Let’s be real

I’ve been reading a book: The Unlikely Disciple, by Kevin Roose. It’s the account of a non-evangelical who spent a semester at Liberty University, to attempt to understand the Christian sub-culture. Since I am part of that sub-culture in many ways – and am an “evangelical” Christian, I thought it would be valuable to hear an outsider’s perspective.

It’s fascinating.

Anyhow, that is not the point of my post.

Jerry Falwell, the man who started the university, had a lot of good intentions. I like some of what he did, in spite of all the bad press he received. (And I also admit he did a fair amount of harm, prior to his death in May 2007.)

But the thing that offended me most about him from the book is that he insisted on being called “Dr. Falwell” – even though the highest degree he earned through studying was a bachelor’s degree. He had three honorary doctorates. Those can be cool – but if you insist on being called “Dr.” – make sure you earned it the real way.

Disclaimer: if you pick up the book and are an evangelical, there may be parts that will offend you. And I’d rate it R; some parts are just not appropriate for the under-18 set (with a few possible exceptions). Mostly there’s just a lot of stuff that teenagers shouldn’t have to think about yet. But it could prepare them for life in college. I guess I’m not prepared to have those discussions yet. Maybe next year.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and used under Wikimedia Commons.


4 Replies to “Let’s be real”

  1. I would be considered a very conservative evangelical by most and would agree with much of Dr. Falwell’s theology and doctrine. However … enough said. This would be an interesting book to read. Wish I didn’t have so many other books that I already want to read.

  2. I believe it is quite common that people with honorary doctorates are referred to as “Dr.” Sometimes it’s not even their own preference, but a choice by others who encounter or work with them. That said, I agree with you – only people who actually complete the degree should get the honorific. Certainly people like actors or athletes who get the honorary doctorate just because they’re famous don’t deserve the title!

  3. I really enjoyed the book, and was impressed that despite all the flaws in Falwell and the people associated with LU and despite the author’s initial cynicism, he was deeply touched and changed by his experience there.

    Made me think about my summers in Aspen. First summer was a phenomenal group of people who got along quite well. The second summer there were a lot of immature people who squabbled constantly. Both summers had about the same fruit: two or three people whose lives were changed by involvement with the group.

  4. Tim – glad you read it! And good observations from the Aspen experience. (I hadn’t even thought of that when I read his experiences in Daytona Beach.)

    Bill – good point – it may be his fault.

    Bob – it’s worth putting higher on your list.

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