Kevin Roose has an impressive grasp of his craft, especially for his age. His memoir of the semester he spends at Liberty University stirred my laughs, thoughts, and deep introspection.
The Unlikely Disciple sucked me in from the very start. (Much of this had to do with the writing but he's also a surprisingly good reader in this audiobook.) The premise alone was enough to get me interested. We meet Kevin as a student at Brown University, firmly established in the secular world, and without much religious exposure. He is specifically unfamiliar with the world of evangelicals, a fact, among others, that prompts him to spend a ‘semester abroad’ at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, affectionately referred to by Falwell himself as ‘Bible Boot Camp.’
Throughout his articulate and witty recounting of his time there, Roose surprised me in many ways. He writes with honesty and candor, yet chooses to remain open and truly immerses himself in the overtly religious environment at the school. While Roose is understandably put off by things like the mandated teaching of young earth creationism, the homophobic tendencies among his peers and leaders, and the harsh condemnation of those with differing political alignments, he finds himself benefiting from regular prayer, enjoying his rigorous theology studies, and most surprisingly, making lasting friendships.
All in all, Kevin Roose gives us an inside look at the conservative evangelical world from an outsider’s perspective, certainly more objective than the Liberty brochures. He masterfully weaves together controversy and piety, critique and empathy, opposition and friendship. He’s an excellent writer and a prime candidate for such a task as this. Maybe he’s not as unlikely a disciple as he thinks.
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