CRES amity shaman
Ed's blog and stories: http://hatebusters.wordpress.com/
Chasteen, CRES amity shaman, finds ways to bring people together. After
30 years of teaching, Professor Chasteen left William Jewell in 1995, and
now offices his Hate-Busters organization, begun in 1988, at Central Baptist
Theological Seminary, and with his wife, Bobbie, runs Amity Associates
out of his home.
Ed, also known as the “peddling prof,” has multiple sclerosis which his riding helps keep in check. This challenge made it especially meaningful when Ed was chosen as one of 35 “community heroes” to carry the Olympic torch to Atlanta when it passed through Kansas City in 1996. He was also chosen as a “Community Star” by The Kansas City Star.
In 1976, when Ed was teaching cultural anthropology and race relations, he began the Human Family Reunions, multicultural potluck dinners to celebrate his students’ contacts with human diversity. They have since been held in a dozen other cities, including Tampa, San Antonio, and Sacramento. Ed is shown here at a 1988 Human Family Reunion.
In 2006, he was one of only 200 to attend the White House Conference on Hate Crimes.
His book, How to Like People Who Are Not Like You, has undergone ten editions since it first appeared in 1976.
CRES staff members Vern, David, Ed, and Maggie on Maggie's veranda at an October staff meeting.
I keep my mind on this impossible dream I have to rid the world of hate and teach people to like each other. My age is never a thing I think about. Here's something you would enjoy. Please pass the word to all your friends.
Come all you who hunger and thirst to
We come today with open minds and warm hearts. Who's right is the wrong
The Human Family Reunion is sponsored by HateBusters, Barker Temple
Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot,
Maybe that's enough. Enough to buoy our weary souls o'er troubled waters
Bring a dish of your favorite food and come
To tell us you are coming or to get more information call Ed Chasteen,
The Van Project (Visiting Area Neighbors)
In a court of law, only those with first-hand knowledge are allowed to testify. But in the court of public opinion, hearsay is often all we have.
St. Charles Parish
by Ed Chasteen
The first day of spring has come as it should. Early morning clouds give way to soft sunlight. The wind gentles during the day to a warm breeze. First buds on flowering trees announce themselves in baby pink. Great expectations dance in all our minds as the 12 of us gather in Gene and Pat Cole’s living room, just a few blocks from Metro North Shopping Center. Sister Marilyn Peot has brought 10 other members of St. Charles Parish: Diane and Greg Smith, Mike and Joyce Rauth-Fears, Sister Aline Mohrhaus, Norbert and Shirley Duello and Glenna Carrol. I will be their driver. Promptly at 8:30 on this glorious morning we board our William Jewell College van. Fewer than 70 miles we will travel. By 6 PM we will return. But, oh, the wondrous day we will have.
First stop, the home of Vern Barnet. Vern is Founder and Director of CRES (Center for Religious Experience and Study), a student and teacher of world religions, a passionate seeker of all that is sacred and all that would enrich our lives together. For half-an-hour in his living room, Vern shares his vision with us. Then Vern comes with us in our Van. All day he will share with us from his vast and compassionate knowledge of every faith as we make our way about Greater Kansas City to four faith communities that are at home here.
The Hindu Temple at 6301 Lackman Road in Shawnee is our second stop. Kris Krishna is our host. After we remove our shoes, Kris ushers us downstairs where Sudha Bathina has prepared a short lecture and overhead transparences on the basics of Hunduism. She answers questions that we have. Members of the Temple have prepared refreshments for us before we go upstairs for a tour of the Temple sanctuary and an explanation of the statuary on display. Their priest describes for us the process by which one becomes a priest. Ananda Bhattacharyya and his wife Dipti are long-time HateBusters supporters and members of the Temple. They have just returned from a three-month visit to India. Ananda is a retired engineer. He also is here today to welcome us and share his knowledge.
At noon we come to the Sikh Gudwara (Temple) at 6834 Pflumm Road in Shawnee, just a short drive from the Hindu Temple. The parking lot is full when we arrive, and people are entering the building. Women and girls wear flowing dresses in all colors of the rainbow. Men and boys wear suits and turbans on their heads. Charanjit Hundal is our host and meets us at the door.
We have arrived just in time for a wedding. We take off our shoes, tie a scarf on our head and enter. Women are seated on the carpeted floor to our left; men to our right. The room is full already, but space is made for us to join the other guests. The ceremony and the songs are all in Punjabi. Those near us do not understand the language, but they know what’s happening. They whisper to some of us so we will know.
