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Eulogy for a Friend


Eulogy for a Friend

Chris Hedges

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.


Chris, in your writings I'm often reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He comes to mind again. Thanks for the memories.


Your friend was lucky to have you as a friend. A very moving and humerous eulogy.


I think I've never read/heard a more beautiful eulogy! I can only hope and pray that I have a friend who loves me, as you have loved Terry, Chris! My world has been enriched by your writing, your passion, and your love for your fellow human beings!


Thank you, Chris. Even as you remember your friend, you carry his spirit forward. In reading about him, we are inspired to live with kindness and courage. May his spirit live on.


There are those who seek to impose their beliefs on others and with them are those who will object to any other belief except their own and attempt to censor opposing views. In progressive circles there is a de facto censorship about the role that religion (any religion) plays in progressive work and its motivation.

This eulogy is a prayer of thanksgiving for a very decent and holy man. Am I allowed to say that on CD? I know that he was holier than me which isn't saying much I know but it counts in my book. Recently I have been attacked and attempts have been made to censor me because I spoke of similar things as does Chris (though clearly less eloquently or so effectively) in response to another commenter who expressed certain religious views that I took issue with. Like debating any political issue more or less that gets brought up on CD.

To say God bless the fire fighters evoked an attack. To say thank you to someone else for expressing similar religious sentiments for the fire fighters out west that had died also evoked an attack. I don't get it. What a person can't even say that their prayers are with the fire fighters struggling out there?

Militant atheism seeks to censor any and all belief which is unfortunate because the greater majority of progressive efforts, civil rights work, women's rights, gay rights (gay priests, ministers, rabbis and others being an example) are by religious minded people.

Militant atheism is in fact bigoted and attempts to lump every form of belief as if they were rightwingnut fundamentalist at root. Like racists, bigots and biased people of all description, militant atheists have decided that freedom of religion is no longer a person's right at least here on CD (actually elsewhere too in progressive circles).

Militant atheism insists on projecting the idea that all faith is fundamentalist fanaticism and should be censored. We all know the litany of extremists in religion and outside of it. What is amazing to me is that militant atheists even gave me grief when I criticized someone who expressed their belief in the fundamentalist concept of the 'end is near' etc.. I attempted to show that person that global warming was man made and not God's punishment for a sinful world (next time I'm going to agree with their assessment but say that God is punishing the world because people kept voting republican and look how that turned out!).

My Point is that even when progressives or the religious left disagree with the religious right that militant atheists want to censor both as if there were no religious left at all It is as if a progressive mentions God that instantly turns them into a rightwingnut fanatic!

I think this eulogy by Chris says it best what it means to be a progressive religious person. I would now like to create a mass movement consisting of myself to protest religious discrimination among CD's commenting community of community commentators... um... oh, what the hell... you know what I mean!

Don't bust my chops because I'll bust yours. Freedom of religion is a right even among the left. If you are worried about fundies ...trust me, they implode reading our stuff. It is like a bug repellent for fundamentalism. No one is saying miliant atheists or hedge their bets agnostics (heh heh) or members of Heretics and Proud (meetings on monday...it was the only religious day open.... Fri., Sat., and Sun went for the big three. Buddhists had no attachment to any day and ... btw... them pesky pagans got a lot of days for some reason. - Tiu's day, Woden's day and Thor's day (who has his own comic book too!...um ... nevermind).

In any case ...

Free the progressive religious left!!!

And remember St. Martin Luther King and St. Phillip Berrigan ... hey... you got your religion and I got mine or not as the case may be ...but be cool and don't bust chops!


Im with you on this one flea. I made the mistake of posting a comment that I would "say a prayer" for someone on this forum. Predictable attacks followed. God help you (pun intended) if you say the smallest thing about faith (Particularly Christianity). You risk being called a moron, a fascist, an idiot, a believer in "some guy in the sky" blah blah blah. There is nothing Progressive about that attitude and sheer rudeness. Chris is an atheist (I think) but he could show respect for his friend and his faith.

Personally, I don't care you are a religious person or an atheist. Just don't be an asshole....:)


That is a very progressive attitude and one that I agree with completely. Respecting others and our bill of rights is what it is all about..


A beautiful eulogy and a testament to the best of Christianity. I am an agnostic but I try not to judge others by what they believe but by what they do and by the price they’re willing to pay confronting evil. Chris Hedges and his late friend the Rev. Burke stand as examples to everyone regardless of religion or politics.

“The highest morality is the morality of kindness. It is higher than a morality based on principles, doctrines or creeds. It is one person reaching out because another is alone, in despair or in distress. Nothing is nobler than a life dedicated to caring for others. And kindness, as Rousseau wrote, is the single quality that makes possible all other ‘social virtues.”’

The Dalai Lama said, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

The worst acts are often perpetrated by those who are convinced that they are right. To not proceed from kindness is to risk proceeding into hypocrisy, corruption and cruelty.

When I was young I was angry at injustice and ignorance. As I aged I saw it more and more as disease. I have not squandered my life “chasing wealth, power or fame.” I chose a career in the health field with the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp. that provides care to all irregardless of ability to pay. i have also stood with the oppressed at countless demonstrations and actions throughout my life. I wish I had done more but at least I did something.

