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The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  5,710 Ratings  ·  976 Reviews
Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the comm ...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published 2012 by Crown & Covenant Publications
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Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I try to be fairly judicious with my five-star ratings, but this little autobiographical sketch of one woman's journey from her place in life as a lesbian, radical-feminist English professor to a stay-at-home-Psalm-singing-homeschooling-foster-mom-pastor's wife earned every bit of the five stars. While many pop-evangelical conversion stories are written in an often-clunky style that yields a narrative arc that reads something like "bad, bad, bad, bad - JESUS - problems solved", Dr. Butterfield's ...more
Amy Kannel
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, christianity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Douglas Wilson
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Gosh, what a book.
Mitch Nichols
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I appreciated most about the book was the glimpse into how love, patience and relationship building was the true apologetic that allowed the Gospel to take seed and eventually germinate into a life radically changed by Jesus Christ. Just the first two chapters alone make the book worth reading as the reader gets a small idea from a human perspective how truly devastating it can be for someone to give up their complete identity and world-view to follow Christ. I also appreciated some of Butt ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious

After reading such an amazing book, wherein the author articulates her thoughts with such a command of language;  I want to give a thought provoking review that at least  makes a pretense to simulate  the authors work. 

But the only word that comes to mind is, "Wow".

Seriously,  "Wow".

I guess I should be a little more serious, but the book really is that good. Her use of critical thinking and examination of worldview as it applies to Christianity and our culture as a whole; is truly refreshing.  

Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Christians
Recommended to Trice by: Ben via
2/2/2014: just as impactful the 2nd time round.

3/20/2013: finally listened to GenRef's podcast interview with Rosaria and Pastor Ken together - so great to hear them both.

4/24/2013: This discussion of the book on the new podcast "Mortification of Spin" made me laugh

11/2/2012: There's a great interview with the author on David Murray and Tim Challies Connected Kingdom podcast: The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert

September 2012: So I gave in and grabbed an electronic copy directly from Crown &
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this book I found a friend who was also a stranger.* Many readers will perhaps experience something similar - a story with many familiar scenes but shown from a different angle, revealing things previously uncontemplated. And many scenes that one would expect to feel strange but find to be suprisingly resonant.

In a word, this book will get inside of you. You will want to listen, to argue, to laugh, to apologize, to question, to pray, to ponder . . . and before you know it, you'll be turning t
Steven Wedgeworth
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really didn't like this book. I am certainly thankful for Mrs Butterfield's testimony and the powerful work done in her life by God. Still, the book is not a good book. It is written in a very clunky manner, complete with cliches, awkward analogies, typos, and pedantic translations after any latin or technical term (the worst was the translation of "nota bene"). The first two chapters are the ones relevant to most readers, as they deal with the issues of sexuality and conversion. Had the book ...more
Oct 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This book has a lot going for it. The first half was why I read it, and the second half is why I gave it only three stars.

If the book were only her conversion experience, it would be one of the best books on the subject of dying to self and receiving new life in Jesus one could hope to come across. Here's what's so great about that first half:
- It shows in a dramatic way where the heart of evangelism is: hospitality. I heard Rosaria Butterfield interviewed on the radio recently, and she very pr
Erik Lee
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not ashamed to say that I nearly bawled my eyes out as I finished this book.

I picked up this volume not only because it was under the free download section for prime members on Amazon, but also because it seemed to be recommended by all corners of evangelicosphere.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. From first couple of chapters, I saw the transformation of a former feminist/lesbian English professor to Christ-embracing, sinner who was now redeemed. The chapters unpacked the clashing worldv
Eric Chappell
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reading
An important book that many in the Christian community (maybe particularly Reformed & Presbyterian) should read. Basically, this book is an autobiography of radical, leftist university professor who found herself in a Small, conservative, psalm-singing denomination by God's (intruding & disruptive) grace. The book tracks roughly 15 years of her life: from her days as a university prof to her current life as a pastor's wife who homeschools their several adopted children. Overall, I liked ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Got a notice of a price reduction on this book. Excited to start this one...

One word refreshing! Now for the longer version, this book is amazing. It is written well. Written with intellect and experience and compassion. Mrs. Butterfield reminds you of what true evangelism, starting with her encounter with the truth. It did NOT start with condenmation, but questions with what she believed and why. We can always believe something to be good and right, but then when you start with the reasons why
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Only the first couple chapters are about her conversion. The majority of the book is about the effects of Christ on her life after her conversion.

It was great to see how God used Butterfield's past experiences to make her a powerful force for good in today's Christian circles. But the title makes this story sound more dramatic than it really is. It's much more than "secret thoughts" or her "conversion." It's about how God transformed her and taught her things. It's got long tangents about educat
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very unusual testimony and a very important book for Christians who want to learn how to break down barriers that hinder them from reaching non-believers.
Rebekah Courter
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such a powerful book. It touched on a lot of things I've been thinking out. What sort of Gospel do I have? How can I reach a dying world if I don't have compassion for them? Is Christ really evident in me, that everyone knows He is living IN me?
One of my favorite quotes:
"We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. When fear rules your theology, God is nowhere to be found in your paradigm, no matter how many verses you ta
Mike Duran
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory, Secret-thoughts-unlikely-convertparticularly Queer Theory, a practicing lesbian who owned two houses with her partner, a political activist and outspoken advocate for numerous gay and lesbian causes, and a “tenured radical,” to being a Christian, heterosexual, married, mother of multiple adoptees and foster children, and pastor’s wife. Her journey ...more
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rosaria Butterfield was a tenured professor of Critical Theory (specifically in Queer Theory) at Syracuse University -- feminist, lesbian, gay rights activist-- that is, until she received a nice note from a local pastor responding to a scathing article about the Promise Keepers that she published in a local paper. The note would be the official starting point of her conversion to Christianity.

