Archive for July, 2015

July 24, 2015

Hatebusters' Stories

Rabbi Ben Ezra, Don Quixote and Jean Valjean

Godon Clinard, Gary Phelps and Pedalin’ Prof

from William Jewell College

by Ed Chasteen

I’m a teenager in 1950’s Huntsville, Texas. It’s the last night: one of the many two week revivals that come through our town and those nearby. I’m here in all most every night. This preacher tells mesmerizing stories. Tonight he leaves. I have yet to speak to him. Now I must.

“Where did you learn all those amazing stories?” I ask.

“Son, I didn’t learn ’em. I lived ’em.”

Now, as I shortly turn 80 in 2015’s Liberty, Missouri, I’ve lived my own. I came to this town straight from grad school when I was 29 to join the faculty of our local college. I live with the only wife I’ve ever had in the only house we’ve ever owned. Our three children graduated for our college. One…

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July 24, 2015

Rabbi Ben Ezra, Don Quixote and Jean Valjean

Gordon Clinard, Gary Phelps and Pedalin’ Prof

from William Jewell College

by Ed Chasteen

I’m a teenager in 1950’s Huntsville, Texas. It’s the last night: one of the many two week revivals that come through our town and those nearby. I’m here in all most every night. This preacher tells mesmerizing stories. Tonight he leaves. I have yet to speak to him. Now I must.

“Where did you learn all those amazing stories?” I ask.

“Son, I didn’t learn ’em. I lived ’em.”

Now, as I shortly turn 80 in 2015’s Liberty, Missouri, I’ve lived my own. I came to this town straight from grad school when I was 29 to join the faculty of our local college. I live with the only wife I’ve ever had in the only house we’ve ever owned. Our three children graduated for our college. One now teaches here. The other two are staff members at nearby community colleges.

Professor William Yeats introduces me to Rabbi Ben Ezra. I’m a 19 year old sophomore in our local college. I graduated a year earlier from Huntsville High School. Two weeks later I walk across town and enroll for summer school at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College. Now in my second year at the college, I sign up for Professor Yeats Elizabethan Poetry and hear Rabbi Ben Ezra say: “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.” He says more. Only this sticks with me. But these word play on a continuous loop in the deep recesses of my brain where other unconscious treasures reside. Without my willing recall, even against my occasional efforts to suppress, these treasures form a bedrock that will not let me sink. When years later I am told that I must live with a chronic crippling illness and depression comes, Rabbi Ben Ezra reassures me.

I have never read Miguel Cervantes’s two volume Don Quixote. But when I saw Man of LaMancha, Dale Wasserman’s stage play, depicting both the real life of the author and his fictitious knight, I was mesmerized. “Facts are the enemy of truth.” “Too much sanity may be madness, and the greatest madness of all may be to see life as it is, and not as it should be.”

When his friends say to him,”Wickedness wears thick armor,” Don Quixote replies: “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.”

Early in Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote meets a serving wench he mistakes for a princess in a roadside hovel he thinks is a castle. He calls her “My Lady” and asks her name. She says she is no lady. “My name is Aldonza.” Don Quixote protests and calls her Dulcinea.

Several times in the story he comes again to this place and meets this woman, treating her as a lady and calling her Dulcinea. She protests. Near the end of the story, this woman hears that Don Quixote is dying in a distant place. She goes there. Finds him delirious. “My Lord,” she says. “Who is it?” He asks. “You called me by name and changed my life,” she says. “My name is Dulcinea.”

She now sees herself as he has seen her all the time. No better way of explaining how HateBusters see the world could I ever imagine.

Neither have I read Les Miserables Victor Hugo’s monumental depiction of the French revolution. But I’ve seen the play several times and two movie versions. I bought the sound track from the London performance. As the story begins, Jean Valjean is released from 18 years in prison, sentenced for stealing bread to feed his family, and forced henceforth to wear an emblem of his prison time, meaning that no one will hire him. A priest takes pity and invites Valjean for a meal and lodging. When the priest is asleep, ValJean steals silver candlesticks.

