Saturday, June 19, 2010

Unlikely Disciple/The Jonah Project

So I just finished reading the book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University.  The book was written by a Brown student who decided to go undercover for one semester at Liberty University, a Christian liberal arts college founded by Jerry Falwell.  The author, Kevin Roose, wanted to have a cross-cultural experience and, rather than travel abroad, he traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia to learn more about a subset of people a world away from his: evangelical Christians.

As an evangelical Christian who attended a Christian liberal arts college (Taylor University), I was a little scared to read this book.  I was afraid it would be mocking and sarcastic, and make the Liberty students out to be extreme caricatures.  I was pleasantly surprised that he seems to have presented the students and professors pretty fairly.  It is disappointing that Kevin had some of the experiences he did have - those that make me cringe and give Christians a bad reputation, and with "Christians" who inaccurately represent what living your life for Christ really is all about.  But it was encouraging that Kevin did learn something and grow from his time at Liberty and Kevin seems very sincere about his desire to learn and desire for people to come together.

One way the author is showing his sincerity about bringing cultures together (as well as his book-promoting ability) is a project he began called The Jonah Project.  With this project, Kevin Roose is encouraging people with philosophic, political, religious (etc) differences to come together and have a conversation (not a fight), and then share what they learned (or didn't learn) with the blogosphere.  (Oh, and they each get (and presumably read) a copy of Kevin's book).  Not sure how much will be gained from it, but I think it is a pretty good idea.

Below is a speech Kevin recently gave about the book and the Jonah Project.  It is long, but gives a good overview of his experience and the tone of the book.

Love to hear if you have any thoughts on this, or if you have read the book and want to share what you thought.

Kevin Roose at Gel 2010 (author, The Unlikely Disciple) from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

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