'Altar Boyz' deliberately mischaracterizes Christianity

The Oregon Cabaret Theater's production of Altar Boyz presents a creative and energetic view of modern Christianity. It takes place in the pleasant setting in the hills above Ashland, and could, if it were directed differently, perhaps be enjoyable. But Altar Boyz has a problem.

The problem is that the OCT advertises the play as a "sincere" Christian production, which, for at least two reasons, it absolutely is not.

First, Altar Boyz thumbs its nose at the church by suggesting a theatrical and fake core in the heart of the believer. In the story, the band urges the audience to accept Christ, but nowhere are sound reasons given. Rather, the five boys giddily defer to the abilities of the "Sony Soul Saver," a digital device with the ability to "sense" the presence of unsaved souls. As the Altar Boyz gyrate around the stage singing about nothing but rather attempting to be cute, souls of the audience supposedly come to Christ. It is the perfect postmodern caricature of the faith: bereft of content and unashamedly reliant on gimmicks.

Second, the play is even more anti-Christian in its use of homosexual innuendo.

In a scene depicting how the band originally formed, the character Mark (the "sensitive one") makes a long, tongue-wagging pass at his bandmate Matthew.

In another scene, the song, "God Put the Rhythm in Me" degenerates into the musical mantra "God put it in me.' In this scene the young men protrude their backsides toward one another, thrust their pelvises in response, and repeat "God put it in me" repeatedly.

Essentially, the play is wrong in its premises, which are that Christianity is superficial and welcomes any lifestyle. The reverse is true.

Christianity is the only consistent way I've found to meet man's deepest needs; but in order for the Christian worldview to be any good, it must make demands. One of those demands is that men not love men sexually.

The director is lost on this point. He must believe there are no demands because the stuff of faith is unknown, and the god who we worship is just one narrative among many. No wonder he sees faith as superficial.

One qualification. I do not wish to silence the playwright nor the director. They have the right to say what they wish.

But they don't have the intellectual right to advertise Altar Boyz as "sincerely" Christian, or "fiercely" on the side of true faith.

Oregon Cabaret's advertisements make these claims. So, either people at the Cabaret are lying, or they are inept.

It speaks to the religious illiteracy of our age when a performance such as this can pass as Christian and the public says so little about it.

Aaron Beitler

Littleton, Colo.

Powerful 'Taking Sides' is a must for fans of history and good acting

I have recently attended the Ashland Community Theater production of "Taking Sides" at the Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland.

This proved to be the most powerful and well-acted play that I have seen over the last 20 years in Ashland.

It portrays postwar Germany's occupation-administration and de-Nazification policies as executed by the Allied Control Council.

It focuses on the examination and harassment of Berlin Philharmonic conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, who, in fact, had saved the lives of many Jews, and whose life was ruined by these proceedings.

This play is a must for the serious student of history and those who love great acting.

Dr. Robert T. Harrison

Department of History

Southern Oregon University