❰EPUB❯ ✻ The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University Author Kevin Roose – Horse-zine.co.uk

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University chapter 1 The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, meaning The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, genre The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, book cover The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, flies The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University c5f663f38e45d As A Sopho At Brown University, Kevin Roose Didn T Have Much Contact With The Religious Right Raised In A Secular Home By Staunchly Liberal Parents, He Fit Right In With Brown S Sweatshop Protesting, Fair Trade Coffee Drinking, God Ambivalent Student Body So When He Had A Chance Encounter With A Group Of Students From Liberty University, A Conservative Baptist University In Lynchburg, Virginia, He Found Himself Staring Across A Massive Culture Gap But Rather Than Brush The Liberty Students Off, Roose Decided To Do Something Much Bolder He Became One Of ThemLiberty University Is The Late Rev Jerry Falwell S Proudest Accomplishment A , Student Conservative Christian Training Ground At Liberty, Students Who Call Themselves Champions For Christ Take Classes Like Introduction To Youth Ministry And EvangelismThey Hear From Guest Speakers Like Mike Huckabee And Karl Rove, They Pray Before Every Class, And They Follow APage Code Of Conduct Called The Liberty Way That Prohibits Drinking, Smoking, R Rated Movies, Contact With The Opposite Sex, And Witchcraft Armed With An Open Mind And A Reporter S Notebook, Roose Dives Into Life At Bible Boot Camp With The Goal Of Connecting With His Evangelical Peers By Experiencing Their World First HandRoose S Semester At Liberty Takes Him To Church, Class, And Choir Practice At Rev Falwell S Thomas Road Baptist Church He Visits A Support Group For Recovering Masturbation Addicts, Goes To An Evangelical Hip Hop Concert, And Participates In A Spring Break Mission Trip To Daytona Beach, Where He Learns How To Convert Bar Hopping Co Eds To Christianity Roose Struggles With His Own Faith Throughout, And In A Twist That Could Only Have Been Engineered By A Higher Power, He Conducts What Would Turn Out To Be The Last In Depth Interview Of Rev Falwell S Life Hilarious And Heartwarming, Respectful And Thought Provoking, Roose S Embedded Report From The Front Lines Of The Culture War Will Inspire And Entertain Believers And Non Believers Alike


10 thoughts on “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

  1. says:

    How do I know I went to Liberty University Well, I do know all the verses to Victory in JesusI do know about tithing than my major,and I laughed over this book, cried over this book,and understood what he was trying to say.


  2. says:

    Ten years ago Rob Suskind s A Hope in the Unseen followed a poor, religious inner city kid s struggles at Brown University Now Brown U is back with another hip hop, flip flop comedy This time around, we get to see the hijinks of a Brown student going to a religious Southern school And Kevin Roose manages to learn a lesson of tolerance and hard fought understanding during the era of the culture war Yay.The problem is this book strikes me as incredibly cynical In part, Roose as a narrator is both calculating and dishonest He does this stunt explicitly to get a book deal, and it makes me question everything that happens The narrative seems a bit too pat and marketable to not wonder how much of it has been manipulated Besides, he spent all of his time at Liberty lying I think the only reason we have to trust what he says now is his commitment as journalist, and as a 20 year old who seems concerned about launching a writing career, this assurance isn t enough The distrust deepens as it seems that he has excised large chunks of the real story, such as why best selling author A.J Jacobs apparently had to hire a college freshman as his research assistant on the trip to Liberty which began Kevin Roose s whole spiritual journey My guess it that Roose s well connected parents set him up with a well connected author, the scheme for the book was hatched by Jacobs and a publisher, and Roose never writes nothing about it because he spends the majority of his pages carefully crafting the image of himself which he presents the reader I guess the hours he spends on Facebook his primary research tool paid off with that skill.That this book is best seller material is somewhat depressing in itself Roose jokingly compares his time at Liberty as just like spending a semester abroad, but in all honesty that s exactly what this book is in terms of his experiences and the intellectual depth with which he delves Yet nobody would consider buying a novel of some sopho s ramblings about Barcelona, but apparently we the Northern liberal that this book is clearly targeted towards think Southern Baptists as radically foreign than anyone living outside our own borders.The one really strong point of the book is its great pacing, usually a stumbling block for young authors Maybe these Millennials, growing up on blogs and social networking, will be able to compensate for their lack of intellectual rigor with a great sense of pace I look forward to an awesome future of rocking summer blockbusters My suggestion a pair of identical twins one gets sent to Rikers Island, the other matriculates to Brown, and then they HAVE TO SWITCH PLACES Action packed laffs for sure.


