MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next, a preview of Listening In.
This week, a conversation with author and literature professor Carolyn Weber. As a student at Oxford, Weber unexpectedly found God. Critics have compared her 2014 spiritual memoir to C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine. In this excerpt of her conversation with host Warren Smith, she describes how she stumbled into Christianity.
WARREN SMITH: You mentioned C.S. Lewis, who famously said that he was the most reluctant convert, and all of England. I got the idea that maybe you weren’t quite as reluctant as C.S. Lewis. But you were, nonetheless, kind of surprised by it. And especially given the trajectory that you were on as a top flight student and heading towards a career in academia, can you say more about that time in your life?
CAROLYN WEBER: One, I had made my own way. And I was only going to depend on myself and I had chosen a life in academia, and particularly with feminism, I did not know the Bible. I’m a perfect example of someone who could go through 20 years of the public school system and never crack open a Bible. I was studying 18th and 19th century literature, and I knew bits and pieces here and there. But it really wasn’t until I was starting my graduate studies where I thought, you know, what, I better actually read the Bible cover to cover because it’s formed just intellectually and historically, so much of Western civilization.
But secondly, because I thought, well, you know, these Christians are really getting under my skin. And I think I better just read what they believe and see if I can poke holes in it. And so I actually start reading the Bible really quite cynically at first and just as fodder and as a trained reader, entirely expecting it—especially as a woman—to be off putting, you know, with this male Savior and these male disciples in this whole patriarchy, patriarchal history, and I couldn’t believe how amazing it was.
I remember reading Genesis and thinking, wow, the fallen world makes sense. And wow, this moves from Genesis through Revelation through all the prophecy, everything else, you couldn’t make up this stuff if you tried. It was so incredibly intricate, and symbolic in so many ways that you could never get to the bottom of it and I was floored. I didn’t expect that.
BASHAM: That’s Carolyn Weber talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.