There are plenty of 'traditional' ways
to read this parable, and it does have some fascinating details. (E.g., v. 20:
"They are demanding..." Who are the "they"? His
possessions?) I am wondering, however, if our familiarity with the outcome of
the parable has prevented us from experiencing its confrontational point.
Imagine slowing down the telling of parable and providing pauses around v18.
Should we be perplexed at why he would tear down his perfectly good barns before
he would build larger new ones? Is this the point at which we say (with God),
"You fool!" Note, however, that conventional wisdom would go on to
say, "You should have added on to the barns you have or at least built the
news ones before tearing down the old ones." If we reason thus, then this
parable only demonstrates to us that we are more strategic fools than the person
in the story. We are still left needing to answer whose possessions these really
are (God's? neighbors?), but the parable does challenge us to recognize our own
My wife suggested this way to capture my
take on the parable: We simply don't have enough room in our garage to store our
stuff, so... we are tearing down our house in order to build a larger one.