In the Fall of 1991, I met many colorful characters at Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a result, I return there quite regularly, hoping to recapture the magic of those days. One character sticks out in my mind. However, I never got his name. I simply call him the Angry Bible Thumper. Every Saturday night, he would convene just outside the Harvard Red Line T Stop, across from the Harvard Coop, and start to preach at precisely 8 o’clock PM. In addition, he would have several of his deacon warriors repeat his phrases in cadence, in hopes that it would enervate the crowd.
Whatever he did to prepare for his preaching was beyond me. He would get so whipped up in the moment while speaking, that he would jump up and down, with spittle coming out of the corners of his mouth. He gesticulated wildly, and would make violent gestures toward the general crowd. In addition, he would verbally lambaste the crowd by chiding them with the phrase “Open your bibles, you heathen!” He also had a case of the crazy-eyes. For all intents and purposes, he spoke as a man possessed of a spirit. Oddly, after his diatribe completed, he would put on his jacket, place his hat on his head, and hand out literature to any and all takers.
Throughout his professing, he would be derided by non-believers. Atheists, skeptics, and general naysayers threw their proverbial hats into the ring to contest this man’s faith. In addition, they would leer, mock, and get intimidatingly close in hopes of riling him up even more.
In retrospect, it seems that they needed each other. They validated his energy because they embodied the worst of what he had come to expect. Conversely, he validated their energy, because he embodied the worst of what they had come to expect.
The only certainty I derived, was that I enjoyed seeing the human tragedy play out among these characters, and that I enjoyed the theater of crazy. Especially, when someone jumps up and down, with spittle coming out of their mouth, all while saying “Open your bibles, you heathen!”