Book Review: “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely ConvertThe Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert recounts the unlikely story of Rosaria Butterfield’s conversion to Christianity. In the late ’90s, Butterfield was living a contented life as a lesbian professor of English at Syracuse University specializing in “Queer Theory.” Butterfield describes herself at the time as not just a lesbian, but a lesbian activist, who viewed Christians as “bad thinkers” and “bad readers” who “bring the Bible into a conversation to stop the conversation, not deepen it.”

Despite being entrenched in a worldview and lifestyle almost as far as one could be on the opposite end of the spectrum from classical Christianity, Butterfield’s intention to write a a book about the rise of the religious right set her down a path which ultimately led to her conversion to Christianity.  Along with that conversion she ultimately abandoned her lesbianism, feminism, and even her job to become, in her words, just as much of an “out Christian” as she had previously been an “out lesbian.”

But The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert ends up being about much more than just Butterfield’s conversion. I estimate that close to 50% of the book is about her post-conversion life as a member of the Reformed Presbyterian church, her marriage to pastor Kent Butterfield, adoption and foster care, and homeschooling. Most of this is simply Butterfield sharing the facts and events of her life with a light explanation of the Biblical ideals which have driven her in these directions after her conversion.

While I doubt someone in a similar position to Butterfield prior to her conversion would find the book to be a convincing case for converting to Christianity, I would guess that was not Butterfield’s intention in writing it.  Viewed as simply a autobiographical account of how God can work transforming miracles in even the most hardened sinner, I feel The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is a success. While I disagree with some of her theological positions–the view that church gatherings should only sing Psalms, for example–there are no issues serious enough to deter me from recommending this book to Christians or non-Christians.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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