Book Review: The Unlikely Disciple -Kevin Roose

Wow - this book has been an absolute joy to read!

Kevin Roose was a student at Brown and somehow came to have this grand idea of a writing assignment of being a student at Liberty University, the very Evangelical college founded by Jerry Falwell. I love stories like this. I think this type of thing is what really sparked my interest in sociology in college, just studying people is so interesting to me.

Kevin's book is called: The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America's Holiest University. I love the cover:

Kevin Roose The Unlikely DiscipleWhat I enjoyed about the book from the start was that this didn't come across as an anti-Liberty college book, or an "I was converted and you should be too" book. It was just good ole sociological research! I love it. I would love to do something like this sometime - not at a religious college, but somewhere out of my normal comfort range.

Anyone ever see that show 30 Days? It's exactly like what I'm talking about: Morgan Spurlock (the guy who is known for just eating McDonalds for like 2 months and almost dying) picks something and does it for 30 days, like live "off the grid" with no electricity, living as a Muslim, or living on minimum wage. It's a GREAT show - I highly recommend it. It was on the air for three seasons, long ago, but it's available on dvd. Make note.

Back to my man, Kevin. I really like Kevin. I like his writing, I like his style, I like his sense of humor, I like his pretty face.

As most of you know, I'm not a very religious person. I'm definitely more agnostic than anything - which my sister informed me actually means ignorant (to her). However - as those of you who know me also already know, I like to read and learn about other cultures and religions. I have read quite a number of books about China, Korea, Buddhism, Muslims, Mexican culture, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter, etc...I'm pretty open to what I read, but I don't like reading things that are totally one-sided and are trying to convince me to believe something specific. I just want a good informative book based on facts and real stories.

Kevin met my reading needs. He was very open-minded and this book is about his experiences and thoughts about his time at Liberty. He writes of the classes he attended, very atypical classes then you would expect is mandatory at a college. The people he meets are happy and sweet and totally accept him. He talks about his feelings of guilt for misleading them while he goes about his semester. I think he does his research in a very ethical way - he really was taking his courses seriously, he really did participate in the bible studies, prayer circles, etc, including joining the church choir. And he's still in touch with some of the people who he met at the school, so obviously he was a good friend to those he met (except for the roommate who thought he was gay and he could not convince otherwise).

I don't usually quote books, but I actually made note of a few things I thought were fun:

...the roots of the environmental movement are linked to the devil himself, "This is Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus." (I think Falwell said this quote-do you see why I don't quote things?? Too much work involved)

Quiverfull movement is a small, highly controversial subgroup of Evangelical
Christianity whose members attempt to have as many children as is biologically
possible, as fast as possible. The movement takes its name from a Bible verse
that praises a man "whose quiver is full" of children.

Every Man's Battle, Liberty's on-campus support group for pornography
addicts and chronic masturbators. (masturbating is lustful, lust is a sin. The story about this support group made me laugh out loud, literally.)

..I've developed a numbness to homophobia. I don't like it, but it's
unavoidable when you're in a climate like this, where homosexuality is talked
about at near-Tourettic frequency. ...I've heard ten times as many conversations about homosexuality at Liberty than I ever heard any place where gay people existed in the open. (sad, where's my gay friends at...HOLLA!)

There was a lot you might assume the author did not agree with, like all the homophobia when he has a lesbian Aunt he's close to back home, but he doesn't write about things in a negative manner. He just tells you what is what - and you can take what you want from that. He shares his feelings about things in a way that isn't trying to influence you, but rather just sharing what he's feeling when in that situation. It just oozes the importance of tolerance, tolerance of religion, tolerance of lifestyles, tolerance of mankind in general. I like tolerance, it warms my little black heart.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about this book. It was just really interesting and I feel like I am much better educated on the ways of the Evangelicals of the world. And I am quite certain I am not interested in being one, but more power to them for believing in what they believe in.

You should read this book if:

  1. You like reading about religions but don't want to feel like it's completely one-sided.
  2. You are not part of a religion and want an inside look into what goes on inside one.
  3. You are part of a religion and want to rejoice in the goodness of this man's experience.
  4. You like reading a book and feeling more intelligent at the end of it.
  5. You have any interest in attending Liberty College.
  6. You just want a break from your world - here's a chance to delve into someone elses. Do it.


  1. Nessa said...:

    Sounds very interesting indeed. Very good review.

    Silly Saturday #7 - Charm or Chores?

  1. Nat said...:

    You should really become a book-reviewer for a magazine or newspaper! I'm not kidding, Kaylen... get on it.

  1. S3XinthePantry said...:

    This review really made me want to read this book. I love comparative religion and I love the outsider looking in sociology studies (my favorite was of a teacher who went undercover in a nursing home one summer) Now I'm thinking of more, so maybe it's not my favorite. But this book reminded me of that study. I'm going to read it!

  1. Anonymous said...:

    This sounds interesting - I will add it to my library list. Thanks!

  1. kilax said...:

    Agonostic = Ignorant? Oh jeez...

    Anyway, this sounds like a book I would really enjoy. I love learning about other people's perspectives. I think it makes me more understanding as a person. And it sounds like there are some funny bits in there too!


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