The Rev. Peter Gomes, of Plymouth, 1942 – 2011 (Old Colony Memorial, 3/12/11)

“Hell is being defined by your circumstances, and believing that definition.” – Rev. Peter Gomes, a man certainly not defined by his circumstances.

The OCM asked this week that the Jam Session writers recall a memory of the late Rev. Peter Gomes, preacher from Plymouth, spiritual leader at Harvard, and best-selling author of books like “The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus” (interviewed about it here on the Colbert Report). Despite my relative lack of age compared with the man, I do in fact have my own personal Peter Gomes story (it seems everyone in Plymouth does, which is a testament to the man). The subject wasn’t really befitting a cartoon, so I decided to just try my best at a likeness of Rev. Gomes in tribute. Being my own biggest critic, I won’t speak for the artwork itself, because if you think it’s good I don’t want to change that…

Since I didn’t express it in my drawing this week, here’s my Peter Gomes story. It’s brief, but it meant a lot to me and my friend/business partner Scott McEwen:

In late August 2009, Scott and I, as Brewster Productions, provided sound production for the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s 90th anniversary function at the Hedge House. The night would eventually take a bad turn when I had my new laptop stolen, but before that happened, we had quite the cool experience. Peter Gomes spoke at the podium, with his legendary urbane tone, and regaled the audience with stories of Rose T. Briggs, one of the storied founders of the PAS. He spoke, everyone laughed and had a great time. I had heard of the Reverend before, and actually saw him on the Colbert Report about a year earlier, but I hadn’t met him. So after the event was over and we were cleaning up, Scott and I went up to meet him. In our hands, we had that day’s copy of the Old Colony Memorial, which happened to feature on its front cover a story about Peter Gomes, and a story about little old Brewster Productions and our free concerts. So, being the 22 year-olds we were, we thanked him for the talk, and asked him to autograph our copy of the OCM that we shared the front page of.  Then he said roughly, “Ohh you’re Brewster Productions! I’ve been following you boys. You’re doing very good work, keep working hard at it.” We were stunned by that one, but we spoke for another minute or two then bid him good night.

We couldn’t believe that this man, who has said the prayers at presidential inaugruations, and had tea with the Queen of England, was following what we were doing in Plymouth. A few 20-something kids doing free concerts was of some concern to such a widely known and respected person. That was one of our big personal and business inspirational moments. And that paper has been framed and hanging up ever since.

If you need a broader perspective on the man that was Rev. Peter Gomes, read his LA Times obituary (yes, he has an LA Times obituary):

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