Oh, happy joy! The New York Times just published Charles Isherwood’s deliciously patronizing review of High School Musical’s stage incarnation comparing the High School Musical craze to a new religion—”a significant philosophical evolution of the Greasian liturgy.”

New religions do not arise every day, so serious note should be taken when a belief moves from cult status to bona fide faith. Recently a nascent creed has stolen the hearts and minds of thousands of young Americans. Its key tenets include the idea that everyone gets along really well in high school, and thus that being a teenager is super fun. The name of this new religion is “High School Musical.”

I’m a sucker for the closing, especially.

Whether this accords with current reality in American high schools I cannot say, and frankly doubt. But religious devotion is not really about encountering the harsh truths of the world, but about seeking some solace for them and finding the inspiration to change them. On that score, call me a skeptical believer in “High School Musical” and its power to improve the world. “We’re all in this together,” the chorus of the show’s climactic anthem, is probably as profound and morally instructive as most religious precepts. So, go Wildcats! Yay, theater!

While we’re on the subject, if anyone is interested in a good musical that deals with the teenage years in a manner both entertaining and smart and meaningful and musically interesting, they should check out the Broadway-bound musical Thirteen (no relation to the film of the same name) by the brilliant composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown. Not to be off-topic, the musical has some great jokes at the expense of the religious right, and Jason’s other works include a stirring song about his own experience as a nonbeliever watching the faithful praise the Lord, called “Music of Heaven.” Great stuff. And now, back to your regularly scheduled mockery of the faithful.