounded Christianity.  But I didn't UNDERSTAND what faith and spirituality really meant.  Until I moved to Los Angeles and started attending a non-denominational church out here called Agape.  You might have seen Rev. Michael Beckwith on Oprah as a part of the DVD, THE SECRET.  He's the founder of the church.  For the first time in my life, I FELT church.  You know?  I felt what faith meant and - after 40-some years - really felt a presence of a God in my life. That's what this book does.  It really opens your mind to the bigger picture of faith.  The question Albom asks is:  "what if faith wasn't what divided us, but what brought us together?"  In a world where SOOO many wars are started in the name of religion and holier-than-thou attitudes prevail amongst so many different groups, it seems like all of our problems would be solved if only we could just say, "Hey, I have faith, you have faith...however we get there doesn't matter.  What matters is that we both BELIEVE."  Doing good for others is sometimes the greatest way to experience pure joy.  If we all gave a little more of ourselves unselfishly, I do believe that peace would prevail. This book is REALLY a good read.  Beyond the story and the characters (which in true Albom style, are perfectly painted), the message is really deep.  It's a book that will stay with you for quite awhile.  You'll want to highlight parts and dog-ear pages like I did. It's found a home next to my other perennial favorites like THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, THE ART OF HAPPINESS and THE GAME OF LIFE.  It's very, very good.
This book promotes faith. I believe that is a positive but regardless, I do not feel the first review is appropriate as it appears to be a matter of not liking the subject,"having faith." There is no review of the book itself but only a personal opinion on faith. I hope the author will redo their review based on the writing of the book and leave out their own personal issues as that is not what this forum is about.
A pastor from the inner-city in Detroit. A rabbi from an affluent suburb in Philadelphia. Sounds like the beginning of a joke. But its actually the underlying story of Mitch Albom's latest book, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH. In usual Albom style, each character is brought to life so vividly you think you know them. And by book's end each has woven their way into your heart. If you're lucky, they'll touch a little of your soul, as well. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say you MUST read this book. It's a great story about faith and life and belief and love. And how EACH of us are really a lot more the same than we might think. HAVE A LITTLE FAITH comes highly recommended.
I have read Tuesdays with Morrie, For one more day and Five people you meet in heaven and they were all FANTASTIC books, so if this one is a tenth of how good those other three were reading it will be time well spent. I think Mitch Albom is an honest writer who's words come straight from the heart, I will definitely be purchasing this book.
Mitch Albom takes knocks from critics of various types. Sports nuts think he's too fancy, fancy folks think he's too rooted in sports mythology to be relevant. But he's built a giant fan base, and gathered a lot of dedicated readers, because he's able to find the heart of a story. Now honestly, sometimes in sports the heart of a story is pretty straightforward (and can be seen in the comical repetition of "We just tried to put the ball in play and we're glad to get the win") but here Mitch finds bedrock. The key is probably that he's not only writing about his home turf - his home town in New Jersey and his adopted town of Detroit - but that he's writing autobiographically. What could be more heartfelt than personal, long, and sometimes painful experience? The result is a tour of Mitch's own spiritual journey as seen through the lens of his relationship with two very special men. There's a military concept called Divide and Conquer. The idea is to break an opposing force up into smaller forces, then defeat each in detail. Writing mostly about the present day, Mitch shows how religions can keep us apart, keep us from working together, even scare us away from what has to be done. Talking about Detroit, Mitch shows that finding ways to be together instead of broken into ever-smaller forces is what keeps loneliness, heartbreak, and the "second death" of being forgotten at bay. It's in the service of this spirit of coming together, and staying together, that this book resonates. It not only brought me to tears, it had me up early the morning after I finished it, making a list of actions I would take to make the best of Mitch's lessons.
If it had not been for the normal demands of life I would have finished it in one sitting. Instead, I had to put it down for an evening and spend the next day waiting to be able to get my hands on it to finish it. Mitch Albom is blessed with an incredible ability to capture thoughts and stories that touch the soul. Have a Little Faith is one of the books that should be required reading for life; particularly now with so much going on in the world around us. His conversations with two great, yet unknown, men of God are lessons in how to deal with the normal challenges and struggles of life. Don't read this book if you're afraid to feel the urge to shed a few tears of joys but read this book if you want to understand the answers to the questions that you ponder daily from the perspective of two men who have answered them from paths of life that, although divergent, were filled with experiences that captured the essence of what life is all about. This is a remarkable, true story of contrast, of two men of God; one an aging rabbi, and the other, an African American pastor working in a ghetto. Two men---two different faiths; two entirely different backgrounds. In the end, the message is clear: Faith ties us closely together and can give us the chance to accomplish things we never dreamed possible. These two men --- so different in their experiences, their upbringing and their religions --- shared the common threads of faith and hope. And their convictions, their love, and even their senses of humor remind Albom of what it means to be "in love with hope." His note at the end offers that his book is a "hope that all faiths can find something universal in (this) story." Albom writes, as he always does, with a loving hand, revealing great intimacies that touch the heart. Like TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all human beings experiencing life, love, hatred and death; with any luck in our lifetimes, we will be satisfied and grateful.
It does not matter what religion you call your own. This book has something for everyone. It is about life and the part that you play in this world. Each of us will see a part of ourselves in this book. From the young student of religion, the adult who has wandered away from religion, the person who attends services every week, or even the person looking for something more, there is inspiration in this book. I laughed, cried, remembered, and thought about what I could do better. The relationship between the author and both of the men of God opens the reader's eyes to current and past relationships in their own lives. I truly enjoyed the journey this book took me on.
