God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America

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Overview

Religious colleges and universities in America are growing at a breakneck pace. In this startling new book, journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley explores these schools-interviewing administrators, professors, and students-to produce the first popular, accessible, and comprehensive investigation of this phenomenon

Call them the Missionary Generation. By the tens and hundreds of thousands, some of America's brightest and most dedicated teenagers are opting for a different kind of college education. It promises all the rigor of traditional liberal arts schools, but mixed with religious instruction from the Good Book and a mandate from above.

Far removed from the medieval cloisters outsiders imagine, schools like Wheaton, Thomas Aquinas, and Brigham Young are churning out a new generation of smart, worldly, and ethical young professionals whose influence in business, medicine, law, journalism, academia, and government is only beginning to be felt.

In God On The Quad, Riley takes readers to the halls of Brigham Young, where surprisingly with-it young Mormons compete in a raucous marriage market and prepare for careers in public service. To the infamous Bob Jones, post interracial dating ban, where zealous fundamentalists are studying fine art and great literature to help them assimilate into the nation's cultural centers. To Thomas Aquinas College, where graduates homeschool large families and hope to return the American Catholic Church to its former glory. To Yeshiva, Wheaton, Notre Dame, and more than a dozen other schools, big and small, rich and poor, new and old, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Mormon, and even Buddhist, all training grounds for the new Missionary Generation.

With a critical yet sympathetic eye, Riley, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Weekly Standard, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, studies these campuses and the debates that shape them. In a post-9/11 world where the division between secular and religious has never been sharper, what distinguishes these colleges from their secular counterparts? What does the missionary generation think about political activism, feminism, academic freedom, dating, race relations, homosexuality, and religious tolerance-and what effect will these young men and women have on the United States and the world?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"America's religious colleges and universities are terra incognita to many liberal and secular readers. Naomi Schaefer Riley offers an insightful, balanced, and respectful guide to this world, one that its own members will find provocative and from which strangers to it will learn a great deal."

- Alan Wolfe, author, One Nation After All and The Transformation of American Religion

"Naomi Schaefer Riley spent a year touring the parallel universe of religious colleges, pen in hand, and brought back a book full of open-minded, sharply observed portraits of a fast-growing corner of America that most of the mass media prefer to caricature or ignore. The results are illuminating—and important."

- Terry Teachout, author, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken

"It is no small feat to provide the in-depth, interesting, and absolutely objective overview that Naomi Schaefer Riley does in her book, God on the Quad. Riley manages to skate the zig-zag line of truth on the thin ice that exists for those trying to explore this topic."

- Coleen Rowley, FBI whistleblower, Time Magazine's 2002 Person of the Year, graduate of the evangelical Wartburg College (speaking in her personal capacity and furnishing her personal endorsement only)

"Naomi Schaefer Riley's God the Quad is an important and refreshing new look at the vitality of a younger generation of well-educated religious people who want to make a difference in the deeply divided and conflicted America they are inheriting."

- Alphonse Vinh, National Public Radio

"A pioneer explorer into the unknown territory of America's religious colleges, Naomi Schaefer Riley reports her findings from twenty campuses with verve and insight. Her writing is as light as conversation, but her thinking goes as deep as the dispute in American education today between reason and revelation. "

- Harvey Mansfield, professor of Government, Harvard University, author, America's Constitutional Soul and The Spirit of Liberalism

"A joy to read, this book is also an arresting picture of a new generation that is poised to change the face of our culture and public life."

- Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, professor of history at Emory University

"Inspiring! A sympathetic, moving, insightful, thoroughly and clearly reported account of a phenomenon that, for all its importance, has until now been hardly noticed. Only a rare and gifted journalist can bring to life such diverse places, with their very different cultures."

- David Klinghoffer, author, The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism and The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy

Insightful and challenging, Riley's book shows how religious colleges are transforming America, and vice versa. This work is invaluable for anyone interested in the future of higher education in America-and the future of religion. Riley is a wonderful chronicler of a little-known academic world where faith and reason still intersect, a world that is having a profound impact on our national life.

