Friday, May 28, 2010

‘The Last Christian’ by David Gregory – Book Review and Giveaway

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I will often preface my reviews by saying “this is the first book I have read by this author.”  That is not the case with the author of ‘The Last Christian,’ David Gregory.  I have also read his ‘Dinner with a Perfect Stranger,’ which I loved (it was made into a movie entitled ‘Perfect Stranger’).  When I read the plot for this book, I was surprised!:

In the Future, It’s Possible to Live Forever – But at What Cost?
A.D. 2088.  Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village.  Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out.  A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.
But a larger threat looms.  The world’s leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form.  Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether – but at what expense?
As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father’s unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals.  Hanging in the balance – the spiritual future of all humanity.
In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking 
religious themes to create a spell-binding “what-if” novel.

Wow – that whetted my appetite!  A suspenseful, futuristic novel was not what I was expecting from the next David Gregory novel!

Here is the trailer for this whirling dervish of a book:







Here is the biography of the author:

David Gregory is the best-selling author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, A Day with a Perfect Stranger, The Next Level, and the coauthor of the nonfiction The Rest of the Gospel. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning Master's degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and the University of North Texas. A native of Texas, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest.

This book is so fascinating!  Mr. Gregory gives an interesting view of the future.  Here he has Bryson Nichols, founder and CEO of Nichols Technology Inc. (NTI) and the leading artificial intelligence innovator of his time, introducing the first transhuman:

As eyes scanned the stage for the announced spectacle, Nichols reached both hands up to the sides of his skull.  He worked his fingers momentarily under his hair, then placed his palms alongside his head.  He appeared to start pulling his head upward, but his true action quickly became evident.  Nichols was lifting the top half of his skull away from his head.
Several women near the front shrieked.  One fainted.  The ballroom erupted into a cacophony of shocked exclamations an then quieted once more.
Nichols finished lifting the artificial skullcap off his head and held it to his side.  He stood, sans the top of his skull, and smiled.
The hushed crowd beheld the metallic gray device that was Bryson Nichols’s brain. (p. 38)

Whoa!

When Abby came to the U.S.A., she was shown a message that had been left sixteen years ago with the missions agency with which her parents were affiliated.  The message was from her grandparents.  Her grandmother relayed the following message:

“Christianity as we once knew it – and hopefully as you still experience it there on the mission field – has practically disappeared in America, Abby.  Though it prospers in many parts of the world, the U.S. has followed the path Europe took into secularism.  Our faith isn’t outlawed, but the preaching of the gospel is regarded as hate speech and prosecuted.  Not that it matters much anymore – few are left who would proclaim it.  That’s how bad it’s gotten.
          “Things will get worse before they get better.  God has made that clear to us both in our spirits and lately” – Abby’s grandfather leaned forward on the couch, and his tone changed – “in our dreams.  I never thought God would speak to me in dreams, and at first I ignored them.  But your grandmother started talking to me about her dreams, and we found that sometimes, we had the same dream.  It has to be from God, Abby.  There’s no other explanation.”
“….We believe Jesus has destined you to reignite Christianity in the States.  I wish we could tell you more.  I wish we knew more.  But this is all we have, and God has a good reason for that.  I’m sure he wants you to look to him to direct you.” (p. 50)

There are so many technological innovations in the future!  Instead of the World Wide Web, there is the Grid.  People are able to get brain implant to increase their capacity and intelligence.  Vehicles are driverless.  Here are some other improvements (according to Bryson Nichols):

2020 – animal brains had been fully mapped.  Millions were using neural implants for hearing and sight loss.  First-stage virtual reality was commonplace in the military and in industry.
2030 – a standard personal computer equaled the processing power of the human brain.
2035 – advanced speech recognition software terminated computers as separate objects.  The old internet was replaced by the worldwide Grid, a thousandfold improvement in cyberspace.
2063 – NTI entered the artificial intelligence marketplace with the introduction of neural implants that enabled direct brain connection to the Grid.  Overnight we assumed the worldwide lead in AI technology. (pp. 33-34)

