Friday, January 18, 2013

Surprised by Joy

I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.

I had been meaning to read C.S. Lewis' book Surprised by Joy for some time and finally got around to it. I really enjoyed my time with this work. It represents an account of Lewis' early life from his birth through his loss of faith to his rediscovery and reluctant acceptance of Christianity. It covers the period from his birth in 1898 to about 1929. Let me say a couple of things to start for those who might be considering this book. First, I think this book really is aimed for true fans of C.S. Lewis. It is also not what I would consider light reading. It requires careful consideration to make sense of the arguments laid out, to understand his thought process, and to appreciate how different people and circumstances led to his decisions. Finally, there are a lot of references to works, places, and idioms that can make things a bit obtuse unless you are well read or willing to do a bit of digging (or you use references where others have made some inroads).

The image that I have of Lewis is a man who did not make his choices lightly. Every decision came about as a result of lengthy discourse, serious debate, and painstaking study. I find it fascinating how he claimed his faith in God through deliberate research. He sifted through every possibility and weighed every argument until, at last, he was left with what he viewed as the only reasoned decision left to him supported by the evidence, that God was God. His full systematic exposition on this is contained in his sublime work Mere Christianity (which I highly recommend). However, this book contains the personal side of his evolution from athiest/agnostic to deep faith.

The things I assert most vigorously are those that I resisted long and accepted late.