on 20 October 2012
This is an outstanding and unusual book. It is the testimony of a reflective English professor who even though she was an active lesbian activist, became a Christian and ended up as a Reformed Presbyterian ministers wife. It is not the typical sin to salvation story - there are many ups and downs on the way. Beautifully told, with great insight and compassion, I found this book totally stimulating.
on 8 November 2012
This book is a great and fascinating read. I found it well written and both sensitive and challenging, Rosaria's testimony certainly makes you question your world view and presuppositions without coming across as telling you what you aught to think and believe. It's a good read for anyone, but a must for those involved in ministry of any sort. I wasn't fully convinced by everything that was said (mainly on the arguments for exclusive psalmody in worship) but it was certainly informative on the subject. You may not agree with her on other bigger points but she will certainly challenge you on them.
on 6 April 2013
"I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin."
This book is full of challenging truths - it isn't only a testimony. She knows God well, not in a soppy sentimental way, but in a powerful life-changing way of someone who didn't actually want to be converted. I was bowled-over by so much that she says that speaks directly into my life.
"How did the Lord heal me? The way that he always heals: the word of God got to be bigger inside me than I." This is something for all of us if we acknowledge our need to be healed. And that's pretty much where she starts her testimony - her recognition that life doesn't add-up correctly. "In the normal course of life questions emerged that exceeded my secular feminist worldview." So she seeks out a pastor who takes the Word of God seriously and who is able to engage with her intellect, and begins to ask some questions, strictly on her terms at first. Eventually her life becomes a 'train wreck' as her old worldview is overtaken by the new, but she stays true to her friends and is appalled by some Christian attitudes "...where everybody thinks the same nobody thinks very much". The story about her transexual friend is just stunning - you can't read it without wondering about who God really is. This book doesn't let you take God for granted.
She has little time for Christians who want to hear how bad she was before she was converted. If that's your interest in this book you'll be left strongly challenged. "We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own heart." Some of these things I read and read again. She has some great insights into sin (it is symptomatic, not causal. That is, it tells us where our heart has been, not who we inherently are or what we are destined to become.) She also has great insights into suffering, Christian worship, child-rearing, the nature of marriage.
The latter part of the book talks about church life, marriage and home-schooling. I don't share her views on several things and I guess you might skip this half because it isn't about her conversion. But actually I found this half of the book just as challenging and helpful. She says, "One of God's greatest gifts is the ability to see and appreciate the world from points of view foreign to your own, points of view that exceed your personal experience." I don't consider myself to be much of an intellectual, but so much of popular thought seems to trivialise the nature of God and what it means to be a Christian, I really appreciated the entirety of this book.
on 20 June 2014
I first heard of this book via a youtube video interview of Rosaria, which I kept having to pause in order to write down some of the things she said. The book is the same - as an English professor, she is obviously excellent with words, and as a thinking person, she has many wise and pithy things to say.
The book is a chronological account of her life - from the time a Christian pastor reached out to her by letter; through the turbulent years as she came to terms with the truth of a living, loving God; up until the present day, and the amazing, welcoming, nurturing home she and her husband have created for their adopted and fostered children.
Most challenging for me, was the way that the pastor, his wife and their church, befriended Rosaria, without putting pressure on her to attend church - instead, they took church to her, and loved her, and helped her support her hurting friends. There are lots of lessons here for us about how to love, befriend and offer hospitality, and not shy away from people whose lifestyles are very different from our own. Also hugely challenging is the way Rosaria, and the man she marries, live out their lives as Christians, holding "everything captive for Christ", and welcoming children just as Christ welcomes us.
Rosaria is a teacher and so, peppered through the book, she teaches, explains Scripture, explains why she believes in exclusive psalmody, home schooling and other Reformed Presbyterian practices. I did skip some of her teaching about the role of women in marriage but will go back to it!
If you are looking for a book on sexuality, this is not it. It's a book about outreach, conversion and total commitment. I don't think it's a book to give a non Christian, gay friend - rather, it's a book that will help those of us who are not gay to think through how to be better friends to them. It's also a book for all Christians, to challenge us on issues of adoption, fostering and what true hospitality involves.
