The Unlikely Disciple

  • by Kevin Roose
  • Narrated by Kevin Roose
  • 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

No drinking.
No smoking.
No cursing.
No dancing.
No R-rated movies.

Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.
Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's 10,000 undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a 46-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.
His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.
Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, The Unlikely Disciple will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.

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What the Critics Say

"Kevin Roose has produced a textured, intelligent, even sympathetic, account of his semester at Liberty University. He eschews caricature and the cheap shot in favor of keen observation and trenchant analysis. The Unlikely Disciple is a book of uncommon wisdom and insight. I recommend it with enthusiasm." (The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, Episcopal Priest and Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Who says participant observation is dead?

Kevin Roose thinks a lot about the ethics of passing himself off as an evangelical Christian at Liberty University--enough at least to work himself up into a lather over the deception. His moral quandary lurks behind most of his account, sometimes peeking its head through the curtains and sometimes just creating uncomfortable contours in the background. Either way, it is this dilemma that produces the novel's most interesting--and at turns, the most annoying--motif: Is lying to people about your identity wrong?

Roose spends much of his time in full hand-wringing mode, describing his internal agony at deceiving his fellow students. Then, in a flash, he forgives himself, claiming that his falsifications were the only way to get a 'true' picture of life at Liberty. Either way, this book is not about Falwell, Liberty University, or evangelicals, it is about Kevin Roose locked away in a Virginian Elsinore, trying to pass himself off as a born-again Christian. And quite frankly, the schtick gets boring within the first 50 pages.
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- Andrew

A good listen

I enjoyed this book. I am an American evangelical pursuing a PhD in theology in the UK. Although I did not attend Liberty, I know what it can be like on "the inside" so I thought this would be an enjoyable book. This book is at its best when Roose is open an honest, and attempts to give a fair listen the liberals and conservatives alike. To be honest, Roose was more equitable to evangelicals than I expected. I also really enjoyed the author reading the book. A few memorable lines stick in my head such as the possibility of Jersey Joey saying, "Roosta, you been lyin' to us?"
Why I gave it 4 stars: I think Roose is a great reporter and a good writer for his age, but I feel like some of the low points of the book were when he decided to theologize. Although he was familiar with terms such as theodicy or Calvinism, he simply does not have the training to write off certain aspects of theology or evangelicalism as he does at times. With that said, I really enjoyed the listen and would read/listen to another book by this author.
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- Timothy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-03-2010
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio