“How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck?”, so begins Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s captivating story of her conversion. In her book “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”, Rosaria documents her exodus from an academic, feminist lesbian to a born again married woman with a husband and children.
After being intercepted by a true Christian pastor in response to an article she wrote on the Religious Right, Rosaria began an odyssey of seeing life outside of her highly polarized worldview. She challenges what she sees in Christians that is mindless and what those she calls bad thinkers. However, as she meets with Pastor Ken she has to start challenging herself on the ideas and practices she had automatically accepted being surrounded only by likeminded thinkers.
Honestly put, Christians scared Rosaria. She thought “they reduced Christianity to a lifestyle and claimed that God is on the side of those who attend to the rules of the lifestyle they have invented or claimed to find in the Bible.” She saw Christians as ill-informed and bigoted. Her journey into learning differently was difficult and painful. Pastor Ken and his wife lovingly accepted Rosaria and spent valuable time with her. They invited her into their lives and didn’t judge her. Ken and Floy did not fit into her stereotype of Christians, and she didn’t know what to do about it. Rosaria states, “One thing that made Pastor Ken safe as well as dangerous was a point of commonality between us. We both are good teachers. Good teachers make it possible for people to change their positions without shame.” They seemed to know she wasn’t able to come to church, so they brought the church to her. They introduced her to their friends and met hers. They had her over to their house and dropped by hers. Pastor Ken came and spoke to her students at Syracuse College about why the Bible was an important book for English majors to read. They didn’t force her into a decision, but just spoke truth to her. Over time her life and thinking began to change.
As the gospel does, it forces a decision. Rosaria began a battle with herself as the truth dawned on her, but her flesh and worldview rebelled. The very people she and her peers had laughed at and mocked became her good friends. This ignited a serious battle within. “Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder when I hear other Christian pray for the salvation of the “lost” if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers.”
Rosaria documents this journey in the most articulate and brutally honest way. She looks openly at the sin in her life and what must be done with it. Her soul searching is convicting to any true believer who chooses to follow Jesus. How do we deal with our sin? Why do some just receive the Lord and never dig in deep, and others throw off the snares of this world and to the best of their ability follow Jesus whole heartedly? Over and over in this book I was cut to the quick!
Rosaria did delve in wholeheartedly to following Jesus, and it cost her everything. Unlike many Christians, with a few changes new life begins, Rosario had to relinquish all. She left behind her partner, her position, her friends, and her very identity. We all die when we come to Christ, but we don’t lose all. Rosaria did. As she put it, “This is my conversion in a nutshell: I lost everything but the dog.” And her life now shows that the talents the Lord has entrusted to her she has invested to the fullest. She and her husband have dedicated themselves to adopting and fostering as many lost children as they can. Apart from her dedication to the denomination that rescued her, which has elements that I don’t agree with, this little book is so incredibly beneficial to believers seeking to love like Jesus loved, and is instrumental in reaching people who are so different from us with the truth of the supernatural ability of the gospel to save and change lives.
Book review written by Diane Caston