Dictionaries define a parable as a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson and as a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like. The play you are soon bearing witness to is in its whole just that; a lesson we all need to revisit. This is a small play in pages, but a leviathan in meaning and message. While there are stories within the larger story here, the messages are clear, urgent, and in some measure, painful. Our play is set in a Catholic school, in 1964, in The Bronx, New York at a time when challenges to norms were building. The Second Ecumenical Council of The Vatican (Vatican II) sought, among many things, to start a dialogue with the contemporary world. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution further headed America to war in Vietnam. Technologies awoke and Hippies along with them. In other words, the most dreaded of all human challenges was coming inexorably ahead in the form of Change.
As we all know today, the Catholic Church faced its own worldwide crisis with the evolving revelation in allegations and proof of wide spread pederasty in the priesthood. I do not believe this play has much, if anything, to do with that issue. That matter does, however, provide the perfect vehicle to drive two greater and more urgent moral messages home to us in the current times. This play must make us more mindful of what we are losing today with the erosion moral of principles designed to protect us from ourselves. As examples, in the Christian faith we call it gossip, in Judaism we call it lashon-hara or improper speech, in the Doctrine of Islam we call it backbiting and in all three we are taught these things are “unlawful” and punishable moral failings. Where is the punishment today for posting a hurtful comment in Facebook® , or a damaging personal photo on Instagram®, or a mindless personal assault on Twitter®. We seem to know there are consequences for crying “Fire!”in a crowded theater in the absence of fire. Who is teaching us today the principles of moral conscience. Fewer folks are learning these early enough to matter, and punishments are those we cannot see. Improper speech, or the spreading of rumor if you like, hurts the speaker as much or more than those about whom it is spoken. You will live that truth from beginning to end in this play.
When a word or sound leaves your lips it can never be returned. Most of us do not have the resources to completely remove the satins of social media damage. We must live with it. This brings us to another theme for you to ponder and that is the ineluctable bond holding Faith and Doubt together. They seem antithetical, but one cannot be without the presence of the other. Doubt appears positively many time in all the doctrines cited above. The strength of our faith is founded on the doubt that made it so. Crises of conscience are the stuff of our humanity. Unavoidably so. There is a “bright line” in our humanity and I believe we all know when we are stepping over it. It is that instant flash of regret we may feel when we speak ill of others and the sleep lost to finding a way to undo our wrong, and the desire to cross the street away from those we to whom we have been unkind. Let each of us ask whether the brightness of that line is still strong enough to warn us away or whether it has faded to the point we can no longer see it or no longer care. We hope you find some meaning in this performance that will brighten that line for you.