Archive for April, 2015

My Mother’s Faith

April 27, 2015

My Mother’s Faith

2015 by Ed Chasteen

If my mother had belonged to another Christian denomination or been of some other faith, I would be another person today. I know this. And this knowledge leads me to a sympathy for and acceptance of all those other folks like me. We all find meaning in the faith we follow. The teachers and preachers I listened to in the church my mother took me to live in my memory and in my attitudes toward the world. They make me want to be a World Class Person at the Human Family Reunion.

I came into this world knowing nobody, and the purpose of my earthly existance I have come to know is to meet every person I can and expect to like every person I meet. Finding a friend of another faith deepens faith and elevates friendship. Will Rogers is remembered for saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I wonder if Will would have said, “I never liked a man I didn’t meet.” Maybe. Meeting someone of another faith and becoming a friend of that person offers entry into a dimension of life available no other way.

I invite you to come with me as we find friends of other faiths.To begin our journey, I suggest seven conversations using a set of seven questions I have prepared. The conversations may all be by phone, though I hope at least one might be in person. Hearing the voice of the other person is crucial; seeing the other person is important.

If you are intrigued by this idea of inter-faith friendship, just email me at hatebuster@aol.com.

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Seven Sets of Questions

April 1, 2015

I’m bringing folks from five churches to Table of Faiths on Tuesday, April 21, as the first step in a larger purpose I have. I want to pair up folks of different faiths to have seven conversations over a seven week period using the seven sets of questions I will provide. Then each person will write the biography of the other from what they have learned. When all is done, we will hold a Human Family Reunion and each person will be inducted into The Order of World Class Persons.

BECOMING A WORLD CLASS PERSON

An Invitation to Seven Conversations

from

Ed Chasteen, PhD

The Pedalin’ Prof from William Jewell College

and

Ambassador from Second Baptist Church

to Other Communities of Faith

Text and Talk

Our focus is not on books and printed words but on individual persons and their spoken words. I ask only that you read one little book, just 144 pages. The book is called How To Like People Who Are not Like You. A reviewer called this book “profoundly simple and simply profound, a formula for building human beings.” I wrote the book. Each of you who signs up for these seven conversations will get a free online copy.

Our moving closer to World Class Person is built around the seven conversations we will have with the person we are becoming, using the seven sets of questions listed below. After each conversation, you will email to your person and to me the words you have written describing the words your person spoke to you. At the end of week #7 you will email to your person their biography as they have told it to you. You will ask for their approval. When you have it, you will email the completed biography to me.

When our spoken journey ends after seven weeks, we will gather at William Jewell College for a Human Family Reunion. We will all meet each other and each of us will be recognized as a World Class Person.

Questions to ask the person you are becoming

You may hold these conversations in person or by phone. I ask that you talk to one another one to one, with no other person taking part. I hope you can arrange at least one conversation in person, just the two of you. I ask that you read How To Like People Who Are not Like You as background and mind set. An E-copy of the book will be sent at no charge to everyone who joins in these conversations.

1st. Conversation

Name of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters.

Where do they all live now?

Where did you grow up?

Where did you go to school?

What are some of your earliest memories?

What was it like growing up?

2nd Conversation

How would you describe your family?

What is the role of the husband and father?

What is the role of the wife and mother?

What do you like to eat?

What is your very favorite food?

What kind of jobs have you had?

What is your present occupation?

3rd Conversation

What is your religious faith?

What religious organizations do you belong to?

How often do you participate in activities with these organizations?

Could you tell me what you believe about how your faith relates to other faiths?

Is your faith related in any way to the food you eat?

How important to you is your faith?

4th Conversation

How do you think the different religions and races in America relate to each other?

How do you think they should relate to each other?

What are the important days in the year to you?

How do you celebrate the important days in your life?

How would you describe the way you live your life?

5th Conversation

What are the important books and other writings that have shaped your life?

What do you hope will happen in your private life over the next three years?

What do you think will happen in the world in the next three years?

What would you say is your greatest fear?

What would you say is your greatest joy?

6th Conversation

How would you describe America?

What do you think America’s role in the world should be?

How would you like to be remembered?

7th Conversation

What does your faith teach about how we should live our lives?

What does your faith teach about life after death?

Where our minds and hearts have come

Thank you for letting me live as you for these weeks. This is your life as you have told it to me. Each week for seven weeks you have told me about your life and I have emailed you what I wrote. Now that our class is ending and I have completed your biography and emailed it to you, would you pleae make any corrections and/or additions and give me your permission to email your authorized biography to Ed, our conductor. Then at our Human Family Reunion you and I will meet and both be inducted into the Order of World Class Person.

We human beings are gregarious creatures, meaning that we need to be with other people. We join others in social, civic, religious, political, athletic, artistic, hobby and other groups too numerous and varied to number. We spend time, talent, energy and money in their name. So engrossed in our groups can we become that we come to think that those who are not members with us are bad people. Mutual distrust and suspicion arise between groups, giving rise to chronic tension and causing the smallest misunderstanding to be life threatening.

What the world needs now is a group of people rooted in their own small groups but equipped also with wings, allowing them flight all over the world as invited guests among those whose only shared membership is human being. Such persons we dub World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. None of us ever get completely there. But some move so far in that direction that slower ones look to them for direction.

Together for these seven weeks we have been traveling closer to that time nnd place where we can go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. We are becoming World Class Persons. Responsible now for leading others.

