Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Unlikely Disciple

Kevin Roose was a student at Brown University which, by his own admission, is known for being quite the party school. Sex and drugs were as much a part of campus life as classes and term papers. One day Kevin ran across some students who attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. In case you don’t know, Liberty is the largest and fastest growing Evangelical University in the world and was founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. Roose could not fathom how students could go to a school where sex and alcohol were prohibited and where a dress code and church attendance was mandated.

So Kevin decided to so something bizarre. He transferred from Brown to Liberty for one semester to see what it was like. He faked it as college evangelical for a full semester and even sang in the Thomas Road Baptist Church Choir (the church founded by Jerry Falwell and now pastored by his son, Joanthan). He then wrote a book about his adventure that he called, “An Unlikely Disciple.” Being a Liberty alumni myself and having a child now attending Liberty, I had to get the book and read it.

To read Roose’s book was like being back in my own college days. In fact, Roose was in my dorm for his semester…Dorm 22. That is where I spent all four of my college years. As he described the sights and sounds of life as a student on the campus of Liberty, I found myself spending a lot of time going down nostalgia lane.

The book was also enjoyable in the sense that Roose has a very talented writing style. He captured my attention. He actually did the last student interview of Dr Falwell before his death. I read that interview before I knew anything about Kevin Roose or his book. I remember thinking that out of all the literally hundreds of written interviews I have read about one of my spiritual heroes, Dr, Falwell, his interview was refreshingly different.

His humor was also enjoyable. For example, Roose talks about the fact that the only thing he knew about Liberty before attending was that Playboy magazine had ranked it the #2 school in the nation for the best looking girls (true story…I believe UCLA was #1). When he got to Liberty he realized that Playboy was right (of course it was…that’s where I found my wife!). But when he thought about the fact that you were not allowed to kiss, let alone have sex as a Liberty student, he described it like, "Visiting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with your mouth wired shut."

But the best part of the book was seeing how a non-Christian, non-conservative person views the Christian faith and conservative culture when saturated with it 24 hours a day – seven days a week. To see Roose’s view of Christian roommates; chapel services; Bible classes; and of course, Dr. Falwell, was very fascinating. To read what part of Christianity intrigued him and what part repelled him was, in and of itself, worth the read. It made me wonder how Dr. Falwell would have reacted if news about Roose’s espionage and the publishing of his book afterwards would have occurred before he passed away in May of 2007. Frankly, I think he would have read and enjoyed the book. I know I did.


Phil Rohrer said...

I read this book as well earlier this year and absolutely loved it and loaned it to my parents to let them read it. Kevin has a refreshingly laid back writing style I think anyone can relate to which makes it a great read! I did find it fascinating as well how he described living at Liberty. I've never been there, but he really describes it well. Although it might be considered "America's holiest university", he does a great job of discussing the ups and downs in life students deal with, just like us in the world outside of Liberty.

Glad to hear you liked the book as well, Pastor Scott! I always enjoy attending your sermons when I'm home from Connecticut to visit family on occasion. God Bless!

- Phil

Pastor Scott said...

Thanks for stopping by, Phil. I agree that Kevin's writing style is very fresh. Always good to have you with us here at Grace!