In The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, former tenured English professor at a prestigious University, relates what happened when her life turned into what she describes as "a train wreck at the hand of the supernatural," just when she thought she had it made.
She was a gay and lesbian activist with PhD's in English Literature and Cultural Studies. As a "tenured radical" she'd been "recruited" to advance the universities "radical leftist ideologies." At age 36, she enjoyed teaching and the administrative responsibilities she was given, yet still had time for volunteer work. Since she and her lesbian partner owned two homes they "provided hospitality to students and activists looking to make a difference in the world." What more could she want?
She was at the pinnacle of success. Then she received a letter from Pastor Kenneth G. Smith of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church in response to "a critique" she'd written about "Promise Keepers gender politics." Normally mail was handled quickly, but the pastor's letter had sat on her desk for a week and she'd read it many times puzzled over how to respond. In the letter he asked her to "explore and defend the presuppositions that undergirded" her assumptions in the Promise Keepers critique.
Rosaria, on research leave, called Pastor Ken. He didn't share the gospel with her about "Christ's irresistible grace." Instead, "questions emerged that exceeded Rosaria's secular feminist worldview." Especially when he asked, "What do you believe about the Bible?"
That's a book Rosaria hadn't spent much time in and she began to read—five hours a day for months. Pastor Ken made Rosaria feel "safe" and their challenging conversations continued for two years. Her transgender friend Jay said, "Rosaria, this Bible reading is changing you, what's going on?"
Rosaria asked, "What if it's true? What if Jesus is real and risen?" She had begun to question if the "Bible were inspired by a holy God and if it were inherently true and trustworthy." If true, "the Bible had the right to interrogate her life and culture, not the other way around."
Rosaria's Christian memoir of an "English professor's journey into Christian faith" is compelling, gritty and real. Reading the Bible and discussions with Pastor Ray raised questions that challenged her feminist viewpoint, her academic position and her gay and lesbian worldviews.
It's also the story of a pastor who made the effort to befriend, instead of condemn. Within that atmosphere of safety Rosaria felt free to consider questions that challenged her worldview, her activities and her position in the academic world.
Today, Rosaria is a loving wife, mother and foster parent who asks with a smile, "How did a smart cookie like me end up in a place like this?" She tells her story to encourage others, a story that bears witness to change and God's healing on the "highway of grace" through the efforts of a loving pastor. Fascinating and challenging, her true story can be read in one sitting, yet her words linger long in the mind of the reader.
Rosaria's book is a must read for friend, family or loved one with questions about the gay and lesbian lifestyle.
"The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert," by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Crown and Covenant Publishers, 2012, 154 Pages, 978-1884527388, $12.00
***For more on the topic see the slide show or list at the end of the review***
Midwest Book Reviews—"Gail's Bookshelf:" August 2014
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