New Broadway Play About Hero Who Is Religious!

Townhall | Dennis Prager | Mar. 31, 2009

It is rare to see a play on Broadway that is preoccupied with goodness. It is even more rare to see Broadway play extol the goodness of a religious person. When was the last Broadway show about a Christian hero? In this upside-down age that is hypersensitive to any criticism, no matter how fair, of any aspect of Islam but which regularly depicts many American Christians as buffoons and quasi-fascists, one can only hope that this play has a long run. Likewise, in an age when art increasingly celebrates the ugly and the bad, one can only hope that a million young people see a play that celebrates the goodness that God-based morality can produce.


The older I get, the less I find evil interesting and the more I find goodness interesting. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is great goodness, not great evil, that needs to be explained. In fact, given the ubiquity of gratuitous cruelty and other expressions of evil — and the apparent ease with which many ordinary people can be transformed into monsters — evil may be more explicable than goodness.

Given all this, one would therefore assume that there would be many studies of goodness and of good people. Yet, there are probably 100 books, studies, and articles about evil for every book, study, or article about goodness. This emanates in large measure from the modern, i.e., post-religious, belief (“faith” would be a better word) that people are born good. Consequently, it is evil that is deemed aberrant and therefore needs to be explained, not good, which is deemed normal and therefore needs little explanation.

Just as studies of goodness are deemed less interesting than studies of evil, portrayals of goodness are deemed less interesting than portrayals of evil. Again, the ratio is probably at least a 100-to-1.

Yet, true stories of goodness, well told, are the greatest stories. While stories of evil have the benefit of sensationalism and appeal to voyeurism, stories of goodness uplift, inspire, make us cry, give us hope, provide real models to emulate, and ultimately may even make us a little better.

One problem, however, is that it is much easier to depict evil in a riveting manner than to so depict goodness. Stephen Spielberg achieved the latter in Schindler’s List, but that was the exception that proves the rule. Now, however, another exception has come along. Playwright Dan Gordon and director Michael Parva have made goodness riveting in the new Broadway play, “Irena’s Vow.”

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2 thoughts on “New Broadway Play About Hero Who Is Religious!”

  1. It may be a play about a hero, but the attitude taken by Mr. Prage, many of the commentators on his site and possibly the playwrite really misses the point of faith IMO. They are all talking about faith as an exercise in an external morality. The hero in this case has to make a decision on which piece of the legalistic morality to follow.

    That is simply exercising our fallen choices and really has little to do with goodness in a Christian sense. I wonder if people who are not already aware of the Chrisitan paradigm of sacrifice of self so that others might live will get anything out of it other than a brief emotional twinge?

  2. Dennis Prager got this one very wrong. This story is about a very modern idea of heroism and self-sacrifice, not a Christian one. This is not a story about the triumph of goodness. Opdyke may have saved those jews their lives but she compromised her integrity and sinned greatly against God. And because she couldn’t ever bring herself to see her culpability, she ends up leaving the Church. Christian heroism is never compromises even in the face of death. And this isn’t a choice between the lesser of two evils: let the jews be killed or prostitute yourself. In the eyes of Christian truth, the third choice is total faithfulness to God trusting that whatever comes from one’s obedience to Him will be best. This is how the saints lived and died and this is how the martyrs were killed. Opdyke’s situation was certainly extreme and dire and we can sympathize and understand her decisions but they aren’t laudable and certainly not in the domain of the heroic. This play is more of the same from the entertainment industry, not a refreshing dose of Christian or religious goodness.

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