Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh what a tangled web we weave

When Kevin Roose arrives at Liberty University he is vague about where he transferred from (Brown) and allows all to believe he is "saved". This is difficult for him. He took a "crash course" in born-againism from his only born again friend before arriving, but has trouble learning how to curse in Christianese and feels awkward praying for the first few times. The deception takes on a new dimenstion when he begins dating and making friends, and he feels bad about the lie he is living. I cringed when I read the recount of the "I'll call you" conversation he had with the young woman he was seeing, instead of being honest with her. How did guys give women the brush off before the telephone was invented, I wonder?

Roose does have a self-perception, and understanding of academe, that I don't often see in young college students, though. As he begins to feel unsettled he says "I'm starting to wish that I had a PhD in anthropology, so I'd be able to contexualize all this new information immediately, shuffling it into categories and translating it to academic jargon". This is way beyond anything I understood about myself, or the ivory tower, when I was a sophomore in college. Additionally, he looks up credentials of some of his professors to see what peer-reviewed journals they've been published in. Again, as an undergraduate I wasn't even aware that there were such things as peer-reviewed journals.

Roose later discovers that there are pockets of non-evangelicals on campus. It would have been so much easier for him to have just told people he hadn't been saved yet, and let them pray for him. It is also true that not all anthropologists have the option of trying to blend in with the people they are studying. I wonder what he learns by pretending, that might have been lost if he were more up front about what he was doing in the first place.

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