Good Reads

Teen Spirit

Politically savvy twins pen a book and raise an army -- at 19.

By Bart Blasengame May 19, 2009 Published in the April 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

0804 pg038 mud teens sknjnw

THE SUMMER of 2005 was supposed to be a relaxing one for Brett and Alex Harris. The then 16-year-old twins settled into their family’s Gresham home for a few months of fierce thumb-twiddling… and then their dad walked in, arms laden with books. Heavy books. Sociopolitical primers like The World Is Flat and The Tipping Point.

It was while sifting through all those big words and bigger ideas that the devoutly Christian teens found the seeds for their anti-apathy revolution. Or rather, their "rebelution," a term they’ve coined for "a teenage rebellion against low expectations." The rebelution features prominently their own book (out this month from Multnomah Books), Do Hard Things, which they hope will inspire other teens to take up political interests and reshape the world into a more God-like orb.

But the book is only the latest in a string of inspirational efforts. Thanks to their website, —born from that summer reading binge—the 19-year-old Harris boys are now bona fide cyber apostles. The site has received over 16 million visits, making it one of the most trafficked Christian teen sites on the Net. It’s even spawned a seven-city Christian youth conference tour that explores how to integrate religion into teen life.

And did we mention the homeschooled twins were the ones behind the reboot of conservative bell cow Mike Huckabee’s now defunct presidential campaign? They created, a grassroots effort to rally support for the former Arkansas governor —and they even helped coax Chuck Norris onto the campaign trail.

Now comes their book, which contains a forward by Norris himself and acts as a sort of how-to workbook for the world-changing adolescent, including lessons in everything from how to be a better student to how to start your own Christian magazine. With chapters sporting high-minded subtitles like "Creating a counterculture from scratch," the Harris twins admit to being demanding taskmasters. "Our conviction is that there’s more to the teen years than pop culture would lead us to think," says Alex.

As the twins look toward their 20s, they’re hoping to convince more Gen Yers to put down their Sidekicks and Xboxes long enough to join them. Or at least to buy a copy of their book.

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