Friday, May 23, 2008


“Insist upon yourself. Be original.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Jesus statue project was primarily conceived by Helms, who asked Olivetti to help out. Helms, 18, says he was connecting to themes in the play, "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail," which was on the AP course reading list. The play examines, among other things, the 19th century writer Henry David Thoreau's act of civil disobedience in refusing to pay taxes to the U.S. government while it waged what he viewed as an immoral war in Mexico.

Thoreau was trying to point out hypocrisy by the U.S. government, Helms said, and the student in turn wanted to point out what he views as hypocrisy at Mount Abraham with regard to the constitutional separation of church and state.

The school asks students to say the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and has a permanent mural displaying Apollo, an ancient Greek God, Helms said. Yet it wouldn't allow him to display the Jesus statue. "My thesis was that the government and the administration of our school is often hypocritical in what they allow and what they do not allow."


  1. The pieces of this just don't seem to fit together somehow. Maybe it was the claim that a play about Thoreau's civil disobedience sparked the idea of putting a 2-foot Jesus in a school hallway. Maybe it was the way that the students said they wanted to see what response they'd get and then griped when they got one. Maybe it was the reference to Apollo as a religious icon equivalent to Jesus, as if worship of the ancient Greek pantheon was a live religion. I don't know.

    But I just can't shake the feeling that this had nothing to do with freedom of speech but rather either with resentment that public schools are secular or a desire to strike a defiant pose and therefore look major cool.

  2. Right, probably it's your last idea: trying to be "Cool dudes." And maybe the local paper is trying to make it more than it is? As they tend to sensationalise news.


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