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The Lost Legacy

the lost legacy:

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Retold for Our Time

by Bruce Hanify


Copyright Bruce Hanify 2015

Published Independently by Bruce Hanify

Printed in the United States of America

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, except in the case of brief quotations in articles or reviews, without written permission from its publisher.

Copyright © Bruce Hanify 2015

ISBN: xxxxxx

All Rights Reserved




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There once was a very wealthy couple that had two sons. The older son grew up dependent on his parents and would often ask for money, which the parents gave him. Anytime the younger son asked for help, his parents would tell him where to look for work or how to apply for financial help, but would not help him. The oldest son had a fine house, but the youngest son had to “wear his home on his back,” finding housing wherever he could find work. The parents helped the older son get two college degrees. The youngest son paid for his college for as far as he could go, but dropped out when he could no longer afford to go. The older son believed himself to be wise when in truth he was ignorant and foolish. The parents indulged him in his foolishness rather than face their own failings as parents.

One day the younger son advised his father, “Father, one day soon the sons of Moloch will come and destroy everything you and mother hold dear. I would like to preserve a remnant of who we are and where we came from, but I will need your help. Rather than continue giving all your money to my proud and foolish brother, I would ask that you consider allowing me to set aside a foundation to preserve a remnant of our family, our heritage, and our trust. After you’ve gone, there will be no trace of you or ancestors left to remember, unless I can preserve it from harm in a safe place.”

Upon hearing these words, the father sent his younger son away.

“Go away from me, you foolish boy!” the stupid man said.

Shortly after the parents died, the sons of Moloch came and murdered both sons and all their children, leaving no trace of the wealthy couple’s family. The sons of Moloch despoiled the land and wiped it clean of all traces of the man and his wife. Had the father listened to his younger son, the land and its descendants might have been preserved, but they were lost to the sons of Moloch – all for the want of a single acknowledgement, an acknowledgement which was never forthcoming from an ignorant heart.

In our retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the favored son is the one who complains when his younger brother expresses a desire to share in his family heritage. We have deliberately taken an old story and put a different spin on it to show what happens when the father is unwilling to acknowledge his younger son. We have retooled the story for modern times.

This family is a parable of the United States. The parents are the lasting legacy of our “Greatest Generation,” the World War II generation, who spared no expense in helping their “oldest son,” the baby boomers and their children, to be educated and acquire property, but when confronted with the question, “What will your legacy be?” they could only smile stupidly as if the question did not need to be asked. Consequently, American heritage is daily being replaced by outside influences that do not have our best interests at heart. Many, many of America’s citizens in our time are hollowed out replicas of the heritage which would be theirs to claim if they knew where to look!

How did the Greatest Generation, which was so emblematic of honor, produce a generation that does not recognize the existence of honor? That failure to transmit American Heritage was the Greatest Generation’s gravest error – a somewhat understandable error, since the Greatest Generation had lived through a decade where physical comforts were very dear, followed by a half-decade of world war, where life itself was dear! For the Greatest Generation, giving their kids food and clothes was love. Intentionally or no, the Greatest Generation neglected to teach their children to value that which has actual value.

The youngest son is the promise of the future that is concealed within Heritage. Had the parents truly valued that which has value, instead of stupidly possessing that which cannot be possessed, we would not be living in this postmodern nightmare of disappearing American heritage. For you see, if you know what is truly valuable, you know what to pass along. When you can’t appreciate what is genuine and true, you pass along no more than a ‘splendid bauble’ to your spoiled, ignorant children, who cannot distinguish between what is temporary and what is permanent. They are more than willing to trade their Heritage for a “mess of pottage” – something that is superficially attractive but of little value, foolishly and carelessly exchanged for something more distant and perhaps less tangible but immensely more valuable.

Where there is no Heritage there can be no Faith. Where there is no Faith, there can be no Courage. Once Courage is gone, Heritage is lost forever.

If you have not made the connection by now, let me spell it out for you: Genuine wealth is sourced through the eyes of the heart, not the bank account.0 What you fail to invest in here – what you fail to spend wisely here – follows you into eternity, oftentimes with a painful longing that is very difficult to heal. This is what Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

When Jacob Marley visited his old associate in A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge, he lamented:

“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world—oh, woe is me!—and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”

The scene by the window in Dickens’ classic tale is the same we all must face:

“The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.”

Though you protest you are no Ebenezer Scrooge, I can join with Jacob Marley in asking, “Or would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It is a ponderous chain!”

I can say that because human nature is mostly blind during our years here on earth. Unless and until we have an awakening that allows us to see with our hearts, we do not know “the weight and length of the strong coil” we bear. We like to tell ourselves we are generous, but the truth is, we routinely miss multiple opportunities to make connections between need and opportunity. For one thing, most of us are too busy thinking of ourselves to even notice the linkage we can make between need and opportunity in the world around us. Dickens was a good storyteller. It was easy to pick on men of wealth to make his point, but he could just have easily used any person from any of our lives. Most of us are like the father in our story, though we profess to be the wise son.

A costly sacrifice has been made to please the vanity of people who are are unwilling to pay their debt to the master plan of life. Our time of transition is at hand. No amount of praying or bargaining will delay our doom. The sons of Moloch will come, and they will reap a harvest of sorrow from those who have no eyes to see, no ears to hear.

“There will be a weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Who are the “sons of Moloch”? Whatever persons or ideas, external or internal, which have shamed and degraded honorable American traditions like family and faith, honesty and hard work – those are the sons of Moloch. Those of us who witnessed the full-scale assault on family and work and morality since the 1970s find ourselves unable to prevent American social restructuring through the globalization of our workforce and our culture. If you wish to preserve the best that life has to offer, you must create a space where the sacred and the traditional can thrive and shape the individual. Unfortunately for us, our culture does not value that which is truly valuable. It maniacally seeks to possess that which canot be possessed. Our culture is such that people like me are condemned as “intolerant.” We are, in fact, the preservers of Heritage.


The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single,

thy whole body shall be full of light.

Sin and virtue both originate in the same source: SIGHT. We are not talking about the physical eyes. Frequently people who do not have physical sight see far better than the people who do! The father in our story had perfectly good eyes, physically, but refused his duties as a father because he could not see as a father. His problem was not with the physical eyes. His problem was with “the light of the body.” His heart couldn’t see!

When people are young, they are slaves to the idea that beauty is specific to form only. Through many painful processes of loss and elimination, they gradually realize that ugliness of the soul is often concealed by beauty of form, just as immortal beauty is often concealed by that which at first seems objectionable. Through a process of losing what we aren’t, we gradually understand what “new thought” teacher Thomas Troward meant when he said:

The old limited mode of thought has imperceptibly slipped away, and we discover that we have stepped out into a new order of things where all is liberty and life.

How can we follow Judge Troward into “into a new order of things where all is liberty and life?” In other words, how can we best see and implement our true duties in life? How can we ensure that the promise of Heritage continue in the best possible ways beyond our years in the earth?

Failure to see is perhaps where the bulk of human sin originates. We would all be wise to heed the Biblical measure of “unto the third and fourth generation.” Have you thought about that measure? Do you think it is true that the harm we unknowingly cause others by neglecting our duties can reverberate for three to four times the length of a man’s life – about 250 years? I believe that to be true. I wonder how many reading these words are prepared to pay that price, because where we’re all going, there are no banks, and no debit or credit cards, to pay debts of the heart. Gold coins might prevent certain types of harm while we’re here. Like food, money influences our physical well-being for a short duration on earth. After we’ve left this earth we are probably stuck with finding methods other than “cold, hard cash” to pay our debts. Perhaps we have to step into the role of the person whose ancestor cheated him of his heritage to feel the sting of our past stinginess. Perhaps we have to be murdered for the murder we caused by neglecting our duty.

An unfortunate failure of religious teaching has been to perpetuate the notion that external punishment is the “soul corrective” for bad deeds. The object seems to be that if enough torture and anger is applied, justice is achieved, but is it? While scourging and torture and fiery hells can break the will, they cannot cause the blind to see or the lame to walk.^^1^^ No amount of torture could reform a serial killer into a loving soul unless that potential was ready to be called forth, for which reason external scourging and torture would be inefficient methods for releasing that potential. The only corrective for moral deficits is sorrow and repentance – internal recognition of the sorrow one has caused. In the case of the father in our story, we hope for a genuine repentance, which implies regret, which would mean truly seeing the temperaments of his two sons.

I won’t lie to you. I honestly believe that the greatest agony any of us will ever face derives from the duties which were ours to fulfill, but we failed to undertake. The loneliest feeling in the world is to recognize that you could have bridged a gap in someone’s life, or helped bring about healing for that person, but didn’t do so because you refused to see what their need was.

How can we make sure that we are seeing correctly? If we are able to see correctly, we can better align ourselves with the purposes (duties) we have been assigned in this earth.

Preserving our Lost Legacy

My grandfather and my father both worked for Olympia National Park in Washington State from the 1930s through the 1970s. They were Irish. History and Heritage and Family, I suppose, were more important to them than just about any other possession a person might have. I did not grow up talking about money. I grew up talking about Heritage. That is why, perhaps, I am better qualified than many to address the sort of things that have more value than money! We valued family and loyalty over the “green-back dollar.”

My father and grandfather were both very perceptive when it came to matters of the heart. While they never pried, they were equally talented at making it easy for you to talk of what was in your heart. Living at a ranger station, conversation was measured and relaxed. There were never any maniacal attempts to make people talk. It could the better part of a week to finish a talk. My father and I might exchange a few sentences, and then quit talking. Sometime in the next day or so, one of us would add another observation, or raise a particular topic. This is how conversation is meant to be. When things are forced and pressured, it is not likely that you will be able to relax and take the time needed to reflect on what is true.

