Posts Tagged ‘Desire’

I’m slowly reading through Rowan Williams latest book, on Dostoevsky. Today I found a quote that concerns desire:

“To accept Christ’s claims, or the Church’s claims for Christ (…), is to recognize an interruption that introduces a new element into the moral  world. Christ is apprehended when something not planned or foreseen in the contents of the world breaks through, is an act or event that represents the gratuity of love or joy. And such an event alters what is possible by offering the will what might be called a “truthful” or appropriate direction for desire” (p. 30).


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Søren Kierkegaard writes, as mentioned in the last post, that the reason is love. He puts it like this:

“If he [God] moves himself, not by need, what then that moves him is what else but love; because it is precisely not moved by the satisfaction of need outside itself, but in itself”.

Although there is no need in God, there is a desire to, in love, to make that which is infinitely different equal. One of my teachers at my alma mater, professor Jan-Olav Henriksen, has a forthcoming book on Eerdmanns called Desire, Gift and Recognition : Christology and Postmodern Philosophy. Although not published I’ve had a look at an abridged popularised book in Norwegian called Jesus: Gave og begjær (Jesus: Gift and Desire). The book attempts to make Jesus known and understood through new categories (like desire, and not the traditional categories of sin and guilt).
Henriksen uses a philosophical and phenomenological concept, mainly picked up from the Irish-American philosopher Richard Kearney (and Hegel), of desire to contextualise Christology in a post-modern context. Henriksen points to the ambiguous character of desire (e.g. fear of the uncontrollable), and makes several points on the concept:

  • desire (together with the concept of gift) makes possible a Christology that corresponds to human experience
  • that desire connects us to the surrounding world – it something that we uses to internalise the culture around us and aids us in our individuation
  • it is therefore pre-subjective (it forms us and moulds us already before we as subjects actively takes part in this forming), it is both nature and culture
  • in the story of Jesus we encounter both this open and closed desire, especially in his proclamation of the Kingdom of God

Henriksen often points to the ambiguous character of the Jesus story, as he moves through the narrative reading it in light of the concept of gift and desire. He makes a lot of interesting points; the main point is that the God that gives and desires in and through the story of Jesus, is a generous god. He closes the last chapter, on the resurrection, on the character of faith as gift and desire:

“Faith is not an expression of the desire for control over a closed and controllable world, but expression of the hope of something that is more than we can desire. Faith is created by facing something that is more than ourselves. In this manner, faith is also the gift that enables us to receive the gift. The resurrection is the utmost expression of the future that faith opens up; not something we can or should control. Faith is to let go of control, and resurrection is life that is fully and completely gift, uncontrolled by us and what we have earned. Thus, are faith, freedom and resurrection also interconnected, because the faith in the resurrection expresses that we can receive a gift where we are freed from the desire for control and possession. Then we can also be able to receive the Other, either the Other be God or the envoy of God, and either if this envoy are other people or the true image of God, that meets us as Jesus – He that is God, as God is when God is a human.

The incarnation and resurrection is what God desires and freely gives the humans. And the humans, in faith, surrender their desires and open up for the eschatological desire and the gift of salvation in it’s fullest sense.

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