- David Gibson, author, The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism

Publishers Weekly
A journalist known for her writing on religion and education in the Wall Street Journal and other top periodicals, Riley presents an engrossing survey of the growing world of religious higher education. To the secularly educated reader, this book is a fascinating anthropological glimpse into unfamiliar pockets of religious America. To the religiously affiliated, it cogently synthesizes issues and goals common to many of these colleges regardless of religion. Riley points out that enrollments are rising at these institutions and that a new educated "missionary generation" is bringing faith into the professional world. She argues that if "religious college leaders can navigate between the dangers of secularization and isolation, these schools can more effectively transmit their ideas to a larger American audience" and help build bridges between "red" and "blue" America. Riley's findings are based on visits to 20 different campuses, and she devotes her first six chapters to schools with various affiliations (Mormon, fundamentalist Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Jewish and Baptist). She spent up to a week on each campus, attended religious services and social events, sat in on classes and conducted interviews. The second half takes on common themes relevant to issues of student life on religious campuses: feminism, race, minority religious groups, lifestyle choices, integration of faith and intellect, and political activism. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Riley examines some US institutions of higher learning with a religious bent, wondering whether their students will have more social impact in post-collegiate professions than those from worldlier colleges. In a feisty introduction, the author derides secular students' amoral behavior, flabby relativism, and feel-good spirituality that is a sorry reflection of the real thing. Against "those who consider traditional religion a small and sometimes backward part of American life," she poses those who reject a spiritually empty education. Some of her premises seem dubious. When she records that more students at Bob Jones University than at Harvard joined the army after 9/11, she begs the question of whether military service is superior to, say, fashioning an estimable foreign policy. There is considerable room for debate when she pays respect to elected leaders who profess their faith (as opposed to earning our trust), nor does she offer convincing evidence that formal religious education is the only route to an ethical life. It would seem that readers are in for a broadside against public education, but that proves to be not entirely the case. Riley finds an admirable degree of focus and diligence in religious institutions, yet she also finds much to deplore. Bob Jones University contains "everything that was (and is) wrong with the rural South, everything that is racist, backward, and intolerant." Meanwhile, Thomas Aquinas College fosters a disturbing lack of skepticism, Notre Dame a purblind conservatism. The intellectual climate at Yeshiva University is equally incurious. Unsurprisingly, it's when these schools evince a measure of ecumenism and doubt that Riley finds them mostvibrant. It's hard to judge from her account whether religious colleges will succeed in their aim "to give their students the tools to succeed in the secular world and the strength to do so without compromising their faith."Intriguing, though the message is decidedly mixed. Author tour. Agent: Teresa Hartnett
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312330453
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.94 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a contributing writer at The American Enterprise and a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and National Review. Her articles have also appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Weekly Standard, the New York Post, the New York Sun, the New Republic, Commentary, Crisis, the Public Interest, the New Atlantis, and First Things. Ms. Riley is also the editor of In Character, a journal of the John Templeton Foundation, and an adjunct fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Since graduating from Harvard magna cum laude in 1998, she has worked as assistant editor of Commentary, as well as an editorial intern at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and National Review. She has been the recipient of the Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellowship, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute Journalism Fellowship, the Claremont Institute Publius Fellowship, and the Charles G. Koch Fellowship.

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Table of Contents

1 An oasis in the desert : the appeal of Brigham Young University 15
2 The new fundamentals : the Bob Jones strategy for converting New York city 33
3 Beyond the fighting Irish : Notre Dame's race question 53
4 "There are no doubters here" : the orthodoxy of Thomas Aquinas College 71
5 The Hatfields and the McCoys : a divided yeshiva 95
6 An integrated whole : Baylor's vision for the future 115
7 What revolution? : how feminism changed religious colleges while they weren't looking 135
8 Bridging the race gap : can faith solve the "lunch table problem"? 151
9 Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll : how student life is different at religious colleges 169
10 The underdog : how members of minority religious groups are treated on campus 191
11 The classroom as chapel : can the integration of faith and learning work? 211
12 Where are the protests? : political activism at religious colleges 237
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