09 March 2011

Peter J Gomes

My one and only encounter with Peter Gomes came during a three-day clergy conference at the Hotel Hershey (yes, the chocolate people) while I was canonically resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.  My response?  From that day on I knew what kind of person I wanted to be, what kind of thinker I wanted to be, what kind of preacher I wanted to be.  I had been in the presence of it.  No doubt.

That was in the late 1990s; I've made little progress.  But, Peter Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard, has remained a favorite, as well as a spark for my imagination and a measure of my integrity.

The voice, the delivery, the wit, the intellect, the passionate proclamation of truth was silenced on February 28th, from complications of a stroke Mr Gomes suffered in December of last year. 

Beyond my personal admiration of the man, I am sorry he has died.  He death has an affect on us all in a way.  Perhaps a line from a benediction he used at a Harvard graduation will help with a brief explanation.  "God grant you life until your work is done, and work until your life is over."  Peter Gomes was articulate and well-reasoned and kind (as opposed to nice -- big difference); he did not demean, undermine, cast suspicion.  He was direct; he did not stoop to inuendo. The nastiness of our public discourse -- of our discourse in general, actually -- needs the influence of people like Peter Gomes.  He left us too soon. 

He did have work until his life was over, but his work most certainly was not done.  RIP   

An Associated Press photograph borrowed from
"The Washington Post" web site, 1 March 2011

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