The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University
Sep15

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University

Liberty University, or “Bible Boot Camp” to some, is among the most conservative universities in the nation. In a move that baffled and even worried his friends and family, unreligious Kevin Roose took a semester off of studying journalism at the liberal Brown University to try to bridge the culture gap and went to Liberty. He candidly chronicles his time and discoveries in the memoir The Unlikely Disciple. The first few pages of the book contain praise from Christian Science Monitor, The Onion, New York Times, FriendlyAtheist.com, Jewish Weekly, ChristianityToday.com and even Playboy. The readers associated with these publications aren’t known for agreeing, but they all reach the same consensus. Roose’s work is worth the read. Liberty University was founded in the 1970s by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. He wanted to provide an accredited university for Christian students. The school has grown rapidly since that time, with more than 11,000 students enrolled in 2010. Falwell was once the poster-boy of evangelism, but lately is more often associated with sensational remarks he made in the last decade of his life. Roose’s friends and family were quick to point to Falwell’s statements on the 700 Club after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as a reason for Roose to avoid Liberty. “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle … I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen,’ ” Falwell had said. Falwell was still living and presiding over Liberty, with almost a rock star persona among students, when Roose moved onto campus. Roose’s open-mindedness and honesty, along with witty writing, makes the book more than another memoir. He candidly lives alongside devout evangelical students, participates in their religious activates, abstains from cursing, sex, dancing and R-rated movies and everything else described in Liberty’s 46-page code of conduct. Roose even sang in Jerry Falwell’s choir every Sunday morning at the nationally televised Thomas Road worship service. Roose deals extensively with social and moral issues. He also abandoned many of his preconceived ideas about evangelicals. Some of the stereotypes held up, however. He chronicles how hostile the campus is toward homosexuals. Instead of swearing, students were prone to using synonyms for gay as their expletives. He also tackles a class called History of Life where he is instructed that Noah carried dinosaurs on the ark. Despite problems like this, Roose never takes a shot at Christians, and genuinely is interested in the spiritual aspect of their lives. Roose embraced many of the new areas of his life...

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Welcomed with worship and compassion
Aug24

Welcomed with worship and compassion

Incoming freshmen and transfer students spent their first night on campus packed into the W.W. Walton Chapel, with hands raised high. The Robbie Seay Band performed a welcome concert. Seay, a recording artist, worship leader and front man for the band which bears his name, led the concert/worship service for the estimated 1,000 students and faculty. “I know a lot of these students have been here for a day or two. I think for a lot of them it was a chance to take a deep breath and sing together and pray together,” Seay said. “It was meaningful, and it was meaningful for me to be there.” Seay played many songs from the band’s newest album, Miracle, which was released in April. Miracle was recorded in nearby Austin at the Blue Rock Music studio. “We are from Houston, so it meant a lot that these songs were recorded in Texas with our friends,” Seay said. The band also played older songs, including the hit “Song of Hope” and several worship songs and hymns. The peaceful  atmosphere during the worship was a stark contrast to the high energy of Welcome Week events taking place earlier in the day. Junior social work major Tracie Byrd saw the concert as a chance to bond with the new students. “The concert was definantly a worshipful experience. It was great to come in here and fellowship as a community of believers with the new freshmen.” Senior marketing major David Keil helped bring Seay to the school. “I’ve been around Robbie and seen him play in a lot of places,” Keil said. “Their style fits Welcome Week. It is a concert feel but ties in worship, too. I knew that would be something very fitting with the vison of Welcome Week.” During the concert, Seay took a pause from music to discuss mission organization Compassion International.  He and his wife sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic. “I found out over a million kids around the world are sponsored,” Seay said. “They are connected with somebody who said ‘I will sponsor you for 38 bucks a month.  I’ll see that you have access to education, health care.’ “After we got more involved and I got to visit the child we sponsor, we’ve advocated for them ever since. I love what they do.” Students had the opportunity to meet with Seay after the show and learn about Compassion International. Many took the chance to look at support packets of underprivileged kids. For more information about Compassion International, visit...