Mr. Gregory, through Abby, does a wonderful job in explaining how Christianity compares with the other world religions.  Here is a portion of her interview on Global Sunrise on the Grid:

“It never occurred to your parents to introduce the Inisi [the tribe in New Guinea] to various other religions or worldviews?”
                   “Such as what?”
          “Islam. Judaism.  Hinduism.  Or simply the acceptance of the universe as it is.”
          Abby looked stunned.  “No.  Why would they?  None of those is going to lead you to God.”
          Marshall [the hostess] perked up noticeably.  “Really?  Why would you say that?”
          “Because Jesus is the only way to God.  Only he died and was resurrected to redeem humanity from its sin.”   
          “And what about Judaism?”
          “You mean in the Old Testament?”
          “No, in the modern world.”
          “There’s no point in being Jewish if one doesn’t accept the Messiah, is there?”
          Marshall seemed uncomfortable with the response.  She shifted in her seat.  “And what about Muhammad?”
          “Muhammad is a false prophet.  I feel terrible for all the people who have followed him all these centuries.” 
          “And the Eastern religions – Hinduism, Buddhism…”
          “Are all false.  They claim that salvation comes through enlightenment.  But enlightenment doesn’t save anyone from their sins.  Only Jesus does.” (pp. 90-91)

And here’s an explanation of what happened to Christianity in the twenty-first century (as explained by Creighton Daniels, a history professor, to his students):

“…When a large segment of society became openly nonreligious, an amazing thing happened – amazing to the religionists, anyway.  People discovered that religionists and nonreligionists behaved similarly.  Sexual behavior, divorce rates, self-reported levels of honesty – none of these varied significantly between religionists and nonreligionists.
“…So this produced a cascade effect in which the younger generation – people born in the 1980s and after – looked at the older generation and didn’t see a difference in their lives…
“The results for American Christianity was cataclysmic.  The number of adherents to Christianity spiraled downward as most of each succeeding generation rejected it.  By 2030 only half of Americans self-professed as Christians, by 2050 less than a quarter did, and by 2070 fewer than ten percent did.  That was its last generation. (p. 148)

Dr. Daniels goes on to give his opinion of megachurches:

…”that movement – megachurches, they called them – was the beginning of the end, a last gasp of the Christian religion.  Churches got larger in an attempt to appeal more to the masses.  They adopted a new marketing strategy, using their gathering to appeal to outsiders with popular entertainment and practical life helps.  …[T]hat didn’t produce a lifestyle any more distinctive than before, so people ended up seeing through it.  They decided that if they wanted to be entertained, they might as well stay home and watch their televisions.  That, you may recall, used to constitute entertainment.”  (pp. 146-147)

Creighton and Abby grew close.  Abby influenced Creighton to read the Bible, something he hadn’t done in twenty years.  He came up with his interpretation of what Christianity should be:

“I just think that your Christianity is too limited.  From what I’ve read, it seems that the full message of the Christian faith is that God himself comes to life inside you, that he joins himself to your human spirit, and that he actually lives his life through you.  He doesn’t help anyone live the Christian life.  He lives it himself.  He is the life.  What you’re teaching people and living by is a kind of Christianity self-help system---“ (p. 256)

Abby initially was irritated at this characterization, but she eventually realized that Creighton was spot on in his assessment.  Here is how she explains her new insights:

“….the burden was still on me.  I had to perform well enough for God. I had to keep his commands.  I had to be a good Christian.”  She shook her head.  “No one can live up to that.  Jesus doesn’t want to help you.  He wants to live through me.  So when I’m sharing the gospel or testifying before Congress or” – she smiled – “forgiving you, it’s Jesus in me doing these things.” (p. 387)

I will not give away the ending (you HAVE to read this book!), but suffice to say that Abby not only influenced Creighton, but she helped to start what her grandfather had foreseen for her – to point people in 2088 back to Jesus.

