Tag Archives: story

Article: Two Ways of Seeing: The Challenge of Julian of Norwich’s Parable of a Lord and a Servant, by Philip Sheldrake

In an article appearing in the latest edition of Spiritus, Philip Sheldrake explores one of the central passages in Julian of Norwich’s Revelations, the parable of a lord and a servant. Sheldrake argues that Julian is using the parable as a an exemplum as a way of showing how she can hold two contrasting beliefs, her often quoted “Every kind of thing will be well” with a central belief of the Church: “one article of our faith . . . that many creatures will be damned.” Here are the article’s opening paragraphs:

In what is described conventionally as the Long Text of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, or A Revelation of Love, Chapter 51 is the longest chapter. In important ways it is also the heart of the text and a key to Julian’s major theological insights and teachings. The chapter outlines a parable of a lord and a servant and then reflects upon this narrative in challenging ways. The parable is presented as God’s answer to Julian’s various anxieties about how to understand her own experience of daily sinfulness in the light of her growing sense of God’s lack of blame.

In Chapter 45 of the Long Text, Julian outlines her background problem that is a result of her visionary experience. How is she to reconcile the “judgment of Holy Church” that “sinners sometimes deserve blame and wrath” with the fact that “I could not see these two in God”? However, “to all this I never had any other answer than a wonderful example of a lord and a servant, as I shall tell later, and that was very mysteriously revealed.” By “example,” Julian means an exemplum of the kind that medieval preachers used to illustrate their message.

Here is the article’s citation data:

Philip Sheldrake. “Two Ways of Seeing: The Challenge of Julian of Norwich’s Parable of a Lord and a Servant.” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 17, no. 1 (2017).

Paper: Co-authoring Stories of Hope: Narrative Approaches to Spiritual Direction, by David Crawley

David Crawley (Laidlaw College, New Zealand) delivered this paper at a session of the Christian Spirituality Group during last year’s AAR conference.  The theme of the session was Perspectives on Spiritual Direction: Historical and Contemporary. Here are a couple of introductory paragraphs from David’s paper:

While spiritual direction is not therapy, various psychological and therapeutic paradigms have influenced spiritual direction training and practice in recent decades. Rogerian principles shape our approach to listening. Elements of Jungian psychology informed my training as a spiritual director, and Freudian conceptions of projection, transference, and counter-transference were applied to the dynamics of director-directee relationships. To my knowledge—admittedly a slender resource—a thoroughgoing exploration of what narrative therapeutic perspectives might offer to spiritual direction is yet to be undertaken. Helpful work has been done in the areas of pastoral and spiritual care, and some of this has relevance to spiritual direction. Sadly, it was just before I left from New Zealand that Dr Janet Ruffing’s recent book, To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative (2011), came into my possession. It touches on narrative therapy only briefly, but is likely to influence future versions of this paper.

Drawing on narrative therapeutic principles, this paper suggests ways in which spiritual directors might facilitate hope-filled conversations with the people who come to them. ‘The archaeology of hope’ is the subtitle of a text produced by my own narrative therapy tutors. As the metaphor suggests, narrative therapists enter into conversations with the conviction that even in the most dismal of circumstances there are hints of hopeful stories waiting to be unearthed and given fresh life. I begin with a brief explanation of narrative therapy and then offer a three-stage practical application of its principles to the work of spiritual direction.

Copies of the paper are available to SSCS members by contacting the moderator.