I decided yesterday to add reciting the Lord’s Prayer to my daily spiritual regimen. The words basically sum up the core essence of Christianity. However, I ran into some problems with the language:
Our Father In Heaven
Usually I refer to God in a genderless manner. Rarely will an uppercase “He” or “She” come from my mouth. So I tried the first line genderless in a couple of ways:
“Our God in heaven”, “Our Deity in heaven” – Both too banal sounding.
Also tried feminine forms:
“Our Mother in heaven” – Doesn’t quite cut it either. “Our Goddess in heaven” – Too many polytheistic overtones (which is usually okay with me in a non-Christian context).
So I went back to using the masculine form “Our Father in heaven”. Found this quite comforting. Perhaps due to familiarity. Perhaps due to my subtle acceptance of the patriarchy.
I’ll ask God for a better plan.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses/Debts
I don’t say “trespasses”; I don’t say “debts”. These forms appear in 14th and 15th century English translations. But they irk my anarchistic sensitivities about ownership. Modern translations tend to use the word “sins” instead, which I prefer as well.
Update 30 April 2017
I’ve decided to include “trespasses” and “debts” for the following reasons:
Living with an abusive wife for many years absolutely destroyed my concept of boundaries. Both my boundaries and how I respect others’ boundaries. Furthermore, changing my gender erased all concepts of social cues I relied upon to understand others’ boundaries, because the social cues completely changed when I became established as a woman.
So I have made mistakes—“trespassed” on others’ boundaries while I relearned how to socially function appropriately. I seek forgiveness for these mistakes.
Being somewhat of an anarchist, interpersonal boundaries are the only boundaries I respect. I don’t much respect the language of land ownership that was developing when “trespasses” became part of the English translation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Regarding “debts”: I have the same anarchistic gut opposition to debt-driven modern capitalism. It is not that I oppose capitalism—quite the contrary—it’s just that I’m uncomfortable with it. So at first I didn’t want to include a concept of debt in the Lord’s Prayer.
But I do believe in Karma, and Karma debts. I want to forgive others’ Karma debts to me so they don’t have to pay them (but they probably will anyway in some form if God wants them to learn something). Similarly, I want my Karma debts “forgiven” in that I want to gently learn from my mistakes, but not pay a high price for them.
I’ve also decided to use the word “God” instead of “Father”, for now. I’m still wrestling with gendered concepts of the Divine and will continue to do so. (See “taking a cue from Mary Magdalene” for an example).
Some translations say “deliver us from evil”, while others say “deliver us from the evil one.” I’m not sure how much I personify evil (i.e., in the form of a devil for instance), so I’m going to use both forms until God provides me with more clarity.
Also, I’m choosing modern English, so no “hallowed be thy name” from me.
So here is the Lord’s Prayer as I am going to deliver it for the time being:
Our God in heaven,
Holy is your name.
Your Kingdom will come,
your will will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, trespasses, and debts,
as we forgive those who sinned, trespassed, and incurred debts against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil and the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom,
power and the glory.
Now and forever.