Finished C. S. Lewis's Suprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life yesterday. The book gives us Lewis's life from his boyhood to his years at school...more Finished C. S. Lewis's Suprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life yesterday. The book gives us Lewis's life from his boyhood to his years at school and with a tutor in preparation for Oxford to (brief) vignettes about his World War I experiences to life as an undergraduate at Oxford. It is also supposed to recount his journey from a fairly typical Christian childhood in Belfast to a period of atheism/agnosticism to his confident claiming of Christian joy for himself. A BIG DEAL is made in the blurb on the back of the book about Lewis being the man who reasoned his way back to God. I'd heard quite a bit about the book previously. But quite honestly I am surprised at how Surprised by Joy isn't nearly as descriptive of Lewis's conversion as I expected. Not that he doesn't mention it--repeatedly. But, based on the evidence he supplies, I am unconvinced. And I'm a Christian myself. Preaching to the choir here.
He casually mentions here that he was made to rethink his atheism because he read this or that book. And then over there so-and-so came along, and, well, he wasn't a believer either...but what he said made Lewis think. And then, hey, he read a few more books and was urged to think even more furiously about this whole Spirit/Joy/quite-possibly-God thing. And, by golly, he was reminded of that JOY he felt once upon a time when his brother built a little play garden in a biscuit tin lid. And he keeps on looking for that JOY. And discovered it again when he came across the Norse mythologies. He decides that the JOY is really desire and that desire is for what he calls Spirit. He's not yet converted to Christianity, but he's on his way. And then suddenly during his Oxford days he says he was on his way to Whipsnade and "When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought." Poof! He's a believer...in for the whole nine yards. A done deal. But reasoning his way there? Not according to his narrative. I don't doubt Lewis's belief. I've read enough of his other works that I know what he believes. And he expounds it very well in those other works. He can't help but exhibit it in his fiction. But showing me how he got there in this spiritual autobiography? Not nearly so well--he doesn't lay out his reasoning in the same way that he discourses on the four loves (in the book of the same name), for instance. For a reasoning man, he expects his reader to take a great deal on faith--to just believe that because he said he suddenly believed in God again, well, he did.
What I like most about this work is the intellectual autobiography. I enjoy his thoughts on books and reading and scholarship. It was interesting to read about his schooling and his joy during the time he spent under Mr. Kirkpatrick's tutelage. I would have liked to have learned more about his experiences in World War I. And I just plain like the way Lewis writes. He is straight forward and yet there is a rhythmic quality to the writing. There is subtle humor in the way he writes about the interactions between his father, brother, and himself--and I laughed out loud when he told the WWI story about the door coming off their railroad compartment. I would have rated the book higher than the three stars I am giving it if it had been a straight autobiography and not pitched as such a blockbuster spiritual journey.
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It's been a long time since I read this one...I was in my early teens & it was in the youth group library. I do remember all the Wilkerson books m...more It's been a long time since I read this one...I was in my early teens & it was in the youth group library. I do remember all the Wilkerson books made a big impression on me at the time.(less)
Oh, Dorothy L. Sayers, your erudition and classic university training are showing. And showing me up! I've been plugging away at The Mind of the Maker...moreOh, Dorothy L. Sayers, your erudition and classic university training are showing. And showing me up! I've been plugging away at The Mind of the Maker for four days--which is rather a long time for me for a book just over 200 pages long. But I found this one to be very slow going and way over my head, too. I usually find Sayers to be easy to understand, even when her classic university training is showing and she throws in Latin and French for good measure. I just can't grasp this one--the words go in the eyes, and just don't seem to find a foot-hold anywhere in the brain. No rating--I'm quite sure it's excellent (DLS always is), but I can't very well rate something that I can't really understand properly. Oh, I get the analogies in their simplest forms and I get some of the illustrations she makes to prove her points while reading--but I couldn't properly explain to you right now this minute what she really said without cheating and peeking at the book. Not if you promised me a million dollars.