2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It brings God nearer, or near in a new way."
This is the firsthand account of how C.S. Lewis passed from Atheism through to Theism, and onward to Christianity. Lewis says in the Preface that he knew of no autobiography in which the parts devoted to the earlier years were not by far the most interesting. As such, the entire first half of his own consists of a detailed recollection of childhood and adolescence. The...
Published on Aug. 12 2001 by Cipriano
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for the Lewis admirer
The Lewis admirer will greatly appreciate this book and its depiction of the early life of this Christian genius. He describes his slow transformation from stanch athiest to devout Christian in the complicated simplicity that only Lewis can achieve. However, be weary of this book if you have never previously read Lewis. The development of the story is rather slow and...
Published on Nov. 11 2001 by Benjamin A Gastel
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5.0 out of 5 stars The auto-biography of Believers.,
"Surprised by Joy" is C.S. Lewis' auto-biographical book about the early, formational years of his life, which began with a vaguely religious upbringing, led into devout Atheism, and ended in Christ's drawing Lewis home. This book is excellent as auto-biographies (Christian or non-Christian) go as C.S. Lewis was one of the 20th Century's best story-tellers and an amazingly well-read professor at Oxford as well. Whether the reader is a Christian or not, C.S. Lewis makes this story entertaining and thought-provoking.
For those readers who have come to believe in Jesus Christ as Man's only possible salvation, this book will leave them marvelling repeatedly at how Christ works in the lives of those he calls. Any Christian reader of "Surprised by Joy" will find numerous similarities in the path C.S. Lewis' salvation took him down, and a Christian reader can't help but want to join him in praising Christ for his awesome goodness in the lives of human beings he touches.
One fascinating element in C.S. Lewis' life, which is so encouraging for Christians in a post-Christian era, is that Lewis was raised by brilliant men to be constantly curious but always logical... always seeking the truth. One of the men Christ used the most in saving C.S. Lewis was a staunch Atheist; a dry, pensive, professor who demanded a rigid adherence to logic in any belief or action. This man, the "Great Knock", as Lewis, his brother, and their father called him, was so influential in Lewis' mental development that Lewis devotes a whole chapter ("The Great Knock") to discussion of him. How fascinating that whereas many today believe a rigorous pursuit of knowledge and facts leads to agnosticism, in the life of the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th Century it led to a belief in the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.
This is a book that I would recommend to anyone, but as "a must" to any Christian. While "Mere Christianity" is C.S. Lewis' best-selling book, and arguably has initiated more paths to Christ than any other book outside the Bible, "Surprised by Joy" presents a more complete understanding of those paths and their ultimate result.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mere Joy,
As much as C.S. Lewis hems and haws in his preface about how suffocatingly subjective and uninteresting this book will be to many readers, there are few books in Lewis' corpus that I have gleaned more joy and help from. Lewis takes us on a tour through his adventures in joy, that peculiar longing for something that is itself more enjoyable than the thing longed for, this desire that he found ultimately only has its fulfillment in Christ, as joy is merely a longing for the heavenly. He brilliantly analyzes his earlier life, exposing his childhood follies and rejoicing in his youthful literary loves; several times I found myself laughing out loud about similar mistakes and mishaps I had fallen into. He scatters his typically brilliant social commentary and theological insight throughout the work, and a chapter never goes by without gaining a preciously helpful understanding of some important topic. This book is easily among the top three autobiographies I have ever read.
"I have tried so to write the first chapter that those who can't bear such a story will see at once what they are in for and close the book with the least waste of time." Go ahead and read that first chapter. You won't want to stop.
4.0 out of 5 stars Strikingly honest description,
As many have noted, there are parts of this book that tend to drag a bit and are less than gripping. These parts, found mostly in the middle chapters, are the most important descriptions that Lewis gives us in explanation of his conversion. These chapters methodically, if somewhat dryly, layout the thought patterns that Lewis went through in his various stages philosophy. They are the equation of how he got from A to B (including the detours that he took to C, G, and F). If the reader will force himself to read them slowly and methodically, he/she will be rewarded with a much deeper understanding than without.
On the whole, Lewis's account of his conversion is raw and honest. He spares himself no punches in describing his own arrogance and 'priggishness'. The author is upfront in admitting that his memory may be flawed on some items. Some readers may be struck at the author's deep humility at always portraying everyone in his story in the best possible of lights, regardless of any 'deservedness'.
For sheer entertainment value, I found his descriptions of his early childhood, his relationship with his brother and father, and his home and surroundings quite charming. Having never been to Britain, I felt that I was treated to a slice of life I will likely never experience the likes of. His accounts of his life at Wyvern (school) should give all parents pause in considering their own children's education, both academic and social. If there is an "Ah, ha!" moment in this book, for me it is near the end where Lewis proposes that could we (as humans) strip God of all his powers to 'punish' us, that we should still worship and adore, simply because God was God - not because we could be punished (sent to Hell) for doing otherwise. Indeed, Lewis makes clear that Hell is not about geography, but about separation from God, separation from God being the definition of the nature of Hell.
