On the Lived Theology Reading List: Laughing at the Devil

Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich, by Amy Laura HallSeeing the World with Julian of Norwich

In Laughing at the Devil, Amy Laura Hall invites people to see the world through the eyes of a medieval visionary now known as Julian of Norwich, believed to be the first woman to have written a book in English. Although we don’t know much about Julian personally (we don’t even know her given name, because she became known by the name of the church she lived in), she left behind a wealth of writings to study.

Julian “saw our Lord scorn [the Devil’s] wickedness” and noted that “he wants us to do the same.” In this impassioned, analytic, and irreverent book, Amy Laura Hall emphasizes Julian’s call to scorn the Devil. Julian of Norwich envisioned courage during a time of fear, and Laughing at the Devil describes how she transformed a setting of dread into one of hope, solidarity, and resistance.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Laughing at the Devil with these two exceedingly clear-eyed women—Julian of Norwich and Amy Laura Hall—is compelling, enlightening, and joyous, all in one. The two have created texts, each for their own time, that together bear witness, at points defiant, at points mischievous, to a profoundly God-sustained world. What a wonderful, grace-filled vision.” — Teresa Berger, author of @ Worship: Liturgical Practices in Digital Worlds

“Amy Laura Hall’s masterful Laughing at the Devil is a rewarding joy to read, at once a profound dialogue with the great mystic Julian of Norwich, and a beautiful, raw, funny, audacious, and insightful invitation to the contemporary audience. We laugh with Hall and Julian, and we too yearn to pull closer to God not through fear and trembling, but through an aching heart bursting open with joy. This is the kind of raw, gritty, grounded, and real spiritual exploration that calls to all Christians, and to all people of faith. Strongly recommended!” — Omid Safi, author of Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition

“You might not expect to find references to Game of Thrones, West Texas, barfing bears, divorce, and Machiavelli in a book on Julian of Norwich, but you will find all these and much more in this volume. Julian of Norwich is a most unusual theologian, and Amy Laura Hall has given us a most unusual book: it is engaging and illuminating, a personal, passionate, and political reflection on and with Julian.” — Karen Kilby, coeditor of The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology

For more information on the publication, click here.

Amy Laura Hall is an associate professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

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