No R-rated movies.
Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.
Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's 10,000 undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a 46-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.
His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.
Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, The Unlikely Disciple will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.
©2009 Kevin Roose (P)2010 Hachette
"Kevin Roose has produced a textured, intelligent, even sympathetic, account of his semester at Liberty University. He eschews caricature and the cheap shot in favor of keen observation and trenchant analysis. The Unlikely Disciple is a book of uncommon wisdom and insight. I recommend it with enthusiasm." (The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, Episcopal Priest and Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University)
I enjoyed this book. I am an American evangelical pursuing a PhD in theology in the UK. Although I did not attend Liberty, I know what it can be like on "the inside" so I thought this would be an enjoyable book. This book is at its best when Roose is open an honest, and attempts to give a fair listen the liberals and conservatives alike. To be honest, Roose was more equitable to evangelicals than I expected. I also really enjoyed the author reading the book. A few memorable lines stick in my head such as the possibility of Jersey Joey saying, "Roosta, you been lyin' to us?"
Why I gave it 4 stars: I think Roose is a great reporter and a good writer for his age, but I feel like some of the low points of the book were when he decided to theologize. Although he was familiar with terms such as theodicy or Calvinism, he simply does not have the training to write off certain aspects of theology or evangelicalism as he does at times. With that said, I really enjoyed the listen and would read/listen to another book by this author.
Don't read this if you're looking for a cynical exposé of the religious right. Don't read this if you're looking for a sugar-coated story of Christian conversion. The Unlikely Disciple is neither of those. It's a nuanced and non-jaded account of the author's "study abroad" experience inside Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Along with The Faith Club, this book belongs on reading lists for college courses, book clubs and discussion groups interested in healing our nation's religious and cultural divide. Not only is Kevin Roose a prodigious writer--there's no other explanation for this high a level of achievement at so young an age--he's also a wise person and a corrective role model for those of us prone to judging and stereotyping the "other."
At first I was cynical that the premise to this book could be fleshed out without a whole bunch of misunderstandings and misrepresentation of "religious folk", but Roose does a tremendous job of detailing the spiritual and social spectra of the evangelical community. Spending a semester at Liberty College, the Brigham Young University of the evangelical world, Roose throws himself into life of a Liberty student 100% and comes away sharing a refreshingly open-minded, if not Christ-like account of these experiences.
Now, a warning, this book handles controversial and sensitive subjects which may not be suitable for younger readers, but Roose handles these topics in respectful yet interesting ways. I think any person would come away from this book with a greater desire to love and know those that don't believe as they do. It's inspiring to say the least.
Roose does an excellent job narrating, and you come away wanting to hang out with the guy and all his Liberty Friends.
Kevin Roose thinks a lot about the ethics of passing himself off as an evangelical Christian at Liberty University--enough at least to work himself up into a lather over the deception. His moral quandary lurks behind most of his account, sometimes peeking its head through the curtains and sometimes just creating uncomfortable contours in the background. Either way, it is this dilemma that produces the novel's most interesting--and at turns, the most annoying--motif: Is lying to people about your identity wrong?
Roose spends much of his time in full hand-wringing mode, describing his internal agony at deceiving his fellow students. Then, in a flash, he forgives himself, claiming that his falsifications were the only way to get a 'true' picture of life at Liberty. Either way, this book is not about Falwell, Liberty University, or evangelicals, it is about Kevin Roose locked away in a Virginian Elsinore, trying to pass himself off as a born-again Christian. And quite frankly, the schtick gets boring within the first 50 pages.
I'm not usually a person to re-listen to or re-read most books, so my answer to this question is "no." However, the more important question, I think, is would I recommend it or do I regret reading it, and the answers are yes and no, respectively. Kevin Roose's look at Liberty University was respectful and thoughtful. As an evangelical myself and a professor at another Christian college, this look at how an "outsider" might view the evangelical sub-culture was enlightening and sometimes painful. His descriptions gave well-written word pictures that made me, as a reader, feel as if I knew the characters and the university.
Besides Roose himself, who was the narrator, my favorite character was "Jersey Joey." Joey is a likable character who is a believer but a bit rebellious. He welcomes Roose into his group but is perceptive enough to be a bit suspicious of Roose and his intentions. I was glad to read in the Epilogue (spoiler alert!) that he and Roose remain friends after Roose tells him the true nature of Roose's semester at Liberty.
It's got to be Jersey Joey. I loved the accent and attitude, both of which made me feel like I knew him.
I was rooting for Roose and Anna to get together, while at the same time glad that Roose was respectful enough of her and her beliefs to not get into a romantic entanglement under false pretenses. I was sad when they broke up, and later delighted (another spoiler alert) when they talked openly at the end of the semester and Roose risked a kiss on the cheek as they parted.
This book is an enjoyable read and a thought-provoking one too. It is well worth a listen.
Retired public school educator.
Usually wary of an author narrating own book but this is an exception, Since it was from Roose' personal experience and somewhat tenderly told this seems to work. Most touching are his personal relationships with others so philosophically different you might expect something like a "red state/blue state" hatred fest. Fortunately, you won't find that here.
Opinion: Perhaps our FOX News mentality can take a hint from Roose and deal with others of different positions in similar fashion. Maybe I'm dreaming about FOX but Roose has a better handle on the term "fair and balanced" with The Unlikely Disciple.
I believe this book should be a must read for every person who calls themself a Christian. There is no formula, or answers as to how become a devoted follower of Christ, in this book. But Kevin Roose could tell the difference if you were or were not one.
I really enjoyed the friendships he made along the way, and the care his own family showed while he was at Liberty.
His genuine care for his classmates was what got to my heart! You must read this book, to at least see how it ends. We as believers might spend less time with the SHOW, and more of the matters of the heart!
I think you will be impressed with this book as I was to think that the writer is a pretty young guy. He is a witness to the Falwell empire and has the luck to have the last interview with him. I really liked that he read his own book. Kevin Roose doesn't seem to have much regret that he misled his LIberty friends while it was happening, which I found hard to believe, though.he does return to campus sometime later and 'fesses up. You will come away with the feeling that you never knew such places existed, although I have since learned that Brigham Young has similar restrictions. Easy, fast listen which is always good!
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.
I like to listen to adventure stories and funny stories. I have a real preference for travel tales and sometimes even enjoy a good mystery. I love fiction, but also like to learn facts. I like all kinds of stories. Follow me, if you do too!
A very enjoyable read and quite the social experiment. This is a great study of human interaction and acceptance. Listening to it was a learning experience for me and I came away from it with a new appreciation for Evangelical Christianity - not that I'm ready to make the conversion or start witnessing or anything - but hey, it's not an easy path they have chosen for themselves and I admire anyone who attempts to walk it. No wonder so many are "fallen". This young writer did a wonderful job of remaining objective in his analysis, yet compassionate in his portrayals as well. I expect more from him in the future.
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