Days later Valjean is caught and taken to face the priest. When the priest verifies the theft, Valjean knows he will be returned to prison for life. He is resigned to his fate. But something else happens, the reason for which Valjean never will know, but a thing that will set him free and make him rich. The priest says to the policeman, “This man did not steal. I gave him these candlesticks, and I meant to give him still more.” He does so.

Years later when Valjean is owner of a factory and mayor of his town, he hears that Valjean has been arrested and is being returned to prison. They have the wrong man. No one will be looking for him any longer. He thinks of the priest. And he cannot let an innocent man suffer in his place. So Valjean goes to court and identifies himself. He is arrested. He escapes, but again is a fugitive, his money and position gone.

That unmerited good favor, that grace, bestowed by the priest upon Valjean has far reaching consequences. Valjean is now on the run from the law in 1780’s France, the revolution is underway. Valjean befriends the young revolutionaries. At the barricades one day, Valjean spots Javert, the prison official who has sworn to apprehend him. Javet is a spy. He has infiltrated the revolution. When Valjean exposes Javert, those in charge turn Javert over to Valjean. Javert is resigned to his fate. He will be killed. This man, Valjean, is evil. Javert has devoted his life to his capture and return to prison.

Even though he knows that Javert will forever pursue him, ValJjean sets him free. And the foundation of Javert’s life shatters. This man he has sworn to punish, this man with every reason to kill him, has spared his life. He has been wrong to pursue this good man. And he cannot live with that knowledge. Javert leaps into the river. Valjean is free.

Gordon Clinard comes to pastor Huntsville’s First Baptist Church when I’m in high school. Without raising his voice or gesturing with his hands, Brother Clinard lifts us all above and beyond ourselves. How we can all love each other and why we should: the message that morning brings heaven into the room and will go with us into our town. So I tell myself.

As I walk up the aisle toward the door, a deacon stands to either side. From that day until the day I die, their names and faces will be etched in my brain. The words I hear them say blink on and off inside me like neon in the night and make me sad. One says, “If them niggers try to come in this church, I’ll beat ’em back with a baseball bat.” The other says, “Me, too.”

If not in our town, at least in our church heaven seems close. After another year of hearing Brother Clinard twice every Sunday and once every Wednesday evening, I cannot resist. As he concludes his sermon and issues an invitation one Sunday morning, I walk down the aisle to take his hand and tell him I’m surrendering to preach.

Soon after, the seminary from which Brother Clinard graduated comes calling. His reputation as a preacher has brought them. They want him to return to campus and teach aspiring preachers. He feels the call and plans to return. Then one Sunday afternoon just as church members are sitting down to dinner in their homes, fire sirens sound. Word soon spreads that the Baptist Church is on fire. A crowd quickly gathers. The church is gutted. Only the shell is left.

Brother Clinard does not leave. For the next year, my church meets in my school. Our school auditorium becomes our church sanctuary. The lectern becomes the pulpit. Secular classrooms during the week become sacred on Sunday. Through it all, Brother Clinard keeps us together. Then when we are back in our church, Brother Clinard answers the call. None of us wanted our building to burn. All of us are grateful for the added year of Brother Clinard’s presence with us.

After teaching at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth for a while, Dr. Clinard was made Billy Graham Professor of Preaching at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He would come now and then to visit Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, not far from where I now lived in Liberty. I would meet him for lunch, and I would feel the urge again to say what I never worked up the courage to say.

After a short time at Southern, Brother Clinard’s heart began to fail. He returned to Texas to take a less visible and less stressful teaching position. Returning home one day to his wife, Christine, his car was struck by a drunk driver, and Brother Clinard was called to his eternal home. And I cried. My last chance was gone to tell him this: “That Sunday in church when I told you I was surrendering to preach. I should have said,’I want to be just like you’.”

