Thursday, March 27, 2014

Same kind of different as me: book review

I’ve just finished an amazing book about the most unlikely friendship which was brought together by one amazing woman. “Same kind of different as me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is about two men’s journey to God and a friendship that defies the odds. The story of how one person can make a difference.

Denver Moore is a black man who grew up in Red River Parish, Louisiana. He was tossed between family members after tragedy after tragedy destroys the home he is trying to make. He tries to make a living sharecropping for the Man as he calls him and learns quickly that it’s not a living, its virtual slavery. He leaves and lives on the road traveling the Southwest until he settles at a homeless shelter in Texas. Ron Hall is a white man who grew up in the “lower-middle class” in Texas. He pulls himself up out of poverty and first becomes a successful businessman and then a successful art dealer. He learns to hate the homeless after two men robbed his art gallery.
These two men are brought together by Ron’s wife, Deborah or “Miss Debbie” as Denver calls her. She is a God-fearing woman who feels the call of God to serve at the local homeless shelter. Ron goes with her hoping that once she volunteers and sees how the homeless act, she’ll never go again. Deborah sees Denver at the shelter and claims to have seen him in a dream and encourages her husband to develop a friendship with him. Ron does, reluctantly, not realizing that Denver will help him through the toughest time of his life. Deborah develops a fast growing cancer and when the doctors find it, it has spread so quickly that she has little time to live. Deborah passes away on November 3, 2000 after a two and half year battle. Ron rages against God and it's Denver who helps him realize that God had a plan for Deborah’s life and her death.

I loved this story. It is told from the prospective of both Denver and Ron with Denver opening and closing the book. Both men come from horrible conditions and both men learn a valuable lessons from each other. First, don’t make snap judgments. Snap judgments are usually based on our prejudices. Ron, angry that Denver is sleeping during the day, learns that Denver stays up all night to pray for Deborah since everyone is praying for her at night. Ron realized that the “roots of my own prejudice, of my arrogant snap judgments of the poor” ran very deep. Second, Ron realizes that Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. He says “I believe that, which is why I know that when my faith was shattered and I raged against Him, He still accepted me.” Third, Denver learns that some people say they want to help and mean it. Ron helps him get his driver’s license by helping clear his records. As a sign of trust, Ron hands him the keys to his truck, loaded with his daughter’s belongings, and asks Denver to drive to Colorado for him. These two men become family, tied together by the love and commitment of one woman.

The book also provides a Reader’s Guide with Discussion Questions about Prejudice, Homelessness, Sickness and Suffering. I haven’t done the questions myself but I will and they may become a future blog post. J The back of the book includes an interview with the two men. It’s an interesting read that gives more perspective on the men’s story. I highly recommend anyone to read it. It’s a fast read but it will help you gain a better perspective on people and that one person can make a difference.