Peering into the evangelist lifestyle
An Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University
by Kevin Roose
[#43 in my 52 book challenge]
Take a Quaker boy from ultra-liberal Brown University and plop him onto the campus of the ultra-conservative, evangelical Christian school that is Liberty University and you get this book. Instead of studying abroad, Kevin Roose experiences another culture right here on our own country. Liberty was founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell to raise the next generations of evangelical Christians in holy, conservative environment. Roose goes undercover as a full-time student, living in the dorms and following the “Liberty Way” to learn more about evangelical Christianity and the students who choose to attend such a university.
While at Liberty, Roose learns to read the Bible daily, pray, and witness. He attends church every Sunday, sings in the choir, and goes on a mission trip over spring break. For his courses he must learn about evangelism, the Old Testament, and creationism. Roose learns to see the students as individuals, instead as simply “The Religious Right,” as he learns more about himself.
An Unlikely Disciple is one of the best books I’ve read in this year’s set. I was impressed by Roose’s open-minded approach to this project. He has liberal views about evolution, abortion, and homosexuality, and he quite strongly believes that the evangelical approach is flawed in many ways. However, he plants himself in the middle of a community of people with completely opposing viewpoints and seeks to understand them. I think we all could benefit from learning about each other with such open minds, and I applaud his strength in holding on to his own beliefs while he did so.
I was most intrigued by Roose’s insights on prayer and praying for other people. He, like me, struggles with the idea that God actually sits down and listens to/answers all of our prayers. With all the terrible things going on in the world, how could He? Roose’s conclusions after experiencing hours of praying each week taught me some things about why people pray. He also shed some light on why students attend such a strict University — offenses such as kissing, cussing, and watching R-rated movies are punished with monetary fines.
If you are fascinated by religion or even slightly intrigued by fish-out-of-water-type experiences, I highly recommend this book.