That is exactly the way my life has gone. After he left our church in Huntsville as pastor, Dr. Clinard became a professor. I pastored two small Texas churches while in college, long enough to know that this work was not for me. So instead of pastor of a Baptist Church, I became a professor at a Baptist College. Brother Clinard taught theology. I taught sociology.

I joined the faculty of William Jewell College the year I got my PhD. And here I met Gary Phelps. Gary Phelps belonged to William Jewell College in the same way many of us belong to a church or a political party. From that day in the late 1960s when he came as a student, Gary was committed to William Jewell as a way of life. Here on this campus, as Gary has told countless prospective students and visiting parents over these many years, “I learned to think, to write and to care. Bob Trotter taught me to think. Marilyn Walker taught me to write. Ed Chasteen taught me to care.”

I remember the day in the early ‘70s when Gary appeared one day on campus after being away at graduate school. His face aglow with pure pleasure, like a small boy who has found his most desired treasure beneath the Christmas tree, Gary breathlessly explained to me that he was coming back as a member of the staff.

“I never recovered from your Race Relations class,” Gary would say to me in our early years as colleagues. The Black Student Association on our campus was born from Gary’s heart and mind. The 1960s had been a tense time in racial terms. Gary cared about justice issues. He resolved that on his watch, our campus would be a place where all students felt safe and valued and at home.

Gary had a house in the town, but more likely than not on any day of the week or hour of the day or night you would find him in his office in the Union or about somewhere on the campus dealing with a crisis. When pagers came available, Gary got one and widely distributed his number. He never wanted to be more than a few minutes away from any student or staff who might need him.

We would have tarried longer that day in 2001 had we known we would never meet again. I had rushed to Gary’s office to make final plans with him for our Human Family Reunion to be held in a few days in the Union. Gary had been at our first Human Family Reunion held beneath the trees on the president’s lawn in 1976. He worked the crowd, explaining to each and all how glad William Jewell was to host this good event.

When in later years we would hold our Human Family Reunions in other parts of Greater Kansas City, Gary’s duties on campus would often prevent his attendance. Always, though, he would send greetings and tell me that he was with us in spirit. That last morning, Gary’s parting words to me: “I would like to host the Human Family Reunion at William Jewell every year. Our students need to be a part.”

“Way to go, Gary. I like the way you think.” I didn’t know these would be my last words to Gary. I would have said more. How much I loved him. What a good man he was. How valuable he was to William Jewell. I had said, “Way to go,” to Gary many times for many different reason over many years. I hope he understood my verbal shorthand as the blanket endorsement of his person and his profession.

Gary told me that last morning together that President Sallee had to be out of town on the day of our Reunion, so Gary would bring greetings from the college. People of all colors, creeds and colors come. Who is right is the wrong question this night. Once we have become friends, we can handle such a question. Gary loved the ambiance of the evening when all these good folks come to campus. He was making big plans to make everyone welcome.

We agreed that I would call Gary the next Monday morning to touch base and make final plans. As I am about to call, my phone rings. Judy Rychlewski says, “Ed, it breaks my heart to tell you this, but Gary died this morning. He was in the cafeteria when he collapsed. We called an ambulance, but they couldn’t revive him.”

Hours pass before I can trust myself to speak. My heart is breaking. I can muster no enthusiasm for our Reunion without Gary. I think of calling it off. Then it comes to me that Gary would not want to be the reason we have no Reunion. So in a few days, Tuesday, April 17 2001, at 6:30 in the evening, we all gather in the east cafeteria of the Union for THE GARY PHELPS MEMORIAL HUMAN FAMILY REUNION.

We meet in the very building where a few days before, Gary died. How I wish Gary had not left us so early. How happy I am that he chose to live and work among us. How fitting that he died early on a Monday morning having breakfast with students and staff and preparing for a new week. How privileged we all were to have Gary Phelps in our lives. He came as a student to learn from us. He stayed to become our teacher and our friend. He left us quickly and suddenly, with good memories and great stories to tell.

