Metaphysical Madness


In his book Prosperity, Charles Fillmore wrote of the parable known as The Prodigal Son:

The prodigal son took his inheritance and went into a far country, where he spent it in riotous living and came to want. When he returned to his father’s house he was not accused of moral shortcoming, as we should expect. Instead the father said, “Bring forth quickly the best robe and put it on him.” That was a lesson in good apparel. It is a sin to wear poor clothes. This may seem to some to be rather a sordid way of looking at the teaching of Jesus, but we must be honest. We must interpret it as He gave it, not as we think it ought to be.

I would say to Charles Fillmore:

Now Charles, is it really a sin to wear poor clothes? To claim that this was the message Jesus intended seems to miss the whole point of Jesus’ mission as best we can make of it.

In the synoptic gospels (those attributed to Mark, Matthew and Luke) the picture presented of Jesus is that of a caring man campaigning for social justice. “Love one another,” he said. He did not say, “Love those who are well dressed.” According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin.” (NET) This is very different from suggesting that it is a sin to wear poor clothes.

The photograph on this page is of an impoverished woman on a street in Mexico City. Her choice of clothes is not a sin; her dirty skin is not a sin. The sin in this image, which I discovered on Morgue File, is committed by a society that does not clothe the poor.

You say your interpretation of this parable is a metaphysical one. Metaphysics can be defined as the study of the ultimate nature of reality. I find it very hard to understand what the wearing of poor clothes has to do with the ultimate nature of reality. Rather, I would think that interpreting this parable as you have done, is metaphysical madness. It does not promote any understanding of the nature of reality. Instead, it helps promote rabid capitalism, encouraging your readers to constantly keep up with fashion and discard clothing that may be a little worn, but still serviceable. This, I would suggest is a true sin, Charles.


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