Author of common read speaks at EJ Thomas Hall

By Sarah Pompeii

On Oct. 8 Kevin Roose, the author of “The Unlikely Disciple,” came to The University of Akron and shared his experiences as an undercover journalist seeing the world through different eyes. His book details his experience taking a semester off from college to explore a more conservative university.

As a sophomore at Brown University, Kevin didn’t want to study abroad in another country — what intrigued him was right at home. Kevin decided to enroll at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., which is the world’s largest Evangelical school. During his speech, Kevin takes us through what life was like as a “champion of Christ,” as the school calls its students.

At Liberty University, students lived by a code of conduct called the “Liberty Way.” The things some of us do every day would earn a Liberty student reprimands and fines. Some things prohibited by the code are swearing, watching R-rated movies, smoking, hugs longer than three seconds and drinking.

“A lot of us would be finding ourselves in the dean’s office discussing our sins and punishment,” he said.

This was quite a change from the liberal lifestyle Kevin once lived at Brown.

The classes that he took were significantly different too. During history class they discussed the dimensions of Noah’s Ark and how it took six days to create the earth. Kevin, whose parents were Quaker, began to teach himself about Christianity with books like “The Bible for Dummies,” which helped him fit in better.

Kevin caught on quickly to Christianity and life as a Liberty student. Kevin learned to speak their language and even found a common ground. He would spend his free time after class in Bible study with the guys in his dorm, singing for Thomas Road Baptist Church, or just hanging out with the guys.

Kevin was blending in well with his Liberty peers. As different as things were from his previous lifestyle, Kevin had said that being in such a structured, close-knit society made him feel organized and like there was something solid to hang on to.

After the semester was over, it was time for him to go back to Brown as  the real Kevin Roose, but he came out of Liberty different than he went in. This eye-opening experience was a lesson in acceptance and keeping an open mind.

He saw how the other side lived, felt and thought, and gained faith. He was honest with everyone, admitting he was writing about Liberty and wasn’t really devoted to God. His friends accepted him and they weren’t mad at all. Kevin is now an open-minded man without the heavy burden of keeping a secret life.

“Blessed are those who love thy neighbors,” he said. “Blessed are those who are open minded.”