Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guest Review: The Unlikely Disciple

I'd like to welcome back Booking Pap Pap. Today, he is reviewing THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE: A SINNER'S SEMESTER AT AMERICA'S HOLIEST UNIVERSITY by Kevin Roose. I am so glad he had the chance to read this book because I have been hearing such wonderful things about it. After reading his review, I am even more certain that I need to read this book.

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. -- Grand Central Publishing

When I first became aware of THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE by Kevin Roose, I envisioned a book written by a liberal Ivy League self-described agnostic that would ridicule Liberty University and Evangelism. What I found instead was a well written, open-minded and respectful account of life at Liberty University.

Kevin Roose became a real student at Liberty and completely immersed himself in the student life. He enrolled in classes, dated Liberty women, participated in spiritual counseling, joined the Thomas Road Baptist Church choir and took part in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach. He even had the opportunity to interview Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty.

Roose found the atmosphere at Liberty supportive and warm. When he later told the friends at Liberty that he turned their lives into a book, to his surprise he found them forgiving and not angry. In fact, THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE is found in the Liberty library.

The book gives the reader an inside look at one of the largest conservative schools in the country. You discover that the students are typical college students in many ways despite the strong influence of the conservative right on issues such as abortion, global warming, evolution and gay rights. Not all students are religious zealots or political activists; some even express doubts about their faith. The fact that Roose’s family (particularly his gay aunt) and his secular friends were quite concerned that he was being brainwashed at Liberty adds an interesting and humorous aspect to the book.

Roose never fully buys into the “The Liberty Way” but does express self-doubt in some of his own ways of thinking. The experiment probably taught Kevin Roose as much about himself as it did about Liberty University. I believe he now considers himself a Christian and continues the practice of prayer he learned at Liberty.

I strongly recommend THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE. Anyone who reads it will find it entertaining, witty and thought provoking.

A big thanks to Booking Pap Pap for reviewing this book and to the folks at Hachette for sending me a copy! Check out the book's trailer:


Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Thanks, Booking Pap Pap for another great review! I've heard a lot about this book. It sort of reminds me of the show "30 Days". I'll add it to my wish list! Thanks again!

bermudaonion said...

Booking Pap Pap scored with his review once again! I am really anxious to read this book now. I enjoyed the trailer too.

Shannansbooks said...

Wow this books sounds amazing. I always wondered what went on in the Evangelical schools.

Shelly B said...

Booking Pap Pap has given a great review! have an award at my blog.

Beth F said...

Sounds totally amazing. I would have *never* picked up this book on my own. But Booking Pap Pap has changed my mind. I'll add it to my wish list.

S. Krishna said...

Thanks Booking Pap Pop! I'm glad this was a respectful account, rather than ridiculing the college and those that attend.

Anonymous said...

Who in heck is Booking Pap Pap?

I don't know, but he sure gives a good review!!!