Summary: Parables of Eternal Life, Part 4 of 9
WHERE BROKEN HEARTS GO (LK. 15:11-32)
I was not fond of popular but controversial Hong Kong actor and singer Leslie Cheung in his prime; I was a fan of Alan Tam! To me, Alan sings; Leslie whispers. Alan’s songs were melodious; Leslie’s were tuneless. Their fans were loyal and fierce. They heckled each other’s idol at award shows. Tired of the fans’ intense emotions, both singers eventually declared they would not receive awards in the future. Even when Cheung stole the show in John Woo’s “A Better Tomorrow” I didn’t think much of him.
However, Leslie’s acting career lasted longer than Alan’s singing life, and he proved himself a bona-fide star locally and internationally. Sadly, unknown to the entertainment world, behind the confident, resourceful, and carefree extrovert was a man plagued with “emotional problems.”
The news that Leslie committed suicide on April 1, 2003, in SARS-hit Hong Kong was at first considered a cruel April’s Fool Day joke. Waiters recalled that the singer ordered an iced lemon drink, a glass of ice water, an apple and a packet of cigarettes. He then asked waiters to set up a table for him on the balcony and for a pen and a piece of paper on which he wrote his suicide note. At about 4 p.m., Cheung jumped from the 24th floor balcony of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Connaught Road in the Central district. The first word in his suicide note found by a policeman was the word “depression.” The note stated: “Depression! Thank you to the fans…In my life I have done nothing wrong. Why it has to be like this?” (Star April 03, 2003 Cheung cites depression in last note). Ironically, Cheung was nominated in the Best Actor category at that same weekend’s Hong Kong Film Awards for his role as a demon-possessed man.
Worse was yet to come. Overnight and in nine hours, 6 people jumped to their death in Hong Kong, for reasons of unemployment, debt, and poor health. (Shijie ribao 4/3/03 “1 ri shenye 9 xiaoshi 6 ren tiaolou”).
Life has a way of befriending us, then bewildering us and, at times, betraying us, but a sad, tragic, or doomed ending is optional. The parable of the prodigal son is the crown jewel of all parables. It is the longest parable in the Bible, the favorite story of many readers, and the climax of three parables Jesus told before the Pharisees and scribes, and tax-collectors and sinners. The story concerns a wayward son, a waiting father, and a whining brother. The prodigal painted the town red, and was soon in the red, but he returned to red carpet treatment, to his older brother’s protest.
Where do broken hearts go? Where is the silver lining at the end of the road? Is there a happy ending in the script? Who cares when you are down and out? Who and where do we run to? What are some timeless principles from this timeless story?
YOU CAN BE DIFFERENT BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE DIFFICULT
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ’Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Everyone wants to be different. The last thing people want to be is boring. The list of things people on the Internet say are boring include: “Life is boring,” “School is boring,” “Church is boring,” “Baseball is boring,” “My marriage is boring,” “Normal is boring,” “Math is boring,” “Perfection is boring,” “Summer is boring,” and “Everyone is boring.” At this rate, nothing left in life is interesting. A kid even said to his parent, “Breakfast is boring.” You can add eating, bathing, and sleeping to the list.
Rick Giolito, a video game producer, complains, “Every year, the players expect more and more and more. If you came out now with a game that looked like it was made three years ago, they’d say it’s boring.” Psychologist Rex Julian Beaber says, “The human brain is wired to be attracted to novelty. Very shortly after we are exposed to something, it loses its power to move us. One of the things people have to understand is that boredom is a part of life. It can be controlled, but never eliminated.” (Los Angeles Times 2/22/03 “Is boredom bad?”)