After an hour, we adjourn downstairs for a delicious vegetarian Indian meal. The aromas and the spices give an Eastern ambiance. We get our meals and take our places on the floor with beautiful food before us. Charanjit explains that chairs and tables are not used in the gudwara. “Sitting on the floor, we are all equal. No one is elevated above another.” The children made it through the mandated quiet of the wedding. Now their exuberant noises and movement make it hard to hear Charanjit as he explains Sikhism to us. Pat is seated next to him. She hears it all and gives us a near literal recitation when we get to the van and before we leave the parking lot.
It’s one-thirty when we leave. Across Greater Kansas City on Shawnee Mission Parkway, we skirt Country Club Plaza on the south and come to Wornall Road. A left turn brings us three blocks later to 47th Street (AKA Brush Creek and Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.), where we turn right and over to Troost Avenue. Another left and we are quickly at Al-Inshirah Masjid (Mosque), just in time for our two o’clock appointment. Imam (minister) Bilial Muhammed is our host.
We remove our shoes just inside the door and enter the place of worship. Bilial has invited some of his members to join us: Majeeda and Aasim Baheyadeen, Shaeer Akhtab, Robert Rashad, Abdus Sabir Taalib Din Muhammed and Zarrieff Osman. We all seat ourselves in a circle. Others join us as the imam and his members explain Islamic belief and practices to us. As we conclude our discussion and answer period, the men form a line and demonstrate for us the method and meaning of their required daily prayers.
In an adjoining room, the women have prepared refreshments for us, giving us all a few minutes for talk of ordinary things that neighbors might discuss. Then Vern arranges us for another of the photographs he has taken at every stop. Photographs that will appear in the next edition of the CRES newsletter.
Llama Chuck Stanford has just day before yesterday returned from several week’s study in India. Jetlag is still a problem. I had thought we could not visit the Rime Buddhist Center in his absence. I had instead asked Vern to take us on a quick tour of the Nelson-Atkins religious art, a tour he regularly gives. But Vern and Chuck are good friends. They have arranged for Matt Rice, Chairman of the Board at the Rime Buddhist Center, to meet us there at four o’clock for a tour and discussion.
Rime Buddhist Center is located just off I-35 near the 20th Street exit in a former church building. There are several schools of Buddhism. The word “Rime”, pronounced ree-may, indicates that this center does not follow any particular school but is inclusive of them all. Matt leads us through the building, stopping to explain the significance of every object. He invites us to come again at any time to learn more.
By six o’clock we are parked again in the Cole’s driveway, back where we started nine and one-half hours ago. It’s likely that never in our lives have we spent a day immersed in religious thought so seemingly different yet so fundamentally similar. Asking in various ways a similar question—What does God require of me and how should I live? –these faiths have arrived at answers that seem so different. I am reminded when I think of these obvious differences that to the unaided eye the earth seems flat.
All day I have reminded those who travel with me and those we visit that our purpose is to form friendships with people of other faiths. If we know by name people of other faiths we can serve as bridges when troubled waters flow between us. When rumors fly that demean a faith, we can come to our friends for facts we trust. By being friends across faith lines we can help all our faiths not simply to endure one another but to endorse each other.
As monopoly is bad for an economy so also is it bad for a religious faith. In economics monopoly leads always to higher prices for inferior products. With no competition there is no incentive to improve the product and no reason not to raise the price. The same is true in the religious arena. Any one of the world’s religions if given unquestioned authority would produce an inferior product at too great a price. Religious diversity is essential if the full range of human spiritual needs is to be fully satisfied. A free spiritual marketplace benefits each individual faith and should, therefore, be endorsed by followers of every faith.
My chosen profession is Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. I
am a Christian. A Baptist. I am a faithful member of my local church. Because
my faith is precious to me, I want to meet and know people of other faiths.
I want to visit with them and become a friend. I do not want to join them
or to change them. I want us all to be ourselves and encourage one another
in our faiths. I invite others to join me in this effort.
Comments of those who visited faith communities today
“What an enlightening day, Ed! We so appreciated the thoroughness of your preparation; and your sharing of your philosophy about what brought us together--the key point being to consider how we are alike, rather than how we are different. Like the Hindus, we believe Catholicism is a way of life. With the Sikhs, we believe all men are created equal, there is no caste system. What warm hospitality we received from the Muslims. Their emphasis on frequent communion with God through prayer rings true with us. The Buddhists' emphasis on meditation and its integration in our daily lives is a very important aspect of our Catholic spirituality also. Having Vern Barnet accompany us on each of the visits was just icing on the cake! Thanks again, Ed, and God bless for making this a very special day.”
Shirley & Norbert Duello