Very few can rise to the level of commitment of a Hedges or his friend Rev. Burke. But if more could be inspired by the committed to do just something than a better, I would hope socialist, world where none are oppressed and all are cared for could finally come about.


Our worth is measured by caring

Not currency


My condolence for your loss of your friend. Thank you for telling us all about him.


Chris Hedges says in his last paragraph that he believes: "The light of goodness and justice that Terry passed to you, to all of us, will be lit again and again through acts of kindness, especially to those deemed unworthy of kindness. It will continue to multiply and ripple across the landscape. This light has a name. It is love. It never dies. The capacity to love this deeply, the capacity to know that love calls us to take upon the suffering of others, is what made your father a great, great man. **It is why I believe in God. It is why I believe in the resurrection. It is why I will always carry your father within me."


There are some things we don't agree on, but i will say "Amen! to "Free the progressive religious left!!!"


Chris contradicts himself, first mentioning a life of faith and then acknowledging that kindness unconnected to any creed is the highest morality. That "highest morality" that is not mandated by a God is of course the central teaching of the Buddha, an atheist. Why defile every act of kindness by saying I do this because God wants me to? A life of kindness is the best life, but it is defiled if it is lived with a hope of a reward and a fear of eternal punishment. I strongly suspect that Terry was a thinking man and thus an atheist who understood and appreciated the symbolism of Christianity without buying into the psychological terrorism upon which it is based.


Thank you,Wereflea, for bringing up the anti-faith bias of progressives. There are truly many prejudices that separate those of us who are lefties. I guess one can never be pure enough to please others on this site. I too have been excoriated here, not only for my faith, but also for mentioning that I was a Scoutmaster and a blackbelt and teacher of tae kwon do. The thread tying all these and my teaching career together is the desire to help others. Not bragging, just saying. All politics is local as they say, and what is more local than the real-world communities in which we live and work?

I love Chris Hedges' writings. I still haven't finished "War is a Force..." because to me it is like reading the Bible, I read several pages and then need to stop and reflect on that before I can go back for more. At this rate it will take me the rest of my life to get through his many wonderful books, but that's ok.

Since March I have lost a step-brother, two high school classmates, and a wonderful friend who was only allowed by law to marry her lover one year ago. Yesterday a good friend told me he has kidney cancer, so it's been a rough patch trying to sort it all out. It's no wonder I see this eulogy is a masterpiece, and that brought me to tears. Thank you, Chris Hedges.


I am sorry for your loss friend and wish you and yours the best. I am an old progressive in more ways than one. I respect others beliefs and while I took issue with a poster for his 'the end is near'/ end of days comment ( i pointed out that global warming is man made not God's punishment), I thanked him and others for their blessings for the fire fighters and their sadness over the death of the three in Washington. Another poster got abusive about the mention of prayers or something and stupidly became insulting and abusive. I kind of lost it after the three fire fighters died. I had fought forest fires in Washington State decades ago and I saw nothing wrong with decent people expressing their condolences or saying a prayer for them etc. It is called respect.

Unfortunately this person is one of those who think they are right and never question what they do, so he didn't stop. One too many schoolyard insults and I got in touch with my inner grump. Meanwhile CD put up an article about the three Plowshares activists who have spent more than two years in jail for peaceful non violent civil disobedience. I couldn't help compare their courage with this loudmouthed boob who thinks progressives should not have their beliefs. He thinks everybody is a rightwing fundamentalist trying to convert everybody. I realized that progressives were being bullied by religious belief in reverse. I looked at the photo of the three activists and I wish I had their courage and I know from personal experience with many religious progressives that nobody goes around trying to convert other people. We are a multi-faith any and all faiths form of worshipping.

But most of all I thought about just how much actual progressive work is done by progressive religious folk. My mentor was a married priest Benedictine monk, alongside him I have met and known gay priests and women 'priests', women rabbis, gay rabbis and so forth. We are not fundamentalists nor intolerant. In fact tolerance is the biggest portion of social interaction. I thought of Rev. Martin Luther King as a minister. Not just a civil rights leader but as a minister who was a civil rights leader. I thought of the nuns who were murdered in Central America and the liberation theologists, Archbishop Romero, the Berrigans and Sister Elizabeth McAlister (who to this day refers to God as she and holds to a non sexist scripture). People of faith are a huge part of the progressive movement and in all honesty probably the biggest part as a matter of fact.

I don't hold with going around trying to convert everyone to anything including atheism. Atheists forget that they have become something which could be called >>> That Old Time Atheism version of That Old Time Religion. They think the same as do the fundies they excoriate. Progressives respect other people's beliefs or non belief as the case may be. We don't try to impose our view on others. Conversely that doesn't mean that they shouldn't mention who they are or their beliefs, just not try to impose them. This twit tries to impose his idea of what CD's commenting community should be like and I don't want his intolerance to hold the day. He is wrong and biased. It is about mutual respect and he offered none. Look at the sheer number of religious folks and the awesome things they do and they deserve respect for the beliefs that cause them to do what they do. That 80 year old nun going to jail for over two years for civil disobedience... has earned all our respect.