A street preacher who comes without fail to Harvard Square every Saturday night to embarass himself and his associates. His preferred location is the sidewalk at the intersection of Mass Ave and JFK St., right next to the MBTA elevator. He's a fair-sized white man in his 50s who wears a red baseball cap which reads "Jesus Saves". He carries a bible, from which he reads (randomly chosen, for all anyone can tell) passages in a hoarse, loud, and not very sincere voice. And NOBODY listens to him except for the faithful opposition, a crowd of pagans, goths, and Satanists who have nothing better to with their Saturday nights than to circle around the Screaming Preacher and shout their latest inane taunts and (not very) clever rebuttals of Christianity. He is their entertainment, and they are his. If you try to engage him logically, you will find that he soon resorts to simple denials of anything beyond his beliefs and attempts to ignore you. His associates try to bring the argument to a personal level, but are also soon driven to repetition of dogma. His crew is a constant source of Jack Chick-style pamplets, fun for the pit rats to set fire to if nothing else. Favorite quotes include "Open your bibles, you heathens!" (inevitable response: "Heathens don't have bibles, moron!") and "Listen friends, God's got your email address!"

He's a Crazy old guy who shouts Bible passages, and he's the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Dorchester. He's a fairly standard street preacher except for his sheer vigor and persistence. Heckling him is (or used to be; if he's gone, the world is the poorer) the standard warmup activity for the night's Harvard Square Rocky patrons. Heckling the preacher has a substantial and varied subculture associated with it:

  • There is a bearded guy with horns on his head who is always very vocal among the hecklers, barking like a dog in the preacher's face when he reaches a climax: he is rumored to be the preacher's son.
  • Young Christians in the crowd sometimes get up the wherewithal to counter-heckle (or even offer reasoned response, of all things).
  • Quieter evangelists work the crowd, either keeping people back from the main man or wandering around back handing pamphlets to the people who are gawking in horror at the intensity of the hecklers.
  • This guy is a protestant, as most evangelicals are, but there is also a substantial Catholic pamphleteer contingent. Sometimes they will stand near the outside of the crowd, quietly talking to those bored or disgusted with the heckling.
  • Sometimes atheists, Satanists, and other opposing pamphleteers will hang out on the edges as well. For some reason they rarely get involved in the heckling.
  • Students live in the apartments just above street level; sometimes they will put signs or computers in the window making fun of the preacher (e.g., "Worship Satan": rarely very creative, but fun nonetheless).

Except for the tourists who just don't get it, I think a good time is being had by all; after all, they come back night after night, taking the same positions, and nobody gets hurt. It's like some sort of verbal hockey, or spontaneous cooperative performance art.

The preacher is one of many Boston-area fixtures that need noding. Also worth mentioning are Arthur the Great, naval-themed subway keyboardist, the tricycle guy (who makes deliveries around the city on a great big red tricycle whooping a warning at the top of his lungs), and the T DJ of Freezepop fame.

avalyn reminded me of his name, which led me to the name of his church.

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