Behind the Book
Before I could spend a semester at Bible Boot Camp, I needed some school supplies. A few days before departing for Liberty, I went to my local Christian store and stocked up on the items I'd need during my evangelical sojourn.
First on the list was 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a self-help book for Christians trying to cut out their vulgar language. Cursing at Liberty is a high offense, punishable with up to 18 reprimands (for perspective, 30 reprimands can get you kicked out). The book gives tips on avoiding curses, but it also includes sections on gossiping, boasting, exaggeration, and other forms of sinful speech. Apparently, I'm not the only person who needs help in the language department – according to the publisher, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue has sold more than 300,000 copies.
Next, on the recommendation of a friend, I bought a Jesus fish to attach to my car bumper. I knew that some Christians flaunted these fish to identify themselves as true believers; what I didn't know was that Jesus fish are up there with Stryper t-shirts and WWJD bracelets on the list of outdated Christian icons. In fact, the last time Christian college students thought it was cool to have a Jesus fish on your car bumper, it was 1993.
Keeping It Safe
Once I got settled in at Liberty, I discovered a few more tools for living the righteous life.
At Liberty, only R-rated movies were strictly forbidden, but students would routinely check to make sure the movies they were planning to see were sufficiently godly, even if they were only PG-13. The most popular film-rating website at Liberty is Kids in Mind (www.kids-in-mind.com), which rates thousands of movies on a 1-10 scale in three categories – Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, and Profanity – and provides detailed descriptions of the more salacious scenes. One recent PG-13 James Bond movie included these warnings:
“A man and a woman exchange flirtatious barbs in a couple of scenes.”
“A man and a woman kiss passionately, they pull each other’s clothes off (nothing is visible), they kiss, lie on a bed, and they roll over and fall out of the bed and onto the floor (it is implied that they have sex).”
X3Watch (www.x3watch.com) is a software program designed to help Christians overcome pornography addictions. I never used X3Watch myself, but I heard a lot about it when I went to visit “Every Man’s Battle,” Liberty’s on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. The site keeps a log of every website you visit, and alerts up to 3 accountability partners when you visit any obscene or pornographic sites. The Liberty students I met often set the software to alert their pastors, professors, or other authority figures in the event of a moral slip-up.
Of course, the number-one requirement for life at Liberty was a Bible. I chose a thick leather New King James Version with extra-wide margins, which came in handy when I needed to take discreet notes for my book without having to whip out a notebook or steno pad. Unfortunately, I lost it midway through the semester, so some poor Liberty student is walking around today with a Bible full of cryptic margin-notes like “NEED ANEC 4 SPR BRK CHPT.”
Hitting the Books
Then, of course, I had my classes. I took six altogether, which made for a lot of work. The books I was required to read included:
- The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
- One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill
- A Journey Through the New Testament by Elmer L. Towns
- A Survey of the Old Testament by Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton
- What Christians Believe by Alan Johnson and Robert Webber
- Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
- Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati
- Revised Answers Book by Ken Ham et al.
After one particularly tough New Testament exam, a hallmate introduced me to Sunday School songs, which are written to help Christian kids memorize bits of Bible trivia. (These come in handy during Liberty midterms.) There’s a song to remember the names of the apostles, a song listing what God made on each day of Genesis, and a song listing the twelve sons of Jacob. There are even songs to help you remember the plots of individual Bible stories – as in, “There was a girl God used for good, and Rahab was her name-o. R-A-H-A-B…” You can find a full list of Bible mnemonics at www.ebibleteacher.com
When I told a friend from Brown about the Bible songs, he agreed that it was a stroke of genius and suggested some adaptations for secular students. (“There was an ex-pat lesbian who broke with novelistic convention and Gertrude was her name-o. S-T-E-I-N…”)