julian-of-norwich

In Julian of Norwich, Theologian, Denys Turner explains Julian’s reasons for rejecting the view of the incarnation as a remedy for creation gone awry. To understand the story of the incarnation in this way would be, according to Julian, nothing less than “to tell the story of God as sin tells it” (104). As Turner clarifies about Julian’s understanding of creation, fall and redemption,

The Fall is not contingently connected with the sending of the Son… The Incarnation is not, as it were, a merely post-factum response of the Father to the human predicament, as if, caught unawares by how badly wrong things have gone with this Creation, the Father had adopted a secondary strategy of rectification, a sort of soteriological plan B (118).

The problem with this narrative is that it regards the story of the self and God as mutually exclusive, “as if what were at stake is either my identity or else God’s.” Further, sin’s story of God

Infantilizes us, reproducing and reinforcing the need to placate an implacable tyrant – and as endlessly as fruitlessly. For the tyrant god’s implacability is the product of the infantilism it reinforces: the two loop back on one another. It is for this reason that Julian’s repeated warnings against maudlin wallowing in the mire of our sinfulness have such urgent intensity. Wallowing in this is way is not a misplaced or exaggerated form of humility, not even an understandably pious one. It is idolatrous, and she tells us that it is to be resisted, for “it is againe [against[ truth.” It is not God who urges us to wallow. It is a diabolical temptation, “a foule blindhede,” for the mud of sin sticks on those who wallow in it, trapping the in a vicious circle in which resentment continually reinforces the idolatrous doctrine of God that causes it (104-105). 

By contrast, Julian asks us to consider something much more challenging than this infantile understanding of the incarnation. As Turner writes, Julian prompts us to consider the whole lot – creation, fall and incarnation – “as a single providential act of self-disclosure, as a single revelation of love” (130).

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