I recently finished reading Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose. It's the story of how Roose took a semester off from his studies at Brown University to enroll at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell. Roose grew up in northeast Ohio, which doesn't factor into the book much, but there's always something fun about reading a local author - someone you may have passed on the street or who with whom you might share a mutual friend or acquaintance. I'll spend the next couple of days sharing some of my thoughts on the book. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has had the chance to read it.
One of my favorite points is that he strongly makes the case for church music and music participation several times in the book. For one thing, he enrolls in a class where he is required to name the books of the New Testament in order. When he complains to a classmate about how difficult a task it is to memorize, the friend responds that it should be easy: just sing the song! If you made it through Sunday school without learning to sing "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts and Letter to the Romans..." then you missed out on one of the great powers of music: to help us memorize basic facts and tenets of faith. That's a simple example, of course, but Luther and other great Lutheran hymn writers set tenets of our faith to music so that we could easily learn and memorize it, and even enjoy that learning.
I also enjoyed the fact that when Roose wants to understand the Thomas Road church and the appeal of Falwell, he doesn't simply attend the weekly service. He joins the choir. Now that is committment to the subject of his study! It shows that getting the most out of church means a full commitment to the experience - the prayers, the music, and the fellowship.
Of course, you can predict that everything doesn't go smoothly when a non-evangelical spends a semester at Liberty University. I'll get into more of the book in my next few entries, but I want to encourage you to check it out as an intriguing summer read and a meditation on faith.