National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

The Prodigal Son and our times

 |  NCR Today

It's not often that Gospel parables get discussed on the op-ed page of The New York Times, but columnist David Brooks has a smart analysis of the Prodigal Son and how it should be applied to the nation today. 

Brooks looks to the famous parable for answers to the vexing social problems confronting the U.S. The class divide in the country is taking on social as well as economic dimensions: The upper strata stay in school, marry later, and have children only after they are married. Below them are groups that make up the rules as they go regarding education, household stability and children. 

The entire society suffers the consequences of those actions, but how to effect behavioral change? Looking toward the Gospels, Brooks says ungenerous scolding and sanctimony will only drive people further away from the mainstream -- rather, he says, social policy must be like the father in the Prodigal Son story: understanding, forgiving, embracing, leading by example. 

Order a gift subscription to NCR, and we'll throw in a little something extra for you. Learn more

Read the column.


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.