The Last Christian’ lived up to my expectations.  It was fascinating to see how an author interpreted the United States seventy eight years into the future.  I pray we are able to show Jesus in our own lives so that the future generations really know Him and not our pharisaical interpretation of His life.  I was interested in both the technological and the spiritual aspects of this novel.  Those who are interested in Christian fiction and science fiction will enjoy this.  I applaud Mr. Gregory for writing such a spectacular novel!

You can order this book here.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review and giveaway purposes.
______________________________________________

I have a copy of this book that I would love to send along to one of you!  

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment below, telling me what how you think our world will look in 2088.  Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

3) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

4) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are five chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only.  The deadline for entry is Friday, June 11, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Saturday, June 12, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you!

30 comments:

Cindy W. said...

Personally I think our Lord will be back to gather up His bride before 2088.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

I have been a follower for some time now.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

I have been a follower for some time now.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Esther Y.M. said...

I don't know, its either we would be in a sorrier condition, just like said in the book of Revelations or it could be that the church of Christ will be restored to even greater heights than the former in Acts and Christ will come for us soon :))

please enter me

estherym[at]yahoo[dot]com

Esther Y.M. said...

or we could all have already met at our Father's mansion ;)))

Esther Y.M. said...

i too have been a follower for some time now...

estherym[at]yahoo[dot]com

Esther Y.M. said...

I am also your friend on Facebook.

estherym[at]yahoo[dot]com

Charity said...

I agree with Cindy. I think the Christians will be gone by then. The Lord will have returned. I pray that is the case. Otherwise, I think our world would be a much worse place. This sounds like a great book and a very neat plot. Please enter me:) Thanks!!

esterried[at]yahoo[dot]com

Charity said...

I became a Twitter follower-kingsdaughter24

Charity said...

Also became a blog follower:)

MoziEsmé said...

I'm kinda hoping the Lord will be back by then!

Would love to read this book...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Linda Kish said...

I have no expectations of 2088. Sorry.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Steve Capell said...

There is no doubt that the world will change ... I can only pray that it will change for the better ... or that Christ's return will be before 2088.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

Debbie F said...

I would love to read this. thaks

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Debbie F said...

I'm a follower

dcf_beth at verizon dot ent

Patsy said...

I think our world will be much harder for Christians in the future. Just look how things have changed over the past several years. I believe it will only get worse. Count me in on the giveaway. Carmen sent me.
plhouston@bellsouth.net

patsy said...

I left a comment and did not put my email address in the format requested.
It is plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Jan Marie said...

I agree with the others inasmuch as I think God will have taken His bride to be with Him before 2088. He has already been far more patient than I would have thought.

Jan Marie said...

I am a follower of this blog.

I saw this book in a store last weekend and would have purchased it had I had enough money with me. As it was, I nearly didn't leave the store because I became engrossed in reading it right then and there.

Jan Marie said...

I am a friend on FB and a network follower ....

I also just realized that I omitted to put my email address on my comments ... shame on me!

janmarien[at]embarqmail[dot]com

misskallie2000 said...

I think our father will be back for us before 2088. If not the world in 2088 will be hell on earth. Christians will be destroyed as well as Christianity. No one will be safe.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

misskallie2000 said...

Twitter follower(@misskallie2000)


misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

misskallie2000 said...

Follower via GFC

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

misskallie2000 said...

Friend on FB (@Brenda B. Hill)

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Lou Ann said...

I believe in my heart that Jesus will return before 2088. If not, this world will be unimaginable. When I think of all the turmoil, it brings back to mind the movie "The Towering Inferno." That may sound stupid, but evil will be all around us with no escape except for Christ's return.

louann@carolina.rr.com

Lou Ann said...

I follow on Google

louann@carolina.rr.com

Lou Ann said...

I am awaiting a confirmation for being a friend on Facebook.

louann@carolina.rr.com

Lou Ann said...

I am a network follower on Facebook

louann@carolina.rr.com

Andrea Schultz said...

Thanks to everyone for the terrific comments. I, too, hope the Lord comes before 2088. We certainly need Him these days more than ever.

Andrea Schultz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
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