Thursday, August 30, 2012

same kind of different

Yay-- it's finally time for my first Blogger Book Club review!! In honor of the occasion, I took an artistic and carefully staged (phone) picture:
See how I included all of the Blogger Book Club essentials? The book...tissues (trust me, necessary)...a computer on which to write the blog...oh, ya know, the flowers-for-no-reason Matt gave me yesterday-- potentially unrelated to Book Club, but necessary to brag about.

 As you can see, this month we read Same Kind of Different As Me. In a word, it was awesome. In another word, it was heartbreaking. Also, inspirational. But also-- sad.

In short, the book tells the story of the lives and relationship between two men: Ron Hall, a wealthy Texan art dealer enjoying a lifetime of privilege and wealth, and Denver Moore, a homeless man who left the legal slavery of sharecropping in Louisiana for the streets of Ft. Worth. The men alternate narrating chapters, each telling the stories of their childhoods as their lives slowly converge and intermingle. 

This book really opened my eyes to the legal slavery that was taking place in America after the Civil War supposedly ended it. Denver's stories about his early life (as well as his stories about his parents' and relatives' lives) totally shocked and horrified me...but what was even more surprising was his lack of hatred or bitterness towards The Man, the country, or...well, anyone. I wasn't as surprised by the tales of being 'street homeless' in Ft. Worth-- I guess that that is an injustice that I'm more "used to," as awful as that sounds. It blew my mind, late in the story, when Denver took Ron down to the Louisiana parish where he spent the first half of his life to show him what he'd left and introduce him to some of his friends still living there. By my calculations, this trip probably took place in the late 1990s or early 2000s. After being shown around, Ron writes "We left just before dark, and as we drove away the images of poverty and squalor burned themselves into my brain like hated tattoos. I could hardly believe places like that still existed in America. I thanked Denver for taking me there, for taking my blinders off. 'Mr. Ron, they're livin better than I ever did when I was livin here. Now you know it was the truth when I told you that bein homeless in Fort Worth was a step up in life for me.'" 

This book definitely caused me to examine my own thoughts about homelessness and helping the poor. I appreciated the honesty and candor with which Ron told his story-- he was perfectly forthright in stating that the only reason he started going to serve at the Union Mission was because his wife bugged him to. Regarding befriending Denver, Ron said "I hate to admit this now, but I had pictured myself more as a sort of indulgent benefactor: I would give him a little bit of my valuable time, which, had I not been so benevolent, I could have used to make a few more thousand dollars. And from time to time, I imagined, if Denver stayed cleaned up and sober, I'd take him on field trips from hobo-land to restaurants and malls, a kind of peep show where he could glimpse the fruit of responsible living and perhaps change his ways accordingly." Wow. Brutal? Yeah. But probably a pretty accurate reflection about the way many of us approach ministry to the poor.

Honestly, this book was packed with God-given insight, wisdom, and encouragement-- much of it from Denver, who remains (as far as I know) unable to read and write to this day. Something he said in Chapter 44 really spoke to me, so I'll close with this:

"There's something I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God's opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain't nothin you can do, that's when God takes over."

Amen, and amen.



  1. Do you own this book? If so, could I borrow it sometime?

  2. Oh gosh, I read this book and BAWLED.

  3. I've heard goooood things about this book. Can't wait to pick it up!

  4. I just posted my review on Camila's blog. Thanks to alerting me to this book club. And this book.

  5. Looove that book. And I too, was shocked by the new kind of slavery going on. Crazy.

  6. I LOVE the staged photo! So glad you enjoyed the book! I did too! Stay tuned for Sept book!

  7. Putting it on the TO READ list. :)

  8. i'm behind at blog-reading (and even more behind at blogging!), but i saw this post and wanted to tell you i read this book, too. it is SO GOOD! i agree about it opening my eyes. great read.


I love comments almost as much as I love Mexican food. Seriously.