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    Book Review: Same Kind of Different As Me

    December 9, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I have motives for always demanding requesting book reviews from Si. First and foremost, I like to know what the people I love are reading. Hence the interest in Si’s reading, since he is the person I love first and foremost. I think that learning together ties people together {a natural benefit of homeschooling, by the way}. But there is a secondary purpose, and that is the potential benefit to my readers. Si tends to read different books than I do, and so his reviews give Afterthoughts some breadth.

    I have to admit to being jaded about the homeless. During a short stint working with homeless people on 3rd Street in Santa Monica, I found that the homeless who were not mentally ill were often homeless by choice. I will always remember a man named David, who had left his wife and child to fend for themselves so that he could pursue an untethered existence on the beach in Santa Monica. The climate was such that sleeping outdoors wasn’t much of a burden, and the generous groups {like the group I was with} made sure he didn’t starve.

    I am sure that he suffered much less than the wife and child he had abandoned.

    So when Si told me what his book was about, I have to admit I was a little pessimistic. However, he is a better person that I am, and I am proud to present to you his review:

    What do a millionaire art dealer and a criminal hobo have in common? To the casual observer, nothing at all. Both were born poor; both led a godless life; and both believed that each should remain on their designated side of the tracks. But to the woman who brought together the two men with godly love and prophetic vision, theirs was a story that could only be written by God Himself.

    “But I found out everyone’s different–the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us.” These words ended a true story of how a rich Texan man and his wife befriended a modern-day slave from Louisiana. They were on opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum–and quite happy that way. Yet God used the life and death of the woman to show that the two could become one in Christ Jesus … but not without much humility, trust, kindness and a genuine love that made the rest believable.

    The book alternates between first-hand accounts of the two storytellers: the rich, white, Texan art dealer {Ron} and the homeless, black man {Denver}. I liked the stark contrasts in the writing styles, grammar and perspectives of the chapters, which ultimately converged as the men’s lives intertwined. Ron become a Christian before Denver, but more often than not, Denver became the spiritual mentor through his unpretentious observations and words from the Lord. Though not a sensationalist by any means {I’m open but cautious}, I confess the book has lent credence to such things as words from the Lord, visions, visitations, etc. Again, more open than before, but still cautious.

    In the end, though, the chief lesson I took from the novel was to view folks, including the homeless, as real people who have something to share with those of us on the other side of the tracks. God can perform truly amazing things through believers whose hearts are fixed on His divine gaze toward humanity. We can become instruments of God’s common grace to others.

    Denver concludes: “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless–just workin our way toward home.”

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