<b>An invitation to the Lord's supper</b> When Nick Cominsky receives a formal invitation to dinner with Jesus Christ, he assumes it's just another prank by the fellows at work. After all, Nick has demonstrated his indifference to religion for years. A married research chemist and environmental planner, Nick has enough trouble fitting his professional and personal lives together without extra complications. Nevertheless, curious to learn how the joke turns out, he bites. When he sees the thirty-something guy in a blue business suit waiting at the table in the upscale restaurant, he's still not easily persuaded that the man is Jesus Christ. Cynical and mocking, Nick looks around for hidden mirrors and throws out the first challenge: sipping the wine (a mid-range white) he asks, Can you turn this wine into water? How his dinner partner deals with that and the far more important questions that come up is the theme of <b>Dinner with a Perfect Stranger</b>, a little book that touches on issues rarely dealt with in popular fiction. These include the comparison of Christianity to other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam this section is likely the novel's most contentious), and such matters as the divinity of Christ, eternal life and the problem of evil. The co-author of two nonfiction books, David Gregory works for a nonprofit organization in Dallas. In this foray into popular theology, his answers skew more mainline than evangelical. They are not all deep, but the fact that they are touched upon at all is a step forward in modern debate. The novel format makes Gregory's reasoning accessible, even if it only hits the doctrine's high points. (More secular observations, that Jesus here is not a vegetarian, for instance, and that he dislikes ties, seem amusing and inoffensive.) Christians may respectfully agree to disagree on some points, and some might prefer a more substantive approach to explaining the tenets of their faith. Still, this light but intriguing novel, free of rancor or condescension, is a good place to start. <b>Maude McDaniel writes from Maryland.</b>

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