The Neighbor, Vulnerability and The Good Samaritan
Keenan / 8 Novembre 2019

On September 27th I offered the Father of the Prodigal son for reflection as a model of capacious vulnerability. My comments on vulnerability last month might have surprised the reader who thinks of vulnerability primarily as the condition that raises alarm, concern, or the need to protect. I think of vulnerability, however, as that innate capacity we have to respond to the other who is at risk. Now I would like to take that insight further in a reflection on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37). It is important for us to remember why Jesus tells this parable. He has just given the commandment to love one another. In response, one of the Scribes asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” A close reading of the story reveals that Jesus is offering a very surprising answer to the question. At the beginning of the story we are thinking that the answer to the question “who is my neighbor?” is the man lying wounded on the road, that is, the precarious one. But by the end of the story we are no longer looking for the neighbor as the precarious one but at the vulnerable one who is acting. The Scribe rightly…

Vulnerability and the Father of the Prodigal Son
Keenan / 27 Settembre 2019

  My recent interests have been to establish a fundamental ethics based on vulnerability. I believe that our vulnerability derives from the nature of God in whose image we are made; made in the image of the vulnerable God, vulnerability is our nature. I believe that vulnerability is what establishes us as creatures before God and one another. I believe that being vulnerable is where the moral life starts. Besides being influenced by Irish theologians, Enda McDonagh and Linda Hogan, I have been borrowing some insights from the philosopher Judith Butler who has herself borrowed from Emmanuel Levinas, among others. Butler roots all of ethics in vulnerability. For Butler vulnerability «is prior to any individual sense of self… and this is what it means to be the self I am, receptive to you in ways that I cannot fully predict or control». She writes: «You call upon me, and I answer. But if I answer, it was only because I was already answerable; that is, this susceptibility and vulnerability constitutes me at the most fundamental level and is there, we might say, prior to any deliberate decision to answer the call. In other words, one has to be already capable of…