I have spent the entire day with Julian of Norwich and her Revelation of Love, truly, “one of the great works of medieval theology in any language by an author of either gender.” (Denys Turner)
I did re-read most of the Long Text, with glances at the commentary by Frederick Roden, but primarily spent my day working through Denys Turner’s new book, published by Yale, Julian of Norwich, Theologian. Highly reccommended for those who desire a challenge. It was an outstanding read by an author whose work on medieval hermeneutics (Eros and Allegory, The Darkness of God) I have valued.
Turner deftly shows how Julian attends to two stories (the story of sin that Love tells, and the story of sin that Sin tells, including Sin’s pervese story of Love) and how Julian’s meditation on Providence sets of all the sinews and tensions of her theological reflection to work. The chapter on “Prayer and Providence” succinctly shows how time and eternity, or providence and contingency, meet in the act of prayer; which is God’s act in us.
I am looking forward to sitting down with Julian’s “All is well…” in one hand and H. Richard Niebuhr’s “All is as it should be” in the other.
I am also looking forward to re-reading Barth and Hunsinger-on-Barth on the topic of double agency on the one hand, and Julian’s “God is the only doer” on the other.
For a couple of weeks I have been planning to let Julian thread her way through, indeed structure, my Lenten preaching (which coincides with Women’s History month). Apart from her famous description of God as Mother, Julian speaks, in her theology of Creation, of “God our Maker, Lover and Keeper.” I am thinking of calling the series “The Story that Love Tells,” with sermons called “God Makes You (Genesis 9),” “God Loves You (Romans 5)” and “God Keeps You (John 3)”. The final sermon (God Knows You) will, I hope, incorporate testimony by a church member about holding tightly to this story during a time of crisis (Jeremiah 31).