cover image Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering

David Gregory, . . WaterBrook, $12.99 (100pp) ISBN 978-1-57856-905-2

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)