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The Unlikely Disciple

A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking memoir of a college student's semester at Liberty University, the "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, that will inspire believers and nonbelievers alike.

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 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 ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101 and follow a forty-six-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, 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 a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds). He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 12, 2009 – In what could be described as religious gonzo journalism, Roose documents his experiences as a student for a semester at Liberty University, the largest Christian fundamentalist university in the United States. Coming from progressive Brown University, the author admits that the transition to Liberty, with its iron-clad attempts at controlling student behavior, came with much anxiety. He trains himself to control his foul language and even begins to pray and study the Bible regularly, much to the bewilderment of his liberal Quaker parents. He suffers his way through a course debunking evolution, but finds enjoyment in a Scripture class. Roose may be young he's a 19-year-old college sophomore but he writes like a seasoned veteran and obviously enjoys his work. He quickly makes friends at Liberty, but is na vely stunned and not a little disgusted by their antigay rhetoric. School founder Rev. Jerry Falwell granted Roose an interview for the student newspaper shortly before the famous evangelical's death in May 2007. Complicated is how Roose describes Falwell, which is a good descriptor for his undercover student experience.

Customer Reviews

Interesting read

As a non religious person I found this fascinating!

A pleasure to read

Admittedly, I had to read this for an English course in writing. Had I not been introduced to it in this manner, I never would have had the opportunity to experience such an world; one so different from mine. LU seems to be much like any other environment where people share a commonality. People are people, no matter where you are. Surely, there are differences, but when you find the similarities, great things happen. I’m passing this book along.

An Interesting Read

This is not the typical book I read, but because I took an online class through Liberty last year, I found Kevin Roose's story extremely intriguing. Kevin Roose transferred from the very liberal Brown University to the very conservative Liberty University three years ago and wrote about his one semester experience at Liberty. What is unique about this story is that Kevin is not a Christian, but he presented himself as a Christian in an attempt to truly learn what it is like to be a student in a conservative Christian environment.

You can see from my reviews that most of the books I read are Christian and cover deep topics, many from a reformed perspective. The Unlikely Disciple was a nice little break from the weightier material that I usually digest. It was also good for me to read from an author who has a totally different outlook on life.

I first noticed that The Unlikely Disciple is endorsed by a couple of guys that I strongly disagree with on a number of important theological matters, but despite that, I found this book to be interesting for the most part. I do want to emphasize that I find Kevin Roose's decision to lie about his identity to be morally wrong, but I am glad he was able to learn that the overwhelming majority of the people at Liberty are not the crazy fundamentalists he thought they would be. It should also be noted that Kevin and his friends are crude at times, much like the typical male who attends a secular college in America (which was me).

It is obvious that Kevin, who started writing the book when he was 19 years old, is a talented writer with a great deal of support. This book will make some ultraconservatives upset, but I am more sad than anything. Yes, I smiled and laughed at times and felt great to see Kevin grow in many ways, but Kevin failed to see that life is more than just trying to be good and having fun. I'm sure there are some reading this review and rolling their eyes, but I cannot help but feel sad. I hope one day Kevin writes a book where he tells us how his time at Liberty was a time when a seed was planted that God grew.

The Unlikely Disciple
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Mar 26, 2009
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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