Julian of Norwich on Evil & the Supreme Torque/Court

Julian of Norwich understands evil this way: Evil is “everything that is counter to peace and love.” 

The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade would both criminalize women and undermine women’s health, experts tell Joy Reid of MSNBC.

Is taking away a law that guaranteed women the right to choose what to do with their body a pathway to peace?  One can already sense, listening to the women speaking out about this disruption of the legal process and warning us of the consequences for women and even girls being forced to take to term fetuses of rapists and incest enforcers, that peace of mind is at stake.  And peace of the republic.

Taking away a law that 70% of the country want continued and with a 49-year precedent is not a pathway to peace but a road to hatred and division and derision of law and the court who enforces it.

History provides a window into how abortion bans will play out if re-instituted. Report by ReasonTV.

If people feel strongly about protecting the fetus, they should not have an abortion.  And secondly, they are perfectly in order to try to convince others not to get abortions.   Roe v Wade does not force any woman to have an abortion.  Period.

It does provide that, should a woman choose to have an abortion up to the “quickening time,” it should be allowed to be safe for the mother.

We live in a pluralistic society.  That means people of different religious persuasions and traditions—and of no religious tradition—need to allow space for others.  That is the only way peace is possible.  And love is possible.

European wild ginger, used by Hildegard of Bingen for women “to abort an infant which is a danger to her body,” as outlined in Physica, her book of healing recipes and directions. Image from Medical Botany (1836), on Wikimedia Commons.

There can be no peace and love in a situation of institutional violence.  And it is institutional violence for one institution to dictate to all women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  The Supreme Court is capable of being supremely stupid and supremely oblivious of the rights of 50% of the human species and this situation is tripled when two male members of that Supreme Court stand accused of sexual misconduct against women with charges that have never been properly investigated.

Julian teaches that “it is in our nature to reject evil.”  The evil of judges rejecting 49 years of legal precedence and presuming they know more than all the previous judges—republican and democratically appointed judges who upheld the law—is a sign of hubris. 

It is not a sign of peace or justice or love.

See Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 41, 105f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Overturning Roe v. Wade Will Kill Women.” Protest at the U.S. Supreme Court, May 2022. Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Are you in agreement with Julian’s definition of evil?  And with her observation that “it is in our nature to reject evil”?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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13 thoughts on “Julian of Norwich on Evil & the Supreme Torque/Court”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Good morning Matthew! The questions that you have for us today in our Queries for Contemplation: “Are you in agreement with Julian’s definition of evil? Yes, I agree with Julian’s teaching that evil is “everything that is counter to peace and love” because that which is counter to peace and love is “institutional violence.”
    “And with her observation that ‘it is in our nature to reject evil’?” Because Julian teaches that “it is in our nature to reject evil” what follows from that, is we need to speak up, we need to protest, and we need to demonstrate to make our wills known! And just for clarification, what do you mean by: “an abortion up to the ‘quickening time?'”

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    Jeanette Metler

    Julian’s statement, leads me to pondering the defining essence of peace and love. In my experience… nothing is simply black or white. Some may perceive the option and difficult decision of an abortion, due to health concerns, for example a utopic pregnancy, as an act of love… choosing to save one life, rather than lose two. Some may perceive the option and difficult decision of an abortion, due to a violent rape, by a drug addict, whom perhaps has Aids, upon a mere child… as an act of love, compassion and mercy upon this child… which in some way will assist this child to find some kind of peace, while healing from the trauma unwillingly inflicted upon her.

    Yesterday someone commented that if one is not at peace about making a decision, then it is not of the love of God. Once again, nothing is simply this black or white. I sense that there are multiple viewing points of perception and understanding to consider, struggle and wrestle with… around the powerful words within Julian’s statement. I also sense that this too is an important and necessary aspect of the unfolding, evolving and emerging process of conscious awareness, in which we learn how to use the gift of spiritual discernment, that seeks to see a much more vast view of things… rather than limit this, through judgemental and critical reactions.

