A Week Eight Message from Chautauqua’s President

Welcome to Week Eight of CHQ Assembly!


We leave our Week Seven exploration on “The Science of Us” to revisit a document that has formed so much of what defines “us” in the United States: our Constitution. James Madison is often called “The Father of the Constitution,” but he is also reported to have believed that the document would likely need to be dramatically revisited after 250 years. It is that thesis that we pick up in this week on “Reframing the Constitution” as we check Madison’s assumption. 

Now, 230 years after its ratification, the U.S. Constitution remains one of the most difficult to amend of any in the world. During this week we ask if the Constitution is securing the “blessings of liberty” for all Americans and whether Constitutional reform — from amendment to outright replacement — is necessary and even possible. We look at Constitutional politics to understand the “unamendability” of the U.S. Constitution, consider resistance to a constitutional convention from both the political left and right, and determine what we can learn from younger democracies around the world.  

We bring to the table this week some of the great minds on this topic and on civic education in America in general. I’m so thrilled to be in conversation this week with the president of the National Constitution Center, my friend Jeffrey Rosen, as well as presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, among many others. 

Fr. Richard Rohr moved Chautauqua audiences in droves during our 2019 season. The Franciscan mystic, theologian and movement-maker challenged us both as a chaplain of the week and in conversation each subsequent afternoon as part of our Interfaith Lecture Series. This year, we welcome Fr. Richard back during our week on “Reframing the Constitution” to help citizens more intentionally think about how they are reframing their own journey. He is joined by Brian McLaren, who will serve as our chaplain of the week.  

Among so many other exciting programs this week, you also won’t want to miss Friday’s “Cocktails, Concerts & Conversations: An Evening of Chamber Music and Conversation with Joshua Bell and Larisa Martínez,” as Mr. Bell and Ms. Martínez share music and conversation from their home to yours. These artists will be prerecording a special recital just for Chautauqua, and then they will join us for a live conversation during which we will invite questions from viewers. 

We’re rounding the corner on our entire CHQ Assembly Summer Season with just one more week after this one, but the last two are among our greatest explorations this summer. We look forward to being with you on the journey. 

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