Way to go, Gary

From Rabbi Ben Ezra, Don Quixote, Jean ValJean, Gordon Clinard and Gary Phelps, I had come to believe that inside every person burns a spark of goodness and genius. I’m 50 years old when I think of a way to test my belief. I get on a bicycle in Orlando, Florida. I’m alone. I have no money. I pedal north and west to Seattle, then south to Anaheim. Every time I need to eat or rest for the night, I say to the first person I meet: “Hello, my name is Ed Chasteen. I’m ridin’ across the country. By myself. With no money. I need (a sandwich, a bed for the night, some water, whatever my exact need at that moment). Can you help me?”

In the 105 days it takes me to reach Anaheim, I ask more than 500 people to help me. No one says no. I’m never hungry. I always have a place to sleep. I carry no map. I ask in each town how to get to the next.

I find the goodness and genius I expected. When I get to Disneyland, Disney holds a parade just for me. Mickey Mouse gives me a trophy, a foot-tall replica of himself on a four inch high wooden base, fronted with a brass plate and this inscription.

HONORING

ED CHASTEEN

THE

“PEDALIN’ PROF” FROM WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE

FOR

HIS COURAGEOUS BIKE RIDE ACROSS AMERICA

DISNEYLAND COMMENDS ED FOR HIS FIGHT AGAINST

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND FOR HIS FAITH IN PEOPLE

OF ALL RACES AND CREEDS

To passing motorists and those in towns I ride through on my bicycle, I appear to be alone. So to the unaided eye does the earth seem flat. But as surely as the earth in fact is round, so on my bicycle are six riders.

July 20, 2015

The Road Not Taken

Saturday, July 18, 2015

by Ed Chasteen

Roxanne’s in Platte City for breakfast this morning. Six point seven flat miles up Interurban Road and left on to HH for another hilly 7.5 should put us there an hour past our 7:30 start time in Ferellview. Coming as we always do by bicycle, our appetites are razor sharp. For food. And fellowship.

This ride was scheduled back in March, published April 1st on Biscari Brothers Bicycles web site. Then came that massive earthquake in Nepal. The Hindu Temple in Shawnee, Kansas, the Nepalese Association in Kansas City, Everest Outreach, in Nepal and the United States, Second Baptist Church, William Jewell College and Biscari Brothers Bicycles, all three in Liberty, came together to support, Walk, Run, Bike, Swim to Nepal.

On the morning of June 20 at the bicycle shop and the college track folks gathered to walk, run and pedal, beginning the 7,711.82 mile journey that will take us from Liberty, Missouri to Gorkha District near Kathmandu, Nepal, where Krishna Arrarya, founder and President of Everest Outreach, will host our virtual village in the place where he grew up and guide us in doing what we can to help and get to know the folks we meet. We traveled 1,200 miles this day and will continue until we reach Nepal.

Then back in February, Lee Minor asked me if I wanted to join Steve Kelley and him again this July to do the Cameron Triathlon: Steve to swim, me to bike, Lee to run. I said yes. Today is the day. I called Steve Hanson to tell him I couldn’t go to Roxanne’s. He will lead that ride.

The sky is ominous. Rain is falling: 5:45 in the morning. We strap my bike to Lee’s car. North on I-35. Rain lets up a few miles his side of Cameron. Then stops.

Swimmers line up at the pool for the 7 o’clock start. Thunder booms. Lightning flashes. A half-hour delay is announced. More rumbling. Roiling black clouds. Rain pelts. The event is canceled.

I figured we would have 15 today to ride 30 miles round trip to Roxanne’s, giving us 450 combined miles. Steve would swim four laps. I would ride eight miles. Lee would run two. And Natalie is here to do the complete triathlon. Natalie Braden is one of our regular Saturday riders. Together, the four of us would have swum eight laps, biked 16 miles and run four. Added to the 5,003 miles we already have, our total after today would have been 5,469 miles and eight more laps.

