In this fascinating book, the author brings Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha together for a short boat-ride, accompanying a prostitute who is dying of AIDS. Along the way, the three (four, if you include the boat driver) hold a conversation about religion and reality.
I very much enjoyed this book, which reminded me a great deal of the Socratic dialogues, written by Plato. As with those books, this one was written to prove the superiority of the philosophy of one of the characters. Also, Dr. Zacharias is not an expert on Buddhism, and reports that the research for this book was conducted by speaking to several Buddhist monks, rather than widely recognized Buddhist thinkers.
That said, though, I thought that this was a very interesting and well-written book, one which gave me a great deal of food for thought. If you are looking for an erudite comparison of Buddhist and Christian theology, then you *will* be disappointed by this book. But, if you are interested in a fascinating, thought provoking book, then I highly recommend this book to you!
As September 11th shows, we are not one world, and these types of books can help open our mind. Dr. Z's expertise comes from who he is--an Indian who emigrated to Canada, then to the United states. So he is really capable because he is an amphibian: both Eastern and Western, Hindu and Christian.
He follows the Platonic pattern of not selling a syllogism, but designing a dialogue to illustrate an idea. This is a hypothetical qudrologue involving Jesus and Buddha as they discuss and talk with a young prostitute about why she is dying of AIDS. Hardball questions with hardball answers.
I am impressed with the amount of research Dr. Z put into this book--hours and hours of interviews with Buddhist monks in Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Singapore. That may be why so many people don't like the book: Dr, Z is discussing real Buddhism, not the watered down, Americanized Buddhism that is more a combination of Star Trek and Hallmark than anything that the Buddha ever taught.
The book is small, with an unimposing 94 pages and is 6" X 6", so it can be read in one setting. The cover and illustrations are soft and inviting, much like any "Deep thoughts" book. The binding has held up to my rough handling.
This book will not satisfy everyone, since it deals with very hard and sensitive issues, very personal issues, but I hope that quote-unquote sensitivity is not a cop out from thought and a well-meaning calm discussion. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is an odd thing not to see my religion criticized, but I have never backed down from a free and honest discussion. In fact, if religion cannot stand up to hardball and slicing questions, then it is as Gov. Jesse Ventura has said, just "a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."