A lot of people have been sharing articles by Matt Walsh lately and I totally understand why. After reading a few of his blog entries, I find myself, more often than not, agreeing with him. I even subscribe to his blog so he shows up in my Feedly blog reader.
However, I have always felt a little uneasy when I read his blog and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until recently. Walsh’s writing taps into that part of myself that I try to tamp down because it is hyper critical, scathing, and lacking in grace. This not a knock against Walsh. I think many of his entries are truthful and true and at any rate, I don’t think he is a cruel or graceless person. In fact, I think he is like many of us, frustrated with “the way things are,” intelligent, a good writer, and generally, a good person. (Not that it really matters what I think of him anyway.) Really, it is likely just me and my own personal hang ups.
My college Christian Fellowship was obsessed with this parable. We heard months worth of talks on the parable. Did numerous Bible studies on it. We even referred to it by a way cooler name: The Prodigal Father. Most of it was cribbed from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen.
Here’s the tl;dr version: A rich man had two sons. One day the younger son goes to his father, and says, “Hey, let’s pretend you’re dead and you can give me my inheritance now, ok?” The father agrees and the younger son goes whoring it up and spends all his money. He finds himself eating from a pig trough and realizes that even the servants in his father’s house eat better than that so he decides to go home and beg to be a servant.
When he nears his home, his father sees him from a great distance and comes running out, rolling out the red carpet, rejoicing that his son has returned to him. The man throws a huge party and kills a fatted calf.
The older son, who had stayed behind is super pissed off when he hears of his brother’s return (especially when he finds out about the party). He goes off and sulks and when his father chases him down and asks him why, he answers:
“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”
“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
– Luke 15:29-32 NIV
Look, I’m not saying Walsh is the elder son in real life. I have no idea! I don’t know the guy and really, his spiritual state is between himself and God. All I know is that Walsh’s writing pushes a button inside of me and that button says, “Elder Son Alert!”
It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but there it is. I’m a lot mellower about it now, but I’m still a stickler to the rules at heart. I’m a douche bag extraordinaire when it comes to finding fault with EVERYTHING and I get pissed when I think people are getting away with stuff. (Of course, I conveniently forget when I get a free pass, but details, details, people!)
Anyhow, not sure what my point with this post is, but ultimately, I don’t want to be either son. I want to be like the father, who is prodigal (ie: wastefully extravagant) to both his ungrateful children. The father lavishes love and resources on both his kids even though the older son seems to think his father is a horrible slave master and the younger son only comes home because he is hungry. I can only hope to love my own children this way – let alone random people.
I leave you with some shameless self promotion. Back when I was a senior at UCLA, I wrote a song from the elder son’s point of view and my awesome and talented composer friend, Chris Wong, made it sound much better. If you don’t want to sit through the video for the lyrics, I’ve posted them at the end.
I spent too many hours figuring out how to make a lyrics video for YouTube last night so I am not only proud of this song but of the video. I’m surprised I could even make it happen considering it takes me at least ten times longer to learn anything new nowadays – let alone succeed at it. But hey, old dog and new tricks.
Also, this recording is more than fourteen years old! WHAT?!
The Elder Song
What has become of my system?
What has become of my life?
It has fallen down.
What will become of my faith?
What will become of me now?
I am down.
How could you allow this to happen?
How could you stand by and watch
Me break down?
Why did you do this?
Why have you made me fall?
Was I not faithful?
Did I not follow your call?
Why won’t you give me?
Why won’t you bless me?
What a miserly God
Did I slave for you?
Did I slave for you?
All these years?
Oh, my God
Where have I pushed you away to?
When did I leave home behind?
I was slaving away.
I see you embracing my brother
I hear you choke on his name
and I wonder
Would you do the same for me?
Would you do the same for me?
– Mandarin Mama