Ron’s #21: Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis

This is C.S. Lewis’s autobiography on his journey from atheism to theism to Christianity. What more do I need to say to get you to read this book?

I loved this book, but it was not as easy a read as I thought it would be. Lewis is immersed in authors and poems that I’ve never heard of, and he assumes the reader is following along nicely. He name-drops more than a D-list celebrity at the Green Room club on Hollywood Boulevard. While the reader need not know all the poems referenced, it would help understand Lewis’s train of thought better. At the very least, one would need to understand Romanticism to a beginning degree to follow along.

Throughout his school life, Lewis continues to search for Joy (his capitalization) that connects to something in our hearts for something bigger. This Joy turned to be our heart’s longing for its Creator.

Here are a few excerpts that show the power of Lewis to turn a phrase:

“All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be.”

“Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is very often a substitute for Joy. I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy.”

“The horror of the Christian universe was that it had no door marked Exit.”

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere…God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

About Ron 173 Articles
I teach English and government in Okinawa, Japan. I love reading theology and fiction, and helps keep me accountable. Reading with three kids under 5 is a bit of a challenge, but I keep trying to find ways to read more. My favorites writers are C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’ Connor, and Raymond Carver.

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