If I have any complaints about this book, it is only one, and is perhaps forgiveable. I was sorely disappointed that Lewis did not include an account of his becoming Christian. While Lewis explains that he felt still too close to explain it, I felt disappointed in some measure. Still, this does not detract from what the book does have to offer, which is quite a lot. There are lessons to be learned and I have little doubt that I will aquire new perspectives upon successive re-readings.
5.0 out of 5 stars The world according to CS Lewis--a masterpiece,
CS Lewis never ceases to amaze me with his sincerity and utter humility. His genuine goodness is clear in all his works, but even more so in this. Surprised by Joy is an autobiographical book in which Lewis relates the events of his early life--particularly those which led to his eventual return to Christianity. As usual, he is frank and very analytical of all that happened as he first lost his faith, and then found it again.
Lewis talks about many events which led him to question the existence of God, and he explores what may have motivated his way of thinking. His candid analysis of these events provides some wonderful insights. He also explains how he gradually was brought back into the fold of Christianity, and how he reluctantly embraced God once again as "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."
Though this is an autobiography and strays considerably from the format of Lewis's theological works, there still is a significant amount of theology involved. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in theology, especially Christianity. For fans of CS Lewis, this is a must have!
4.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a Convert,
Far from being the typical "spiritual journey" book, C.S. Lewis captures, with his customary wit, the essence of his early life through adolescence which helped to shape his faith.
The preface is rather self-effacing, but not without some merit. Toward the end of the book his thoughts seem a bit more stream-of-consciousness and the transition from "a boy's life" to "concerned theologian" is not quite smooth, from a reader's perspective.
However, overall this is a very worthy read for anyone interested in C.S. Lewis or journeys in and out of atheism/agnosticism.
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic C.S. Lewis.,
I'm a huge C.S. Lewis fan, however like most people who reviewed this book, I did start to trail off when reading the middle chapters of this book. In the first 8-10 chapters of this book Lewis focuses on his life as a child and the pages seem to fly by.
The same thing goes for the last 4-5 chapters where we finally get the details of his coming back to Christianity. However, the few chapters in the middle of the book are filled with Lewis' definitions and opinions on a lot of different topics and though they are relevant to the mindset of Lewis' thoughts, the chapters do not follow along with the story-telling element he so well utilized in the other chapters of the book. Not that that's a bad thing, but for those reader who were expecting to read a certain type of book from beginning to end (myself included), it's kind of confusing to adjust to and is probably a major reason why some people don't recommend this book.
Now don't get me wrong, this book is very touching and is a very worth-while read. However, if you plan to read this book, you may also want to make sure you're ready to read two different types of writing in the same book.
Check out my other reviews for great Christian CDs, Books, movies, etc.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book AFTER you've enjoyed other Lewis books.,
Not all of Lewis's experience will be interesting to the average reader. You have to be somewhat of a Lewis lover to fully appreciate this book about his walk toward Christianity. I greatly appreciated the book for its embrace of mythology as the road that led Lewis to Christianity, where he believed he found the fulfillment of all he longed for. For Lewis, Christianity was the place where myth became fact. The book also provides an immense argument to support the importance of art and aesthetics, based on the divine role they played in this great man's life. I've found it inspirational to my own writing and affirming of my interests.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book AFTER you've enjoyed other Lewis books.,
Not all of Lewis's experience will be interesting to the average reader. You have to be somewhat of a Lewis lover to fully appreciate this book about his gradual acceptance of Christianity. I greatly appreciated the book for its openness to mythology as the road that led Lewis to Christianity, where he believed he found the fulfillment of all he longed for in mythology. For Lewis, Christianity was the place where myth became fact. The book also provides an immense argument to support the importance of art and aesthetics, based on the divine role they played in this great man's life.
5.0 out of 5 stars Victory Through Surrender,
Lewis points out in "Mere Christianity" that mankind's worst sin is pride (setting his will before God's will)because ir is the root of all other sins. In "Surprised By Joy", Lewis describes his own willfullness, arrogance and pride as he wanders through his search for Joy down all manner of intellectual and aesthetic blind alleys. At last, having exhausted all options, he reluctantly surrenders and then, at last, finds the Joy he had been so diligently seeking. While the facts differ, Lewis' story is a familiar one to many of us who simply were unable to accept what was readily available without wasting time, energy and emotion first. Lewis' story is a reminder of the nature of Grace, freely given to the willing recipient. As with everything Lewis wrote, the prose is wonderful, the references challenging and Lewis' mental workings amazing. This is not the easiest reading and not the best introduction to the author (Screwtape and Mere Christianity are better for that purpose), but the volume is extremely rewarding, especially for one who identified with the journey described.
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow at times but well worth it in the end,
Lewis continues to amaze me in all of his works. This is his autobiography, but actually his account of his conversion from agnostism to Christianity. The first few chapters are a little slow, although it is interesting to find out how this genius grew up. It also neat to find out who Lewis' greatest influences were -- his teachers, Chesterton, Tolkien, Johnson, Herbert, MacDonald. The chapter "Checkmate" contains the meat of the work and if one were to read any of the book, this portion is exceptional. In fact, I read that chapter over and over and over. Yep.
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Surprised By Joy by C S Lewis (Paperback - May 14 1998)
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