My reading group discussed The Book of Margery Kempe last night. I think all of us entered the conversation without much appreciation for the book. But by the end of the evening we recognized its value and also Kempe's as a Christian. We kept finding ourselves answering questions such as "Was she ... mentally ill? truly devout? self-promoting?" with "All of the above!"
Kempe certainly stood firm in her faith and when questioned by the church's leaders. Some of her visions were unbiblical. It was hypothesized that Kempe was reconciling the visions with the teachings she received from the church, with some of her own opinion thrown it for good measure.
We concluded that her personal, intimate relationship with Lord Jesus was unusual for her time period (1400's.) She was repeatedly challenged about that, and she endured persecution resulting from the skepticism. As an illiterate woman, she was reliant on what she was told and what was revealed to her for her information; she could not search the Scripture for herself.
I am thankful we had the discussion; I came away from it with a new found respect for Kempe.