Albom: Faith should unite people, not divide them

Posted November 6, 2009 6:01 p.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2009 6:20 p.m. EST

— Best-selling author Mitch Albom said researching his latest book, "Have a Little Faith," literally transformed his life.

"I had the cynicism slapped out of me, to put it bluntly," said Albom, a Detroit sportswriter who gained his greatest fame with his book "Tuesdays With Morrie."

"You can't be cynical when you watch a pastor sitting at midnight on a balcony overlooking a hundred homeless men who are asleep on the floor of his church, and he's there because it's his church and he wants to keep them protected," he said.

The new book centers on two men: Henry Covington, a Detroit pastor who preaches to the poor and homeless, and Albom's lifelong rabbi, Albert Lewis, who wanted Albom to give the eulogy at his funeral.

"It totally stunned me because I wasn't very religious at the time. Who was I to do a eulogy for the guy who does eulogies?" Albom said in the courtyard of The Healing Place in Raleigh, which offers a fresh start for men addicted to alcohol and drugs.

Lewis lived another eight years, and Albom got to know him and Covington, whom Lewis recommended that Albom meet, very well during that time. Although the two men of faith were very different, they were also very similar, Albom said.

"Over there in Detroit, (a minister) and this rabbi in New Jersey are united by this very powerful thing called faith," he said.

That realization led to an epiphany for Albom that faith should unite people and not separate them. It also began to reshape how he looks at sports and how some people, including him, tend to make sports a religion.

"Religion should be your religion. Faith should be your faith. Sports should be your sports," he said. "There is a little too much invested into whether our team wins or loses and whether it's going to ruin our day."

The book has an inevitable conclusion in which Albom delivers Lewis' eulogy, but he said that his personal journey becomes even more important because of that.

"It was the beginning of my understanding that men of God and people of faith are no different," he said. "That was the beauty of it, that they are no different."