Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford

A Memoir

Book - 2011
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"Well written, often poignant and surprisingly relatable." - Kirkus Reviews

"A hugely readable journey of cultural and spiritual discovery, sparkling with wit and wisdom." - Alister McGrath

"Carolyn Weber's memoir reads like a fast-paced novel. I loved the humor, skillful use of language and her compelling account of her steps to finding God at Oxford. I was totally captivated from beginning to end." - Marilyn Meberg

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.

"Surprised by Oxford is a sprightly contribution to the genre of spiritual memoirs in the vein of C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy and Lauren F. Winner's Girl Meets God. Carolyn Weber is an unconventional thinker whose engagingly told faith journey will speak to folks who still believe that thoughtful people cannot be Christian." - Lyle W. Dorsett
Publisher: Nashville : Thomas Nelson, [2011], ©2011
ISBN: 9780849946110
Branch Call Number: 248.246 We
Description: xvi, 457 pages ; 21 cm


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Sep 27, 2017

Surprised by Oxford is Carolyn Weber's tale of finding herself and Jesus - not necessarily in that order - as a provincial Canadian girl pursuing a graduate degree at Oxford. Raised in a well-off family thrust into poverty as a result of her father's mental illness, Weber describes how she came to terms with her own troubled emotional background while struggling to find her place in what turned out to be a very big world.

At the beginning of her memoir, Weber relates a conversation she had with a professor in which he explained to her the importance of learning "to discern the real thing from the" BS, "and then to choose the" non-BS. It is an excellent anecdote. Unfortunately, the memoir seems to itself contain a substantial amount of BS. Perhaps Weber was concerned that the reality was insufficiently interesting, or was reluctant to share personal details (especially of other peoples' lives), or fictionalized around gaps in decade-old memories, or had an overactive editor, or is simply a poor writer. Whatever the cause, throughout Surprised by Oxford, characters and events seem to obey the laws of drama rather than the ways of life. While there is no reason to doubt the broad outlines of Weber's story, the air of unreality is a fatal flaw in a book about the search for the Real.


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