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If that's the definition, then first-person novels are 50, words of nonstop dialogue. The writer of the first-person novel has all the typical problems that writers have when writing a particular scene, but 50, words of it. I've been waiting for the professors of English literature to start throwing stones at me, because this is not how literature is normally taught. How do you even start looking at dialogue in this granular way?

I have a mental image of you sitting in a leather chair, staring out a window, solemnly contemplating narration.

A Lunch With God’s Girls

Well, I don't think critically about everything. It has to get my attention and satisfaction first. If it's something that catches my eye and attention and makes me wonder how they did it, then I sit back and think. I'm always learning.

Gods Having Lamb for Dinner

A lot of people didn't like the ending, but I thought it worked. It's not just that it was anti-climactic. It was anti-conventional. It played against expectations, but it worked in a sense that was satisfying. There are four classic endings to a story: purely positive, purely tragic, positive with irony where the character gets what he wants but pays a big price, and tragic with irony where he loses everything but he learns something.

That time when Abraham and God ate a non-kosher lunch | Fred Clark

Those are the classic tonalities of endings. But The Sopranos ending isn't really any of those, and it's still satisfying. I thought about the ending with them sitting in this restaurant, and I realized there was a fifth possible ending, which is what I came to call "exhaustion. There's nothing you don't know about them. Everything is known, including their dreams. That was it. All those characters in The Sopranos were exhausted, and it was satisfying.

You realize you know everything. You got to know these characters like you never have with somebody in your own life.


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That's exhaustion in the strict sense of the word. The Sopranos taught me the fifth ending, which is only possible in the long form—long novels or a hundred-episode series. Exhausting characters takes a lot of storytelling. If a film exhausts somebody, then the character wasn't that complex to begin with. What about The Wire , which didn't try to do that so much with characters, but with Baltimore?

That would be another way of looking at exhaustion, which is that you emptied out the potential of the setting. I think those characters from The Wire still have lives to live after that and have potential for change, but you've come to know that world so much that Baltimore is exhausted. A classic example of writers not knowing that they reached the level of exhaustion is Dexter , because he was emptied out and wasn't going to change by the end of season four or so. But it was making money, so they made new serial killers and put the emphasis on the antagonists, but Dexter was an exhausted character, and it got stupid.

You mentioned your next book, Character , a little bit ago. Have you started on that? Yes, I have. Were you working on that in parallel with Dialogue?

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No, what happened was I was working on Character first and we developed while I was doing that. The research for Character was enormous—you could also call the book Human Nature. It's a rather generous subject, for obvious reasons. Again, she smiled at her.

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The girl was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the girl realized how tired she was and she got up to leave, but before she had gone more than a few steps, she turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. The old woman gave her biggest smile ever. When the girl opened the door to her own house a short time later, her mother was surprised by the look of joy on her face. She asked her, "What did you do today that made you so happy?

She replied, "I had lunch with God. Through the dialogue, the main character becomes acquainted with Jesus, facing his own doubts and incredulity at the possibility of the meeting, and then facing some of his theological dilemmas. The book is an interesting way to begin a journey of investigating the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ.

Yet beyond being a jump start, framed in an interesting fictitious scenario, the book leaves much to be desired. The reasoning and theological arguments are superficial and not very compelling if one were to want to be compelled. The scenario, a meeting of Jesus the Son of God with a modern man in the 21st century, being absurd makes it difficult to believe the author would actually have a clue what a meeting with Jesus would really be like.

Since our best bet of an actual meeting with Jesus would be based on the four New Testament Gospels and the interactions others had with Jesus therein, than Mr. Gregory has certainly relied instead on his own imagination, disregarding a characterization of Jesus that would more aptly coalesce with the Gospel accounts. Jesus in the novel Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is contrived and seems mostly concerned about conveying his logical points reasonably and clearly, giving lucid answers to Nick's questions.

While the Jesus in the novel does not contradict Jesus of the Gospels directly, the premise of his appearance and conversation as actually something mere mortal man could dream up is incongruous. Ultimately, I would recommend this book to some individuals, those who are put off by the complexity and breadth of the Bible itself or rigorous philosophical and theological arguments. If one seeks a quick read with a provoking premise and is seeking an introduction to the answers to the various faith stumbling blocks, Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering would be worth considering as a way to spend an afternoon.

For a book intended to be an exercise in imagination and engagement with the character of God, this one just fails to satisfy. Apr 07, Patrick rated it liked it Shelves: religion , religious-fiction. Like The Shack , this story opens with a mysterious invitation. But David Gregory's musings about a modern meal with Jesus proceed on more orthodox theological footing than William Young's fictional "weekend with God" did.


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  6. Gregory is a charitable writer, and although his biographical snippet is careful to avoid identification with any particular denomination, his Reformation bias sometimes shows in this otherwise thoughtful book. For example, the skeptical businessman in the story asks Jesus Like The Shack , this story opens with a mysterious invitation.

    For example, the skeptical businessman in the story asks Jesus if his family called him "Yeshua," and receives a reply to the effect that most of them did, but "James called me a few other things. Gregory knows enough about his subject to recall that the original biblical languages do not preserve modern English distinctions between "hand" and "wrist" with regard to where Jesus had nail scars, yet from a Catholic point of view he still makes the typically Protestant mistake of forgetting that neither Aramaic nor ancient Greek made distinctions between "brother" and "cousin," either.

    Similarly, Jesus here astounds his guest by reminding the conflicted businessman that he lives in every Christian.

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    Their subsequent conversation never revisits the biblical account of the Last Supper, as it would almost inevitably do in the hands of a Catholic author. In short, this book is not as nondenominational or ecumenical as it pretends to be. Nevertheless, I liked being reminded that the way to God is not a path, per se, but a person.

    It was also good to be shown through affecting analogies that God loves to restore relationships. The part of the conversation where Jesus explains our need for him and his role in salvation is not as well-developed as it could be, but interesting asides show that Gregory has done more "comparative religion" homework than many other writers.

    Dinner With a Perfect Stranger owes an unacknowledged debt to the famous C. Lewis formulation of Jesus as "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. That said, David Gregory's contemporary traversal of some of the same ground remains a worthwhile read, and I am deeply grateful to the devout friend who inspired me to accept this engaging "dinner invitation. Aug 14, Pilar rated it it was amazing. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory was such a treat.