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    Damian Maureira

    Divine Love does seem to be the ground of compassion… And God is Creative Love and Wisdom… Our Mother~Father Source and Creator is a Living~Loving Spirit with-in us as co-Creators, with-in Mother Earth and all Her Creatures, with-in our multidimensions, with-in our multiverse Cosmos, and with-in All our ongoing Loving Creation~Evolution… In our divine but still mainly ignorant humanity, most of us continue to not be unaware of this Divine Presence within and among us so historically to the present day this ignorance and egocentricity has led
    to most of the aggression, injustices, suffering, and lack of compassion with one another and towards Mother Nature and all Her Living Creation… Hopefully, the number of evolving souls will continue growing (Cosmic Christ Consciousness) with the grace of God’s Loving Presence and Guidance within and among us to help us bring about a more compassionate and peaceful/just world — “God’s Queendom~Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven…. “

  4. Avatar

    I agree with Julian’s definition of evil and wish that “It is in our nature to reject evil” to be true at all times and everywhere. It is also in our nature, apparently and tragically, to embrace evil and always to cloak it as something “good”, like protecting all life by criminalizing abortion. I call on Kali and pray that we find creative ways to help girls and women with home remedies or meds to do what they feel they must do–it is not for me, or anyone else, to decide for them. The main issue here is control, whether it is cloaked in religious ideas like the natural law against abortion or “states’ rights” (always an excuse for the exercise of hatred and prejudice). The very worst aspect of these laws being passed by the states, in my opinion, is the encouragement of people to spy on and report on their neighbors–the central tactic of despots–the East German Stasi were said to have the most extensive records on just about everyone, and the Nazis were famous for their detailed records. This is the best way to undermine real community and feed people’s fear and paranoia.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Thanks for your comment. I too am troubled by what you say in saying: “I agree with Julian’s definition of evil and wish that “It is in our nature to reject evil” to be true at all times and everywhere. It is also in our nature, apparently and tragically, to embrace evil…” The best thing I have ever read on this problem is: Romans 7:19 where it says: “For the good that I would do, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Whether we like it or not, this is the paradoxical nature of human beings…

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        That is one of my favorite verses. We are both sublime and depraved, it seems. I pray that we find ways to send out more loving energy to overcome that darkness.

  5. Avatar

    The fundamental question seems to me to be. ‘Do you believe our loving creative God plays any role in procreation’. If you do then you cannot believe in abortion. I remember hearing an interview with a woman who was the result of violent rape and how grateful she was to her mother who refused to have an abortion. We hear of many mothers who have had children knowing the personal danger they were in. The whole world is crying out to adopt babies because they cannnot have children of their own. The whole world with the exception of the US N Korea China and Canada have far more loving and humane laws and this in a world of free birth control. Just study the barbaric abortion law that just got defeated in the US Senate. Abortion is the Evil. I may be a man but you cannot have a baby with out me.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Peter, Thank you for your thoughts, however if you read our daily meditation today, and several days before, you will note that Matthew Fox, as well as most of those who write in their comments are pro-choice. This does not mean they are not pro-life, its just their concern for the lives of the mothers. You refer to “the barbaric abortion law”–but what women had to do to themselves in order to have an “illegal abortion” was far more barbaric! And one other thing. Free birth control would help to a tremendous degree! However, in the Catholic world which makes up nearly one out of every two Christians, contraceptives are not only NOT allowed, those who use them are considered sinful! I plan to do whatever I can do to change it–that is actually an unrealistic goal, but I’m going to shoot for it. If even a few Catholics are willing to listen to reason and do civil (or spiritual) disobedience on this point, it would help things greatly.

    2. Avatar

      This is not a world of free birth control. Our help to other nations is usually with the provision that birth control is not included. The Supreme Court decision of a few years ago determined that a company does not have to provide birth control in its medical plan. That opens the floodgates for more and more companies to be pressured to deny birth control. Your religious beliefs are not my religious beliefs, and should not govern my actions. As Matthew has pointed out, we live in a multicultural, secular state that should not be governed by a minority’s opinion. The fundamental question is not a religious one, in my opinion. Bless you in your beliefs and understandings, and may they guide you in your own life. I do not believe that a loving and merciful God supports using pregnancy as a punishment, for those girls and women who just cannot bear to bring a child into the world, for whatever reason. The fact that some choose to do so despite rape or other trauma is beside the point. The point is, it is their choice.

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