The storm kept us off the road and out of the water. We got no closer to Nepal. But Lee and I followed Steve through the downpour to the same restaurant we went to last year. We were a few hours earlier, but we got the same table.

Back in Liberty, I call Steve. The ride to Roxanne’s was also washed out.

July 12, 2015

Walk, Run, Bike, Swim to Nepal

2015 by Ed Chasteen

Saturday, June 20

7:30 a.m. 20 bike riders gather at Biscari Brother Bicycles, bound for Lawson and back before noon, when we will meet our companions at William Jewell College. On the college track, they have been walking and running since 9 o’clock. Together we will have traveled 1,200 of the 7,711.82 miles that lie between Liberty, Missouri, our town in the heart of America and Ghyachowk, the town in Nepal near the epicenter of the April earthquake that destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Once there we will settle in to stay a while, meet the folks who live there and get to know one another as we figure out how we can help each other. Their being physically present and our being virtually so, might, in times past, have hindered us. But cyberspace, in all its magical manifestations, brings all places on the planet close.

Two or three of us who walk, run or bike today were born in Nepal. A few have traveled and worked there, and with a few others, will soon go again. Most of us have never been and will never go. But our hearts, minds and souls are almost there. For the next several weeks as we walk, run and bike, we draw closer in heart, mind and soul, and when we have gone the distance and are fully there, both they who live physically there and we who are virtually there will be joined in heart, mind and soul. The lives of all of us will be enriched.

Wednesday, June 24

8 a.m. I’m sitting at the first table inside the door. Norma is at table two. We’re at Ginger Sue’s, “Where Friends Come To Eat”. Countless times over several years the two of us have come to breakfast in this good place just a half block off our town square. Norma is a nurse at Liberty Hospital. I’m telling Norma about our walk, run and bike to Nepal. “I’m a swimmer.” She says. Hey, there’s a lot of water between here and Nepal,” I say. “We’ll add swimming.”

Saturday, June 27

7:30 a.m. We call ourselves The Greater Liberty Riders. Every Saturday of the year for the past 14 years we’ve been riding to breakfast in another small town some 15 to 25 miles away. Beginning last Saturday on June 20, and continuing until we have gone the distance, we will multiply our number of riders by the miles to breakfast. To the miles we cumulatively ride, we will add the miles others walk, run and swim. When all together we have traveled 7,711.82 miles, we will settle into our virtual village just beside the good folks who live in Ghyachowk.

This Saturday 20 of us rode to Smithville for breakfast at Dotson’s, giving us a combined round trip distance of 1,000 miles this day.

Our journey to Nepal is supported and encouraged by (in alphabetical order): Biscari Brothers Bicycles, Center for Justice and Sustainability of William Jewell College, Everest Outreach, Greater Liberty Riders, HateBusters, Inc., Hindu Temple of Shawnee, Kansas, Nepalese Association of Kansas City, Second Baptist Church of Liberty, Missouri.

Saturday, July 4

Our Saturday riders today joined hundreds of other riders in the yearly FREEDOM RIDE, to benefit cancer. Rides of various distance were available: 17 of our Greater Liberty Riders rode an average of 75 miles each, for a total of 1,275 miles.

http://www.everestoutreach.org

Riders every Saturday may go online to record their miles. Anyone anywhere in the world is welcome to run, walk, bike or swim as many miles as you wish. To record your miles go to http://www.everestoutreach.org

When we are in Ghyachowk and settled into our virtual village, we will post our stories of the folks we meet and the work we do on HateBusters blog

Saturday, July 11

No rain. Finally. And 28 of us gather at the bike shop, bound for Kearney and breakfast at the VFW. Several riders will ride more than the 30 mile round trip, and I ask them all to go online to record their distance. But counting only the 30 miles for each of the 27 riders puts us 810 miles closer to Ghyachowk

