Book Review: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012
We were gifted a copy of this book by our friend Becky.  My wife finished it first and urged me to read it as well.  While I’m not particularly enthralled by the genre of Christian monograph, the particulars of this one were intriguing – a well-educated, liberal, feminist, lesbian professor is brought to the Christian faith, recognizing how incongruent her newfound faith is with her professional and personal assumptions.  
I liked the honesty of this book.  I liked her willingness – repeatedly – to describe her conversion as a “train wreck”.  I appreciated her willingness to count some of the costs involved in being brought to faith, and the ongoing struggles she faces still.  She writes well, and clearly communicates her situation both past and present.
That being said, I much preferred the first half of the book to the second.  It seemed as though she ran out of things to talk about to justify a full book, and so began meandering.  I would argue that there was plenty more material to be mined about her conversion and the struggles that plague her still.  Instead, she diverged into defenses of her denomination’s worship practices, into depictions of their foster and adoption experiences, and a glowing depiction of her life now as mother and home-schooler.  
I suspect that there is far more going on under the surface than Butterfield is comfortable talking about, and that’s certainly her decision.  But I think that grappling with some of those things would have strengthened her story.  She winds up with a life that by evangelical Christian standards is ideal, even though very few evangelical Christians would emulate it.  Yet she hints that she struggles still, and explaining those struggles would have made this a far more powerful testimony.
If you know someone struggling with the cost of discipleship, this might be a good book.  Do not give this book to a gay person that you hope will give up their lifestyle.  That is not what this book is intended for.  The audience is most definitely a Christian one, and you will not likely help your gay friend towards Christ in this book.  But it’s a good reminder that the Creator of the Universe is more than capable of transforming us more fundamentally than we really imagine (or even might want!).  

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