It's brilliant - read it!
on 8 March 2013
I love reading acounts of how people have met with God and come to faith and how it has changed their lives. Mrs Butterfield's testimony is beautifully written and very frank. It shows how orthodox Christians can be fruitful if they can persevere in loving people as and where they are, and let God change what needs to be changed, in His good time. It is also very challenging to those of us who have not been through a radical conversion experience.
on 17 March 2014
I loved this book all the way through. Even though I neither homeschool nor am Presbyterian nor have ever been nearly as intellectual as the author, I can greatly relate to her salvation from our modern intellectual community into a life of faith in Jesus story. I love how she uses her great intellect to articulate well our need for and the benefits of a life in relationship with Jesus.
on 15 December 2013
This was a fascinating book of a highly intelligent woman, Professor of English as a prestigious American University who decides to "come out" when she was in her late twenties. But God had other plans for her and during her research, she came across so many unexplainable facts, that she turned to a Christian minister for help. Her introduction to the church was an eye-opener and, as well as many welcoming and caring people, she also came across hostility from those who were meant to show her kindness. A sorry state of affairs. A very interesting and unusual outcome, to say the least. The book could have done with better editing as it is repetitive in places but overall a fascinating read.
on 21 August 2013
Every time someone puts their trust in Jesus, it is a miracle of grace. From the child who grows up always believing in Jesus, to the person who seems furthest away from Christ, there is much rejoicing in heaven every time a sinner repents, and every conversion story is one worth hearing.
But stories like that of Rosaria Butterfield need to be told and heard widely, to remind Christians afresh of the power of the gospel to save, and this is why `The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert' is such a great book, because it does just that.
Rosaria was a radical, lesbian, feminist professor who specialised in Queer Theory (a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies). That was until God used the loving witness of pastor Ken Smith and his wife Floy, who befriended her, and shared the gospel with her over a number of years, to bring her to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, and her whole life was transformed. Today she is a homeschooling, pastor's wife and mother of four adopted children who is part of a local church that sings unaccompanied psalms.
This book tells the story of how that happened.
You might not agree with everything she says (particularly about homeschooling and unaccompanied psalm singing), but you will be amazed and at times moved, as she tells the story of what God has done in her life.
on 9 May 2013
Without doubt it's an interesting and stimulating account of one person's journey from a radical secular, feminist position to one of redemption, healing and sincere faith in Jesus Christ. The first half is a page turner but it seems to lose its way somewhere along the line and the second half of the story is rather rambling and incoherent. There appear to be huge gaps in the story leaving the reader itching to ask how on earth she got from one intellectual and spiritual position to the next. Some of the latter chapters contain something of a polemic for home schooling, exclusive psalmody and the failings of other evangelical Christian denominations. It feels as though the book has been harshly and rather poorly edited, perhaps to remove statements or thoughts that weren't seen as 'theologically correct'. The last few chapters seem rushed and out of place. Maybe I'm wrong and perhaps 3 stars is a bit harsh. It was interesting and left me wanting to ask more questions. Certainly the riches of God's grace are very evident.
on 29 July 2015
It is an ok book. The premise was so interesting and the topic was something I have never read about before. But there is a glaring omission as to what made her turn to Christ and what it was that made her believe in Christ and the validity of the Bible - all of this is missing. And this is the bit I was most interested in.
What I wanted to know was what the pastor actually said to her that made her think that her life needed to be changed. The only impression I get was someone who looked like they had it together but who was deep down, very lost - a lapsed Catholic who suddenly felt guilty and melodramatically launched into very conservative Christian view. And even then, I don't know why she went down that route and not a pentecostal route for example. Although intimately written, you feel like you never get to know her at all.
It did give me a small glimpse into a world I had never much thought about and how she left it. It is inspiring and I am sure it will inspire many, I just thought that whoever was publishing/editing it could have done a better job of critiquing before finalising for publish.