Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

May 12, 2017

To Champion Greater Liberty

2017 by Ed Chasteen

the Pedalin’ Prof from William Jewell College

Morning papers and nightly news here in Greater Liberty lately carry disturbing news of hateful behaviors here in our little piece of God’s good earth. When the pastor of my church here in our town of Liberty, Missouri first described the one square block on which our church stands as “ this little piece of God’s good earth” those words resonated in my soul and in my mind soon expanded to include my college just a block east. Then when I rode my bicycle one summer, alone and without money, from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim and rode 125 miles on my longest days, the boundary of Greater Liberty expanded outward 125 miles in all directions. From Creston, Iowa up north to Carthage, Missouri down south; Manhattan, Kansas out west to Columbia, Missouri over east; 104 county-seat towns in parts of four states, some three million people.

This Greater Liberty, though first a place, is even more-so now a principle: We all have Greater Liberty than we ever know to live above and beyond all the limitations others expect of us and we uncritically assume: limitations of race, religion, gender, nation. We can aspire to become World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

When a Klansman some time back won election in another state to their legislature, the governor of that state invited my students and me to come from my college to help his state redeem itself. Word of our visit got out, and HateBusters began to be invited across the country.

Then one day to my college came the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr to speak. Some of our local bigots objected and came with their signs to march in our street. As they had every right to do. But so do I have a right to a sign, I thought. I ran to my office. I made myself a sign and ran to join them. My sign said, “These guys are nuts”.

Onlookers began to laugh. The other sign-carriers looked puzzled, then got in their cars and left. They had come to intimidate, not entertain, us. And when they could not, their power vanished and they had to go.

We HateBusters knew even before that day that haters are cowards. We wrote a book we call How To Like People Who Are not Like You, the basic premise of which is that self-hatred is the root cause of all problems between people, leading us to organize our book into three steps and advise they be taken in sequence: Step 1, how to like yourself; step 2, how to like those like you (friends and family): step 3, how to like people who are not like you (other races and religions).

We HateBusters promise to respond to any act of hate aimed at a person’s race or religion anywhere in Greater Liberty. Immediately after we learn of it, we respond. To wait would cause the hater to think that we agree or are afraid. Neither is true. And to pause allows hate to build better arguments and get more guns; its defeat becomes less certain, doing so takes longer.

Whatever the one targeted by hate needs, we provide. Free of charge: a lawyer, a press conference, a prayer meeting, love letters from everywhere, a gathering of local friends, support of law enforcement. Hate will never have the last word: This is our promise.

Here in Greater Liberty, we champion greater liberty for all of us to live peacefully, pleasantly and productively together, endorsing the differences that at times and by some seem to be a problem, but which are in fact the fountain of our genius as a people. As economic monopoly leads to less competition, inferior products and higher prices, so does community monopoly lead. Our strength and resiliency as a people sprout from the very differences that seem to some the root of our problems.

To lay a blanket of sameness and produce a mono-culture would over time produce the problem mono-agriculture now faces. When many varieties of wheat and corn and other basic foods were planted, a blight might destroy some but not all. As varieties have disappeared in order to increase production, the risk of loss has grown.

As champions of greater liberty for all who live in Greater Liberty to live above and beyond the limitations of race, religion, gender and nation we HateBusters have no meetings, charge no dues, keep no list of members and stay in touch by email. No one is born hating. Everyone is a natural born HateBuster. Those who wish not to be one of us may send us a request to take your name off the rolls. Otherwise, you’re one of us.

When in Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote is advised that 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!

May 9, 2017

Where Men Win Glory

The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

2009 by Jon Krakauer

reviewed 2017 by Ed Chasteen

Pat Tillman was playing safety for the NFL Arizona Cardinals after having been a college football star at Arizona State and graduating with honors. He was set to sign a multi-million dollar contract when 9-11 happened. All of his life Pat had wanted to do the right thing. But only after spirited conversations and much reading, weighing all options and all points of view.

So Pat Tillman joined the army. As a college grad, he could have signed on to be an officer. He chose to be an enlisted man. He gave up millions and his personal freedom to become an army private and take orders. Pat believed he must personally do his part to defeat the enemy.

On a mountain in Afghanistan less than two years later, Pat Tillman was shot three times in the head and killed. Against his stated objections, Pat’s fame as a NFL star had been used by the government to whip up public support for the war on terror. His death from enemy fire, even more so. He was awarded two posthumous medals and eulogized by an officer at his funeral telivised to the nation.

Pat’s brother, Kevin, had volunteered with Pat to join the army and was a member of the same unit when Pat was killed, though not at the place where Pat’s death ocurred. The fact that Pat was killed by friendly fire was withheld from Kevin, from Pat’s family and from the nation. His heroic death at the hands of the enemy was heralded by the highest levels of government.

It was all a lie. Pat had joined the army to do his duty for his country. His enlistment and his death were used against his stated objections to fan a false narrative. Pat Tillman was betrayed by his superior officers and killed by his fellow soldiers.

This true story is told in excruciating detail in Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory. But glory is hard to find in the truth of what happened in the 14 minutes leading to the death of Pat Tillman. The insistence of Pat’s heartbroken mother to find and reveal the truth is as close to glory as anyone comes in this tale made sad for a nation and a family.

The tragic death of a good man used against his will to mislead a nation wins no glory.

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