The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. Rosaria Butterfield. 208 pp. Crown and Covenant Publications, 2014.
Rosaria Butterfield, previous Syracuse University English professor, advisor of Syracuse’s Queer organization, and former lesbian wrote this autobiographical account detailing her abandonment of her secular lifestyle and her slow and difficult transition to a lifestyle that seeks to glorify and submit to God’s plan and purpose for her life.
Butterfield’s book begins with the details surrounding her time at Syracuse, her tenure, and her popular reputation. Slowly but surely, however, Butterfield progresses into the transition from esteemed college professor to somewhat unemployed Christ-follower. After publishing a controversial article regarding her secular ideas and beliefs on a local platform, Butterfield received several supportive letters, and several hateful ones. One of the letters came from the desk of a local Presbyterian pastor, who merely filled his letter with questions regarding Butterfield’s lifestyle and belief choices. Butterfield was unable to throw the letter away or even banish it from her thinking. After some time, Butterfield decided to call him and meet with him to hash these questions out face-to-face.
After engaging in several discussions with the pastor and his wife for well over a year, Butterfield decided to turn from her intellectual, prideful lifestyle, catering to her lesbianism and radical liberalist ideals, and surrender her heart to the gentle sanctification of Christ. The autobiography deals with several failures, heartaches, and losses as Butterfield begins her journey as a disciple of Christ, including several accounts and anecdotes of her personal and professional life as she becomes a new creation.
Butterfield’s writing style, as a college English professor, was clear, concise, and interesting. The novel was easy to read and follow along with. I believe she chose several poignant anecdotes and personal stories that communicated her thoughts and beliefs clearly and appropriately, giving the reader a true sense of her emotions and thought process throughout her process of conversion and cultivation of a Christ-centered lifestyle. Below I have included a few quotes from the novel that clearly capture its main ideas:
“One of God’s greatest gifts is the ability to see and appreciate the world from points of view foreign on your own, points of view that exceed your personal experience.” (125)
Yes, homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia Homophobia is the irrational fear of a whole people group, failing to see in that group God’s image diminished but not extinguished by sin, and that God’s elect people linger there, snared by their own sin and awaiting gospel grace.” (169)
Overall, the book was fabulous and worth the sacrifice of time and energy dedicated to reading it. As I think through the biography, there is little I would have critiqued, or even considered subpar. I gave this book a 5 out of 5, and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with same-sex attraction, feelings of guilt and shame, or who may know someone who would benefit from reading of a lifestyle similar to Butterfield’s.
Butterfield’s main point, I believe, was to reach people who may not only struggle with specific sins, or feelings of shame and guilt but who need to hear of the forgiveness and blessing available to them through Christ’s sacrifice.