Surprised by Oxford–A review

surprised by oxfordI enjoy reading of the spiritual journeys of others for several reasons. Being raised in church with the Bible always accessible to me and my questions, I find it particularly intriguing to read of those who have come to God in less “conventional” ways. How God seeks and saves those are who lost is a source of encouragment and inspiration to me in my own daily walk.

Surprised by Oxford is the story of one young woman’s spiritual journey her first year at Oxford. For those familiar with C.S. Lewis, yes, the title is intentional. Just as Lewis was an agnostic, not looking for God, and not interested in learning of a “personal” God, so Weber went to Oxford to study literature; not to find God. But, God surprised her there at Oxford by putting in her path Christians who lived what they believed and were to able challenge her own beliefs with love and intelligence.

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Some of my favorite quotes:

“that no matter how misleading the title of the theory of relativity, absolute rules the physical as well as the metaphysical. For me God’s love is so great that it can attract even the farthest, most lost, most seemingly random call to Him” (p. 127).

“It was occurring to me that believing in the Bible was an all-or-nothing affair. Either you believe it is the revealed Word of God, or you don’t. It is like being a little bit pregnant. Impossible. Either you are in or you are out” (p. 138).

“That is the bizarre thing about the good news: who knows how you will really hear it one day, but once you have heard it, I mean really heard it, you can never unhear it. Once you have read it, or spoken it, or thought it, even if it irritates you, even if you hate hearing it or cannot find it feasible, or try to dismiss it, you cannot unread it, or unspeak it, or unthink it” (p. 81).

To learn more about Weber, how she has spent the past 15 years and about her new book, check out her blog on:

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Surprised by Oxford

2013-10-02 16.21.26“So faced with a thousand-year old institution, I learned to pick my battles. Rather than resist, for instance, the archaic book-ordering system in the Bodleian Library with technological mortification, I discovered the treasure in embracing its seeming quirkiness. Often, when the wrong book came up from the annals after my order, I found it to be right in some way after Oxford often works such.

After one particulary serendipitous day of research, I asked Robert, the usual morning porter on duty at the Bodleian Library, about the lack of any kind of sophisticated security system, especially in one of the world’s most famous libraries. The Bodleian was not a loaning library, though you were allowed to work freely amid priceless artifacts. Individual college libraries entrusted you to simply sign a book out and then return it when you were done.

‘It’s funny; Americans ask me about that all the time,’ Roberty said as he stirred his tea. ‘But then again, they’re not used to having in honour,’ he said with a shrug.”

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

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