Lindsay's Reviews > Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
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This is Lewis's spiritual autobiography of sorts. It traces his life from childhood experiences in church as the grandson of a clergyman to ignoring God as a youth to the trenches in which he fought in WWI to his Oxford days as a full-out Atheist to his close friendships with JRR Tolkien and a few others that sped along his ultimate conversion. It's written in a very rational and slightly detached way (as is everything Lewis writes). It's interesting to see how his childhood shaped him into the man he became, but it's even more fascinating to watch how God worked in his life through youth and adulthood. This was a guy who fought God at every turn, who was so hard-core Atheist that if he talked to you and discovered that you were a Christian, he felt it was his duty to talk you out of your faith and remove the wool from your eyes. But God kept working on him. I love the way he describes his ultimate moment of conversion: "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore the Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?"

My only complaint is that because it is a spiritual autobiography, he talks about a lot of the interesting things that happened in his life only insofar as they relate to his spiritual growth. And it ends at his final conversion, so it's missing a lot of interesting things that happened afterward, like the story of how he met and unexpectedly fell in love with his wife.
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Finished Reading
May 25, 2009 – Shelved

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