Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Unlikely Disciple

I recently finished reading The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose. He grew up as a nominal Christian, went to Brown, and then as a learning experience/ writing project, went to Liberty University for a semester as a student. This book tells of his experiences.

This is a wonderful book for he can flat out write, and he has a keen eye for what is going on around him. Also, he has a gentle attitude toward the people he interacts with, even when he can't make sense of why they are who they are.  I was pleased that he didn't simply mock and ridicule that which he didn't agree with.

In reading the book I felt like a fly-on-the-wall about student life at Liberty. I was struck by several things about life at Liberty:
* Many of the students are diligent and sincere about their Christian faith
* It's really hard to translate Christian faith into an academic curriculum and organizational administration
* Lots of people at Liberty seem obsessed with sex as a sin, especially anything involving gays.
* Being Republican is viewed as a subset of the Christian identity.

Jerry Falwell is in the backdrop of all that happens in the book. Roose returns to Liberty after Falwell's death, and it's clear that changes are afoot. Concerns about social justice and political diversity are increasing. Sociologists have long spoken of what happens when charismatic organizations become more bureaucratic, and that seems to happening here.

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