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God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America Hardcover – December 23, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A journalist known for her writing on religion and education in the Wall Street Journal and other top periodicals, Riley presents an engrossing survey of the growing world of religious higher education. To the secularly educated reader, this book is a fascinating anthropological glimpse into unfamiliar pockets of religious America. To the religiously affiliated, it cogently synthesizes issues and goals common to many of these colleges regardless of religion. Riley points out that enrollments are rising at these institutions and that a new educated "missionary generation" is bringing faith into the professional world. She argues that if "religious college leaders can navigate between the dangers of secularization and isolation, these schools can more effectively transmit their ideas to a larger American audience" and help build bridges between "red" and "blue" America. Riley's findings are based on visits to 20 different campuses, and she devotes her first six chapters to schools with various affiliations (Mormon, fundamentalist Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Jewish and Baptist). She spent up to a week on each campus, attended religious services and social events, sat in on classes and conducted interviews. The second half takes on common themes relevant to issues of student life on religious campuses: feminism, race, minority religious groups, lifestyle choices, integration of faith and intellect, and political activism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What are young Americans looking for in a college education? In what he considers one of the most surprising developments in higher education, Riley finds that a growing number of students are forsaking postmodern secularism by seeking deeper religious faith. Through extended visits to 20 faith-based schools, Riley has monitored the quickening pulse of religious devotion among college students divided by doctrinal tenets (Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Jews, and Buddhists) but united by a shared desire for an education unifying secular and sacred truths. That quest for educational unity looks different at Notre Dame than it does at Wheaton College, and different still at Brigham Young University than it does at Yeshiva University. But despite the differences, Riley recognizes that faculty, administrators, and students at all these schools face common challenges as they translate faith into this-world decisions about careers and family, sex and politics. And as the metaphysically confident graduates of these schools chart paths that elevate them to prominence in government and business, Riley sees them exerting ever-greater influence on the national culture. Balanced treatment of a socially potent movement in higher education. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312330456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312330453
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a former Wall Street Journal editor and writer whose work focuses on higher education, religion, philanthropy and culture. She is the author of God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America (St. Martin's, 2005) and The Faculty Lounges ... And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Pay For (Ivan Dee, 2011). Ms. Riley is also the co-editor of Acculturated (Templeton Press, 2010), a book of essays on pop culture and virtue. Her book, "'Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America," will be published in April by Oxford University Press.

Ms. Riley's writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She appears regularly on FoxNews and FoxBusiness. She has also been interviewed on Q&A with Brian Lamb as well as the Today Show.

She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in English and Government. She lives in the suburbs of New York with her husband, Jason, and their three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. Stoner VINE VOICE on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prior to starting this book I did not think that I would like it at all; however, I was mistaken. I highly recommend this book for members of the higher education community and those of particular faiths that may be attending college.

"God on the Quad" starts with a rather strange introduction which speaks of "red states" and "blue states" and makes a large number of generalizations about liberals and conservatives that may anger some people. After reading the entire book I could not really determine how the introduction frames (or even relates to) the rest of the book. If you, as a reader, feel that you get offended by political commentary then I recommend you skip the introduction. Starting at chapter 1 the book is worthwhile.

The book starts with a few case studies from various religious colleges: Brigham Young University, Bob Jones University, Notre Dame, St. Thomas Aquinas, Baylor, and a few others. Obviously the faiths of the schools and degree of fundamentalism range from each institution to the next. After the case studies, Riley follows a few themes such as "sex, drugs, and rock and roll," minorities and diversity, and political activism at religious institutions.

The problem I have is that Riley does not hide her biases towards various schools. For example, she writes with a negative voice when writing about Bob Jones University. I truly felt like there was nothing good about Bob Jones University, according to Riley. One reason for this may be because of the way she was treated on the different campuses. I do believe that her research would have been presented better if the biased voice had been removed and equal comparisons had been made.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barat on June 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A well-written, fair-minded survey of various religious colleges and universities (including my alma mater, "Old" Notre Dame) and how they are grappling with issues of race, gender, political correctness, and other battlefronts in the cultural wars raging in the country. The major focus is on half a dozen schools, including ND, Brigham Young, Thomas Aquinas College (an orthodox Catholic "Great Books" college), Yeshiva, and the "notorious" Bob Jones University, but other institutions are covered as well. Any simple-minded hypothesis you may have formed regarding the "inferior" quality of education at schools with an explicit religious emphasis is sure to be overturned here. (For example, did you know that the hyper-fundamentalist Bob Jones University has a well-regarded art collection? I certainly didn't.) Far from being backwaters laden with hicks and idol-worshippers, these colleges and universities provide some real intellectual "diversity" amidst a sea of sameness, have preserved an air of academic seriousness in an era of increasingly trivialized scholarship, and possess the inestimable advantage of a framework of "shared values" within which to examine the surrounding culture - and change it in meaningful ways.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Wride on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First, I must say that "God on the Quad" was interesting, but as I read through BYU, Notre Dame, Yeshiva, and others I began to wonder whether Riley was writing for parents looking to find out whether they should send their high school seniors to these schools or if she really was trying to answer "How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America". I feel she did have to enlighten others on campus environment, atmosphere, etc, but she did not go far enough into how this generation was going to change America. Like another commenter, I get the feeling she'll have to write another book to get to her original thesis.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By B Collins on March 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book contains essential information for parents and for students who are preparing for college and contemplating the scant options out there for a wholesome -- some might say a sane -- environment in which to live and study. I found myself wishing Mrs. Riley had covered several other colleges I've heard about; Grove City College in particular comes to mind. And I'd have appreciated an entire chapter on Wheaton. But with regard to the colleges and universities she does home in on, I learned much that I had wondered about. For example, Mrs. Riley examines the dating scene (or courtship scene, or hooking up scene, as the case may be) in detail and captures the ethos on each campus much more thoroughly than does that other indispensable guide for conservative students, ISI's Choosing the Right College. Although her writing is workmanlike, with occasional small lapses in grammar or diction, Mrs. Riley deserves high praise for the earnestness with which she pursues her subject, for her sense of the interesting questions, and -- with one possible exception, to which I'll return -- for the evenhandedness with which she treats schools of various faiths.

Among the schools she analyzes, Baylor seems to come off best. Interestingly, Baylor is the only subject school in which the administration is attempting a return to religious values that were compromised during the sixties and ensuing decades. The other schools discussed in the book are either still loosening up or have stood firm. Perhaps as a consequence, there is more of a discernible struggle at Baylor to make a place for cultural renewal; yet the code of conduct there appears to be advisory rather than compulsory, and I gather that Mrs. Riley approves.
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