Don’t you hate when young (like 21), middle-class, heterosexual white guys write smart, funny, sensitive books that you can’t help but kind of love? I know I do. Kevin Roose’s story of doing a semester “abroad” from Brown at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) is a total page-turner, and like a responsible ethnographer, he does not condescend to his native population (except perhaps by occasionally referring to his underground research with evangelical Christians as ethnography).
I did want to see what Christian college was like, with as little prejudgment as possible. I knew that wouldn’t be easy--you can’t neutralize a lifetime of bias overnight--but I wanted to try my best. So my second decision was: no cheap shots. If I went to Liberty, it would be to learn with an open mind, not to mock Liberty students or the evangelical world in toto.
I’m teasing a little, but I admire how he was able to interact genuinely with his subjects/friends respectfully and with love. He learned from them, but while he may have given the Kool-Aid a sniff, he didn’t drink it.
That sort of prix fixe theology, where Christianity comes loaded with a slate of political views, is a big part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to accept Liberty’s evangelicalism this semester. Somewhere down the road, I might be able to believe in Jesus as Lord, but I could never believe that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle or tell my future wife to submit to me as her husband.
I suppose it’s weird that I’m more attached to my social and political views than my religious beliefs. Is it really more reasonable to believe that the savior of the world was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and was resurrected three days later than to believe that the universe frowns on gay people?
Some people may have a harder time than I did getting past all the Christian stuff, but even though it’s not for me, I get devotion to a god or a purpose. But when the religion makes awkward or nonexistent connections to politics I might object a little.
CATS: no reference that I can recall, not even to John Ashcroft’s supposed aversion to calicos.