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A secular Jew raised by a single mother in Berkeley, Welch became an outsider in a strange land when in 2002 she moved for graduate school to the heart of the Bible Belt near Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. She saw everything around her ironically, treated the South “as a joke” and her time there “as a kind of elaborate performance art project.” Then something miraculous happened. The jaded Californian began to like Virginia. She’d arrived to a Virginia on the verge of a demographic shift as a new, progressive population burgeoned. But she also grew to like the Old South—its manners, easygoing nature, and friendliness. She got serious, cast aside her cynicism, and sought to know her evangelical neighbors “as people.” Why did they think as they did? Why were they so determined “to convert non-Christian America?” She went “undercover” to attend Falwell’s church. The resultant portrayal of evangelicals as she sees them and of how she transcended the popular media caricatures of them constitute an insightful, frequently funny book. --June Sawyers
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ISBN-10:  0805083375
ISBN-13:  978-0805083378
Author:  Gina Welch
Genre:  Religion & Spirituality
Publisher:  Metropolitan Books
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review by . December 05, 2009
Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University has apparently started a sub-genre of "Ivy League impostors infiltrating Jerry Falwell." As you will know if you read my review of Roose's interesting book, I have a vested interest in Liberty University, so when this became available for review through Amazon Vine I jumped at the chance.    These journeys through Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church (both undertaken explicitly …
review by . January 11, 2012
When I turned thirteen, I joined a youth fraternity that was aimed at young men. The organization does a tremendous amount of good work in the communities where a chapter is located. The people who belonged as young men have gone on to be some of the most respected men of their communities. Some have even obtained national and international status. I was told when I was being recruited for the group that once I was in, my membership alone would be enough to get me into places that other people couldn't …
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