Week #1 Why Bother?

Being reborn

Finding the person you will become

Answers to seek

Week #2 Learning to Like Myself

Seven things to believe

Seven things to think about

Seven things to do

Week #3 Learning to Like People Like Me

Seven things to believe

Seven things to think about

Seven things to do

Week #4 Learning to Like People not Like Me

Seven things to believe

Seven things to think about

Seven things to do

Week #5 Becoming a World Class Person

What is a World Class Person?

What do I give up?

What do I gain?

Week #6 Writing the autobiography of my assumed identity

Visiting with my person

Hearing my person

Approval by my person

Week #7 Planning for the Human Family Reunion

Thinking of everybody’s favorite food

Eat first Ask later

Who’s right is the wrong question

Signing up for these Conversations

To participate in these seven conversations send an email to me at hatebuster@aol.com. In no more than 150 words tell me why you want to take part, what you hope to learn and the difference you think it might make in your life. Everyone who wants to listen will be accepted.

Those who hold the seven conversations and proceed as described below will achieve the distinction of World Class Person and will be inducted into the Order of World Class Person at our Human Family Reunion to be held at the Community Center in our town called Liberty.

A Message To My Students

from Ed Chasteen

This is what I said to my class at William Jewell College as we neared the end of our time together in a class much like this. Reading it will help you understand who I am and where I hope to lead us.

Class, I believe that each of you has a spark of genius. I seek to ignite that spark and start a fire. A fire that might warm a cold-hearted world. A fire that might light the way. A fire that draws people out of the dark.

My fictional hero is Don Quixote. Don Quixote says, “Too much sanity may be madness. And the greatest madness of all may be to see the world as it is. And not as it should be.” I see the world as it should be. It should be a place where all people are friends. A place where all people feel safe. If the fact the world is not this way causes me to abandon my vision of a better world, then the bad guys have won already. Evil in the world is all the more reason to want to be a World Class Person, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

Don Quixote’s friends think he is crazy. They tell him, “Wickedness wears thick armor.” He responds, “And for that you would have me surrender? Nay, the enchanter may confuse the outcome ten thousand times. Still must a man arise and again do battle. For the effort is sublime.” Indeed it is. It’s an effort I must make.

Nightly news and morning headlines that assault my sense of peace and justice goad me to greater effort. If the barbarians are to win, it will not be because I surrendered. I will not become like them in a misguided effort to defeat them. If I am to defeat them, it will be because I took the high road.

Early in Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote comes to an old house beside a dusty road. He thinks he has come to a castle. Inside he meets the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. He falls to his knees. “What is your name, my lady?” He asks. “Off your knees, you fool. My name is Aldonza. And I’m no lady.”

Indeed she is not. This house is a place where mule drivers come for the night. To rest and eat and be entertained. Aldonza waits on them by day. And by night. She is no lady.

“No, my lady, your name is not Aldonza. Your name is Dulcinea.” Don Quixote says. She curses him and throws a dirty dishrag at him. He takes it as a token of her affection. He leaves.

Several times in the story he comes back. Every time he calls her Dulcinea and treats her as a lady. Every time she is angry and unkind to him. Near the end of the story, Don Quixote is dying, delirious and distant from this place. She hears about his condition. She goes to find him. She forces her way into his room. She takes his hand. “My lord,” she says. “Who is it?” He asks. “Why you know who I am. You called me by name and changed my life.” “No, my lady, who is it?” He asks. And she says, “My name is. . . . Dulcinea.” She now sees herself as he has seen her all the time.

And that’s the way I see the world. I will call it Dulcinea until one of two things happens. Either it becomes what I have always seen it to be. Or it does me in. I will always expect to find friends wherever I go. I will always look for that spark of goodness and genius I see in all people. Nothing will ever persuade me that my dream is impossible.

So, dear students, I have invited my friends into our classroom this semester to visit with us about their childhoods and their faith: Assembly of God, Baha’is, Baptists, Buddhists, Catholics, Church of Christ Scientists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, NAINs, Native-Americans, Pagans, Presbyterians, Sikhs, Sufis, Unitarian Universalists, Unitys, Vedantas, Zoroastrians. All of these dear folks live just a few minutes by car from our campus. They are all Americans. They are our neighbors. We all endorse one another. We all share a spiritual quest. By knowing one another and becoming friends, we all become our best selves and most surely find our individual and common purpose.

I long for all of you to become World Class Persons. You have trusted me to lead you in this way. We have completed much of our work together and done it well. In just two weeks comes our Human Family Reunion. All of our classroom visitors will return for a final time with us. Each of you will present to the class a 10-minute version of the autobiography you have prepared as the classroom visitor whose identity you assumed.

As a class our work has been superb. You have done everything I asked of you with enthusiasm, energy, clear thinking, good effort, great reporting. Individually and together, we have gone beyond ourselves. With a ways yet to go and work still to do, we are all on track for the best possible grade. I will not hesitate even for an instant to award A’s to the entire class. Please give me that opportunity by giving me your all during this month of April as we plan and hold our Human Family Reunion, visit our person’s home and place of worship, present our autobiographies and write our final essay.

I will not teach you again. I will remember you and the wondrous things we did together. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. So do you. Up the road—sometime, somewhere—we may meet again on our journey to World Class Personhood.

I hope so.

Your friend and teacher

Ed