I just finished reading God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America, by Hanna Rosin. It’s a detailed look at Patrick Henry College, a small school about forty minutes outside of Washington D.C. that was founded to groom Christian Fundamentalist youth (most of them home schooled) for futures in politics and the media. The students there as driven and ambitious as any Ivy League kid, and captivated by what they see as their mission to save an ungodly nation from itself. I’m as liberal and godless as, well, Hanna Rosin, but I’m fascinated by evangelicals, and I appreciate that Rosin doesn’t demonize these kids or their college but instead tries to provide a complete view of what their lives are like, and how they succeed (and sometimes don’t succeed) at balancing their beliefs with the pervading culture of the secular world. Some aspects of Patrick Henry College struck me as quite alien–the VIctorian-era courting rituals, the shaming of girls who try to “stumble” boys by showing too much cleavage, the elaborate Creationist biology courses. Other parts were strangely familiar to me. The unquestioning belief these kids have in the values they grew up with, their fervor for the Republican party, their conviction that they and they alone could change the world–all of these things reminded me that, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, when you’re young you’re just so certain about everything. (This quality is less endearing if you retain it into old age).
If the subject matter interests you but you don’t necessarily want to read an entire book about it, you’re in luck–this book began life as a New Yorker article entitled God and Country. Check it out!