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God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation are Changing America Paperback – March 3, 2006
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Editor Naomi Schaeffer Riley had the same question, and she went to campuses across the country to find the answers. She visited the Mormon campus of Brigham Young in Utah. She visited the Catholic - yet very different- campuses of Notre Dame and Thomas Aquinas College. She stopped by the uber-conservative Bob Jones University. She visited the unique Jewish school of Yeshiva and the large Baptist based Texas campus of Baylor University. Her travels also brought her to different campuses around the nation that she discusses but in smaller details.
The one common thing she finds: everything and everyone is different. She finds a young, devoted believer trying to strengthen his/her faith but at the same campus she can find the nonbeliever who is simply searching for a great education at a great campus. Religious schools in America are thriving because they offer a positive alternative for students looking for a more disciplined, structured, meaningful college experience.
Though I definitely did not find Naomi Schaffer Riley to be bias, it seems like the students she interviewed were always on the extreme side of the scale. I did not feel like she was reaching out to the campus norm but the campus outliners. For a more in depth look at a religious school and the men and women who attend, I highly recommend An Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose over this book.
"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.
Another big problem I had with the writing is that Riley makes the assumption that "secular" means "anti-religious" and makes it a strong reoccuring theme throughout the book that secular institutions foster hostile climates for students of faith. While I think she has some merit here, I would've liked to have seen more investigation into this percieved phenomenon. For example, do religious students feel uncomfortable at secular institutions because everyone in their dorm drinks? Or are they uncomfortable because everyone makes fun of them for not drinking? There is a huge difference that would be worth further exploration before actually accusing secular institutions of fostering hostile enviornments when, for the most part, they are trying their hardest to accomodate every single diverse individual.
Finally, this book does provide a lot of insight on why students choose to attend religious colleges and also how religious colleges are expanding and filling a niche in the overall spectrum of higher education.
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of these colleges fared in the "real world" after leaving the