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Jims of Wyzdom for June 29

Friday, June 29, 2018

Greetings from our favorite place on earth…Chautauqua. I thought you might enjoy a column in the form of a journal so you can see what we like about this place…so, here goes…

Day One/June 22: Driving day. It takes about six hours for us to go via I-79, I-80, Rt 8 to Franklin, then Rt 62 to Jamestown, NY and finally Rt 384 up Chautauqua Lake to the campus. Unpacked, had a short walk, and ended up at the Brick Walk Café for light dinner.

Day Two/June 23: Today is the official start of the season. They usually have a BIG popular act in the Amphitheater (Amp)—this year it was Allison Krause, sold out. We like her but elected for an early night.

Day Three/June 24: The reason we get to come here practically free is that we are guest chaplains for our denominational house for the week, so we both read the week’s Bible Lesson, lead hymns, and guide the service. Immediately after church, we walked to the Amp for the traditional BIG TENT service. Given that CHQ was a Methodist Sunday School camp 145 years ago, it’s a service any protestant or even Catholic could navigate…liturgy is liturgy, right? The president speaks briefly, then gives the gavel 3-taps to start the season. A world-class minister speaks, there is great music from the very large choir and the large Massey pipe organ, the largest outdoor organ in the U.S. The highlight of Sunday night, for us, is the Sacred Song Service, always grouped around a theme…this week reflecting on the Parkland, FL massacre—it’s theme: “Who is My Neighbor?”.

Day Four, June25: Daily, we help serve in the study room in the house, then at 10:45 we go to the Amp for the morning lecture: John Irving in conversation with Pamela Paul, editor of the NY Times Book Review. At 2 PM we went to the Interfaith lecture at the Hall of Philosophy, this week, featuring the final lectures of Bishop John Shelby Spong on his final book. He is 87 and a major stroke survivor…he deserves to stop! The evening concert is Alexander Gavrylyuk playing a fine program…after, we bumped into Connie and Steve McCluskey, also here this week.

Day Five, June 26: A quieter day with morning lecture by author-poet Tyehimba Jess (OLLIO). Tuesday, all the houses have a 3 PM tea and cookie social so people can visit others, etc. After a quick bite we were off to the cinema to see the new film of “The Seagull,” from Chekhov’s play. Look for it on Film Forum! Excellent.

Day Six, June 27: The morning lecture was Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation. Big OOPS! For this speaker—we could not understand half her words due to awful E-nun-C-A-tion…so we left. At 2, the third of four talks by Bishop Spong, and then our evening  testimony meeting, followed by a wonderful presentation by the Charlotte Ballet, in residence here.

Day Seven, June 28: Morning lecturer was a lexicographer with the Webster dictionary. She was fantastic, with fine visuals and a story about that word we all hate: IRREGARDLESS. At 2 was Bishop Spong’s final lecture—ever, introduced by Bishop Gene Robinson, now the head of the Religion program here. Lots of weepy eyes and by far the largest audience I have ever seen for one of Spong’s talks. For the evening, we’ll have the CSO playing the Brahms violin concerto and the Dvorak symphony #9, “From the New World,” a favorite of CHQ.

Day Eight, June 29: Hmmm…you are reading this on Friday so I’ll just have to tell you what we MIGHT do. We’ll definitely go to the morning lecture, a conversation between theater folks Michael Kahn, Lucas Hnath and Kate Hammill. In the evening, we have tickets for “An Octaroon,” a modern play about a 19th century American classic.

Day Nine, June 30: Saturdays are just for fun—no big lectures, but plenty of family stuff to do, and then we’ll close the evening with the second symphony concert as the CSO and Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus presenting the Verdi Requiem.

Day Ten, July 1: Our last day. In the morning, we preside over our church service at 9:30 and may go to the big Amp service at 10:45 if we are still drying stuff and have packed…and then we load the car and wing it back to Mo’town.

If you have never been to CHQ and are intrigued, come to my class in a week or so.

So long for now,

Jim & Bonnie