July 16, 2009

The God Divide

I read a hilariously touching book in one sitting this weekend and knocked out another book on my Summer Reading Challenge list. (I have been reading quite a few books in one sitting lately. I guess that is what happens when your husband travels to another continent for two weeks.) I am afraid, however, that I will find it much more difficult to write about than it was to read. Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University challenged me.

The Unlikely Disciple is the story of Brown University student and Quaker Kevin and the semester he spent at Liberty, Jerry Falwell's shining University on the hill. I have to admit that I read this book with a "but for the grace of God go I" attitude. Years ago - twenty-two to be exact - I came under enormous pressure from leaders in my church and friends of my parents to attend Liberty. I didn't go, but it was interesting to see what my life would have been like if I had.

I've been a Christian for most of my life, and yet my Christianity has run the gamut of belief from hard-core evangelical to someone who believes that Jesus might just be a Democrat. I am not going to use this post as a place to enumerate my views, but I think your views will define how you see this book.

Some of you will think Kevin is an unsaved heathen. Hopefully more of you will see him as many of us really are, a good person struggling to find what he believes. I think that is what I loved about this book ... he was a reporter writing a story, but he really became part of the story.

Here are some of the great reviews I found:

Roose went to Liberty as an undercover writer, not as a seeker, though much of his book’s considerable charm comes from the fact that he liked a lot of what he found...[a] vivid, sunny and skeptical portrait of life among the saved.
— New York Times

The Unlikely Disciple serves as a refreshing cease-fire in the wearying culture wars, likely holding surprises for anyone — theist, atheist, or somewhere in between — who gives it a chance.
— The Onion A/V Club

Kevin Roose is a delightful writer, and this is a humane book. Read it and I predict you’ll have less paranoia, more exposure to ‘the other,’ and a larger dose of Roose’s generous and hopeful faith.
— Brian McLaren
Christian activist and author of A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and Everything Must Change

And yes, before I forget, Kevin Roose is a very good writer. I look forward to more from him.


  1. Thanks for the review... A friend was telling me about this book just last weekend. I'll have to put it on my list to be read.

  2. Sounds like a good read!