What happens when a Brown University student goes undercover at conservative and evangelical Liberty University? Find out on Wednesday, April 7, when Kevin Roose, a writer and recent graduate of Brown University, joins the President’s Forum series with a lecture titled, “The Unlikely Disciple: My Semester Undercover at Liberty University.”
Born in Oberlin, Ohio, Roose is perhaps best known for an experiment during his sophomore year at Brown, when he met a group of students from Liberty University, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s “Bible Boot Camp” for young evangelicals. Inspired by that meeting, Roose decided to leave Brown and spend a semester “abroad” at Liberty, learning about his conservative Christian peers by living among them.
At Liberty University, Roose went to class, choir practice, an evangelical hip-hop concert and to Daytona Beach, where he learned how to convert bar-hopping co-eds to Christianity. He chronicled his experiences in “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University,” which was published in March 2009 by Grand Central Publishing. The book has been called “thought-provoking, hilariously told, yet respectful, Roose’s embedded report from the front lines of the culture war will inspire and entertain believers and non-believers alike.”
In the review of the book, the New York Times wrote, “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.”
The Library Journal called the book a “highly readable, entertaining, and thought-provoking narrative [that] offers an insider’s account of fundamentalist Christian culture from an outsider’s secular perspective…Humorous anecdotes are interspersed with thoughtful analysis.”
Upon returning to Brown, Roose wrote for national publications such as Esquire, SPIN, and mental_floss, on topics ranging from barbershop quartets and 19th-century magicians, to cell-phone ringtones. He was a staff writer for the College Hill Independent, a regular columnist for the Brown Daily Herald, and a Rose Writing Fellow. In 2008, he was given a Royce Fellowship for his journalism and in 2009, graduated from Brown with an English degree. He lives in Providence, R.I.
For more information, visit Roose’s Web site.
This President’s Forum event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room in the Warren Hunting Smith Library and is open the public. All are encouraged to attend.
The President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty, staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. Many speakers draw audience members from the surrounding cities of Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca.