Peter Gomes is an American Baptist minister who has served in The Memorial Church at Harvard University since 1970. Gomes is also the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and is the Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church. Gomes is commonly regarded as one of the most distinguished preachers in America. He was named Clergy of the Year in 1998 by Religion in American Life and offered prayers in the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Educated at Bates College and the Harvard Divinity School, Revered Gomes alsoholds thirty-six honorary degrees. He is the author of numerous books on the Bible, including the national best-sellers TheGood Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Sermons:Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living.
Question: What advice do you have for today’s youth?
Peter Gomes: Well one of the things that I find that I have to say to young people – which is a strange sort of conundrum – is I have to tell them that they are of value. They suffer not from high self-esteem. They suffer, by and large, from low self-esteem. They tend to believe they are the result of this materialistic, mendacious culture. When I am sitting down with young couples who are getting married, I always ask them, “Would you like your marriage to resemble that of your parents?” Invariably they say, “No. Thank you very much. I love my parents. Presumably they love each other, but we hope for something better than this.” So there is a sense that they recognize the limitations of the world in which they are. They tend to over-emphasize their own limitations. And part of my job is to say, “You can aspire to be more than the sum total of your parts. There’s more to you than just a brain, or just a body, or a set of marketable skills.” And I find, rather than trying to deflate their ego, part of my job is to try to raise it up so that they can understand that they are, in the biblical phrase, “created a little lower than the angels”, having been given great power to represent God and … the world. That we are images made in God’s image. That there are great things that we can be, and do, and aspire to – that they should do that, especially those who are going to raise families. If you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your children for heaven’s sakes! Let them blossom and flourish.
Recorded on: 6/12/07