Monday, May 24, 2010

The Last Christian by David Gregory

The year is 2088. Christianity has essentially died out in the developed world.
In the U. S. people generally have neural implants that receive programming from a virtual reality grid. “It causes [the] motor neurons to experience the same sensations we experience in the physical world.” (97) Face to face meetings are rare as people can meet each other in virtual reality. A group of scientists are pioneering brain transplants - that is, human brains being replaced by programmed silicone implants.
Into this world comes Abby who has spent all of her life with an isolated tribe in Papua New Guinea. She was born there, a child of missionaries. Now 34, she travels down river to civilization when her tribe mysteriously contracts a disease and is destroyed. She receives a message that has been waiting for her for 16 years. Her grandfather believes she is the only one who can reintroduce Christianity to Americans. She travels to the U. S. to fulfill her grandfather’s desires.
The novel is certainly not the most well-written I have read but it has some redeeming factors. In the course of conversation we find the reasons given for Christianity’s demise. They include scientific progress, the flame out of the Christian led culture war, the attempt to control politics (making Christianity more a political movement than a spiritual one), the backlash against fundamental religion (Islam), the change in the understanding of truth (no longer absolute realities), and the lack of distinctive behavior by Christians (behaving like nonChristians). That list should be the concern of Christians today.
Science fiction is tricky. I read tons of it as a youth and for some reason this book just did not seem to be tightly formed. The virtual reality concept is a loose end, I think. Apparently one could be in virtual reality with another person and the other individual never know it. (P. 247) That is a problem not addressed in the novel.
The message Abby has is a “Christ in you” message, a union with Christ that goes a little beyond the traditional understanding of Evangelical Christianity. I feel a little uncomfortable with that.
At the end of the book, Gregory says you can see the message Abby uploaded to the grid and gives the web address. That web address is where Gregory promotes himself. I tried to find Abby’s message but could not.
All in all, it’s a so-so book. A teen might find it interesting but it is not a page turner and it doesn’t end to my satisfaction.
To view a video: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/2009/11/28/video-the-last-christian-a-novel-by-david-gregory/
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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