Riders today: Adrian Munoz, Godfrey Duru, Graham Houston, David Evans, Jason Swan, David Wood, Craig Clark, David Berneking, Ed Piepergerdes, Tom Rains, Deb Cavart, Madison Cavart, Terry Clark, Bernd Abele, Mike Lacy, Mark Maston, Scott Hensley, Terry Hensley, Steve Hanson, Bret Prater, Bill Niffen, Bill Hessel, Mike Wesley, Greg Snodgrass, Mike Nason, Richard Woodruff, Ed Chasteen

Date                                         Number of bikers                                         Miles biked

Saturday, June 20                             20                                                             1000

Saturday, June 27                             20                                                             1000

Saturday, July 4                                 17                                                             1,275

Saturday, July 11                                 27                                                               810

Total to Date                                                                                                         4,085

Miles to Go                 7,711.82-4,085= 3,626.82

This total does not include the miles that folks walk, run and swim, nor the miles that individual riders log. At this rate we will arrive in Ghyachowk before the month is over.

July 5, 2015

Virtually to Rayvillle. . . and Nepal

Friday, July 3, 2015

by Ed Chasteen

Approaching Rayville on hwy C from Richmond, the sign says 197. Coming from Lawson on Y that sign claims 211 folks live here. Out and about on my bicycle over the years, I’ve seen both signs many times. On this July third, though, I’m some sixty miles from this place and not thinking at all about it. Then, right behind me, I hear someone ask, “Are you Ed?”

It’s nearing HIGH NOON. For the first time in weeks, rain is not falling, the sky is not threatening, and I’ve escaped my indoor bike. I’m four miles past Missouri City on 210 when my inquisitor appears. He and I pull our bikes to a stop where hwy N runs north toward Excelsior Springs. He will take that road toward his home after we stand for a few minutes on 210’s shoulder to learn about one another.

“My name is Mark Bickford. I’m pastor of the Christian Church in Rayville.” He says. Now, Dear Reader, you know why this story starts as it does. Hearing Mark mention Rayville, I am in my mind instantly there. I see those population signs. I smell the cookies at the Rayville Bakery. I hear owners Debbie and Cliff Vantill, and Brian, their son. I’m saddened by the boarded up businesses along meandering hwy C that passes through town and serves as the lone main street.

The passing 18-wheelers carrying goods from Kansas City this morning to small towns along hwy 210 see two bikers standing alongside the road and cannot know that virtually they are in another place not far away, but soon to be in yet another place a great distance from here.

Mark mentions two other bikers he knows: Ed Piepergerdes and Ray Allen. I know them too. Mark rides the MS-150 most years. So do I.

“Mark, a bunch of us ride to breakfast every Saturday. From the bike shop in Liberty to a town some 15 to 25 miles away. We ride all year. Come join us.

“And on Saturday, June 20 we joined with Second Baptist Church in Liberty, the Hindu Temple in Shawnee, Kansas, William Jewell College and Biscari Brothers Bicycles, both in Liberty, the Nepalese Association in Kansas City and Everest Outreach in Nepal. Our purpose is to help survivors of the Nepal earthquake that struck them in April this year. We call our project: Walk, Run, Bike Swim to Nepal. And when we have traveled the 7,711.82 miles from here to there, we will stay there for a while to form a virtual village so we can get to know the folks who live there and find way we can help each other.

“We have since June 20 traveled by these various means some 2,600 miles. We will continue until we are there in Nepal. Our virtual village will be near Ghyachowk, the small village that was at the epicenter of the earthquake.

“I’m asking anyone who walks, runs, bikes or swims at anytime and in anyplace until we have gone 7,711.82 miles to please go to this website to record your distance:

http://www.everestoutreach.org

“Walleye or catfish,” Hailee’s question to me half an hour later when I come to Orrick, am seated at Fubbler’s and order a fish sandwich. The place is packed. Fubblers fish special every Friday always draws a crowd.