August 25, 2009

The Complete Julian of Norwich is the latest volume in Paraclete’s Giants series, which collects the works of major writers in the Christian tradition. This volume contains rich background material on Julian of Norwich, an excellent translation of the long text of Julian’s 14th-century Revelations of Divine Love and extensive and readable notes. John-Julian is an Episcopal priest and monk who in 1985 founded the Episcopal contemplative Order of Julian of Norwich. His interpretation of Julian’s life is perhaps too speculative to be taken as authoritative, but the translation, notes and extensive appendices add greatly to the available literature on Julian for the lay reader.

Kevin Roose, a student at Brown University, left his Ivy League campus to spend a semester undercover at Liberty University. His account of the experience is nuanced, respectful and personal. Roose details the painless and painful aspects of adapting to his new climate, the pleasant and unpleasant ways in which his new classmates surprise him, and the helpful and unhelpful responses from his liberal family and friends. Roose finds himself drawn into the life he’s leading, internalizing its attitudes without buying into the larger implications. When he tells his Liberty friends that he’s returning to Brown, most infer a crisis of faith and offer to pray with him. The book’s weaknesses are minor—typically mistakes reflecting his newness to the evangelical world.