God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America
Hanna Rosin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $25 (296pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101262-6
Envisioned by its founder as a ""Christian equivalent of the Ivy League,"" Patrick Henry College positions itself as a training ground for God's cultural soldiers to take on the secular mainstream; at the seven-year-old Virginia school for evangelicals, religion and political journalist Rosin reports, girls are warned by e-mail if their bra strap is showing, dating requires parental permission and students fast forward through sex scenes in movies. Though they might seem out of touch, students here are as ambitious as any Ivy Leaguers, interning in the White House and Hollywood, volunteering on political campaigns and doggedly pursuing studies like baraminology (creationist biology). Having spent a year and a half immersed in the campus culture, Rosin weaves a deft and honest narrative of evangelical education, combining historical background (the roots of evangelism, the story of founder Michael Farris), close observation and skeptical wit. Among other students and faculty, Rosin introduces Derek, the fresh-faced, idealistic political volunteer; and Farahn, who gave up dancing for the Lord. Making it clear that the American evangelical population is growing in political and cultural influence, Rosin provides an illuminating, accessible guide to the beliefs, aspirations and ongoing challenges of its next generation.
Reviewed on: 09/03/2007