So begins The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Butterfield’s new memoir about her conversion to Christianity. Without telling too much of the story, Dr. Butterfield was an English Professor at Syracuse University, whose specialty was Queer Theory. She was an active organizer for the Lesbian and Gay community, and then, through the hospitality of a Christian couple in her neighborhood who seemed good for her research on the religious right, she came to acknowledge Christ as her savior.
I want to recommend this book for everyone I know to read. The discussions of what it’s like to be part of the LGBT community and approach Christians, the meditations on repentance, the examples of godly and less-than-godly interactions she had as Christ was saving her, are excellent peices of thought-food for us all to chew on in America in 2013. It’s a quick read, and you’ll only slow down to stop and chew on one of her many memorable one-liners.
Here’s a very worthwhile interview with Dr. Butterfield for you to get a sense of her thought. For a fascinating look into how the Bible figured into her salvation, start watching at 20:40. (If you’re getting this by RSS feed, click here to go to the You Tube page.)
And here’s some of her many thought-provoking quotes:
I wondered about this God who died for the sins of his people. It sounded too good to be true.
[Of the Christians she met.] I observed that they fed and housed and counseled countless people from all walks of life. I saw how wide the door to their heart opened. I remember feeling like could talk to them about anything.
I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin.
When Christ gave me the strength to follow him, I didn’t stop feeling like a lesbian. I’ve discovered that the Lord doesn’t change my feelings until I obey him.
Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed.
When you die to yourself, you have nothing from your past to use as clay out of which to shape your future.
[On the difference between sin and “making a mistake.”] A mistake is a logical misstep. Sin lurks in our heart and grabs us by the throat to do its bidding.
We will confront times when we have to choose between the old ideas that give us comfort in their familiarity or the safe paradigms that encourage endless questioning for the bold quest of capacious truth.
The integrity of our relationships matters more than the boldness of our words.
The only way to effectively ward off the old patterns of selfishness was to put into place intentional Christian ministry.
Here I was in a public setting and I didn’t have a game face to put on. These people with their complete marriages, their kind children, their well-spent lives cast a reflection on the legacy of my choice-making.
There is no finer resolution to a faith test than genuine Christian ministry.
Faith is not a feeling. Faith rides the waves of the treachery of life on the Christian worldview that you own. Faith and worldview are intimately intertwined.