Susan Boyle: fairy tale or parable?

Susan Boyle: fairy tale or parable?

Weekender: Friday, May 22, 2009 - 16 Susan Boyle: fairy tale or parable? She was 48 years old, frumpy, single, kept a cat named Pebbles and worked pe...

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Weekender: Friday, May 22, 2009 - 16

Susan Boyle: fairy tale or parable? She was 48 years old, frumpy, single, kept a cat named Pebbles and worked periodically as a church secretary. By her own admission she had never been kissed. She ticked most of the boxes for what our culture calls sad or irrelevant, even loser: no husband, no job, nothing much to recommend her in looks. When she walked on the stage it was difficult to tell which of these attributes caused the most laughter or rolling of eyes. But then, as a contestant on the television program Britain Has Talent, she opened her mouth and sang. And my, could she sing. In a flash the audience turned from jeering to cheering, and Susan Boyle lived out the song she was singing, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables. And of course, she won that evening’s competition. Since then there have been over 100 million visits to the YouTube site where her performance and the judges’ comments and reactions are replayed. She has been interviewed on Oprah; from her small house in HOMEMADE PRODUCTS. Showcasing his line of Lilibird products is owner Steen Jensen at his new store Lilibird on a small Scottish village she spoke Ontario Street. The shop features Godiva chocolates, eclectic decor, a great selection of candies for the sweet tooth and about her mother’s death and dealnovelty gift items. Shoppers were out and about on Saturday discovering the neat boutiques and shops in downtown ing with her own learning disability by singing. Being interviewed by Bracebridge. (Photo by Bev McMullen) Oprah Winfrey, can there be a better indication of approval or relevancy? You can call what has happened to Susan Boyle a Cinderella story — a talent and beauty hidden from the world, a woman reduced and somewhat ridiculed, who comes into a glorious moment of recognition and conquest. You can call it the story of an underdog. A person no one believed could accomplish very much goes out and, defying all odds, does something remarkable and exceptional. Clearly, whatever you call it, on that stage in front of a worldwide audience she triumphed over the expectations. I think the interest in her and her achievement fuels our love of second-chance stories. For me, it is a parable for our times.

THINKING IT OVER Johanne Hills Very often, when Jesus was asked a question, he would not give a direct answer; instead he would tell a story that left his listeners with the responsibility of reaching their own conclusions. Sometimes the stories forced them to look at themselves in a new way. Sometimes Jesus seemed to want them to re-examine their presumptions about life. Susan Boyle presents a parable that Jesus would have approved of (if he got to it before Oprah). What do we really value? Why has this story generated so much interest? In her performance, in the moments between the jeering and the astonished applause, two things stand revealed: the beauty of her voice, and the shallow and superficial way the audience had judged her. In her story we are given a chance to see beyond the surface to the gift and heart of another; and not after they have defied our expectations, but in their initial presentation. Maybe this story reaches the deepest hope of all of us that someone will see beyond and behind the face we present to the world, and recognize us as worthwhile, lovable and gifted. One of the things that first drew me to this story was the unspoken implication that like her appearance, her deep religious faith sidelined her as irrelevant. To some she may be a woman whose talent was hidden, until it was recognized by the Britain Has Talent show. Here is where the parable kicks in — maybe she always knew that she was of infinite value and deeply loved. A gift from that very faith for which she was overlooked.

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