Archive for April, 2017

April 28, 2017

On Wanting to Be a World Class Person

2017 by Ed Chasteen

The Pedalin’ Prof from William Jewell College

If we are not to die a little bit with every headline announcing the latest inhumanity, we must resolve to make ourselves into what I call World Class Persons. By my own definition, a World Class Person is one who can go anyplace at any time and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. I must be honest with you and admit that I am not a World Class Person. I want to be. I’m making myself move in that direction. Down that road is the only place I see life.

I cannot live in a world where I fear the people I see on the street, in the paper or on my TV screen. I cannot build a fort around me to keep me safe. I’m a bridge builder. By training and by disposition. That’s who I am. And if I cannot be who I am, why do I want to live?

A bridge is of no value unless there is a road coming to it and going from it. The WCP Highway is under construction. The events on the morning of September 11, 2001 in New York City make the building of that road almost impossible. But they also make it that much more necessary.

In Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote’s friends come to him. They say to him, “Wickedness wears thick armor.” They think he is a fool. They mean to discourage him. He 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.”

The effort to become a World Class Person promises deliverance from the paralyzing fears that seize our minds and hearts and make us cruel. As we travel the WCP Highway we meet others who make the journey. And if we come upon one who has been wounded, we can be the Good Samaritan.

In biker parlance, we’re riding sweep. May peace, power, purpose and joy go with us every day and all the way. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. I will travel this day on the World Class Person Highway. I will minister to those I meet along the way whose journey has been interrupted.

I’m riding sweep.

April 21, 2017

 

Let’s Pretend

2014 by Ed Chasteen

Every Saturday morning when I was a child Let’s Pretend came over the radio and took me to live for 30 minutes with King Arthur, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and others whose names escape me but whose images live on in my life.

Every Sunday morning Mother took me as a child to Henderson Street Baptist Church where my primary and beginner teachers put up on their flannel boards big color cardboard cutouts of David, Samson and Moses and told me stories of great battles won by miraculous means against impossible odds.

Then Mother walked with me up a long graveled Alvarado Street from our home to Santa Fe School where Miss Lula Douse was my first grade teacher, as she had been for my dad. Counting to a hundred came hard for me, and Miss Douse kept me after school more than once. Miss Mary Spell and Miss Lucy Rankin came in second and third grades to usher me through the basics and prepare me for the wonders of our town’s Carnegie Library and the first two books I ever held in my hands: Wings over England and Silver Chief—Dog of the North. I read every word. And went back for more.

I walked up the aisle of our church one Sunday morning when I was 16 and told Brother Clinard, our pastor: “I’m surrendering to preach.” He, not long after, returned as Professor of Preaching to the seminary where he had been a student just before he came as pastor to our church. He and I devised a plan before he left. After I graduated from the college in my hometown, I would come to him at seminary. Together we would look for a part time job for me and I would go to seminary to become a pastor. If no job could be found, my wife would take a grade school teaching position near a university, and I would enter grad school to become a professor.

No job for me could be found near the seminary. I went to university. I became a professor. And I realized what I should have said that Sunday morning when I was 16 to my pastor. What I would have said had I seen how things actually would work out: “I want to be just like you.” At what I should have said, I succeeded. We both became professors. He at a Baptist seminary; me, at a Baptist college.

But there is a dark side to my boyhood church years. From my Baptist church back then I heard hints and sometimes outright teachings that caused me to fear and avoid Catholics and Jews. One Sunday morning this struggle between love and hate for dominance in the church was made plain to me. I got up from my pew following another elegant and eloquent sermon from Brother Clinard about loving all people. All would be heavenly in our town come Monday morning. How could it not?

My blessed assurance lasted less time than it took to walk out the church door. To either side of the door stood two deacons. As I walked between them, one said to the other, “If them niggers try to come in this church, I’ll beat ’em back with a baseball bat.” “Me, too,” said the other.

When I walked across town a few years later to enroll in our local college, I went first to the bookstore. The book that caught my eye sits now right behind me in my downstairs study in my home as I type these words to you. The Negro in America it’s called, written by Arnold Rose, Associate Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. I would learn later from reading the book that it is a condensation of Gunnar Myrdal”s two volume An American Dilemma, a classic study of American race relations. But in the moment I first saw that book, I thought of those two deacons and their hate filled response to a message of love. Maybe this book held the answer.

I took the book to the bookstore cashier. “What major is this book for?” I asked. “Sociology.” She said. “That’s my major,” said I. And I signed up a few hours later for the course in Race Relations taught from that book.

Jump now in your mind’s eye many years forward. I’m teaching Race Relations at William Jewell, a Baptist college and attending Second Baptist Church, just one long block up Franklin Street from the college. Both in a town called Liberty, Missouri. The church appoints me Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. My students at Jewell and I start HateBusters when a member of the KKK is elected to the Louisiana Legislature and the governor invites us to come help the state redeem itself.

As both Ambassador from 2BC and HateBusters leader, I have for the past several years invited folks to Table of Faiths, an annual gathering of all the faith communities in this place I call Greater Liberty and sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC).

