I found The Book of Margery Kempe to be interesting and even humorous at times, if a bit redundant (as other students have pointed out). If I understand correctly, she sort of rambles about England, causes an uproar with her incessant crying (that is meant to inspire faith in others), gets in trouble with officials, and then talks her way out of it. It seems that many people condemned her as a heretic and Lollard while others blessed her. As far as I could tell, she never seems to suffer that much, other than initially, and claims to enjoy suffering, because it is for Christ who suffered much more.
My favorite moments were the scenes with her (poor!) husband and those where she talked her way out of trouble (such as with the bear story) because these seemed the most personal and most reflective of everyday life. One thing that struck me while reading was how “personal” Christ was to Margery. When “our Lord spoke to this creature when it pleased him” in Chapter 86, God is very in touch with Margery and speaks to her pleasantly and almost un-God-like. He is not a stern, angry God but a comforting one. Was this a common way of depicting God at the time or another of Margery’s antics?
I definitely think a large theme of this book is an intimate closeness to God. With that, “feeling” a certain suffering, brings Margery closer to Christ who like you said suffered even more. Suffering along with Him, allows her connection to Christ to grow and know Him through a more tangible and human form. Maybe it was more common in Medieval Times, but there seems to be a great focus on not only the spiritual side of God but also the physical which Margery emphasizes heavily in this work.
This depiction of God has much in common with Julian’s, doesn’t it? It’s a different register of intimacy (domestic here, more ‘professional’ in Julian), but they both present God as caring and generous. We discussed Julian’s way ‘around’ the problem of sin and God’s righteous anger in class.