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."
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.
Aaron L. M. Goodwin
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.
Thanks for taking a semester abroad and immersing yourself in a foreign culture to write this book, Kevin. A compassionate, insightful journey into Jerry Fallwell counry and story telling that rings thoughtfully true. Also enjoyed the epilog interview.
I struggle to respect the ideas of Evangelical Christianity and it was a refreshing to hear a human story about the people I disagree with so strongly.
This book is a necessary read for young liberal and conservative college students at any campus. Although Roose does not fit in with the norms of Liberty University, he offers a beneficial understanding of the evangelical student life there. I highly recommend this book because it shows how a community can influence and even question our views in a healthy manner.
I felt it was a fair representation of the controversial clash of cultures. It did not demonize or apologize for the actions and beliefs of the people involved.
"Fascinating story and well read"
The highlight of the audiobook is that the author of the memoir reads it and does the voices of his friends at Liberty University. Bonus highlight, he even sings the mnemonic song for remembering the order of the books of the New Testament!
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