This gathering of more than 20 faiths in one place for three hours one evening is intended to raise funds for the year-round work of the GKCIC. So HateBusters this year has bought tickets and is inviting all friends and members of 2BC and WJC to come on Tuesday, May 9, from 5:30-8-30 in the evening to Stoney Creek Hotel in Independence for Table of Faiths.

More than 50 folks have already signed up to be guests of HateBusters at Table of Faiths. We have room for more. Just email me at hatebuster@aol.com to tell me you’re coming. I’ll have your ticket for you when you arrive. You will be a guest of HateBusters at Table of Faiths. And my mind will go back over time and space to that radio when I was a child and Let’s Pretend brought King Arthur and the round table at Camelot to me. This refrain from Camelot, the musical, will play all evening on a back channel of my mind: “Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, known as Camelot.”

Maybe that’s enough. Enough to carry us over troubled waters, as between faiths we find friends. One of my dear friends, Yahya Furqan, is a Muslim imam. We travel together. Do programs together. Visit in one another’s homes. Know each others families. He says he is a better Muslim because he knows me. I say I’m a better Christian because I know him.

Yahya will be a HateBusters’ guest at Table of Faiths. Come meet him. Meet folks of all many faiths.

April 17, 2017

April 14, 2017

Our 120th Wedding Anniversary

by Ed Chasteen

The latest date ever for Easter is April 25, last occuring in 1943 and next in 2038. Easter came on April 21 in 1957, making April 19 Good Friday that year. In more ways than one. For on that day in her church, First Baptist Church, Humble, Texas, Bobbie Marion Amos became the bride of Edgar Ray Chasteen.

Both bride and groom were students at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College, little more than an hour’s drive away in Huntsville, the groom’s home town. They had met that day Bobbie came to register as a freshman. Edgar was a sophomore. He was on assignment from the Baptist Student Union (BSU) to register new Baptist students. He saw her come into the room and said to himself: “I hope she’s Baptist.”

“Are you a Baptist?” is not in any of the dating handbooks recommended as a pickup line. But 18 months later it led to marriage. Sixty years have now passed. Three children—all born on a Friday—live nearby. In the same house where they grew up that bride and groom still live and the now grown children often come from their nearby hoimes.

Every April this bride and groom celebrate their wedding twice: once on Good Friday and once on April 19. Not once since they were married has Good Friday come on April 19, meaning that bride and groom have celebrated their marriage 120 times.

April 7, 2017
HATEBUSTERS BULLETIN #1
I’d Rather Be Dead
© 1996 by Ed Chasteen
I’d rather be dead than live in a world where I can’t speak to everyone I see and go to see anyone I choose.
The founders of all the faiths taught that we all are one, members together of the human family, meant by God to commune with one another.
Some mistaken followers of all the faiths would have us believe that our faith should separate us. They say we must do certain things certain ways.But the founders of all the faiths were not so limited in their vision. The circle they drew around themselves was as big as the world.
There is deep within me a yearning to be a world class person, one who can go any place at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. I must resist all those people and powers that would restrict me to a faith, a nation, a color, a sex, an age, a particular place on the planet.
There are no boundaries on my soul. It is at home among all people. Peace, power, purpose, and joy flow thorough it in an ever deeper and wider stream of life-giving water. I know not what course others may choose, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. The liberty to move freely about the earth. The liberty to relate peacefully and productively to people of all colors, cultures, and creeds.The liberty to go where my conscience tells me I must. The liberty to live the dream of Don Quixote and King Arthur and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
I am not content to read about these noble souls.As often as I refer to them in the classes I teach, as much as I urge them upon my students as inspiration for their lives, as much as I draw upon them for guidance in my own life–still there is more I must do. I must live as they lived. I must think as they thought, teach as they taught, act as they acted.
How easy it would be to surrender our ideals.To hear them taught and preached is necessary but by no means sufficient to keep them alive. Unless ordinary people like me demonstrate their power to overcome evil, we will all sooner or later lose the little confidence in them we now have. To help prevent our long slide into the dark night of fear and ignorance and hate, I hereby offer my puny self.
Do not tell me it is hopeless. Do not caution me to lower my sights and take on a less ambitious task. Do not think that the horrors of Bosnia or Somalia can persuade me to abandon the quest. The inn keeper tries to reign in Don Quixote’s impossible dream with his observation: “I’m afraid wickedness wears thick armor.” Don Quixote rouses himself from his death bed to proclaim: “And for that wouldst thou have me surrender? Nay, let a man be overthrown ten thousand times, still must he rise and do battle.The Enchanter may confuse the outcome, but the effort remains sublime.”
In the word’s of Winston Churchill, I will “Never, never, never give up. Ten two letter words will not let me rest, and in spite of all the evidence I see that no one individual can have any far reaching or long lasting influence, these ten words bring me back to the fight each time I am tempted to quit. The ten words: “If it is to be, it is up to me.
I’d rather be dead than abandon this quest. Should I abandon it, then I will be dead in all the ways that really matter. Dead inside. Life as a soul-less manikin is no life at all.
HateBusters Bulletin is a publication of HateBusters, Inc. Box 442, Liberty, Missouri 64069, phone 816 803-8371: e-mail: hatebuster@aol.com