Have a Little Faith
By Mitch Albom
Thorndike Large Print (2009), 467 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 15, 2010
It is true that this book's title is have a little faith, with no capital letters, and seems to focus on faith. However, it would be more truthful to say that its theme is "coping," a word that I did not find in the book, and "love" and "hope," two words found in the volume's last sentence. The last word, and probably the books principal theme, is "hope."
One might wonder why Albom, the best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie and other best-sellers, chose to display the title in non-caps. One might also ask why he speaks of "a little faith"; don't people think that they need more than a little faith? Shouldn't they have complete faith?
However, since, as we stated, the book is really not a dissertation on faith, or religion, or on what to believe, but on "coping" despite the difficulties that life throws at people, "love" for everyone no matter his or her faith, and "hope" that all will work out at the end, and since "faith" plays a small part, the questions disappear.
The story is really not about a small town rabbi and protestant minister, the two protagonists in the tale; it is really about Mitch Albom's reaction to these two men, what he felt about the difficulties both men endured and how he came to respect both of them. Albom is Jewish, but he is not "religious" or "observant." He is married to a Christian Arab. So the book is not about religion.
Readers will find themselves relating to the two clergymen and agreeing with Albom who presents their stories in a down to earth manner, showing how they behave with humor and sometimes irreverence.
The closest that one comes to the idea of "faith" is that the two clergymen have a strong belief that God exists, and this belief helps sustain them despite their difficulties. However, both of them have no real answers to questions such as why there is evil in the world and how can a person prove that God exists. Nor do they really expect God to become involved in their lives and aid them.
The rabbi defines "faith" as "doing. You are how you act, not how you believe." He also says that "faith" is persistence. This is the life he led - helping others and never stopping to do so - and this is the life that the protestant minister led. And this is the life that readers will respect.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.