Jennie's Reviews > The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
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's review
Jul 03, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: library-book, non-fiction, read-in-2010, read-in-august
Read from August 27 to 28, 2010

I almost didn’t want to finish this book for fear of writing the review. I was overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. I had to wait a few days to even consider typing up the review and even now, I feel like I might just type in stutters. I was shocked at what information or misinformation passed in the “science” classroom, I was disgusted by the intolerant attitudes of the University and I was saddened for what must happened to these sheltered children if/when they become part of the mainstream working world.

Roose’s writing is superb, especially for that of a college student on his first “undercover” journalism experience. He wrote fair and balanced, describing not only what he saw, but also what he felt. He didn’t paint his classmates as monsters unless they deserved it, which caused him much headache and inner thought about separating the thoughts from the person. He struggled with viewing his friend as a homophobic, because the individual had large heart that loved everyone in his life. This was an inner battle that Roose went back and forth over, fighting as he felt himself getting pulled into the environment and out of his liberal upbringing and previous college environment.

One of the surprising things that I found while reading this is that even a University such as Liberty had more liberal students. This is not to say they had liberal students, just more liberal than the tightly laced Fundamentalist core I associate with Liberty. At first I had a hard time trusting in this fact because why would a student want to go to such a school if they weren’t a true follower of that life? As Roose points out from conversations and experiences that just as any other college, people come to Liberty for a variety of reasons including being close to home therefore allowing them to live at home with less expense. One reason that I found alarming was for the control the school provided which kept the student acting without sin. Do people really need such strict rules to avoid doing things they consider wrong? There aren’t laws around infidelity but that doesn’t mean I am going to become an adulterer. Possibly the need for such strict control is because the “wrongs” are biological and emotional naturally occurring items or processes? The emphasis on not masturbating, looking at women with lust or even hugging longer than 3 seconds are all unnatural limits to be set on college students who’s bodies are full of hormones.

The college’s viewpoint on women, feminism and roles in the household made me furious. Actually, it made me sick to my stomach to know that there is a college that is spouting this destructive outlook with their students. Not just spouting, but touting and teaching as truth. Another completely destructive outlook the college has is the view on homosexuality. Jerry Falwell has had very angry outbursts at the gay community and it was very apparent the college campus was an extension of his views.

The so called science course is basically a course for Sunday school and not for a collegiate level of critical thinking. It is required for all students to take so that all students learn about what the bible says on creation. After facing crack downs from accrediting authorities, the school somewhat revised their stance on evolution and biology, but that course is only for those who are majoring in biology and not required for the general audience of the school. Creationism is taught as the truth and evolution is taught as just a theory, but it doesn’t appear that other scientific theories, such as gravity, are discussed in such detail or ostracized as much as evolution.

Roose found Liberty a place where he found human beings that cared for him when he didn’t expect it. He remained friends with some of the students after he announced that he was there undercover with the purpose of writing a book about the college. Much to his surprise, and mine, his former classmates were more worried with his salvation than being lied too about his purpose at Liberty. I thought the humanity was surprising, I guess I have the picture of these people so full of hate after seeing their attacks (verbal and otherwise) on the gay community and on women's rights.

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08/27/2010 page 85
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