“Same Kind of Different As Me” opened in movie theaters today. I first stumbled across the story in 2010 when my son-in-law suggested it to me. The book had been out since 2005, a true story that bridges the social and racial divisions of our day.
Maybe I was drawn to the book because Ron Hall spent his childhood summers on a farm near my boyhood home of Corsicana. His descriptions of Corsicana resonated with my memories growing up on Collin Street, one of the signature brick streets that reflect the glory days when the city boasted more millionaires per capita than any other town in Texas. Maybe I was drawn to the book because Ron and Denver intersect in the slums of Fort Worth east of downtown where my wife started her teaching career over 40 years ago.
“Same Kind of Different As Me” is actually two stories. One, the story of an illiterate black man named Denver who was raised in the cotton fields of Louisiana and ended up homeless on the streets of Fort Worth. The other, an upwardly mobile white man named Ron Hall who graduated from Texas Christian University and made a fortune in the art world. They each tell their story, and the remarkable intersection of their journeys.
But the true stories of Ron Hall and Denver Moore are not the main stories in the book. They represent other stories: the story of our country and its culture. Ron represents those who rise from middle class with professional opportunities that can lead to great wealth. He also represents the dangers of that path that include temptations for greed, materialism, shallow and broken relationships. Denver represents the alarmingly huge segment of our population that falls between the cracks, victims of prejudice, oppression, injustice and neglect. He also represents the dangers of that downward spiral that includes temptations of bitterness, anger, isolation and despair.
The greatest story underlying and connecting all of these is God’s story. Ron’s wife, Deborah, is the entry point for his work, one person who was open, willing and obedient. She became the catalyst for connecting these two broken men from different ends of the social spectrum.
In a day when many look to government to heal our wounds and solve our social problems, “Same Kind of Different As Me” serves as a reminder that the real solution to our personal and social problems lies within us. It is often buried beneath our own prejudices and fears, but it can be unlocked and released with the keys of acceptance, trust, faith and love, all the things Jesus demonstrated and talked about.
God wants to use each of us, whatever our race, whatever our circumstance, whatever our background to make a difference in the world. You can learn more about Ron and Denver’s stories by visiting their website, samekindofdifferentasme.com.