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Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 12, 2005
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In Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, David Gregory relates the story of two men sharing a meal. The point of interest is knowing that one man believes he is Jesus. What will the other man think by the time the evening is through? The conversation begins, as one could imagine, scratching the dry hard surface of skepticism and doubt, but gently and persistently goes deeper and deeper, spiraling in from that starting point until they are eventually talking about the true stuff of life; the career drifting off-track, the marriage experiencing its own kind of strain, the life being lived where the philosophical questions of youth have given way to simply coping with modern day-to-day living.
Gregory's book is a refreshing reminder of what evangelical Christianity is at its very best -- a faith enlivened by the personal relationship between the Creator and the created. In the end, evangelical Christians are focused on who Jesus Christ is, and more specifically, who He is to them. Doctrinal stances, theological conundrums, questions about literal or non-literal Biblical interpretation, these are all beside the point for the certain type of Christian whose central focus is the life and person of Jesus.
In the Narnia series, C.S. Lewis touched on some of the core questions of religion, from the Christian viewpoint (is there a hell? What is heaven like, really? How can other religions be wrong, and just one be right?) Taking his cue from Lewis, Gregory does the same, realizing that questions like these come alive when they're in the context of a story, and we can be the third party, watching with interest while they are put on the table and considered. In the end, Gregory's book succeeds because of his willingness to approach interesting, hard questions like these. He is always, undoubtedly, aiming for the heart, but he realizes that to win the heart one must never forget that the mind has to come along for the ride. --Ed Dobeas
From Publishers Weekly
In this didactic inspirational novella, Cincinnati workaholic Nick Cominsky accepts an invitation that he assumes is a gag: to have dinner with Jesus Christ himself. He soon finds out it's no laughing matter, and, despite his doubts and initial misgivings, he engages in a long conversation with the deity (who has jettisoned the long locks and sandals in favor of a Brooks Brothers haircut and blue suit). That conversation constitutes the novella's light plot. As the courses of their elegant Italian meal are delivered, Nick and Jesus discuss the dichotomies of sin and salvation, grace and works, organized religion and personal faith. In his quest to prove why Christianity is superior to other religions, Gregory has Jesus make misleading statements about Hinduism, Buddhism and particularly Islam. These unfair caricatures add to the book's heavy-handed feel, as do strawman arguments for the veracity of the Bible and the resurrection. What's appealing about this book is that its Jesus is refreshingly down-to-earth; he digs good food, draws theological illustrations from Star Trek, and quietly chafes at wearing a necktie. But that can't disguise the fact that Gregory has not written a story so much as a dressed-up and controversial sermon. (July 19)
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Top Customer Reviews
Gregory explores the tennants of Christianity through a dinner invitation from Jesus himself to an unbeliever that had some of the world's knowledge about Christianity, but was filled with confusion and untrue beliefs. Through the meal the reader is brought along on a discussion of questions that many may have for the real Jesus. Why are the other religions wrong? What makes following you so special? What does it mean to be a Christian? How do "bad things" fit into God's plan? When answers that we are commonly given, for example Jesus is asked, "Why has Christianity been such a mixed bag?" refering to people claiming to follow Christ that have done a lot of good and others who have done a lot of bad, the author attempts to give it a little more depth. Jesus responds that those who did bad were not really Christians. Our guest responsd with,"that seems a little convenient for you". This allows "Jesus" to delve into the heart of the matter.
While this book is definately evangelical in nature, and at times very simplistic, it does provide a casual setting to open discussions about who Jesus really is and what it truly means to follow him. I don't think it was meant to be an end of the road type book, rather a beginning, a springboard to encourage the reader to seek out deeper answers to the questions that are posed.
The writing is good, the characters aren't very deep, especially Nick Cominsky. The reader is given a very small sliver of his life and personality making it difficult to really connect with him. Jesus comes off less caring than I would have prefered. The whole discussion feels as if the two are discussing a business arrangement rather than a personal life decision. This approach, however, may appeal to those who are more analytical than emotional.
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering (You can check out Audio Book under Hardcover)