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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  8,176 ratings  ·  1,277 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.
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.  

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
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 & Cov
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
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 the book ...more
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.
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
Natalie Vellacott
"I'm grateful that when I heard the Lord's call on my life, and I wanted to hedge my bets, keep my girlfriend, and add a little God to my life, I had a pastor and friends in the Lord who asked nothing less of me than that I die to myself."

The author, an English professor with university tenure and a lesbian activist, was confronted in April 1999 with the claims of Jesus about Himself. It began when she wrote a controversial article which appeared in local publications. A pastor whose church
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.
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
Dec 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: christian
We read this for a book club and we all came to the same conclusion. Butterfield was an extreme feminist and converted to an extreme Christian. Ironically becoming the person she despised in the beginning. So no, I didn't rate this book highly.

The other thing that bugged us about this book was that is was less about the secret thoughts she was thinking through each stage of her life but more the well edited and mostly public thoughts (she shares several speeches she gave at the time) which was m
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
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Especially appreciated her perspective on homeschooling and homeschool graduates and the need to expand beyond "like-minded" community.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian denomination that Butterfield joined, and I’m also a faculty member in an English Department at a state university. Both of these perspectives influenced how I reacted to this book.

As I read, I kept wondering how the old Rosaria—-the tenured academic who wrote about psychoanalysis and gender—-would interpret the new Rosaria:

Would the old Rosaria note Jacques Lacan’s famous assertion that “there is no sexual relation” while considering how the author consis
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
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
Marina Sato
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A truly inspiring testimony about the power of Christ.
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
Anita Yoder
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: exceptionals
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacob Meiser
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book challenged my self-centered, sheltered Christianity more than any other book I have read. Through Rosaria's honest and messy account of her conversion, my eyes were freshly opened to the power of the gospel and what it really means to love others. As Jesus said, "He who has been forgiven much loves much," and that is abundantly evident in this book as Rosaria goes on to explain the mercy ministries that her and her family continue to be involved in. Though this book is certainly permea ...more
Julie Biles
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The author is raw, real and refreshing. Butterfield is not concerned with impressing or influencing the reader to think highly of her. She does challenge the reader to read and listen to a point of view other than the one he or she holds. I so appreciate this about the book! She spends quite a few words defending her denomination's views on corporate worship issues. Those were not my favorite pages but clearly, this is important to her.
Life would be fuller, deeper, wider and more satisfying if
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.
Cinnamon Wolfe
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. That sums up this book in one word. Just wow.

This might be one of the best books I have ever read.

Not only is Rosaria's story of her conversion simply amazing it is untypical. She reminds me distinctly of two different people from history. The first being Paul. He hated Christians and persecuted them until one day Jesus knocked him over and changed his entire life. The second being CS Lewis. A thinker. A studier. Someone who is not just satisfied with what they are told, they go out and f
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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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