There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
When he had maxed out all his credit cards, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death
So he set off back to his father's house.
His father saw him coming from a long way off, and went to meet him. "My son!", he cried. "You have returned!"
"Hi Bob", said the son.
"Why do you call me Bob, and not father?", his father asked, somewhat taken aback. "And who are these people with you?"
"I'm not into the whole hierarchical, patriarchal thing anymore", he said. "These are my lovers, Julia and Gary. Julia and Gary, meet Bob. Bob, meet Julia and Gary."
"Welcome", said the father, looking a little troubled, but smiling gamely. "My son, how is it you have returned to me?"
"Listen, Bob", said the son, "This is the deal. I'm broke. I lost all my money. And I've realized that it's not my fault. It's your fault."
"My fault?", asked the father. "My son, how is this so?"
"You just piled so much emotional baggage on me from my earliest childhood, you really screwed with my mental health, my self-esteem. Do you know how much therapy it's taken me to even start to get to a better place? Thank Gaia I had Gary and Julia to help me work through my sexual repressions."
"My son", said the father, "I am deeply grieved to hear all this. You're quite right! I don't blame you at all! Welcome home! Let me tell my servants to slay the fatted calf--"
"Uh!", said Julia. "No thanks! We're all vegans."
"Very well", said the father, bowing his head. "You young people are way ahead of us. Don't worry, we'll have a vegan feast on the table in no time." And so he rushed off.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, "along with his lovers Gary and Julia. And your father Bob, has laid out a vegan feast because he has come back safe and sound."
At this the older son became angry and refused to come in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
The older son said: "All these years I've been slaving and never disobeyed your orders. And then this son of yours, who has squandered your property with sexually ambiguous lovers, comes home, and you make him a vegan feast-- whatever the heck that is."
"We must show mercy!", the father replied. "Compassion! Love!"
"I get that part", said the son. "But shouldn't he, you know, stop fornicating first? And maybe say sorry? Isn't what he's doing wrong?"
"We-e-ell", said the father, making a steeple of his fingers, "objectively speaking, I suppose, we might say that it's less than ideal. But we really have to take into account the mitigating factors, the social pressures, the particular context--"
"Dad, you've changed!", said the elder brother, impatiently. The sound of hip-hop was now billowing from the house. "Ever since you started reading Hans Kung and Timothy Radcliffe. What happened to all the stuff you used to tell me about the body being a temple, and the need for repentance, and honouring your father and mother, and all that? Is that all old hat now?"
"No, no, no, no, no!", said the father, raising his hands, smiling beatifically. "There's been absolutely no change in that department, that's still all true, one hundred per cent, I guarantee you. This is just....a new approach, suited to the times. Mercy! Compassion! Love! We must walk with your brother..."
"Looks to me like he's walking all over you", said the eldest brother. "I'm sorry, Dad. You taught me too well. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. If this ne'er-do-well brother of mine stops fornicating and taking advantage of us, I'll happily forgive him. Until then, I'm not going to indulge his shenanigans."
At this, a terrible change came over the father. His face went red, his eyes bulged, and he began to shake his fist. "Fundamentalist!", he shouted. "Neo-Palagian! Pharisee! Legalist!" And many other things too awful to write out.
"Hey", said the eldest brother, "what happened to Mercy, Compassion and Love?"