Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Surprised By Oxford

Summary from Thomas Nelson:  Surprised by Oxford is the memoir of a skeptical agnostic who comes to a dynamic personal faith in God during graduate studies in literature at Oxford University.

Carolyn Weber arrives at Oxford a feminist from a loving but broken family, suspicious of men and intellectually hostile to all things religious. As she grapples with her God-shaped void alongside the friends, classmates, and professors she meets, she tackles big questions in search of Truth, love, and a life that matters.

From issues of fatherhood, feminism, doubt, doctrine, and love, Weber explores the intricacies of coming to faith with an aching honesty and insight echoing that of the poets and writers she studied. Rich with illustration and literary references, Surprised by Oxford is at once gritty and lyrical; both humorous and spiritually perceptive. This savvy, credible account of Christian conversion and its after-effects follows the calendar year and events of the school year as it entertains, informs, and promises to engage even the most skeptical and unlikely reader.

My reaction to the book:  This is an incredible account of an Agnostic (at best) and her discovery of the Holy Trinity at the most unusual of places: Oxford.  Being a very liberal university, one would not suspect this setting as the place where such a turnaround would occur.  Many believers come out of college more doubtful and more skeptical, thanks to their well-rounded education.  Carolyn Weber studies some of the greatest minds in history, and in doing so, discovers a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.  Her story reminds me much of the conversion of C.S. Lewis, himself a nonbeliever and thinker for many years before coming to know Christ through his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.  This book is a fabulous memoir in and of itself, as well as a powerful and, yes, surprising, conversion story.  Believers will rejoice in the honest words written here, and I daresay Agnostics and Atheists may even understand and respect her journey to finding God.  Highly recommended.

Legal Disclaimer:  I received a review copy of this book through Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program.

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