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God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America Hardcover – September 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Envisioned by its founder as a "Christian equivalent of the Ivy League," Patrick Henry College positions itself as a training ground for God's cultural soldiers to take on the secular mainstream; at the seven-year-old Virginia school for evangelicals, religion and political journalist Rosin reports, girls are warned by e-mail if their bra strap is showing, dating requires parental permission and students fast forward through sex scenes in movies. Though they might seem out of touch, students here are as ambitious as any Ivy Leaguers, interning in the White House and Hollywood, volunteering on political campaigns and doggedly pursuing studies like baraminology (creationist biology). Having spent a year and a half immersed in the campus culture, Rosin weaves a deft and honest narrative of evangelical education, combining historical background (the roots of evangelism, the story of founder Michael Farris), close observation and skeptical wit. Among other students and faculty, Rosin introduces Derek, the fresh-faced, idealistic political volunteer; and Farahn, who gave up dancing for the Lord. Making it clear that the American evangelical population is growing in political and cultural influence, Rosin provides an illuminating, accessible guide to the beliefs, aspirations and ongoing challenges of its next generation.
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From Booklist

Patrick Henry College, just outside the nation's capital, is a small school preparing Christian Fundamentalist youth to become the elite of the future, permeating politics and American culture to change what they see as an ungodly nation. Washington Post reporter Rosin spent a year and a half among the faithful, watching the efforts of school founder Michael Farris to mold the next generation of evangelicals. She follows the lives of students, nearly all of them previously homeschooled, as they cope with college life, the world of Washington politics, and questions about their faith and their futures. Farahn, a ballet dancer, is an attractive, somewhat cynical misfit, who struggles through the year. Daniel Noa is trying to reconcile his conservative persona at school with the greater tolerance of his hometown of Hollywood, where growing numbers of Christian filmmakers are making their mark. Elisa is a bright, earnest young woman, chafing at the expectations that she will curb her ambitions and devote herself to a future husband and children. A captivating look at struggles within the conservative movement. Bush, Vanessa

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012626
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,740,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Several intertwined stories:

*How several overly-religious, over-achieving youngsters cope with a new and unique overly-religious, over-achieving college.

*How these students decide where to draw the line when it comes to participation in today's seductive secular culture - with the help of prayer, a personal relationship with Jesus, and Patrick Henry College's conduct manual and "snitch" policy.

*How an attorney, who made a career out of representing the interests of home-schooling parents, opened an evangelical college designed to put high achieving home-schoolers on a career path leading to politics. Student volunteers are given time off to assist the Republicans during each election cycle. A huge number of them get positions assisting Republican Congressmen and Senators in Washington DC during their off time.

*How these kids have been taught since birth that God is on the side of the Republican Party.

Patrick Henry College must tweak a continuous balancing act to maintain their offense and defense against secularism. Founder and President Michael Farris would like PHC to be part of the movement that would return the United States to be the God-fearing society it believes the founding fathers intended. This means an education that enhances a working knowledge of and working relationship with the enemy. That knowledge, at times, enhances the inadvertent defection of some of their brightest stars to the dark side.

Robert Stacey, PhD, consistently was a role model and favored teacher at Patrick Henry.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By H. Jennings on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Hanna Rosin, journalist who covers religion and politics for the Washington Post, is somehow permitted to get an in-depth look at the goings on at Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school that recruits the brightest and best homeschooled students. Why any Patrick Henry alum should be surprised that this book should have a liberal bent completely escapes me... what boggles my mind is how even-handed she strives to be while making observations about this fervent, religious, and idealistic youths.

Not to say that she doesn't throw in her own agenda. For instance, she makes it perfectly clear that abstinence programs are generally statistical failures. She finds it baffling (as do I!) that fundamentalist Christians are so on guard about any sexual images in movies but seem to whole-heartedly embrace violence and gore. She is suspect of the conversion process; when describing a little girl who has "just accepted Christ" during a church Awana meeting (Awana is like scouts for consevative Christians) she states that after her leader welcomes her to God's family, the girl's "expression stayed blank and she seemed a little off balance. At one point she looked down at her pink T-shirt, which read GIRLS RULE! in bubbly script."

Rosin observes these students like an anthropologist, and indeed the culture described makes for riveting reading material. What makes it even more interesting is that these students, who have lived in self-enclosed Christian bubbles for most of their lives, are themselves acting as anthropoligists, studying "heathen" culture while trying not to become too immersed in it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Booklover on March 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rosin does a wonderful reporting job and writes eloquently on the culture she sought to understand. However, having worked at Patrick Henry College for a time, I found her examples too extreme and not typical of the students I met. She never gives a 'normal' example of students there, but instead focuses on the more peculiar types of students. This does make the book more entertaining to read. Her perception of the controversies among Christian circles is profound, and it would be helpful for Christians to read this book and see themselves from an outside perspective that is both respectful and insightful.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Tatusko on May 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America Hanna Rosin, Washington Post correspondent, was embedded in the environment of the Patrick Henry College student for a year and reports what she witnessed and learned.

Patrick Henry College is a very small institution, but also newly founded under the clear authority of its president Michael Farris, a Christian homeschool advocate and clear supporter of the link between political conservativism and orthodox evangelical Christianity. The story she tells shows us remarkable resilience and fortitude of the students of this institution Farris can coined "God's Harvard". Indeed it's students will be among the elite of all secondary school graduates much less the creme of the crop among homeschooled teens. The student body which boasts a rather generous helping of homeschooled undergraduates alone supports any assertion that homseschooled teens can compete with the best and brightest of all high school graduates.

Rosin tells tales of highly competitive students who are in the throes of political training at Patrick Henry. these students have unprecedented access to Washington with a clear sense of mission and pride about their task to reform American government to be something in which God can exercise domain and rule. That God is not currently doing so is at the very heart of the curriculum. In any college, one would be thrilled to have such a critical mass of bright and passionate students and this is part of the picture that Rosin paints for us.

There is, of course, another side to the story. This side is the authoritarian nature of the administration with a special emphases on Michael Farris and Dean of Students Bob Wilson.
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