As with his other novels, Mitch Albom, has another hit on his hands. I found this a quick and enjoyable read. The story of a rabbi and an addict who finds his way into the ministry is fascinating and uplifting. Take one simple man of God, another desperate to find God, and you have a wonderful true story of faith and love. A great Christmas or Hanukka gift!
We revisit Morrie a bit in this book as Mitch comes full circle back to real life with this non-fiction account of three men headng the same direct all on very different paths. A drug addict excon now Preacher, A life long Cleric Rabbii and Mitch himself interwind a story that ends in your heart and will stay for a long time. This book releases in late September put it on your shourt list. Quick Read. Life long Story. Dan
Loved this book....
Despite the deceiving title, this book does not preach to the reader about a need for religion. Instead it tells the story of two men that have a strong faith in their own religions. It is a memoir of the author’s experiences with these men. The first man is the rabbi from Albom’s family synagogue, the Reb. He was a fearless leader of the congregation with famously wise, but clever, sermons. He cared for the congregation and has a power to touch everyone he meets, even the reader. The second man, Henry, has a very unique story that has resulted in making him capable of helping the people who have become lost in the dark of Detroit. Albom helps these men but he realizes they help him more by sharing their wisdom and compassion with him. Albom helps us by writing about their outstanding characters and humility. It is not at all what I expected and fantastically written. I could feel the compassion of both Henry and the Reb right through the pages. It moved me to tears on countless occasions, but not because I was sad. It is hard to describe, but the faith that these two men had in other people was what moved me. It is rare to see such innocent compassion and it filled my heart with appreciation for both these men. This book describes how the men had so much faith in their Lord that they also had faith in every person they met. They had incredible kindness towards everyone and unparalleled ability to forgive and it was definitely worth every minute to read about.
Amazing! I have always loved this author and it seems he only gets better with each book he produces. I enjoyed seeing the relation between different faiths and how we all connect with love. After all love is God and God is love.
Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom is a moving, true story about how the author rediscovers faith by learning about and meeting two special people: the wise, high-spirited Albert Lewis, his childhood rabbi and later friend, and Henry Covington, the selfless miracle worker who turned to God in his time of need. The main purpose of this non-fiction novel was to give readers an insight to how influential faith is, not to convert readers to a certain religion. I liked the way the author described the characters - it helped increase the impact of the moving events. I also liked how he split the book into seasons because it helped the reader put together the events in chronological order. I disliked the authors writing style though - the author's dialogue isn't in quotes, and the events have gaps in between and don't flow successfully from one to the next. The public should read Have a Little Faith because it will make you think about your own personal faith, your charity to the community, and life in general. It will change your point of view on topics like family, poverty, and death. Another non-fiction book I recommend is Two Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
The story is short, best not reduced to precis, except to say it elaborates the fateful plea of an elderly rabbi to the author to conduct his eulogy. The time frame is anybody's guess. The circular inclusion of a young black drug offender, his trials and tribulations, spinning toward ultimate redemption and transformation, can seem disjointed. In fact, except in the ranging life of the author, they never intersect. Points are crafted with humor, tragic bleakness, and hope. This is the kind of book you immediately want to give away and trust the recipient to do the same. That's exactly what I did.
I do like Mitch Albom. I've read two other books of his, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day, and they are both so different from other books I read. Going into this one, I was expecting some serious reflection on my life. This book follows Albom in his interaction with two "Men of God". His childhood Rabbi who has asked him to do his eulogy, and Pastor Covington, a reformed drug dealer who is struggling to keep his decaying church afloat. Both men teach him profound things about life, love, and faith. This book claimed it would inspire me, and it did. It is a quick read, but it has a lot to say. Some of the writing was downright beautiful, and there are quite a few memorable quotes. My favorite was this: "The story of my recent life. I like that phrase. It makes more sense than the story of my life, because we get so many lives between birth and death. A life to be a child. A life to come of age. A life to wander, to settle, to fall in love, to parent, to test our promise, to realize our mortality- and in some lucky cases, to do something after that realization." This book was just filled with little moments that shine, and the characters are so exuberant, I wish I could meet them. If you ever feel the need to be spiritual, to feel better about yourself, this book will give you the opportunity.
Mitch Albom has a way of endearing persons to us. In "Have a Little Faith" he gives us pause to rekindle our faith. Thank You Mitch!
Although a return to non-fiction book, his first since Tuesdays With Morrie, Albom continues the theme of evaluating priorities while facing mortality. After a speech, Albom's lifelong rabi ("Reb") asks a favor, "Will you do my euology?" Unable to refuse "Reb" Albom agrees and feels the only way to do this task justice is to get to know the rabi as a man rather than the enigma from his youth. With the intent of assigning a few weeks or months to the interviews Albom finds himeself making the trek from Detroit to New Jersey for almost two years as the relationship grows. At the same time, Albom's path crosses that of an ex-con turned evangelical preacher in Detroit who is busy providing food and shelter to as many hard-on-their luck residents as he can out of a deteriorating building. As Albom tries to discern the man's heart before offering assistance, he makes repeated visits to the congregation. As a result Albom learns much about the heart of the preacher through the stories of the congregation. The book is classic Albom: simple writing, consistent themes, pause for thougtht, the influence one person can exert. One bonus in this book is that you learn a little about Albom's background, particularly his religious upbringing. Because my life is so hectic, I enjoy reading a quick book like this to put things in perspective. Not my favorite Albom book but definitely worth the read.