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Stephen Boos: Secular controversy better choice for PVPA

To the editor:

I’m intrigued by the furor over the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School’s production of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.”

As an agnostic and a nonChristian, I would still acknowledge that the play verges on blasphemy. Not because is portrays gay Adam and Steve, and lesbian Jane and Mabel, but because it questions the basis of all faith systems and the need for faith in magical things altogether. I say “verges on blasphemy” because the play leaves the final word on the place of religion in society to the viewer. If doubt is blasphemy, then this is blasphemy. If doubt is simply the chance to believe, then it is not.

The idea that the play is anti-Christian, however, is poorly founded. Though there is a hint of the Christmas story, the biblical parody in the play is largely Old Testament. This portion of the Bible is shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The play is potentially equally offensive to each of these three religions, and to all religions which espouse an orthodoxy.

Ultimately, however, I am not concerned by either blasphemy or the parody of religion. Free speech needs to be protected, and the waning power of one religion to dominate public discourse needs to be accepted with grace. What still bothers me, though, is that this was the project of a public high school. I find a dialogue between adults on questions of faith highly desirable, but activities which may undermine faith at a vulnerable time unacceptable. I find the risk that a child might lose their faith, a faith that I don’t share, unacceptable.

The play was entertaining, and thought-provoking. I congratulate the students and staff for the production and their poise in the face of protest. In the future, however, perhaps the school ought to stick to secular topics when wading into controversy.

Stephen Boos

Northampton

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