Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book review: The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose

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

About: Roose heads from Brown University to Jerry Falwell's ultra-Christian Liberty University where the Bible is the infallible word of God. Obviously, Liberty is a unique place. It has single-sex dorms, a three-second maximum on hugs and classes that includes Creationism and Evangelism. Weekends are spent playing video games or cards,
homophobia is rampant and swearing consists of tame euphemisms like "son of a biscuit"or "bump you!" and. Roose takes it seriously though and throws himself into Liberty life. He joins the choir, asks a few girls out, goes to Daytona on spring break to try and convert people and even attends a prayer group for guys struggling with resisting masturbating. Even with their different ideology and stricter rules, he sees that Liberty students are very friendly and quite like students at other colleges. Roose's most notable achievement was scoring an interview for the school newspaper with Jerry Falwell himself. While Roose hates some aspects of Falwell's ideology, such as homophobia, he finds that he likes the man's compassion and the fact that he was forced to question his previous assumptions. The interview would turn out to be Falwell's last print interview before his death just two weeks later.

Pros: Well written. Roose gets huge points for his compassion and keeping an open mind. Good wrap-up and conclusion. Selected bibliography was a nice surprise.

Cons: A.J Jacobs, who Roose describes as his "boss" has a blurb on the cover and I prefer more neutral kudos. Doesn't explain Liberty's "demerit" system. I would've liked to know more about the food at Liberty.

Grade: B+

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