  3. says:

    The Unlikely Disciple is an interesting book I believe its greatest flaws are the result of the writer s age I also think its greatest strengths are the result of the writer s age This text is for the most part an unbiased and interesting take on one aspect of evangelical Christianity which is a vast and very diverse subculture and gives an outsider s undercover inside view I enjoyed the text a lot, but I wonder if I got out of it because I understand the evangelical culture, being raised in church, than readers who have no Christian upbringing I am not sure.In short, Mr Roose decides that he has no understanding of fundamentalist Christianity as a result of his uber liberal upbringing, and rather than be one of the intolerant tolerant liberal elite decides to find out for himself the truth behind what he has assumed or been told The result is a semester being a student at Liberty University in Virginia, the college started by the late Dr Jerry Falwell.There are moments in The Unlikely Disciple that are quite profound and theologically interesting, and Roose seems to be very honest about the power of Christian living and the attraction that it holds However, the text also suffers from some rather insipid and pedantic observations made by Roose that I believe are expressly the result of his age There are parts of the text that reek of the philosophical discussions we all had while sitting around with our friends drunk in the dorms thinking that we were being deep They detract from the text because they are so jarring and contradict in terms of quality the better parts of the book.The text also slides between embracing and detracting from the faith and belief of the Liberty community Roose often contradicts himself, usually on the same page This may prove frustrating to some readers, but I did not mind it for the most part simply because the gamut of thought and emotion seems to be part of religious faith for many people One thing I found particularly interesting was that the most unlikable and I believe bigoted people mentioned in the text are polar opposites Roose has a homophobic and mean spirited roommate who I find disgusting He also mentions frequently two lesbian aunts, who I found to be just as bigoted and small minded about people not like them I don t think this was a purposeful contrast that the author tried to create, but it is there, and I have talked to others who read this book that thought the same thing.All in all an interesting text and one that I am glad I read It is hard to come across a book that deals with the religious divide that is mostly impartial, but The Unlikely Disciple comes close, and it is to be celebrated for that.


  4. says:

    Here s what worries me the most I came to Liberty to humanize people Because humanizing people is good, right But what about people with reprehensible views Do they deserve to be humanized By giving Jerry Falwell s universe a fair look, am I putting myself in his shoes Or am I really just validating his worldview I ask myself these questions and for hours, and when I calm down, I reach this conclusion humanizing is not the same as sympathizing You can peel a stereotype off a person and not see a beautiful human being underneath In fact, humanity can be very ugly. Paging through Kevin Roose s experiences in Evangelicalville was like a trip down memory lane While I did not attend Liberty University, I was reared in an identical culture, where fundamentalist attitudes reigned supreme Where preservation of dogma was paramount Where absolutist certainty was all but demanded and gray areas of belief decried as a warning sign of pending spiritual failure Where words like evolution, Darwin, the Big Bang and even science itself were considered evil and subversive Where being a Christian also meant voting conservative.Yes, this is an environment with which I m all too familiar Thankfully, I did not end up spending my college years at what Roose dubs in his subtitle America s Holiest University I know several who did, however, and I can say unreservedly that Roose s portrait in The Unlikely Disciple is not in the least a misrepresentation or caricature If anything, it s too balanced, and that s quite an accomplishment for someone emigrating from Brown University.How does someone raised in a secular family and enrolled in an Ivy League institution end up transplanting himself to its antithesis in nearly every major respect The early outlines of the idea formed while interning for A J Jacobs on Jacobs book The Year of Living Biblically Roose realized that there is a subculture in America with whom he had never really interfaced the religious right You hear about them all the time on the news and in satirical send ups by liberal media, but there s a difference between drawing your verdict from secondhand voices on the one hand and first person experience on the other He decided that going incognito to live among them, immersing himself in their inner society, would be an effective way to bridge the gap And who knows, maybe his story could change how each side views the other and help moderate the bickering to an acceptable volume.Much to his family s chagrin, Roose s application was accepted and he took his academic pursuits south of the Mason Dixon line to Liberty University the bastion of evangelicalism itself At the time, the school belonged to Jerry Falwell, the same incendiary televangelist cum segregationist who campaigned against MLK, Jr in the 1950s and 60s, who blamed 9 11 on feminists, abortionists, gays, pagans and the ACLU, and who frequently referred to AIDS as God s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals With the Falwell era in full bloom, Roose found himself in what could properly be labeled the epicenter of Christian fundamentalism, a mini kingdom dedicated to churning out warriors for God who could defend the values of the Christian right against an encroaching secular liberal hegemony This was no Brown Putting up a credible facade around his new ultra religious classmates would not be easy.If culture shock was on the agenda, he certainly came to the right place Draconian injunctions against R rated films and all physical contact with the opposite sex outside of hand holding weekly Bible studies, daily prayer sessions and omnipresent invocations of Jesus fever courses that felt less like education than Christian apologetics, sermonic and indoctrinational than didactic surplus doses of Adam and Eve based science, homophobia ridden expletives and rhetoric laden with allusions to hell It s all here, and having been an insider for so long I can only imagine how alien Liberty must have felt to an observer outside the fold.A lesser individual might have treated this as a faultfinding mission to be spun into an acerbic expos on the backwardness of conservative Christianity Roose chooses the higher road Far from the minimally participative bystander, he invests his time in all of the extracurricular activities his schedule can accommodate He befriends members of his Bible study and carries on late night discussions with his hallmates He goes on dates with chaste Christian girls He joins the choir at Thomas Road Baptist Church and proselytizes spring breakers on Floridian beaches He even meets with a spiritual mentor once a week in which his masturbation habits tend to come up with irregular frequency You know, normal college stuff, minus the Jesus stuffed diet.While Roose came mentally equipped for the fervorous religiosity, his semester away wasn t without its surprises Like any school, one can find a diversity of views strolling the halls, and Liberty is no exception Roose encounters several students during his time there who don t fit the mold Liberty has prepared for them feminists, a small but closeted gay community, students who find creationism incoherent at best, who stubbornly refuse to toe the climate change is a global hoax party line, who aren t militantly homophobic and don t believe same sex attraction is morally suspect, and who sincerely question the values and political dispositions of the university s leadership His exchanges with these nonconformists were enlightening and will be appreciated by those exploring a progressive faith.The Structure of FundamentalismOffensive, comical and rebarbative all at the same time, many may wonder how such a community can survive under the duress of modernity As a former evangelical with a foot in both sides of the pond, I know the mentality well More than anything else, institutions like Liberty are interested in the doctrinaire attachment to an ideology Their dogma is a thinly veiled version of Christian dominionism Any information deemed in conflict with said dogma is viscerally suppressed inconvenient facts are pushed aside and only addressed once they become too difficult to ignore.Fundamentalist communities are thus arranged so as to propagate internal views at the expense of external ones Within the propagandistic bubble, only views consistent with the dogma are given any weight Its members are fastened, often without a weighing of alternatives, to a system that valorizes ignorance and trammels free thought They are not aware that they are suckers bred on intellectual deprivation, any than fish are aware of the oxygen outside the fishbowl This basic schematic maps well to several pockets of Christian fundamentalism and churches dotting the American landscape, even if its application to today s Liberty loses some precision Towards the end of the book, Roose learns through his continued communications with Liberty students that the school has grown a bit lax in the ideology department following Falwell s departure Given the extreme contrast between the late reverend s views and those of mainstream America, we can only hope this was inevitable.Closing ThoughtsPossibly the defining introspective work of our generation, Roose s sojourn turned memoir is an honest, transparent, balanced look into a cultural divide that seems unbridgeable by the year His stay at Liberty was attended by no shortage of disheartening revelations, including run ins with narrow views on sexual ethics, gender and race, rampant faculty encouraged homophobia, and distortions of inconvenient science, all sentiments deeply rooted in American culture and for which Liberty is but an emblem But contrary to what might be expected from its gimmicky sounding premise, Roose doesn t spend the length of the book razzing de intellectualized Bible belters who max out on the Christian Richter scale Roose stepped into the shoes of an evangelical to learn about their beliefs, values and traditions, and came away with so much He found that on the surface there is much that separates the evangelical community from the rest of American society, but scratch below that surface and you find a lot commonality than polarizing media profiles would suggest This is easily one of the best books I ve ever read, perhaps because it hits so close to home Roose s closing words in the epilogue continue to resonate with me At the end of the day, the two sides of this culture war still have glaring differences, and those differences are likely to continue to define the relationship between the evangelical community and America at large for decades to come Humans have always quarreled over religious beliefs, and I suppose they always will But judging from my post Liberty experience, this particular conflict isn t built around a hundred foot brick wall If anything, it s built around a flimsy piece of cardboard, held in place on both sides by paranoia and lack of exposure It s there, no doubt, but it s hardly forbidding And important, it s hardly soundproof Religious conflict might be a basic human instinct, but I have faith, now than ever before, that we can subvert that instinct for long enough to listen to each other. p 315 Note This review is republished from my official website.


