Monday, June 3, 2013

Partial Book Review and Quotations from Chapter 1: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

My husband and I started reading this together today.  It's so interesting that I don't anticipate it being long before we're through.  Written by Rosaria Butterfield, the book chronicles her own conversion from her life as a lesbian, and associate professor at Syracuse University with tenure in the English Department specializing in Queer Theory to her new life in Christ which includes being a minister's wife and homeschooling mother.  That description alone is enough to explain why this is an amazing read.  But on top of her true story, what makes this book great to read is that she was an English professor and her writing is articulate, as well as the fact that she shares her recollections of her perceptions of Christians and Christianity from an "outside" view and from the view of a committed scholar in the university culture in our country.  Fascinating.

I thought I'd share some quotes as I go along:

"Although I knew that I wasn't the smartest scholar in my department, I enjoyed doing research and writing.  I enjoyed (and still do) the risk of examining new ideas.  I had a stick-em on my computer with a quotation whose author I never knew.  It read:  'I would rather be wrong on an important point than right on a trivial one.'  This quotation reminded me that when you make your mistakes in public you will learn that they are mistakes and in being corrected you will grow.  It also reminded me that being wrong and responding to correction with resilience was a higher virtue than covering up your mistakes so that your students and the watching world assumed that success meant never being wrong.  Working from your strengths and cultivating resilience in all matters of life have always been guiding principles for me." (Italics mine)

(I was impressed that these were her values and led her to be open to examining Christianity)

"In addition to appearing to be anti-intellectual, Christians also scared me...the lesbian community was accepting and welcoming while the  Christian community appeared (and too often is) exclusive, judgmental, scornful, and afraid of diversity."

"Feminism has truly captured the soul of secular U.S. universities and the church has either been too weak or too ignorant to know and to know better.  But how has the church responded to this truth?  Too often the church sets itself up as a victim of this paradigm shift in America, but I think this is dishonest.  Here's what I think happened: since all major U.S. universities had Christian roots, too many Christians thought that they could rest in Christian tradition, not Christian relevance.  Too often the church does not know how to interface with university culture because it comes to the table only ready to moralize and not dialogue.  There is a core difference between sharing the gospel with the lost and imposing a specific moral standard on the unconverted.  Like it or not, in the court of public opinion, feminists and not Bible-believing Christians have won the war of intellectual integrity.  And Christians are in part to blame for this."

Through a series of events, Rosaria became acquainted with Pastor Ken Smith and his wife.  Part of the reading we did today expressed her impressions of them and why she liked them. 

"I came to my (lesbian) culture and its values through life experience but also through much research and deep thinking.  I liked Ken and Floy immediately because they seemed sensitive to that.  Even though obviously these Christians and I were very different, they seemed to know that I wasn't just a blank slate, that I had values and opinions too, and they talked with me in a way that didn't make me feel erased."

"One thing that made 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.  Even as Ken prayed for my soul, he did it in a way that welcomed me into the church rather than made me a scapegoat of Christian fear or an example of what not to become." (Italics mine)


Jennie and Julie said...

Interesting thoughts, I'm glad you shared them. The part about feminism having won the battle of intellectual integrity in the hearts and minds of young university women seems true and a good thing to reflect on where we have gone wrong in the last 60 years. So true. I look forward to your next post.

Kathy Poncy said...

Thank you Jennie for this review. I like to read this type of testimony but am pretty careful about what I pick up as I have seen some not so sincere things. This looks like something well written about a life lived very differently. I always like to know what catches their attention to want to get to know Christ and follow Him so that I can minister better or differently if the occasion arises. I will probably pick this book up if you guys still think it is worthwhile.

Thank you again.

Jennie and Julie said...

Hey Jules, would you let Kathy know that this was your post, and give her some feedback on her questions? and let her know if you recommend it to her? Thanks