The Unlikely Disciple- Book Review #2

November 30th, 2016

The Unlikely Disciple is not as notorious as The Holy Bible, yet it earns a spot on the bedside table.

As an aspiring young journalist, college student Kevin Roose is fascinated and perplexed with the idea of a “Bible Boot Camp” evangelical college. The culture intrigues him so much that he digs deeper into this by transferring to Liberty University as a non-believer to write about his experiences. These experiences include obeying a laundry list of forbidden rules, deep spiritual and non spiritual conversations with peers and pastors, school trips, and having to hide his true identity of a non believer. Roose ends up developing conflicted feelings when his semester draws to a close and has to decide how to move on with his life.

Here is a little background on Roose and why he is qualified to write this book.

Kevin Roose currently works as a news director and producer. Before attaining that position, Roose was a good enough writer to have his documentations of Liberty to be published when he was in his early 20s. He let his curiosity take him to a place that a lot of people could hardly imagine or didn’t even know existed. Roose is a good writer because he is humorous, informative, and engaging. He is also good at pacing each chapter and making flashbacks and flash-forwards blend together smoothly. Being a good journalist and writing about a thought-provoking journey makes him qualified to do this book. Basically, Roose knows what he’s doing and he’s good at it.

Of course writers want their pieces to be read. Roose obviously liked the feedback of his article for Liberty’s newspaper The Champion. As a writer, Roose wants to evoke feelings and make people think. It is not a lecture and factual based book like the actual Holy Bible. He’s not telling us that Christianity is good or bad. Roose is sharing his testimony. Instead he wants to provide a window into his world that helps us see why he thinks the way he does. This will hopefully encourage the readers to reflect on their religious or non- religious upbringing’s and also look at the opposing side with less critical eyes. Most of all, he just wants to share his unique experience.

Roose also wanted to accomplish the task of addressing controversial issues. Immoral or premarital sex, homosexuality, and gender roles between husband and wife. Christians and those on the fence should both agree that Roose made a bold move to be willingly open to address such hot button topics in a non judgmental way.

Roose very clearly wrote this story by observation and participation. He also mentioned interviewing the founder of the college to get more insight for himself. He dove into his self-made assignment by doing his best to keep an open mind about Christianity and the university in general. He wanted to give an honest and open view of what it was like for someone of his upbringing to experience such a dramatically different culture. There are many different revelations about self-discovery that are relatable to other college students.

It wasn’t written in a journal like style. There was no random organization. Roose’s thoughts and observations were all nicely composed to tell a compelling story. Each of his “entries” was presented as a chapter.

Journalists are supposed to be objective. Roose makes that clear when he decides to go to Liberty with an open mind to learn about a new college culture. He does include his thoughts in situations, but he doesn’t come out and say that his opinion is necessarily the correct one.

Roose did not treat this experience as just another news story. He was emotionally and spiritually involved with this project. This would be because he wasn’t assigned to do this. He made this his own quest.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Even though I like to consider myself a good Christian, Liberty University would be a whole new culture for me that I wouldn’t feel worthy of being part of. Roose and I clearly had different upbringings, but I was able to find lots of similarities between the two of us. For example, aside of religion, we both have an interest in journalism and can’t take our parents out in public because they’re embarrassing. The book also made me reflect on my own views on what it means to be a Christian and what education I have on it. I felt bad because this “sinner” seems to know more things than I do.

I also like the fact that it wasn’t presented as a lecture. I like hearing inspirational stories on why we need the Gospel and how it is a Christian’s duty to share it in order to save as many souls as possible. In this case, I would have been bored if that was all in 300 page book.

A thing that disappointed me was that I was expecting a juvenile delinquent to go through this journey. Roose didn’t necessarily seem like a bad sinner/person before hand. Yes, he lacked exposure, but he didn’t seem to have as strong of views against Christianity as I was expecting. This would have made for an even more dramatic and inspirational story.

Overall, this book does deserve an Amen. On a five-star scale, I give it a four and a half.


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