Come On In – The Water’s Just Fine

CHAUTAUQUA ­– Members of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle’s 144th class – the CLSC class of 2022 – are in luck.

Class members graduated July 31 and were featured in that day’s sacred-song service at Chautauqua Institution.

Some class members read a poem that includes this: “Chautauqua, I want us to … encourage debate in laughter and love, embrace our differences, feel, and sit with the peace between our disagreements … . So, please, continue to spread your arms wide, seek truth in all things, welcome those who step over your threshold.”

So why are class members – not to mention other Chautauquans with similar aspirations – in luck?

Because they needn’t travel far to fulfill these aspirations.

They can, for example, go to events sponsored by Advocates for Balance at Chautauqua, or ABC.

The mission of ABC, a Section 501(c)(3) organization legally separate from the institution, is “to achieve a balance of speakers in a mutually civil and respectful environment consistent with the historic mission of Chautauqua” Institution.

ABC supporters, including those not in leadership roles, continually stress that ABC’s mission is balance.

To put it another way, ABC seeks diversity of ideas.

ABC, an organization formed in 2018 by just a few Chautauquans, says it has hundreds of supporters, and their number has grown at each 2022 event.

Come on in. The water’s fine.

That goes not just for summer visitors to the area but for locals as well. Among ABC supporters, locals will find nice, friendly people who respect locals and will enjoy welcoming, and appreciate the opportunity to welcome, locals into their circle.

If that’s not exactly your preconception of Chautauqua, then that’s all the more reason to set any preconception aside and come to an ABC event with an open mind and heart. If ABC sounds intriguing, you won’t be sorry.

The remaining ABC public events for the 2022 season are at 3 p.m. Aug. 8 and 15 in the Athenaeum Hotel parlor. The Aug. 8 speaker is Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley, while Aug. 15 features Bill Barker speaking as, and portraying, Thomas Jefferson.

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Speaking on July 11, during Chautauqua’s week focusing on human rights, Dr. Paul Kengor, Grove City College political-science professor and author of the recent book The Devil and Karl Marx, noted there’s no greater human-rights abuser than Karl Marx.

Although “the abolition of private property” sums up communism, it also includes hatred of particular people – including Jews and blacks – and dismisses religion as “the opiate of the masses,” Kengor said.

Recalling that Marx’s favorite phrase from Goethe’s Faust is “everything that exists must perish,” Kengor recalled that in seizing power in Russia a century ago, Bolsheviks killed 7 million Russians. Communists aspire to control the world, and close to 140 million people died from communism during the 20th century.

The solution is to fight back: “I thought this was over in 1989, 1990,” he said, “but you have to keep fighting back over and over again.”

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One audience member cited Marx’s Communist Manifesto and wondered if there’s a “conservative manifesto.”

Twentieth century author and lecturer Dr. Russell Kirk wouldn’t have cared for the question.

Nevertheless, his book The Conservative Mind, which has been published in seven editions, traces the history of conservative ideas, starting with Edmund Burke, the great Irish-born member of the British parliament of two centuries ago, through the 20th century’s T.S. Eliot.

Answering the audience member’s question, Kengor cited Kirk’s concept of the enduring moral order.

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Speaking on July 18, longtime columnist John Rosemond, addressing child rearing, said one cannot raise children in extremely different ways and reach the same outcome.

Children are having problems now partly because of “parents’ progressive parenting philosophy,” which has “ruined children,” Rosemond said.

How? Parents have reduced themselves and made not themselves but children the most important people in the household, he said. Parents should be children’s focal point, not the other way around.

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ABC speakers’ presentations are on ABC’s website: https://www.abcatchq.com.

In addition to being on ABC’s website, Dr. Randy Elf’s Aug. 20, 2020, ABC presentation on “How Political Speech Law Benefits Politicians and the Rich,” is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/21.



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