Often times the paragraph I just wrote seems like the hook to a kitschy evangelical culture warrior pu
Erika Schanzenbach
This book testifies to the dangerous nature of a life given to Christ. Rosaria Butterfield's relation of her experience of being drawn to belief in the saving work of Christ by no desire or will of her own, and the subsequent upheaval and destruction it brought to all she had built in her life, is revealing. It reveals the all-encompassing nature of a life lived in obedience to Christ and His word. It reveals the pride of many Christians in how we relate to those outside the church. It reveals t ...more
Tressa Lancaster
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book at the beginning, and for about 2/3 of the way, until she began to feel the need to cheer lead for Presbyterian worship distinctives. If they had been mentioned, no problem, but to denigrate other my mind that made her into what she spoke against at the beginning, bound by the views of those around her, into a walled in ideology.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Hmmmm, it wasn't what I expected. I really loved the first chapters about Rosaria's conversion and the love that others showed her. But the rest of the story felt a bit disjointed at best, and at worst slightly egotistical. Emphasis on her denomination and some of their practices being superior, among other things left the story falling flat at the end. For me anyway.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Bought it for Kindle. What a read. Wish I bought a paper copy because I want to lend it to other people to read!

This suddenly began being all over my little corner of the internet. I was compelled to check it out for myself, and I am so glad.

Her story in the first couple of chapters is sensational; a practicing lesbian and professor of the same becomes a Christian? Her world is rocked and leveled? How can this be?

God is good and reaches people where they are through community to create new c
Aaron Choi
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Initially I was hesitant to read this because the cover and title seemed a bit kitschy and there's enough of that in the art, literature and music in the little evangelical subculture that I live in (and am a member of). But I'm happy my reticence was overcome after discovering the book was part of the Kindle Lending Library for Amazon Prime customers. Nothing beats free!

This is a beautiful book about sin, regeneration, conversion (and post-conversion), worship, education and adoption -- every w
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting and informative autobiographical account of the author's journey from being a left-wing, post-modernist, feminist lesbian to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and eventually married and the adoptive parent of 4 children!

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is not exploitative of her past life in her narrative, which is appreciated, but offers an excellent analysis of why people, both male and female, chose to live homosexual lives ... pride! T
Joy Fayard
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a book I'll remember and I'll be sure of coming back to.
What I loved about it : the simple, conversational, honest style ; the way in which Rosaria didn't avoid the touchy issues but courageously outlined how they shaped her ; the details of her life, thoughts and family life ; the biblical, humble thoughts she gives on sexual identity, the root of sin, marriage, ministry and motherhood ; most of all, the last two chapters on the journey through adoption and foster care, a subject that
Robin Koshy
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Amazing story of God's love for a left wing lesbian. Didn't care too much for some absolute statements on homeschooling and singing only psalms. Enjoyed it otherwise!
Márcio Sobrinho
Suba este livro para o topo da sua lista de leitura.
Jenny Preston
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfic, religious
Dear Christian, If you haven't read this book yet, please do. Every chapter - no, every sentence - will have you pausing to truly think through some of the foundational aspects of faith-meets-life.

On the first level, this is a simple story, the story of a lesbian English professor with a focus on feminist theory who became a Christian and her journey into living that faith. As you get deeper, there are so many truths! And so many confrontations for those of us who may be considered comfortable C
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Here's a story of a tenured-lesbian-English-professor turned Reformed-Presbyterian-pastor's-wife. It is a fascinating book, and it tells a fascinating story of grace, grace in the life of an "unlikely convert."

As a tenured professor at Syracuse University of English and Women's Studies (and Queer Theory), she was on a quest to disprove the Bible and its claims. While she appreciated the Bible's literary value, she utterly disdained the worldview it represented and scoffed at Christian rhetoric r
Sydney Blanchard
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
The most compelling thing about Rosaria's story to me is how fantastically her life was changed by her conversion. God is truly working miracles among us today! She doesn't gloss over the losses that she suffered as a result, which i appreciated because its honestly true that Christianity requires (at times) painful sacrifices. I was challenged and inspired by the depth of Rosaria's examination of her presuppositions and the way she excavated her mind, body and soul to uncover and uproot the pre ...more
Jeff Short
I hardly know where to begin with this book because there are so many layers to it. We could look at it from different perspectives and gain valuable insights from each. For example, this book could be read as a book about conversion in general or conversion of a lesbian feminist in particular. This book could be read as a book about the Christian life--repentance, faith, discipleship, and sanctification. This book could be read as a book about mercy and sacrificial service. This book could be r ...more
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Rosaria is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, she developed a ministry to college students. She has taught and ministered at Geneva College and is a full-time mother and pastor's wife, part-time author, and occasional speaker.
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“I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.” 39 likes
“Good teachers make it possible for people to change their positions without shame.” 34 likes
More quotes…