Philosophy of Religion (Religious Experiences)


There is a vision showed by the goodness of God to a devout woman, and her name is Julian, who is a recluse at Norwich and is living yet in this year of our Lord 1413. In which vision are very many comfortable and most stirring words to all those who desire to be Christ’s lovers:
I desired three graces by the gift of God. The first was mind of his the Christ’s Passion. The second was bodily sickness in youth at thirty years of age. The third was to have of God’s gift three wounds. As in the first for the first came to my mind with devotion, I thought I had some great feeling in the Passion of Christ. But yet I desired more by the grace of God. I thought I would have been that time with Mary Magdalen and with others who were Christ’s lovers, that I might have seen bodily the Passion that our Lord suffered for me, that I might have suffered with him as others did who loved him, notwithstanding that I believed solemnly all the pains of Christ as holy Church shows and teaches and also the paintings of Crucifixes that are made by the grace of God after the teaching of holy Church to the likeness of Christ’s Passion as much as man’s knowledge may reach.
Not withstanding all this true belief, and therefore I desired a bodily sight wherein I might have more knowledge of the bodily pains of our Lord, our Saviour, and of the compassion of our Lady and of all his true lovers who were living and who saw that time/ his pains, who believed his pains that time and since, for I would be one of them and suffer with him. I never desired any other sight or Showing of God till the soul were departed from the body, for I believed to be saved by the mercy of God for I truly trust that I would be saved and this was my meaning for The cause of this petition was that after the Showing I should would have the more true mind in the Passion of Christ. The second came to my mind with contrition freely without any seeking, desiring a wilfull desire to have of God’s gift, that sickness so hard as to the death that I might in that sickness undergo all my rites of holy Church, myself believing that I should die, and that all creatures might suppose the same who saw me, for I would have no kind of comfort of fleshly or earthly life. In this sickness I desired to have all kinds of pains bodily and ghostly that I should have if I should die, with all the dreads and tempests temptations of the fiends, and all manner of pains, except the outpassing of the soul. And this I meant for I would be purged by the mercy of God, and after live more to the worship of God, because of that sickness, for I hoped it would have been a reward to me when I should have died and that for the more aid in my death, for I desired to be soon with my God and Maker. These two desires, of the Passion and the sickness, I desired with a condition, saying thus, for I thought that it passed the common course of prayers and therefore I said, ‘Lord, you know what I would, if it be your will that I have it, grant it me, and if it be not your will, good Lord, be not displeased, for I will nought but as you will’. This sickness I desired in my youth thought that I might have it when I was thirty years old. For the third, by the grace of God and teaching of holy Church,
I heard a man tell of holy Church the story of St Cecilia. In the which Showing I understood she had three wounds with a sword, in the neck, from which she pined to the death. By the stirring of this, I conceived a mighty desire, to receive praying our Lord that he would grant me, three wounds in my life, that is to say, the wound of true contrition, the wound of natural compassion, and the wound of wilfull longing to God. And all this last petition I asked Right as I asked the other two with a condition, so I asked the third without any condition. These two foresaid desires passed from my mind, and the third dwelled with me continually.
Of the sickness obtained of God by petition. The Third Chapter.
And when I was thirty years winter old and a half, God sent me a bodily sickness in which I lay three days and three nights, and on the fourth night I took all my rites of holy Church and thought not to have lived until day. And after this I langoured a further two days and two nights. And on the third night, I believed often times to have passed, and so believed they who were with me, and in youth. Yet I thought it was very sad and thought it great grief to die, but I wanted to live for nothing that was on earth, nor for any pain that I feared. For I trusted in God of his mercy, but it was to have lived that I might have loved God better and for longer time, that I might by the grace of that living have the more knowing and loving of God in the bliss of heaven. For I thought all the time that I had lived here, so little and so short in regard of that endless bliss, I thought nothing. Wherefore I thought ‘Good Lord, may my living no longer be to your worship’. And I understood was answered by my reason and by my feeling of my pains that I should die, and I assented fully with all the will of my heart to be at God’s will. Thus I endured till day and by then my body was dead from the midst downwards as to my feeling. Then was I stirred to be set upright, propped up with help, leaning with cloths to my head, to have more freedom of my heart to be at God’s will, and thinking on God while my life would last. My Curate was sent for And they who were with me sent for the Parson, my Curate to be at my ending and by the time he came I had set my eyes and might not speak. He came and a child with him and brought a cross. He The Parson set the Cross before my face and said, ‘Daughter, I have brought you the image of your Maker and Saviour. Look upon it and comfort yourself with it, in reverence of him who died for you and me. I thought I was well, for my eyes were set up rightward into heaven, where I trusted to come by the mercy of God. But nevertheless I assented to set my eyes in the face of the Crucifix, if I might, and so I did. For I thought I might longer endure to the time of my ending to look even forth than right up. After this my sight began to fail and it was all dark about me in the chamber, and murky as it had been night, save in the image of the Cross wheren I beheld a common light, and I knew not how. All that was beside the Cross was ugly and fearful to me as if it had been much occupied with the fiends. After this the other part of my body began to die so much that scarcely I had any feeling as to my feeling. My hands fell down on either side. And also from weakness my head settled to one side. The most pain I felt was with shortness of breath and failing of life. And then I believed truly I would die. And in this suddenly all my pain was taken from me and I was as hale and namely in the other part of my body as ever I was before or after. I marveled at this sudden change, for I thought it was a privy working of God, and not of nature, and yet by the feeling of this ease I trusted never the more to live. Nor was this feeling of ease really comfort to me, for I thought I had rather be delivered from this world for my heart was wilfully set thereto. Then and came suddenly to my mind that I should desire the second wound of our Lord’s gracious gift, and of his grace, that my body might be fulfilled with mind and feeling of his blessed Passion, as I had before prayed. For I would that his pains were my pains, with compassion and afterward longing to God. This I thought that I might with his grace have the wounds that I had before desired. But in this I desired never bodily sight nor any Showing of God, but compassion as, I thought, a natural soul might have with our Lord Jesus who for love would have been a mortal man, and therefore I desired to suffer with him, living in my deadly body, as God would give me grace.
assess whether Julian’s experience passes the four marks test James proposes (be sure to discuss what each of the marks is about – Ineffability, Noetic quality, Transiency and Passivity).

Then, after summarizing the main points of Martin’s “Critique of Religious Experience,” analyze Julian’s account using Martin’s main arguments.

Finally, after summarizing the main points of Westphal’s “A Phenomenological Account of Religious Experience,” analyze Julian’s account similarly.

Which of the two positions, Martin’s or Westphal’s, does greater justice to Julian’s account, and why?


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