Growing up in a home where hiking and fishing and carrying a hatchet are a natural part of life is what every American boy should know. Every American boy should also have a strong and faithful father. Add to that a life among people who read widely and could converse intelligently on a variety of subjects, and having the Hoh Rain Forest for a backyard, you can understand how truly rich my heritage was. I got to live what Aldo Leopold wrote in Sand County Almanac:

“I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”

I had blank spots aplenty to explore throughout my childhood. There is nothing about the city, or about wealth or any other feature, such as fame among women, or celebrity, that I would trade my youth for. It was enough to have empty spots on the map!

The whole time I was growing up I thought to myself:

“The national parks ought to be modeled after ancient Greek sanctuaries and Irish monasteries. It ought to be that people not only get to enjoy the Wilderness, but get to immerse themselves in Western civilization, reading great minds, and studying the topics that form our past.”

In the 1970s, the Fox Fire books were coming out. (I read the first three volumes as they were printed.) The vision you find in those books, and in Aldo Leopold, is far more down-to-earth American than the modern purist who wants to reduce man’s “carbon footprint.” The spirit of the Fox Fire books is that man must master himself. He can’t really master nature. Nature can take him out with the flick of a microbe. The national parks are perfect sanctuaries for teaching and living American Frontier lifestyles. My guess is, 10 years after such a program were implemented, America would be a happier and more prosperous nation.

I thought then – and I think now – that America’s national parks ought to be places where America can reconnect with being American. Of course, that idea wouldn’t sell well with our Global(ist) Warming Environmentalists. I think if they were being candid, they would tell you the parks ought to limit people as much as possible so that, as a practical matter, the parks don’t have people in them. I think otherwise. I think the national park system ought to include the means for allowing Americans to have sabbaticals of 12 months in duration, where they can connect, through reading and conversation and the practice of crafts, with what it meant to be a Frontier American.

I’ll raise you another: training in firearms and self-defense should also be included!

You might think me backward or naïve for making such a proposal, but I believe that is exactly what is needed at this time to rekindle the American spirit at the basic levels of:

p<>{color:#000;}. Self-sufficiency

p<>{color:#000;}. Self-discipline

p<>{color:#000;}. Solitude and hard work

p<>{color:#000;}. A focus on crafts and traditional music and song

p<>{color:#000;}. Familiarity with the Western Canon

p<>{color:#000;}. Religious expression

I am quite positive that as I write these words, others will reject them as unworkable. I am equally positive that as our civilization descends into Chaos, the outline you have just read will make more and more sense. I believe the basic structure you find here will become critical to our survival.

I, Bruce Hanify, a son and grandson of the National Park Service – and a true and loyal American – offer my services to such persons and organizations that see the wisdom of this approach. I believe the time is coming very soon when true Americans will have to take extraordinary measures to preserve our Heritage.

There are many good books that can assist in this effort. Here are a few that I would recommend:

p<>{color:#000;}. Aldo Leopold’s Sound County Almanac

p<>{color:#000;}. The Fox Fire books

p<>{color:#000;}. The Seekers, by Daniel Boorstin

p<>{color:#000;}. The Americans, by Daniel Boorstin

p<>{color:#000;}. The Discovers, by Daniel Boorstin

p<>{color:#000;}. The Passion of the Western Mind, by Richard Tarnas

p<>{color:#000;}. The Roots of American Order, by Russell Kirk

p<>{color:#000;}. Bradford’s History of Plimoth

p<>{color:#000;}. The Syllabus followed at Thomas Aquinas College in California

The Passion of the Western Mind and The Roots of American Order are especially recommended.

The childish among us will complain that this curriculum is too “conservative.” That is precisely the point. As American society comes off its hinges, fundamental principles will become as dear to us all as food and water. The great experiment of trying to force people into a “liberal” ideology will give way to a craving for order. When that day comes – and it is at our doorstep – the tutorial I have have outlined will seem much more medicinal than divisive.

That day is not far off!

If you are interested in helping me set up the foundation which can further these goals, please feel free to contact me via the information given below.

_ _ _ _ _


About bruce hanify

Bruce Hanify was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. After graduating from Forks High School, he became a trial lawyer. He was a prosecutor for 15 years, and a criminal defense attorney for 15 years. Hanify now writes and teaches full-time. You may visit his website at BruceHanify.com. His email is [email protected]


1 The only act of Christian violence in the Gospels is when Peter sliced the ear of the high priest’s slave, which was done to prevent the forceful arrest of Jesus. Jesus healed the slave’s ear, and commanded Peter to put his sword away. The story about Jesus driving bankers from the temple with a scourge seems to have produced more noise than injury. Otherwise we should have heard about it. From the Gospel accounts, it seems very unlikely that Jesus would serve as a warden for dungeons or prisons or execution houses. There are no instances of Jesus using fists or swords to make his point.

The Lost Legacy

The Parable of the Prodigal Son Retold for our Time, by Bruce Hanify, Trial Lawyer and Writer. Hanify argues for the creation of Western Heritage Sanctuaries by setting aside reservations for the preservation of American Heritage on public lands.

  • ISBN: 9781310318610
  • Author: Bruce Hanify
  • Published: 2015-12-06 04:05:08
  • Words: 3613
The Lost Legacy The Lost Legacy