Tuesday, May 14, 2013

* Dedication

So ends The Anti- Yale.

In Memoriam: JPA

He was a Toscanini of the telephone and a Zeus of the xerox machine. He used both incessantly to build networks, like a spider builds a web.
And to the same end: To ensnare.

But this ensnaring was a moral act.   He was the most effective agent of change I ever met.  He would descend upon an explosive situation ---  the aftermath of the shootings at Jackson State and Kent State; the occupation at Wounded Knee; the protests at the national conventions at Miami Beach; the Iran Hostage Crisis - - - and simply start to build a network to ensnare the volatile forces of change so they could be slowed down, examined and dealt with calmly rather than impulsively, and given a chance to create rather than destroy.

He was my model for ministry.  And indeed he wrote a recommendation for me when I entered his alma mater, Yale Divinity School. He shattered the stereotype of  ministry as an Edwardian drawing room activity conducted over coffee on plush carpets and under steeples.

His was the ministry of healing, and sometimes it was necessary to hurt in order to heal: Hurt oneself (satyagraha in Gandhi's term) and others (with the truth).

Sometimes ministry was a cauterizing process - - - burn the wound to oust the infection.  His own wounds accumulated over the years of weeks at a time with no rest and  one or two hours of sleep a night.  I know this first hand from working with him in Ohio and Florida in the midst of his activities at Kent State, the Miami Conventions of 1972, and Wounded Knee.

When he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the throws of his terminal illness, I thought the Prize too big for him.  Not that he didn't deserve it; but that his temperament was really geared to the rewards of the non-material world.

He stayed at my home when he was awarded Yale Divinity School's Distinguished Service Award by his classmates on the 25th anniversary of their graduation.  After the ceremony he returned to my apartment and said, "I want to show you something."  And he pulled out of his suit pocket a folded piece of paper.  I unfolded it and discovered a simple typewritten page with words to the effect:









He was as proud of that piece of paper as if it had been a solid gold plaque.  We didn't have to say anything to each other: We understood immediately that the rewards of the world we had chosen  were rewards of the human heart.

Of whom do I speak thusly: The Reverend John P. Adams, a man whose name is etched on my heart and the hearts of innumerable others.

Paul D. Keane 
M. Div. '80

NB: This piece was prepared  for a planned biography of the late John P. Adams, to be written by David M. Boerner, Associate Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, April, 1984.

Update, 2013: That biography is being completed by Lawrence Dowler, retired archivist at Harvard University and former Director of Manuscripts and Archives at Yale Universty's Sterling Memorial Library.

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