GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 6, 2013

Letter: Column rang of harsh fundamentalism


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I’m writing in response to the “Midweek Musings” column (the Times, Wednesday, Muly 3) by the Rev. Patrick Slyman.

I’m not writing to defend Mayor Kirk. She is an honorable person, a good neighbor, and a dedicated public servant. Her positive contributions to the City of Gloucester and its citizens are too numerous to elucidate here. Her character and accomplishments require no defense from me.

Nor do I wish to engage the very Reverend Slyman in a debate about the accuracy or usefulness of the writings found in the Bible. Experience has shown that zealots are rarely swayed by reason, and, in fact, often become harder in their positions when engaged in healthy discourse.

Instead, I would pose to the very Reverend Slyman one simple question: How do you presume to know the mind of God?

I suppose your answer would be that you have studied ancient writings in great detail, and therefore you are an expert on what this super being is thinking right now, at this very moment. Or perhaps God speaks to you directly, in dreams or visions. If that be the case, you are indeed a remarkable man who possesses both extraordinary spiritual gifts and privileged access to the highest level of supreme cosmic power.

When I read your “Midweek Musings,” aside from being struck by the chilling irony of the word “musings” (is this what you “muse” about on a beautiful summer’s day?), your tone, and even your very words, seemed oddly familiar.

I’ve heard them before. But where? Then it struck me: I’ve heard such words from the leaders of the Taliban. I’ve heard such words spoken from fundamentalist pulpits in Tehran and Baghdad. I’ve heard such words from those who insist upon the infallibility of the Koran.

How ironic, then, that as we celebrate our national independence, and when our brave soldiers are fighting the forces of religious extremism, that in our own community we hear echoes of the very same irrational intolerance?

In closing, all I can say is that maintaining the good character of my own soul is enough of a job for me.

While I don’t have the time or the energy to seek out and expose presumed spiritual and moral defects in others, I’m not going to let pure hate speech pass unchallenged.

THOMAS HAUCK

Gloucester