Belinda wrote: ↑Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:28 am
You may call 'The Prodigal Son' a story ; it is a story.
Right. But there are different kinds of "stories," as you rightly point out. Some are trivial, and some are significant. Others, like this one, are so long-standing and powerful that they reappear constantly throughout human history since their first telling.
But my point is only this: stories differ from real life in that there are no "other ways things could have gone" than what the story itself describes. We have to accept a parable on its own terms.
It narrates how a young man left his home and lived immorally. When, repentant, he returned to his father the father received him with open arms. This story has stood the test of time not only because it has been mediated by the powerful church but also because it is a simple story that described the sort of forgiveness God the Father does.
All that is true.
The forgiveness of God the Father is unqualified and unconditional.
Yes, but notice this: that the father didn't go and find the son and force him to come home. Instead, he waited for the son to return voluntarily. The forgiveness was unconditional; but the forgiveness had to be wanted, and sought, by the son.
The point is that God does not force
people to come to Him.
There is no question the father wants reparation from his son, and this was a Jewish culture where the family is very important.
That is true. And God does not tell us to do reparations to make ourselves good enough to be accepted. We're already "prodigals"; what we need is that forgiveness. We just need to know we do.
All good stories can be interpreted at different levels.
Yes, but not with infinite flexibility. Each story offers us particular terms on which to take it, and only things that fall within that range are fair interpretations; that's why, in the case of a parable especially, we have to pay close attention to what is said and to what is not said in it.
Jesus' parables are superficially simple , possibly to be accessible to rural people, and can also be interpreted as social or theological generalities.
True. In fact, it's quite clear Christ Himself interpreted them in just that way. They were never "just stories," to speak. They were always about more.
The story called 'The Labourers' is in my view even more interesting as it grapples with the Problem of Evil.
It doesn't, actually. Evil is not even mentioned in it. Nobody did evil at all...guys just went out and did the work they were asked to, and got wages afterward.
In the story of The Labourers Jesus tells how the master impartially pays everyone the same wages. If you can interpret the symbolism in 'The Labourers' then the master in the story is God and we are the labourers.
Oh, I see...you think it's a parable about whether or not God accepts people into Heaven. No, it's not that. After all, it's not that the "employer" in the parable was inviting the labourers into his house. This is about how God is free to reward people as He
sees fit -- not as we
For modern examples of how disinterestedness is good practice, there is the jury member in a law court who refuses to be nobbled. Or there is the shopkeeper in the American South early last century who serves all the customers regardless of their race. Or take a popular genre the western where at risk of his own life the good sheriff contests the big rancher to protect the legal interest of the small holders.
"Disinterestedness" of that sort is great once we already know what the right or just principle is. For example, once we know that, say, premeditated murder is wrong, an ideal court disregards whether the murder is rich or poor, male or female, Anglo or Chinese, or whatever else is irrelevant. But here's the important point:
Disinterestedness is itself useless if we don't already have that right principle.
And disinterestedness can't tell us what the right principle actually is. So it's not the touchstone of morality.
How do we know murder is wrong? Not because murder fails to be "disinterested." And certainly not because we remain "disinterested" in the question. We get the principle "Murder is wrong" from elsewhere, and then use disinterest as a supplementary principle in adjudicating cases. But "disinterestedness" itself tells us nothing about morality.