  5. says:

    When A.J Jacobs was writing The Year of Living Biblically, he took on a slave unpaid intern The slave was Kevin Roose After visiting Thomas Road Baptist Church sanctuary of Jerry Falwell with Jacobs, Roose decided to take a semester off at Brown and enroll undercover at Liberty University Kingdom of Jerry Falwell.What Roose finds at Liberty is an anomaly that changes his world There is overt faculty encouraged homophobia, antiquated views on race, and an emphasis on de intellectualizing Christians But there are also genuinely warm, empathetic, intelligent people who become a second family to him His friends at Liberty seem to fear the secular world, while his liberal family including his favorite lesbian aunts seem to fear the evangelical world In both cases, they only know the malevolent hype about one another This book is at once infuriating and heart warming It was like reading the exact opposite of my life story.


  6. says:

    Let me start off by saying that I did like this bookI thought that Roose had some interesting insights into evangelical Christianity and this wasn t the Evangelical Bashing I thought it would be I laughed at some of his confusion over things I grew up withI understood how some things looked to him as an outsider All in all, I think the book is a fascinating read With that saidhere is what inherently bothers me concerns me about the book 1 Roose was clearly writing for different audiences He says he has a liberal family repetitively mentioning their concerns with his experiment , lesbian aunts, and a book deal already in the works Then he actually became friends with his Liberty schoolmates, found Falwell gasp non evil in person, and had powerful moments of self discovery It s all too shiny and nice to be true I believe there was probably a good deal of writing for people that occurred with this nineteen year old s project When I was 19 year old journalist at my school paper, I was pretty full of myself, but I also got to interview some higher ups in my college I always wanted to please them I get this type of Disneyland cleanliness from Roose Doesn t want to piss anyone off and why would he Piss off the liberals AND the evangelicals Where is your book buying audience Keep it walking the line between clearly offending anyone and I think you have what Roose has a calculated lie meant to sell books 2 There was an agenda here To write a book Journalists with agendas write awesome stuff sometimesbut it s hard to know how much of what is written STILL isn t a clear view He purposefully infiltrated groups on campus so he could write about them in the book What comes to mind is meeting with the pastor who counsels homosexuals at Liberty And then he went to the group with men dealing with masturbation I meanthat meeting had six men in it So, is it representative of what Christian Evangelicals are dealing with Hardly 3 It doesn t matter how you read it Kevin Roose thinks most evangelical Christians are academically backwards He specifically says that he could accept Jesus Christ as his savior before he could convert to young earth creationism or a religion that bashes homosexuals He just took those populations of believers and made them into the whole NOT recognizing the other population of believers who believe in the Big Bang and accept that perhaps 6 days may not be literally 6 days And there are a lot of them out there There are also Christians out there who are not as distinctly homophobic as EVERY SINGLE PERSON he met at Liberty Seriously Seems like Roose is throwing the baby out with the bath water.


  7. says:

    So, you know what happens when you take a liberal arts school student and throw him in the mix with the boys at Jerry Falwell s Liberty University, a school where the dorms are segregated and residents have a curfew Well, gee, whaddaya know, what boys always do happens they sit around and play video games, talk about women and sex, they do their homework and contemplate their futures Oh, and throw some prayer in, too, because it s a Christian University And what a shocker Not all the students are as straight laced as the school would have them, while others are complete biggots Why, in fact, they re a mixed bag, pretty much like you d get in any other university in America Oh, and surprise The science classes teach creationism because it s a religious school, and well, gee, the students who believe in creationism seem to just eat that right up Yet, there are still some private dissenters WOW This ethnography is so vague that it literally could have been about any social group in any institution in the world In other words It s piss poor.Boring Tedious Took nothing away from it other than Jerry Falwell was a money making evil genius.SUCKED.


