8.20.2005

Review: Dinner with a Perfect Stranger



Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

I thought this was an interesting premise for what was surely going to be a "preach it, Mister!" Christian fiction novella.

Nick receives an invitation to be a guest to dinner - with Jesus of Nazareth.

Naturally, Nick is a flawed character who has gotten away from God, and this dinner is a way for him to answer questions about his faith and Christianity as a whole from a man who should have the complete story - Jesus.

And while I like the way Jesus is portrayed as a regular man (he hates neckties, he digs dessert, etc) and it posed some interesting questions for me (especially considering recent convos with McMinister), it had several tragic flaws.

Most notably, declaring that every other faith on earth is WRONG. Not partially right, not "to each his own", just misguided, stupid and WRONG.

Doesn't sound like a very Christian approach to life to me - but then, people have tried to convert me more times than I can count, so maybe I'm just not as receptive to the "no god but OUR god, we're right, you're stupid, you better convert to us or you'll burn in hell for all eternity you useless non-believer, you" mentality that Christians seem to think have some sway over folks who might, just MIGHT have an opinion differing from their own, or are still searching for answers on their own timetable.

Also troublesome was Jesus' telling Nick that every word of the Bible is true and accurate - more accurate than people think, and that they should live by every word. If this be true, then there is a famous speech from President Bartlet of The West Wing I'd like to revisit...bear in mind, President Bartlet is a DEVOUT Catholic who's faith is never questioned:

BARTLET: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an "abomination!"



JACOBS: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.



BARTLET: Yes it does. Leviticus!



JACOBS: 18:22.



BARTLET: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I wanted to sell my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown Sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?



(Bartlet only waits a second for a response, then plunges on.)



BARTLET: While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGary, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Or is it okay to call the police?



(Bartlet barely pauses to take a breath.)



BARTLET: Here's one that's really important, because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you?



(The camera pushes in on the president.)



One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building when the president stands, nobody sits.


This might be just the right novella for you, or for someone searching for guidance in their faith, but it sure as hell wasn't for me.

4 comments:

J. Bower said...

I read your review of the "Dinner with a Perfect Stranger." I also saw the episode of "West Wing" that you brought up. I just want to tell you that I too thought that the president's comments had merit until I did research. You see, the Old Testament has a lot of rules and regulations that really don't make sense to us in this day and age. Back then though, God had a reason for these moral laws. The not touching a dead pig thing, well this is because a disease-ridden animal. It spends its life in mud and such. People today still get sick from pig meat once and awhile. See, the Old Testament law is divided into 3 parts. Moral, Priestly, and Theocratical. When Jesus came, the priestly and theocratical laws became null and void. No longer does man live in a theocracy (a country ruled by God) so those laws don't apply. Also, the priestly laws had a lot to do with sacrifice, purity, and sin atonement. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and high priest, so these laws are also null and void. Thats why we can eat pork now. The moral law is still intact though. My heartbreaks at Christians who look at homosexuality as some kind of "super sin." Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being self-righteous and believing they were above others. Many Christians these days could be condemned for the same things. I want you to know, that if you ever have a question about Christianity, please feel free to write me. I'm not old enough to drink (hehe) yet but I have researched the claims of the Bible. I'd encourage you to do the same. Sorry if I sound like another Christian trying to convert you. I just want you to know that I am always willing to answer any questions you have about Jesus, God, or the Bible. With love, J.

Anonymous said...

Interesting.

I found it to be a charming little book, but terribly one-sided.

I am in a Bible study talking about the next book, (A Day with a Perfect Stranger),and I am going to ask at the next meeting, "Who do you see as being the target market for this book?"

I am really curious at what the members of my study group will say.

I am a Christian, but I have friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and B'Hai, among other faiths.

There is not much in this series to inspire and touch the heart of my non-Christian friends.

There is not much that enlightens my Christian friends either.

It strikes me more as "fuzzy slipper" type of books. Comfortable, but no substance. Vicki

Anonymous said...

That West Wing script applies only to Jews non-believers.

Paul had problems with Jews saying new Gentile believers should be circumcised & keep the law in Acts 15. The conclusion was that the Gentile believers are not required to keep Jewish law but to "abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication." Acts 15:29 KJV

If one desires to use Bible passages one must understand the New as well as the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

I can see that you might have difficulty with the simplicity of the truth, many people folks do.

"Would you like to discuss it over dinner?"