As a literature lover (and major), I could not help but fall in love with Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. My grandmother-in-law teased me as I read because every few pages I would giggle, or I would sigh, or I would “mmmhmm” in agreement. Weber’s memoir is well-written (as one would expect from a lit professor), but there’s much more to it than simply its words.
I have always been fascinated with conversion stories of people who grew up completely outside of the (particularly evangelical) church culture (and, yes, I most definitely think that it’s a culture; growing up Catholic, I missed out on a lot of the nuances to which I’ve since grown accustomed). What does Christianity sound like to someone who has not heard Bible stories at bedtime or on Sunday mornings? Does it sound just as crazy to that person as it sometimes does to me? With that said, I loved reading Weber’s memoir. Her tenacity and her faithfulness to truth (absolute or relative :)) not only intrigued me, but helped me as I encountered doubts and questions within my own faith.
I’ve recently been questioning my job, my career. Why do we labor the way we do? I nearly jumped with joy as I felt freedom and heard truth being spoken to my heart as Weber recounted a conversation and her subsequent musing.
“Was any way of trading my time for money, or for that matter, any expenditure of time, for nothing of any true value in the end?
But just as suddenly the darkness receded, the pool of light seemed to take me in, as I thought how anything we do–any job, act, gesture–becomes meaningful if done with a heart for God” (124).
I found myself many moments throughout her memoir gasping with understanding, and feeling my heart alight as she referred to poems and words with whom I’d spent my college years. Thank you, Ms. Weber, for the delightful retelling of God’s heart in your life. Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for a review copy of this fabulous text. My opinions are wholly my own.