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The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University Paperback
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--The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, Episcopal Priest and Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University
"Kevin Roose is a delightful writer, and this is a humane book. Read it and I predict you'll have less paranoia, more exposure to 'the other,' and a larger dose of Roose's generous and hopeful faith."
--Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and Everything Must Change
"Keenly observed, funny, and compassionate. Kevin Roose parachutes us into a seldom-glimpsed and little understood pocket of
"This is a brilliant book. Absolutely brilliant. Roose's wisdom, humanity, and love kept me going. And I laughed. A lot."
-- Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church and bestselling author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God
"What happens when a Brown undergrad goes undercover at Liberty University? If he's a writer as insightful and open-minded as Kevin Roose, he ends up learning as much about himself as he does about the evangelical Christians he lives with. The Unlikely Disciple provides a funny, compassionate, and revealing look at Jerry Falwell's 'Bible Boot Camp,' and the surprisingly diverse band of true believers who make it their home."
--Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher
"Hallelujah for Kevin Roose. This is a remarkable book. He takes us on a fascinating, funny, nuanced journey that doesn't condescend or make glib judgments. It's just what the culture wars need. If I didn't already have kids, I'd adopt Kevin."
--A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year Of Living Biblically --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Sometimes it is very helpful to have a new pair of unbiased eyes catch what you may be missing. Organizations and businesses hire people to critique their services or their products. But when a company knows that a consultant is showing up they put their best foot forward. When a restaurant is expecting a food critique for dinner the chef and wait staff perform to a different standard than normal. The best case for unbiased feedback is when you don't know that it is coming. That is why Liberty University should be so appreciative of Kevin Roose's book, "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University."
Kevin, on his own (crazy) initiative, took a semester off from college at (liberal) Brown University to experience an extremely different lifestyle than he'd ever known-right at the heart of fundamentalism- Jerry's Falwell's flagship megachurch, Thomas Road Baptist, and its accompanying university. Instead of viewing evangelical Christianity from the outside the glass, Kevin decided to jump into the fish bowl himself. He actually found that swimming with the fishes didn't kill him.Read more ›
The concept of a secular Ivy Leaguer immersing himself in fundamentalist Evangelical culture is only sort-of interesting, and I assumed this would be a condescending book, written by a wanna-be Bill Maher. However, Roose is self-depreciating, humorous, and skilled enough to make this a fascinating read. I finished it in one sitting.
Jerry Falwell's college, Liberty University, is an intriguing place, as the reader will learn in the first few pages of the book. There are serious punishments for offenses like drinking, swearing, watching R-rated movies, and hugging for more than 3 seconds. Yet what interests Roose, and causes him to write this book is that 10,000 of his peers choose to go there. His sincerity stands out as he tries to understand the "God Divide" with humility, fairness, and an open-mind.
The characters that Roose meets make this book a great read. Contrary to popular opinion, there is a startling amount of diversity at Liberty. Jersey Joey, one of the main-characters, is a foul-mouthed wise-cracking student who is hilarious and, despite his obsession with calling Roose "gay", quite lovable. There are the awkward pastor's kids, the jocks who don't follow the rules, and a few stereotypes: a racist southerner, and more than a few students who make truly offensive homophobic remarks.
Roose never "goes native". At the end of the book, he is still a secular liberal Democrat who never gets comfortable with some of the comments he hears at Liberty or with young-earth Creationism. But, nonetheless, he discovers nuance in his experience, and does a valuable service by humanizing a sub-culture that is otherwise caricatured.
Anyone who has interest in this aspect of American culture, whatever side of the God-Divide they might find themselves on, will find this to be a book worth reading. I can't emphasize enough how hilarious of a writer Kevin Roose is.
The happy truth is that it's a little bit of both. Kevin Roose writes with amazing maturity and insight (particularly given that he was 19 when he began this book), and his account of his semester at Liberty University is filled with both heart and nuance. He doesn't shy away from having his assumptions shattered, and he doesn't hesitate to see a very different world with eyes that are fairly close to understanding.
But he also doesn't pull back from delivering the hard truths - where the great divides are, where the unmoveable differences seem to be between his position and that of evangelical Christians.
At the same time, his change throughout the book is clear and moving - he presents the students and faculty at Liberty as complex, diverse, and largely caring people, and he finds some unexpected benefits to their joy in their faith and what it brings them. The good of this book is that it gives you both the good and the bad, and it's not afraid to give you a messy reality.
Roose's thoughtfulness does him credit when it comes to internal evaluation, too. He spends a lot of time wondering about what faith makes those around him, and what faith, or lack of it, makes /him/. His introspection is open, honest, fascinating, and will ring true for many who've brushed along the edges of Christianity, or even dove full-in.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to buy this for my senior seminar class. I like that it reads like a novel, but it's lengthy and kind of felt repetitive after a while. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Emma C
I admit I picked up Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University because I wanted a gossipy tell-all that would expose Jerry Falwell and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Russell J. Sanders
Being a gay man in a fundamentalist church, this book is very plausible.Published 2 months ago by Michael Bottomley
Kevin Roose is a sophomore at Brown University and decides to take a leave of absence to immerse himself for a semester at the country's most religious school, Liberty University. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nancy A
Written from a person who went there with an open mind, not an agenda.Published 3 months ago by cas
Let me start by saying I am a born-again, Evangelical, Biblical Christian.
Let me also start by saying this book was extremely well written and very entertaining and... Read more
Not the "Hey these people are crazy nut jobs." Book I was hoping for but still really well done.Published 6 months ago by D. Jeske
This book is good. It will absolutely challenge your opinions no matter what they are. It's a book meant for thoughtful study of yourself and a sub culture of american life that... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Renee Fuchs
It’s an entertaining book even without being fueled by the culture war. What could easily become one of those observational parodies that pokes fun at the more extreme elements of... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kenn Caesius