Saturday, March 21, 2009

Banning Picasso at the Lapin Agile part 17...taking a breath

Spring break has arrived, and not one day too soon. Yesterday, I was visited by Tim Gerda, the local pastor of the Church of the Nazarene who appeared on the radio with me a couple of days ago. He said that if he was going to be involved in a controversy with someone he wanted to know who the person was. I give him credit for that.

We had an amiable conversation, and one in which he strove, it seemed to me, to back away from the perception he left on the radio that he would like to co-direct the play. I appreciated that as well though I pointed out to him that his effort to cancel the play more or less made his offer, genuine or in jest, a moot point.

Like I said, our conversation was amiable and civil, but there comes a point always in conversations like these where if one is going to get anywhere, one has to stake out a claim about where and how things went awry. It's fashionable perhaps to chalk everything up to differences of opinion and simply shrug, but I'm not in the mood these days for that sort of thing. I'm certainly not in the mood to apologize for what we're trying to do.

So I asked him point blank why he felt that the educational values and aspirations of the people who support the play project were illegitimate. He protested that he did not think that way at all. I countered that the proof in this case was fairly easy to obtain, namely, that he and the rest had forced the cancellation of play.

Paraphrasing here, I said that we feel the play has educational merit; you don't. What do you do? You force cancellation of the project on the grounds that it is inappropriate and immoral. The inference I make is that our educational values are, in this case, illegitimate.

I give the pastor credit for pausing at this juncture of the conversation instead of responding reflexively. He did not offer a riposte; rather, he seemed to weight both the words and the circumstances. In the end he said that he would think about what I'd said. I told him that that was more than I had come to expect from most people lately, and I thanked him. Before he left, I ventured one more thing. I asked him if he was coming to the play. He said probably not. I appealed to him to change his mind and to give my cast the opportunity to capture his respect for their work. He said he'd think about it.

I'm glad he dropped by. I don't need a villain out there to prop up my own belief in the value of what I'm doing. This project can and ought to stand on its own merits. As John Milton put it in his defense of Truth and free speech in his pamphlet Areopagitica in 1644:
Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?

One more thing. I'm taking a break from blogging for a few days. Gonna hang with my family and play outside, let the elements take a turn at ruffling my feathers. I don't intend to blog agtain until the end of the week. To those readers who've lately come to Free Hand, it was exciting having you along for awhile. You really boosted my numbers (whatever that means). If you're still around when I get back, we can pick up where we left off. If not, it was fun while it lasted.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for Mr. Gerda, and I hope he considers your offer. Now open that door and let the ruffling begin. Have more fun than you can stand, lovely little family.

Gr K

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Spring Break, Dad! It's been a wild ride so far, and a rest is well deserved. Hope you got my postcards from my spring break a couple of weeks ago. Love and hugs to all of you~ ♥Erin

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, you made very good points in your conversation... let's hope you were able to pry the door of common sense open just a little bit with him. Enjoy your break, will look forward to more of your blogging when you get back.

John A. Nelson

9:16 AM  
Blogger cynseattle said...

Hi Kevin,
I'm not sure we ever met...I graduated from LHS in '76, and had Billie Wright as my English teacher the entire 3 years I was there. But I know of you from her, and now from this epic! Congrats on your cogent and compelling responses and retelling of this experience. As someone who left La Grande and, after college and grad school, has spent over 25 years in the professional theater, it warms my heart to see you making your stand! I know from my time in town that the high school fills a role there that schools in larger towns can't: it is a cultural center for the entire community. The idea that it will be "overseen" by some kind of taste or moral barometer committee is absolutely appalling. The entire town should be, frankly, standing up to that plan with as loud a protest as possible. Enjoy your well-deserved break!

Cynthia Fuhrman
Portland Center Stage

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy your break KC, I'll be looking forward to your future posts. Good thoughtful writing is always worth waiting for.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Been following your situation with great interest. This is a very well done blog.

Yikes... I don't think I would be well liked in La Grande!

I hope you are enjoying your break!

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had just been telling a friend about the saga and relayed my thoughts about how some these folks wishing to enforce their church doctrine on the town at large should spend time tending their own flock. I spent enough time with a particular church youth group via my high school girl friend to know how likely it was that these shepherds were trying to close the barn door after the lambs were well into the garden. Would you like to guess which church she went to? I'm sure he wasn't the pastor at the time, but the irony was too good not to share.

6:18 PM  
Blogger sporter said...

As a librarian, I am professionally and personally passionately committed to the advancement of intellectual freedom. I have not weighed in on this issue because I have not read the play. It is at Pierce Library, ready for me to pick up today, so I will read it and then form a personal and professional opinion. I just wish everyone who has had soooo much to say, would read it before proffering an uninformed opinion. A work of art is that in its entirety.

I also find it puzzling that "An Inconvenient Truth" (Oscar-winning documentary) was scuttled from Health classrooms this year and not one word was uttered from the public about that. There was only one parent complaint about that title. Mixed messages abound.

2:49 PM  

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