There was a man who had two sons. The older son loved to tell stories and would keep the relatives and servants that made up his father’s household enthralled for hours with his repertoire of tales—not all of them believable—from the family’s eventful history. The younger son was of a much more rational frame of mind and couldn’t tell a joke to save his life.
One day the younger son came to the father and said, “Father, we don’t need all these stories. What we need is truth. Clear and simple, systematically arranged, with proofs and certain conclusions. I suggest that we organize classes for all the members of your household so that they can be taught the truth. I will devise a syllabus.”
Quite what the father thought of this proposal is unclear, but the younger son was insistent, and so it came about.
When the firstborn son realized what had happened, he became despondent and quickly concluded that he was no longer wanted at home. He thought of asking for his share of the inheritance but decided in the end not to announce his intentions. He left quietly and travelled to a distant country.
Sadly, perhaps because of his gloomy state of mind, he fell into bad company. He told his stories to his new friends, but they laughed at him. “You are a capable story-teller,” they said, “but your stories are so dreary. We are not interested in your unbelievable family sagas. We want to hear about war and women. Mainly women. Bawdy stories about women.”
He did his best to learn some new stories to entertain them with, but his heart was not in it, and when at last he came to himself, he said, “This is ridiculous! I don’t belong here. I will go home and if necessary learn to keep my mouth shut.”
While he was still some distance from the house, his father saw him and ran out to meet him. The son began to speak: “Father, I am sorry. I want to come home. I promise I will not tell….”
But his father interrupted him. “My son! You are back! I am so glad to see you. We are sick and tired of all the lessons with their proofs and dubious conclusions. We want to hear stories again. We want life and death and pain and laughter. We want memories and hope.”
When they arrived back at the house, the younger son was standing in the doorway scowling.