"What if you prayed to know truth and God told you everything you've been taught is a lie?"
Nate O'Connor wants to do right. His senior year of college, though, gets off to a rocky start. He's a student at Bob Johnson University, the flagship institution of higher learning in American fundamentalism, where he and his best friend are placed on spiritual probation after being accused of disloyalty to the school. Their attempt to repair their reputation backfires and when Nate meets two women--one beautiful and smart, the other wise and charming--his entire belief system is uprooted. Nate's world is further rocked by tragedy and his life will never be the same.
Drawing on his own experiences as a student at Bob Jones University, Rich Merritt has crafted an extraordinary story of love, hope, loss, betrayal and loyalty. Most of all, Spiritual Probation is a deeply compelling exploration into the power of faith – in friends, lovers and God, as each of us defines God, and in the unwavering dictates of our own hearts.
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About the Author
Rich Merritt began attending Bob Jones Elementary School as a first-grader in 1973 and remained at the Bob Jones family of schools through his sophomore year of college in 1987. He has published a memoir (Secrets of a Gay Marine P*rn Star - Kensington 2005) and a novel about gay Marines (Code of Conduct - Kensington 2008). He appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in a 1998 feature story by Pulitzer-prize winning author, Jennifer Egan titled "Uniforms in the Closet." Readers are forewarned that at the time he left BJU, Rich Merritt was on spiritual probation.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rich Merritt's latest book is an engrossing read, very hard to put down. I attended Bob Jones University a few years after the events this story is based on, but the rhetoric, the methodology of control, the heavy-handed administration tactics haven't changed. Though many of the details in this story are fictionalized or based on composite characteristics, I heard so many of the same things said in chapel or in the classroom. I have many friends who have experienced the same things as these characters. It's a very strange feeling to read this book after several years away from the world of fundamentalism. On one hand, I was plunged right back into that way of thinking, felt the memories of guilt and the constraint to follow the letter of the BJU/Dr. Bob law because that was the same as God's will. On the other hand, after being outside that way of living for several years and learning to think and evaluate for myself, I marvel that I was ever taken in by such blatant cult-like manipulation and thought-control. It was a joy to follow Nate's transformation, even though much of it came through great tragedy. I saw so much of my own evolution in thinking in his experience. Rich Merritt's story shines a light into the dark places of fundamentalism, revealing so clearly the persecution complex, the necessity of controlling, not just the message, but the thoughts of its adherents, the equating of leadership with the voice and will of God. This is powerful writing that will not leave the reader unmoved. Well done, Rich!
Rich Merritt's third book is a compelling story with a shocking conclusion that will resonate with anyone who has been a student at the world's most unusual university! Appropriate for age 15 and older.
This story gives the reader a glimpse into both the control that is exerted over people in cult environments, as well as the internal struggle that it takes to leave this kind of environment. An excellent read for anyone who has struggled to free themself from this opressive form of religion, as well as for loved ones of people who have come out of this kind of environment, who may not understand why it is such a big deal to them.