Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Day With A Perfect Stranger

In David Gregory's previous book, Dinner With A Perfect Stranger, the central character, Nick, answers a dinner invitation to have a meal with Jesus. The rest of the book is a sort of micro-apologetics discussion on a wide range of topics. Once you manage to suspend your disbelief that the man across the table at the restaurant is Jesus, the whole thing goes pretty smoothly, and is actually worth the read.
A Day With a Perfect Stranger, finds Nick's non-Christian wife, Mattie, on a business trip in which she winds up spending the day with that same Perfect Stranger. (I know! You'd never expect that from the title!) Mattie is frustrated with her husband's newfound faith, so much of the discussion in this short book (101 pgs) is about that subject. As in Dinner, the knowing reader smirks at the little jokes that "Jay" makes about himself or his "family business," making this an entertaining read. A lot fewer topics are discussed than in Dinner, and Gregory lays on the syrupy sweet moments pretty thickly--especially the twist "miracle" ending. (I won't spoil it for you, but it really has nothing to do with the rest of the book, so it wouldn't matter, anyway.) Since the central character is a woman this time, perhaps this is his attempt to appeal to the feminine readers. Maybe it works. I've not spoken to a woman who's read it yet.
The formula of Day is the same as Dinner, except that this time around, Jesus doesn't come right out and identify himself. I was left wondering at times if the author was attempting to pattern Day after Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.
This opened up in my mind the question of whether or not we would recognize Jesus if we ran into him in an airport terminal or on the street. Without the miraculous element, would we know it was him just by the way he spoke and the things he said? Would we respond, as did the temple guards sent to arrest Jesus but coming back empty-handed, "No one ever spoke like this man"? Or would he remain, to us, a "perfect stranger"?

No comments: