The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum. Then, in her late 30's, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down - the idea that Christianity, a religion she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was. That idea seemed to fly in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a train wreck at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 15 minutes|
|Author||Rosaria Champagne Butterfield|
|Narrator||Rosaria Champagne Butterfield|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 24, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #8,203 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#8 in Christian Social Issues (Audible Books & Originals)
#21 in Biographies of Religious Figures
#65 in Christian Social Issues (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2018
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Top reviews from the United States
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Same sex attraction has become a bit of freak show in our culture and I don't think that demanding that someone go into depth about the pain of their sexual experiences or desires is appropriate or necessary. Part of the reason I think that this obsession is prevalent in our culture is because sexual activity or sexual desire of any kind is the currency and measure of a person's humanity.
Until our culture can put sex in its appropriate role in society (what is the role of sex in a secular culture?), sex and sexuality in our culture will only get more distorted. Rosaria does not make sexual sin the center of her testimony, because that is not where it belongs. A testimony is not about the sin, it is about the Savior. Rosaria strives to do this even if she does it in a very annoying and condescending fashion.
Which brings me to my next point. This book is a shining example of the RP Denomination’s obsession with preening the plumes of its God-given glory. It is off putting for non-believers and embarrassing for those who are a member of this denomination.
Rosaria spends pages talking about how godly her denomination is and the godly wisdom of everyone in the RP church. She talks about her PhD and the fact that her husband has a PhD and that her kids are all brilliant. She talks about hermeneutics and how her higher education has afforded her a deeper understanding of the Bible.
She talks about how unique her family is because it is transracial and how the RP church is a champion of marginalized peoples as though her church denomination is the only denomination that does this.
All of this pomp and circumstance comes off as condescending and exclusive. The RP church has always come off this way. They love to toot their own horn with how smart, chic, and biblically sound their doctrines are.
Rosaria spends her time name dropping and blowing sunshine up the sphincters of the big wigs within the denomination and the glossier her praise becomes the more nauseous the reader becomes…At one point in the book I thought “gee, If I was an RP, I would want to publish this book about my denomination too!”
Rosaria sometimes comes off as smug. Why does Rosaria feel compelled to define her family as “transracial” as opposed to just Christian? Why when describing her children she talks about their skin color? Also, there is a bunch of other off color comments that sent shockwaves through my soul.
She refers to others who struggle with same sex attraction as “wackos.” These are wounded people Rosaria, not wackos. Rosaria states “I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want every wacko on campus to confess his or her feelings of same-sex love or homophobia or refer for counseling their gay aunts or neighbors.” Nice…for someone who doesn’t want to draw attention to themselves, you spend pages talking about all the people that came “Flocking” to your lectures and ministries before and after conversion. If you didn’t want to call attention to yourself, why did you write this book?
Because the RP church needed a poster child for Same Sex Attraction to illustrate what they and their God believe about it. But not wanting to do it offensively, they found someone they could groom into a perfect candidate. Marry her off to a pastor and become a mother of a bunch of unwanted children. I don’t actually think this, but I can see a non-believer formulating this thought process. Rosaria’s testimony sounds rehearsed, processed and sometimes schmaltzy (ad nauseum) with just enough sour so you don’t explode from the righteous sugar high she is peddling.
The next example of her bullying makes me even more angry, because she claims to champion the marginalized. The boy that was the president of the LGTQ community at her university she described in the most unflattering of terms. She states, “B was a skinny boy, high on prescription medication for ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and who knows what else. He had been flunking out of school since his first day on campus…. He paced the length of my office, his spike orange hair and red face made him look like a carrot or a cartoon figure.”
So this kid, who will always remember trusting Rosaria with the delicate and painful parts of himself, is now characterized in this fashion in a Christian testimony. I hope that Jesus gives B the grace to discern between God’s deep and abiding love for him and her foolishness. It’s heart breaking. It’s like she is bullying the LGBTQ community from the other side of her conversion. There was no need to put that in her testimony at all. Stuff like that rips through me.
She also talks about how easy it is for the church to unintentionally manipulate people. Throughout the book I was wondering who was doing the manipulating: the RP church to Rosaria, Rosaria to her audience, or both.
So far in my research of SSA, Homosexuality and Christianity, the church is only offering up the testimonies of married, influential women within their church congregations. Where are those who are single, love Jesus, and are still struggling? Is the church afraid to publish the testimony of a single Christian struggling with sexual identity? It is frustrating to only have these perspectives. Is the church uncomfortable with publishing the testimonies of those who are single and still struggling? Why are only married, formerly SS attracted or non-SS attracted people the only voice in the church speaking about this painful battle?
My conclusion so far is that the church is trying to tend to the wounded, but it is still falling short of its intended audience.
As one of the wounded, I want to help, but I am afraid. I’m afraid I’ll end up like Rosaria. I don’t want to be a poster child or a Christian carnival attraction. I don’t want my struggles to be put on display, twisted and manipulated for ‘Christ’s Crown and Covenant.’ I don’t want to hurt others around me and turn them into cartoons and caricatures for a testimony.
So…What is the point of a testimony? How does one talk about the glory of God in their life in an edifying fashion? How does one read a testimony without looking to be offended?
He has become aware of the judgmental views that many Christians and people that call themselves Christians have when it comes to the LBGTQ community. What they need is love, the kind illustrated in this book. The kind compassionate caring love of Jesus Christ. After I read it I wanted to purchase several copies and share them just about everyone I know.
I became acquainted with my son’s friend a few years ago but I didn’t really know her. Just what my son had told me. Someone tried to murder her in her own home because of her homosexuality, her openness about it and especially because of her efforts to establish the rights of her community. She escaped with her life and lots of staples.
I ended up sharing an apartment with her for two weeks when I went to visit my son and his wife. I see why he likes her so much. She is a kind, compassionate, caring and giving individual. Why shouldn’t he love her. We can love the sinner. We don’t have to love the sin. Is it not worse for a Christian to have an extra-marital affair than it is for a person who doesn’t know God to be in a homosexual relationship? I believe it is.
This book gives scripture and offers explanations of how and why we should love and care for others even when they believe differently than we do. READ the book. You’ll be glad you did.
2) Also, I think the author side stepped from explaining some of the reasons why she may have struggled with same-sex attraction in the first place. She made sure not to talk about relational factors and influences in her life but chose rather to focus mainly on spiritual influences. In my own experience struggling with same sex attraction and finding freedom and new life in Christ, dealing with relationship issues was (and is) so very important and it is spiritual and Biblical. I realize that we don't want to hurt our families and bring up the past to blame, nor do we want to blame our environments without taking responsibility for our own actions. But to ignore family dynamics, abuse, and heart wounds prevents healing and forgiveness and does not fully reveal the loving heart of God.
Certain denominations are reluctant to address family dynamics and environmental abuse or injustices for fear that to do so is too psychologically secular and not Biblical enough. They feel we should just stick with the basic Gospel: we are sinners and God saves and redeems us through Jesus death. Don't bring in anything else. But if you have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you find that dealing relational wounds, especially in our families and churches, is extremely Biblical. The last words of the OT address it as the reason Jesus came: "to turn the hearts of the children to their parents and the hearts of parents to their children."
We can address our sin and our need for Jesus' saving redemption while at the same time understanding the reasons why we sin and how pain, hurt, abuse from outside sources and within ourselves are things we must overcome, too. For me and many others addressing relationships has been critical in understanding and finding healing in our wounded hearts. It also has revealed to me that God is a loving Father who doesn't dismiss our pain and need. He is the ultimate relationship we need and yet in our own desire to be above it all we make him out to be the same. No, he is not above it all - He is in it all and he loves us and sees us and is with us.
This relational emphasis is lacking in Rosario's book and greatly needed.
Top reviews from other countries
This book is full of challenging truths - it isn't only a testimony. She knows God well, not in a soppy sentimental way, but in a powerful life-changing way of someone who didn't actually want to be converted. I was bowled-over by so much that she says that speaks directly into my life.
"How did the Lord heal me? The way that he always heals: the word of God got to be bigger inside me than I." This is something for all of us if we acknowledge our need to be healed. And that's pretty much where she starts her testimony - her recognition that life doesn't add-up correctly. "In the normal course of life questions emerged that exceeded my secular feminist worldview." So she seeks out a pastor who takes the Word of God seriously and who is able to engage with her intellect, and begins to ask some questions, strictly on her terms at first. Eventually her life becomes a 'train wreck' as her old worldview is overtaken by the new, but she stays true to her friends and is appalled by some Christian attitudes "...where everybody thinks the same nobody thinks very much". The story about her transexual friend is just stunning - you can't read it without wondering about who God really is. This book doesn't let you take God for granted.
She has little time for Christians who want to hear how bad she was before she was converted. If that's your interest in this book you'll be left strongly challenged. "We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own heart." Some of these things I read and read again. She has some great insights into sin (it is symptomatic, not causal. That is, it tells us where our heart has been, not who we inherently are or what we are destined to become.) She also has great insights into suffering, Christian worship, child-rearing, the nature of marriage.
The latter part of the book talks about church life, marriage and home-schooling. I don't share her views on several things and I guess you might skip this half because it isn't about her conversion. But actually I found this half of the book just as challenging and helpful. She says, "One of God's greatest gifts is the ability to see and appreciate the world from points of view foreign to your own, points of view that exceed your personal experience." I don't consider myself to be much of an intellectual, but so much of popular thought seems to trivialise the nature of God and what it means to be a Christian, I really appreciated the entirety of this book.
She writes well and there are some very memorable and pithy aphorisms along the way, as she has lost none of her ability to engage in trenchant critique - of the follies of contemporary Christian culture every bit as much as of her former feminist creed. My particular favourite is " I have always been wary of groups were everybody thinks the same as this usually means there is no thinking going on at all". Her compassion and love for her former sisterhood also shine throughout. A gripping and unusual read.
Her story is so superb and very well written. What I liked about her is she is a very humble person. Would thoroughly recommend reading this book.