"Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant. Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert. It is dangerous, especially in America, because it is anti-democratic and is suspicious of 'the other,' in whatever form that 'other' might appear. To maintain itself, fundamentalism must always define 'the other' as deviant," - the late and great Peter Gomes.

That these hunters of deviants claim to follow a man who told the parable of the good Samaritan is all you need to know. But Peter was also a very very funny man. Readers relay some of his quips:

That voice! My son told me that Gomes was once asked why he spoke like that, having been raised in Plymouth. The response was, as only Gomes could pronounce it, with a wry smile "Puuuure affectation." And this: a common quote of his to students at commencement that I can't seem to find the original source of: "Upon concluding four years of study at this fine institution, most of you have surely learned that here at Harvard, it's not who you know that matters. It's whom."


I regret not attending Mem Church much when I attended Harvard, and blame my youth – typically recovering Sunday mornings from some late Saturday binge (whether academic or alcoholic). A good friend sang in the University Choir, however, so I made it to Easter services a couple of times. He had a powerful way with words. When I returned for my 25th reunion in 2005, Rev. Gomes was recuperating on the Cape, and sent a letter to be read to the class in his absence. I’ll never forget his intro – “I am now the age you thought I was when you were undergraduates.”

My reflections here.

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