  8. says:

    I love immersion journalism when it s done well I m mightily impressed by this Kevin Roose kid He s funny, respectful, bold, thoughtful, and a darned good writer At age 19, Roose decided he wanted to cross the God Divide that separates secular kids from ultra religious ones After a crash course in evangelical culture from a formerly evangelical friend, he spent a semester undercover at Jerry Falwell s Liberty University a misnomer if ever there was one He completely immersed himself in campus activities, pretending to be one of them in every possible way How does one pretend to be a Liberty evangelical Here are just a few of Kevin s activities 1 Singing in Falwell s Thomas Road Church choir every Sunday This meant being on national TV every week 2 Participating in a week long spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach, Florida They approached revelers on beaches and streets and invited them to accept Jesus This made me cringe for him How embarrassing 3 Attending required courses such as History of Life, in which students are taught that Noah s ark was like a floating skyscraper that was large enough to carry dinosaurs The professor suggested that they could have been teenage dinosaurs, so as to take up less space This nearly made me spit out my crackers 4 Attending a meeting of a campus men s group called Every Man s Battle, where they openly discuss their struggles with masturbation and pornography 5 Dating a variety of girls on campus in order to experience dating the Liberty Way Hand holding the only acceptable form of physical contact No hugs lasting than a second or two No kissing allowed, not even on the cheek 6 Conducting a private interview with Jerry Falwell and writing an article on the good ol boy for the campus newspaper All of this, and much , Kevin did with a straight face and an open mind, with no intent to mock or ridicule He ended up making some good friends and discovered that evangelical kids, however misguided, are a lot like him and his secular college buddies than he would ever have imagined The book is both entertaining and educational Roose s reportage is impressively fair and even handed, with equal weight given to positive and negative aspects of his experience.


  9. says:

    The subtitle on this book irks me, but it also effectively demonstrates the crux of the author s problem a basic misunderstanding of what faith is about As I read about his semester underground at Liberty University, I kept wondering about the conversations that hadn t made it into the book Surely he knows that everyone at Liberty everyone in the WORLD is a sinner, according to the Bible So he s not the only one there And to call Liberty America s Holiest University is a misnomer More like one of America s most legalistic Christian universities The legalism and rules bothered him, but I wondered if anyone had explained to him that Christians are called to be holy, and that is the way that some people approach holiness, the flip side of the antinomian crowd I wondered if anyone had told him that the Bible is God s Word, and so we align ourselves with it, not the other way around He seemed to think that the whole scene was something people made up to suit themselves, or to torture others with, and I suppose it might look that way without the Holy Spirit s influence I m glad he saw the joy that others experience as a result of their relationship with God, and I hope he finds that joy himself some day I appreciate this description of his experience it helped me to think carefully about how I live out my faith and how I talk about it with unbelievers.


  10. says:

    After recently wondering aloud what book I should read next, my sister we re both agnostic recommended, yet again, that I read The Unlikely Disciple I basically know nothing about the Bible or Christianity I groan and can t even begin to guess at the correct answers when The Bible is a category on Jeopardy , so I thought this book might be mildly interesting and entertaining, but worried it would be a long, slow read Boy, was I wrong I found this book fascinating and finished it in two days I had no idea what evangelical Christianity was about, knew the name Jerry Falwell and had heard of Liberty, but beyond that, nothing.The book details how Kevin Roose, a not really practicing Quaker, leaves liberal Brown University in Rhode Island to attend a semester, undercover, at evangelical Liberty University in Virginia in an attempt to bridge, as he puts it, the God Divide though I m sure the book deal at 19 didn t hurt either.Roose gives us an inside look at what goes on at Liberty, from classes and church services to extracurricular activities and dorm life But it s than that We find out about some of the people that are fundamental Christians or are on the path to becoming one people most of us might never meet unless they were trying to witness aka convert us I really liked the fact that Roose threw himself into his semester at Liberty wholeheartedly, despite the fact that he disagreed with many of things he heard and saw, and that he kept an open mind about everything.There was plenty about Liberty that annoyed me and, at times, boggled my mind from the intolerance, the way students weren t supposed to question anything in the Bible, the almost obsessive compulsive praying over anything and everything and don t get me started on the classes yes, Dr Dekker, I m talking about yours However, I really found myself liking and feeling for some of the students there Though I think a few are working on ulcers worrying about how all of us heathens are going to try and corrupt them as soon as they enter the real world Speaking of intolerance, I found myself kind of ticked off with the reactions of a good deal of Roose s secular, liberal friends and family view spoiler When he finally fessed up to his friends and former mentors and classmates at Liberty, they still liked and accepted him, while it was obvious that his supposedly open minded friends and family would have derided him if he d told them how he really felt about his time at Liberty hide spoiler


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