The Secrets of an Unlikely Convert: Expanded Edition by Rosaria Butterfield. Crown & Covenant, 2014.
Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield. Crown & Covenant, 2015.
What They Are: Secrets is adult memoir, and Openness is adult nonfiction/informational text.
What They’re About: Butterfield recounts her dramatic conversion to Christ out of a very public, very outspoken lesbian lifestyle. Through the faithful friendship and hospitality of a local pastor, she began going to church, renounced her former lifestyle, and even ended up marrying a pastor. Openness Unhindered continue the discussion, but is more pointed in terms of how Christians should understand and interact with the gay community (and, in particular, fellow Christians who are struggling with various aspects of this lifestyle).
What Works: Butterfield is a great writer, and her startling conversion is fascinating reading. Her openness with and challenge to her fellow Christians in these books is welcome and convicting. The sections on hospitality are particularly worth reading as she exhorts believers to practice hospitality with those unlike themselves.
What Doesn’t Work: Butterfield comes full circle from lesbian professor to pastor’s wife/homeschooling mother. It’s not a journey everyone struggling with homosexual issues will make, and, while she doesn’t claim that they will, the length of time she spends on that final reality might put some people off. Additionally, she spends quite a bit of time dwelling on the use of the Psalter (and the Psalter only) in both corporate and private worship as well as other distinct elements of the Reformed Presbyterians. These aren’t “problems,” per se, but they do limit her audience to those who share her particular beliefs or are sympathetic to them. There are many godly believers who might not only sing Psalms in worship (for instance) who would still find much to think about in Butterfield’s works.
What I Think/Recommend: A worthy addition to a church library, these also make good discussion material for small groups or Sunday school classes. They would be great material for college-aged groups as well.