Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alison 9 of 9

9. Concluding remarks on the Our Father

It is with this then, that Jesus leads up to teaching the “Our Father”.

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [11]

Space and time prevent me from going into a line by line reading of this. For our purposes, I just want to point out two things which I hope are obvious. First, the Our Father is all about desire. It begins by addressing the Other other who is manifesting himself, has a desire, an intention, a project and a reality which are way prior to anything that the social other knows, and yet which can begin to have incidence in the life of the social other. And secondarily, it takes for granted, and underlines, the fact that we are entirely mimetic animals. The goodness of the Other other can only be unbound in us, flow through us, to the degree that we agree to be unbound towards our co-members of the social other. Just as our “selves” are what they are entirely thanks to the social other, so our “new selves” are only going to be “new selves” in the degree to which we unbind the social other. It is strictly in our relation with what is other than us that we will be found to be. Please notice that this, the insistence that letting go of the social other, and being let go by the Other other is exactly the same thing, is the only part of the Our Father which Jesus repeats, rubbing in the basic anthropology once again.

I hope you will agree then that “desire according to the desire of the other”, and the absolute and mechanical mimetic working of our desire do not seem to be a foreign import into these texts, but to offer a rich reading of them that goes with their flow and can help us to be found on the inside of the adventure of prayer.

São Paulo, February 2009


[1] Matthew 6:7-8. back

[2] Matthew 6:6. back

[3] Romans 8:22-27. back

[4] Mark 8:33. back

[5] Matthew 6:1-4. back

[6] Matthew 6:5-6. back

[7] Luke 18:1-8. back

[8] Matthew 5:44-45. back

[9] Isaiah 55:1-3. back

[10] Matthew 6,7-8. back

[11] Matthew 6: 9-15. back

© 2009 James Alison

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