Cultural Diversity: A Review

[rating: 8/10]

Same Kind of Different as ME

A few months back, I was feeling enthusiastic and eager to start a journal of weekly goals. Based upon a treatment groups that I was running with offenders, I set specific areas that these goals were to be in. One of the areas was “cultural”, which I basically interpreted as learning more about cultures that I am and am not part of, so basically becoming more of a “world citizen”. With this goal in mind, I stepped into a local bookstore, the only “Christian” bookstore that I frequented (as it was the only such place that I could set foot in without wanting to start flipping tables and accusing vendors of selling God). At this store, I asked Rob, the owner/clerk/awesome-dude-extraordinaire, if he had the suggestion of a good book about cultural diversity, racial reconciliation, or… well… anything that may broaden my cultural scope. He picked up and handed me a copy of Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s Same Kind of Different as Me, telling me that he hadn’t had the chance to read it yet, but had heard only great things about the book.

A little bit of time passed and I kept opting to read Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels rather than dive into this gem. Though, a few weeks ago, I hit a wall… I finished the most recent book in that series and realized I needed to venture in a different direction with my reading. This book stared me in the face when I opened my messenger bag and saw it lying at the bottom. It was time to read something that I may actually learn something from (though, I’d argue that I learned a good deal about blood diseases, wildlife, and anatomy by reading the series of books on vamps, weres, and, often, the sexual side of their relationships).

This book turned out to be a life changing type of book. Written in two different perspectives, we are treated to the voice of Denver, a poor Southern sharecropping black boy who later becomes a homeless ex-con, and the voice of Ron, a country boy turned well educated wealthy white man, telling us their story of becoming family with the help of Ron’s wife, Deborah, or Miss Debbie to Denver. The story is compelling, intense, witty, and, most notably, hopeful.

I felt a wide range of emotions when reading this book, but I was left with a feeling of intense hope. As the saying goes, hope springs eternal, and this is clearly evident through the story of Denver, Ron, and Deborah. That hope shines through a story that also shines a light on several different cultures, which brings me back to my original mission of reading this book.

Did I expand my cultural understanding through reading this book? Most certainly. To begin with, I have been aware of the plight of the inner city homeless man for some years now, having worked and volunteered in Philadelphia throughout college and my early work life. I have met, spoke with, and tried to wrap my mind around what it means to be poor, without a home, and able to put your entire life into a backpack. What I didn’t know anything about, was how this life was actually a much better life than some of the poverty people faced in rural areas.

Denver grew up the son of a sharecropper. This sharecropping, however, wasn’t like the sharecropping I learned about in middle school social studies classes. This sharecropping was modern-day slavery. The man ran the show and the workers never truly made a dime. Denver saw his “man” as a pretty good man, but from the outsider’s point of view, at best he could have been described as a “benevolent dictator”. Denver says late in the book after showing Ron (aka Mr. Ron) where he grew up, “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.”

Thought reading this book, I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole different type and level of poverty, while also continuing to build on my understanding of the plight of the inner city homeless. My personal hope is that this book inspires me to take this story of supernatural love and grace as motivation to both praise God for what I have and live in a way that glorifies Him. From here, time will only tell if reading this book has made me just a little bit wiser and more willing to give of myself… but I hope that I suspect right when I think that it has.

~ by thepaintedman on December 9, 2009.

2 Responses to “Cultural Diversity: A Review”

  1. Thank you for posting a review of “Same Kind of Different as Me” on your blog! I work with Thomas Nelson, and we would love to follow your blog and hear what readers think of this exciting book. I also want to let you know that Ron and Denver have just released a new book “What Difference Do It Make?” which updates readers on their activity since the first book came out. Please contact me with your mailing address if you are interested in receiving a complimentary copy of the new book for review on your site at your convenience.

    Thanks!

  2. […] month, I reviewed Same Kind of Different as Me and received a nice comment and email about the review from someone who works at the publishing […]

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