Authors:     Ben Young and Glenn Lucke
Publisher:  Broadman & Holman

"Common Grounds" is a fictional account of three 20-something friends who attended college together and now meet regularly in the Common Grounds coffee shop to discuss issues of philosophy, theology and life in general. The characters — investment banker Brad, corporate lawyer Lauren and computer tech Jarrod — each possess strong opinions (Jarrod and Brad are believers, while Lauren is agnostic), though each of them shares a penchant for inquiry.

When Brad invites Professor MacGregor, a compelling guest speaker from Brad’s Baptist church, to sit in with the group, the conversations grow increasingly deep and heated at times. The professor encourages the group to examine their own spiritual beliefs and worldviews and often pokes holes in the faulty reasoning found therein. Overall, the conversation is intriguing as the reader listens in as the group addresses issues like free will and determinism and tackles questions like, “If there is a good God, why is there evil in the world?”

While the conversation is engaging, the character development, however, is lacking. If the authors’ intentions are ambiguity, and the plan is to follow this book up with a sequel or segue the book into a series, then they did a fine job. Still, while the reader is left with a better sense of understanding on key issues discussed by the java-joint participants, the reader is also left wondering if the seeds planted by MacGregor actually yielded any effect on the book’s characters.

In short, Young and Lucke invite the reader to sit at the next table over and eavesdrop on the conversation at Common Grounds.


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