The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

Kevin Roose

Language: English

Pages: 324

ISBN: 0446178438

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


No drinking.
No smoking.
No cursing.

No dancing.
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 ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-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.

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As we consider Dr. Falwell’s vision . . . it is important to realize that we are not the first school to seek these lofty goals. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Brown were all started by churches that wanted to train students to serve Christ. . . . However, over time the priorities of these colleges shifted, and they started to focus on increasing the perceived quality of education rather than the spiritual life of the campus. Eventually, these schools achieved their academic goals, but they did so

I’ve made peace with my Christian façade by telling myself that I needed to keep it up in order to blend in here. And a lot of the time, it wasn’t that hard to stay silent. After a month or two, when my hallmates stopped asking about my faith and when acting like a Liberty student became second nature, I sort of forgot that I was hiding anything. But now, with a week and a half left in my semester, I’m starting to panic. Should I tell them everything before I leave? How will they react? Will I be

gets down on his knees, and accepts Christ as his savior. That part didn’t bother me so much. The part that worried me was the lead-up to that conversion. A few pages before Buck converts, his thought process is described in these terms: “If this was true, all that Rayford Steele had postulated—and Buck knew instinctively that if any of it was true, all of it was true—why had it taken Buck a lifetime to come to it?” That middle clause—“Buck knew instinctively that if any of it was true, all of

as long as anybody can remember,” he says. I want to get a glimpse of how it feels to be a friend of Dorothy at Bible Boot Camp, so I decide to pay Pastor Rick a visit. I call him to schedule an appointment, and the next day, I walk to his office, a small windowless room in the back of the Campus Pastors Office. He greets me with a smile. “Come on in, Kevin!” Pastor Rick is a tall, mustachioed sixty-something man, clad in a red cardigan and low-sitting glasses, who looks like he could have

any way around it. At Liberty, where almost everyone believes in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God, there seems to be two kinds of responses to tragedy. The first kind is the blind prayer for healing—people simply saying, “God, I don’t know why you would let something like this happen, but I pray that you’ll help the people who are hurting.” Most of the prayers I’ve heard today have been of this ilk. And even though I’m having a lot of trouble believing in a God who could allow

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