As part of an Atlanta Christian College-wide program, I've been reading The Unlikely Disciple, by Kevin Roose. Basically, Roose is a freshman at Brown University (really prestigious, really liberal arts school) who transfers to Liberty University (Baptist college started by Jerry Falwell) basically to see if we as Christians are as weird as everyone thinks we are. This book had the potential to be really derogatory, but Roose actually comes very close to being respectful, fair, and unbiased, which is almost impossible when discussing religion (he gets mad props for that achievement of Herculean proportions).
What I wanted to discuss in this blog post was how hard it was to put myself into his mindset. At the beginning of the book, he's very antagonistic towards evangelical Christians, and the Christian sub-culture is foreign to him (and we do have a sub-culture; don't let anyone tell you otherwise). Things I have taken for granted, like, "Duh, I have an Old Testament Survey class" or "What? Co-ed dorms?" are completely out of his realm of experience. Throughout the course of the book, he finds himself in proximity with these Christian cultural norms like VeggieTales, going to chapel twice a week, having a True Love Waits ring, going to Bible studies, taking communion, being baptized, the I Kissed Dating Good-bye scene and he is as lost as you or I would be if we were plunked down in the middle of the Ukraine.
As a high school student, you have a choice of where you want to attend college. I had this choice, and I chose to attend a Christian college. My friend went to West Georgia University (a completely secular school), and another friend went to Shorter College (which has a Christian background, but is not, strictly speaking, a Christian school. I, obviously chose to come to ACC (a Christian school, with Christian rules).
Not every student at ACC is a practicing Christian, but every student came with the knowledge that they would have to live by Christian rules. As a Christian, I don't find these rules (rules other people find strict) to be suffocating, but liberating, as I am part of a group who has chosen to live by these guidelines. There is strength in numbers, and I have specifically chosen to live with others who believe like I do. I may have done this because I wouldn't be able to handle the pressures of a secular college. But the fact remains: I am growing in my faith because I have made a commitment to living in a Christian community.
Oh, and by the way? The Unlikely Disciple is an amazing book, whether you read it from a Christian perspective or a secular perspective. It's really given me a new insight into how my world looks to someone who isn't a Christian. I think it's necessary to look at our way of life from a non-Christian perspective in order to understand where they're coming from as well as where we come from. Basically, you should read it. You'll like it.