Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Unlikely Disciple-Book Recommendation

I went to the US for a holiday during the summer. It wasn't the most biblically focused trip (though I’m sure if I'd looked hard enough I'd have found some) but I did pick up a great book in Borders (oh how I miss thee) in San Francisco, The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose.

The subtitle of the book is “A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University” so how could I turn it down? The book tells the story of how the Roose, the author of the book a semester out from college in Brown University (described as “a notch or two above Sodom and Gomorrah” to attend the evangelical equivalent of Notre Dame or Brigham Young, Liberty University, the largest Christian fundamentalist university in the United States. Roose was a cradle Quaker and was less hardliner anti-religion than I thought he would be at the start of his quest (I thought the whole book would be “Look at the Jesus Freaks” and I could take solace in the fact I wasn’t THAT much of a Jesus Freak. Being OT and all) Roose prepares well for attending university (it's Revelation, not Revelations) so that he can remain “undercover” and learn about the “real” attitudes of the students. Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals (Falwell being the guy who tried to explain that September 11th was casued by "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle" Nice). Liberty is seen as Falwell's training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right but Roose deals with what he finds in a sympathetic, nuanced manner and is never condescending or glib, despite his immense (and understandable) difficulty with the overt anti-homosexual opinions of his fellow students.

I have to admit that some parts of the book are “laugh out loud” such as the time he went on an evangelising mission during Spring Break in Florida and when he pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. Roose is a brilliant writer-I’ll be looking out for more of his work but I also managed to learn lots about something I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with-the American Religious Right. I’ve been working a bit on the idea of being Irish and Catholic (and how you can differentiate the two) so the idea that your religion is such a huge part of your life and career was intriguing. And interesting to compare it to my time in Maynooth!

Worth asking me for a lend or buying it yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment