Same Kind of Different As Me is a true story of a very unlikely friendship between a man who has grown up in abject poverty, too familiar with injustice and tragedy, and an international art dealer who, in his own words, bootstrapped his way into the rarified atmosphere that oxygenated the lifestyles of the Forbes 400. What do these two men have in common? Not much. What could forge such an improbable friendship? Well, that would be the faith of a godly woman who sees past the meanness of the streets and the stigma of homelessness and refuses to allow herself or her family to become entrapped in the shallow tides of wealth and prestige.
Same Kind of Different As Me, written by Ron Hall & Denver Moore, (Thomas Nelson 2006) is told from their alternating points of view and has such an easy, informal style that it’s like you’re sitting across from them at a local diner, drinking coffee and shooting the breeze. But, that said, it’s not a story of tall tales to make them each look good; it’s a candid account that doesn’t skim over the dark details most people would have a hard time admitting. “I ain’t gonna sugarcoat it,” Denver says, “the streets’ll turn a man nasty.” And Ron confesses (along with a great deal of other things) that his do-gooder veneer was “stripped to reveal a squeamish man whose charity, at the time, had definite limits.” It’s a story of mistakes, weakness and prejudice and two men eventually asking—as many of us probably have—“How did it come to this? How did I get here and let my life become this?”
If they’d stopped there, it wouldn’t be the inspiring story that it is. So, fortunately, they did not. A shared tragedy tests their faith, but through it, the incredible power of God is revealed and how it can dispel preconceptions and stereotypes that block sight of the living, breathing person standing in front of you. As Ron later writes, “…I cannot see into a person’s heart to know his spiritual condition. All I can do is tell my own jagged tale of my own spiritual journey and declare that my own life has been the better for having followed Christ.”
I have no experience with either of the lifestyles depicted in Same Kind of Different As Me. I’m no wealthy jetsetter. Nor have I ever experienced being so alone and downtrodden that the only recourse is a homeless shelter. I’ve been inside one; that’s all I can say. Once, a friend suggested we do an art project with the women and children at a homeless shelter here in Charleston. She got our church small group involved and we bought plain t-shirts and all kinds of paints to decorate them. I have to admit, I was surprised when we showed up and many of the women at the shelter already had designs drawn out on paper, ready and waiting—some, very elaborate with flowering vines or animals they individually loved. I guess I hadn’t really thought about what they might love or what talents they harbored; I had pictured them only as needy. I realized that day how much you can miss out on when you accept the flatness of a stereotype. Read Same Kind of Different As Me and it will show you that to a far, far greater degree.
Recommend it? Definitely. As Denver says, “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor, or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless—just workin our way toward home.”