Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 42

I'm caught up now the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge. As with the last book I read (A Dog Named Christmas), I browsed the fiction section at the library and picked some books that sounded interesting - either the title itself or the content.

Yesterday, I read Dinner with a Perfect Stranger - An Invitation Worth Considering  by David Gregory.

It is a simply-written, very quick book to read. The premise is that a workaholic, cynical man (Nick) finds an envelope containing an invitation on his desk. Without a return address, the invitation to have dinner at a fancy restaurant with Jesus appears to be a practical joke played by some of his friends. He decides to go to dinner and see for himself who this person is and what kind of event his friends have concocted.

The book either would be one that would be well-written and thought-provoking; or it could be one that I would be eager to finish. Unfortunately, Dinner with a Perfect Stranger falls into the latter category.

Thankfully, the book is short (only 100 pages), so it didn't take too much of my time. I was hoping for more insightful, inspiring thoughts and conversation between Nick and Jesus. In addition to the lack of depth, a few sections of book I was uncomfortable with and didn't feel like it was a positive representation of a religion. 

For example, in one section the conversation basically compared three different world religions - Hinduism, Buddism, and Islam - to Christianity. The simplistic way that the other religions were portrayed as well as the underlying current of negativity didn't sit well with me.

After that point, the book seemed to further decline, and lacked the inspiration I had hoped it would offer. After reading some other reviews about this book, there seems to be a quite a split: people either are truly moved and find this book quite life-changing or they greatly dislike it.

Although the book wasn't the favorite one I've read this year (it falls in the bottom five books I've read), there was a section in the book that gave me some pause for thought. It talked about humanity's rebellion and that it isn't always the horrific outward acts that are the worse or that destroy the world. "It's selfishness, resentment, envy, pride..." So, given those four feelings, could many of the current problems we see in the corld relate back to them?

I struggled with the statement, "...there is a purpose to the present time. And one day everything will be made right." Watching my father struggle with Alzheimer's Disease often leaves me wondering about why people have to suffer like this - not only the person with the disease but everyone who the person knows. At this point in my life, I am failing to see the positive purpose of the disease and its effect on my dad and our family.

In Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, the story that follows the statement above has Nick discussing the anger regarding his parents' divorce, the loss of his father in his life, and ultimately his father's death when he was sixteen years old. In the 2 1/2 pages about this topic, it left more questions and a feeling of emptiness than one of comfort.

Honestly, I think there are a lot of books that are more life-changing than this one; and I would tend to encourage others to find those books rather than use one's limited time with this one.

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