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A.N. Wilson’s Journey Back to Faith

John on April 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Not long after I became a Christian, my mother presented me with a copy of A.N. Wilson’s biography of C.S. Lewis. I don’t think she had read more than a smattering of Lewis herself. She was a once-a-year Catholic whose actual view of religion had more in common with the secular humanist society than the Pope.

To be fair, I don’t even know if she’d read the book before giving it to me. Perhaps it was meant as a kind of tacit motherly support for my fledgling faith. But as it turns out, the author was something of a skeptic, not unlike my mother. Not a caustic “acid of materialism” type, but definitely someone more interested in deconstructing Lewis than lionizing him or his work.

I read the book but found its transactional psychoanalysis of Lewis’ faith a bit of a downer. Here was someone (Lewis that is) whom I considered a role model and the author put it all down to issues with losing his mother as a child. (I’ve found this a frequent tactic even among my own skeptical friends. And yet, when Paul Vitz tried something similar vis a vis atheists he was excoriated).

In any case, this all came back to me this afternoon as I read this long, somewhat surprising confession of faith from A.N. Wilson. The man who wrote skeptical takes on Lewis and Jesus, has taken a long, slow journey back to faith himself.

My only hesitation with the piece is the headline, which seems overwrought. My guess is that it was written for him by an editor at the Daily Mail. But that caveat aside, it’s quite a thoughtful insight into someone’s loss and recovery of faith.

You should read the whole thing if you’re interested, but here’s a small sample to whet your appetite:

Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

Welcome back, Mr. Wilson. Now if you would only be kind enough to write a book about it. I’d like to send a copy to my mother.

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