Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sioux Falls native's latest book is about English mystic

The first woman to write a book in English was Christian mystic Julian of Norwich (1342 -1416). In today's Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Jill Callison interviews author Amy Johnson Frykholm, who was raised here in Sioux Falls and has a new book out on Dame Julian. From the article:

"Here we are, experiencing this intense need to do all the right things, say all the right things, be all the right things, and she just dumps it on its head and says there's two duties," Frykholm says. "The first is to wonder and be surprised; the second is let go and let be. That's it. You're done."

"In our worlds where we're busy - I've got to get my steps in, how many grams of sugar did I eat today, did I do devotions and do this and do that and is it good enough - I think she speaks to us," Frykholm says of Julian, one of the great English mystics who was the first woman to write a book in English.

"She says, 'Let go. You're fine. You're loved. Enough.' "

I'm glad to see the coverage but have to say I am stunned that Jesus Christ isn't mentioned in the article. Julian's "Revelations of Divine Love" came from intense visionary encounters with Christ himself, whom she describes as "courteous" in humbling himself to serve human need. Take Christ (and his sufferings, which figure prominently in the visions) out of Julian's message and you are left with "don't worry be happy" or "have a nice day."

Julian certainly presents the loving, comforting and hopeful aspects of faith, but she arrives at them through great suffering and a most assertive testimony to the reality of Christ.

Like John of the Cross and other true mystics, Julian wrote that her visions should not be interpreted to trump church teaching.

1 comment:

The Archer of the Forest said...

For those interested in what Julian of Norwich's cell looks like, I visited there about 4 years ago (it seems much longer as I have been ordained, married, and become a father in the time since then), and have a link to it in the archives of my blog: