On Wednesday, Chris Hedges delivered this eulogy at the funeral of his friend and former divinity school classmate the Rev. Terry Burke, who spent 31 years as the pastor of the First Church Jamaica Plain, a Unitarian Universalist church in a working-class neighborhood of Boston. The service was held at the church.
The night Terry died it was raining. Lightning streaks rent the sky. I walked after I left the hospital in the downpour to Harvard Divinity School on Francis Avenue. I did not go there because of nostalgia for the divinity school. Terry and I had more than enough of Harvard’s elitism—which he had already got a good taste of as a Harvard undergraduate—and the university’s propensity to turn the poor and the oppressed into airy abstractions. Most divinity students and nearly all divinity school professors stayed clear from the inner city of Roxbury [a poor, primarily African-American neighborhood in Boston], where Terry and I lived and worked. Being an intellectual, Harvard showed us, is morally neutral.