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Church Security Evaluated
Apr13

Church Security Evaluated

No more church arsons have been reported since the arrest of Jason Robert Bourque and Daniel McAllister who are charged with the East Texas fires. However, the string of attacks caused many religious leaders to rethink the security of their church facilities. Tom Robbins, senior pastor of First United Methodist in Temple, Texas, has brought a much higher level of security to his church, which stands across the street from the rubble of Temple’s First Baptist sanctuary. It was torched Jan. 19. He claims the need for protection is not limited to places of worship. “Unfortunately, I just think it’s the world all together,” he said, “especially in a place where you have children. My wife is a teacher, and I have to present my driver’s license and get a guest pass to go see her.” However, even across the street at First Baptist, leadership is wary of too much security. James Roberts, minister of students, thinks more security during threatening times is important, but the church should be cautious about adding too much. Even with his church falling victim to crime, he emphasizes the need to be open to visitors. “We have alarms on the doors and cameras just to be able to catch people who are coming and going,” he said. “Other than that, church is a place where everyone is welcome.” Religious institutions are generally slower to accept new security standards because they want to be accessible. Robbins insists the measures taken at First United Methodist are only helping people. “Ultimately each faith body is accountable to God. While there is always a balance to ministering in love, there is also a tremendous pressure to keep people safe,” he said. “Nowhere does the Bible say, ‘Be stupid.’ Jesus said to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Companies like Congregational Security Inc. out of Dallas, Texas, are in the business of providing wisdom to religious centers. David Shapiro, senior director of logistics and intelligence, helped build the company with founder Dwayne Bishop. Many churches contacted the company for security assistance after the fires. “This industry is very new. We were one of the first companies to do this,” Shapiro said. CSI offers security services, consulting, support and training to its clients who, like Robbins, are more concerned than ever. They have offices all over the globe. “Interest is up because of what is happening out there,” Shapiro said. “Churches are soft targets for terrorism and burglary.” Recently, a new demand has arisen in personal security for clergy. “On our staff, we have former Secret Service, ATF, Shin Bet, Mossad and the Scotland Yard. We take...

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Clash of Titans not epic enough
Apr13

Clash of Titans not epic enough

Clash of the Titans delivers dramatic action sequences and crisp effects, but leaves viewers unsatisfied with shallow writing and characters. Even with 3-D, Sam Worthington is still one dimensional. The basic concept of this remake of the 1981 film is that mankind is tired of the gods. They decide the best course of action is to rebel against Olympus. The protagonist Perseus, played by Worthington, is a demigod and has all the gifts needed to save humanity but wants to avoid his half-god roots. It follows the basic structure of all epics with a strange birth, tragedy, quest, obstacles and a great foe. Unfortunately for movie goers, anything they read in middle school about Greek mythology was more compelling than this story. Liam Neeson plays a strong, loving and sleazy Zeus. His portrayal is really fun to watch. The rest of the characters are better than the boring Perseus, but not awe inspiring. With big action films like this one, viewers should not expect too much character depth or story line. Even with lowered expectations, however, the action in Titans does not make up for the thrown together script. Titans opens much like the Disney film Hercules except the cartoon handled explaining the background of Greek mythology much better. In fact, the first half hour of the film stumbles as it tries to set up the epic quest and action sequences. The dialogue is bad and Perseus is totally inconsistent. Luckily, however, soon everyone shuts up and fights monsters, and that’s really what this movie is all about. The battles are fantastic. The mythological creatures are realistic yet still feel like special effects. Anyone who has any attachment to Greek mythology will enjoy watching these beautiful and terrifying creatures attack the men. The over-hyped Kraken is the least exciting of all the creatures in film, which makes the climax fall flat. In the end, Titans leaves you wishing you had seen more. The beauty and effects could have been complemented so well with just a little more care in the story telling. You never really care much about Perseus, and that’s what makes this movie just another soon-to-be-forgotten action romp. The film gets 2 1/2 out 5 stars for good...

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Archive: Fort Hood Shooting

Ft. Hood Shooting from thebells umhb on...

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