Friday, December 30, 2011

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

This is a fat book. So I initially expected it to be a memoir in need of a lot of pruning. Such is not the case. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. It's a spiritual memoir in the style of Girl Meets God-- a story of a bookish person struggling with the big questions of life and ultimately coming to believe that Christ has the answers.

There are many things to like about this volume, from its structure around the Oxford academic year to the way Weber weaves quotations from various classics throughout her narrative. Most striking and helpful to me was her description of life as a new Christian in the midst of academia. Many of her friends thought she was crazy. Some even told her she had lost all academic credibility. Not only did she struggle with friends feeling betrayed, she also struggled to fit into “churchianity”. Things like finding the correct page for the Bible reading and singing in public seemed like almost insurmountable difficulties. She felt she could never catch up to those who had been steeped in the Bible and Christianity from youth. As one of the latter, I found the chapter “Church Going” a very helpful description of how a new Christian might feel coming to church for the first time.

One thing that surprised me about Weber's memoir was how little she mentions C.S. Lewis. Given that the book is set in Oxford, that was something I expected. But her road to faith in Christ was guided primarily through reading the Bible (all of it!) and conversations with Christians.

Surprised by Oxford is funny, articulate and thought-provoking. It's a title I'd read again, and will be recommending to others.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments: