Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Themes of "Doubt"

For Mother's Day, Mowgli and Boo gave me a ticket to the Tony-award-winning play "Doubt," (C was out of luck and had to buy his own ticket). Wasn't that just a perfect gift on so many levels? We went Thursday night and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The play begins with Father Flynn's admissions of spiritual and existential doubt, met with the deep disapproval of Sister Aloysius whose certainty about life is formidable. However, when Sister Aloysius' certainty extends to her unsubstantiated belief that Father Flynn is abusing a boy in the rectory, we are unsure of her motivations and are uncomfortable with her lack of evidence. However, Father Flynn's protestations are weak and unconvincing and we are never sure of what to believe. When Sister Aloysius finally lies to force Father Flynn's confession (or was it a confession? We're never quite sure), she must face her own doubt--in a system that doesn't seem to want to know the truth and in the purity of her own heart.
After the play was over, the playwright-in-residence and a local Catholic priest led a discussion of the play's themes with the audience. What intrigued me most was that the original playwright wrote in his introduction to the play that he was writing not only about the scandal in the Catholic Church but also about the prelude to the Iraq War. (The play was written in 2003).
As you know, the themes of doubt, faith, and certainty are torturous and tricky for me so I could go on forever about what the play stirred up in me. I'll spare you that, though, and go straight to a corollary experience I had recently on the grand jury. I was listening to the interview of a suspect by a police detective and finding the suspect's story plausible and believable . . . right up until the moment that the detective asked one seemingly innocuous question and the entire story fell apart right before our eyes, revealing the truth. I am, it seems, both doubtful and gullible all at the same time!

1 comment:

Electric Monk said...

I find myself in similar situations, wondering if I'm too easily swayed by other's accounts or whether I'm too staunch and stubborn in my own beliefs. Finding the balance between open-mindedness and healthy skepticism is tough!