Is it time for Chautauqua days?

I read stuff – I learn stuff – I blog about it here – If you’re reading this, well then THANKS!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig was cracked open at bedtime last night. Location? My place. Reason? Why not. Says it’s about Zen and Motorcycle Stuff… Good enough for me! Not to mention I’m pretty sure it’s a modern classic, although that is the extent of my knowledge, till I finish it off 🙂

But, It began with a road-trip story, (which I loved), then all of a sudden, Page 7 surprised me with a word. A blast from my little-kid-in-Ottawa,-Kansas-past. Not only was this just about the last word I expected to find in these pages, I had to laugh at how quickly it came and how poignant it felt to me.  The word was “Chautauqua.”

Immediately, I remembered some sort of a carnival-like gathering and outdoor festival in shady Forest Park that happened in the summertime in my hometown. It’s been a long time since the Ottawa, Kansas Chautauqua Days, maybe someone reading this will know. Another thing I didn’t know was the explanation that the author Robert gave in the paragraph following.

I’ll quote now from the book. “I would like to use the time to talk in some depth about things that seem important.
What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua-that’s the only name I can think of for it-like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, this America, the one that we are now in, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer”

Wow. Now to be honest, the rest of my intensive Chautauqua research was a quick skimming of its Wikipedia page, but I really didn’t want to do anymore. The line that I bolded in that last paragraph is enough to inspire my mind…


How wonderful would it be to attend a Chautauqua, just like explained here. In person, in our hometown, amongst  people, that we live with and around. To be instructed and improved morally (edified), to be entertained, to have our minds improved, while learning culture and experiencing enlightenment! I think that sounds Awesome!

Can you think of anything like this that exists today?

I have plenty of opportunities to be entertained through the constant flow of mass media. The radio, Television and Interweb all are full of entertainment! However, mind-garbage and brain-trash usually get more airplay than morally upright or enlightening content…

I have thoroughly enjoyed the TED talks that are free videos to watch online that cover the bases of improving our minds and learning. Although, that happens on the computer and It’s been an extremely rare occurance that a TED talk has come up in casual conversation with a  real-live person…

On Sundays, I appreciate the interaction of uplifting people and opportunity to be inspired when worshiping at Westminister Presbyterian Church. That is certainly a real-live event, and it does include real humans, however the Chautauqua seems a much more public event that encompasses a wide cross-section people of the region, not just our congregation…

We do have open events in the community that draw people out and about. We have one of the most popular in our area coming next weekend. The Ol’ Marais River Run Car Show. We will have lots of folks showing up to see the vintage pre-’72 hot-rods and classics. People will probably feel enlightened there, when they see the gleaming results of a labor-of-love frame-off restoration of a their favorite childhood Hot-Wheel Car. I doubt however, that the depth of their own God-given abilities and powers of achievement  will be the message of the day…

Okay, So if this is where we’re at and the Chautauquas are an extinct idea, then I’ll just put this out there. I love the idea of a “series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer”. So when talking to me, either online, by cell phone or in person, feel free to bring up subjects that may edify and entertain, improve my mind and bring culture and enlightenment to my thoughts. I would really love that!!

I’ll try to bring it up more often myself 🙂

This is funny as how it relates to my recent Facebook usage. In the last month or so, I’ve been devoting my Facebook status updates to a constant stream of quotes from great thinkers that inspire curiosity, pronounce wisdom or explain human nature as it relates to success… For those of you who are on Facebook, you already know that everyone chooses to utilize it’s capabilities in their own way. To put it nicely, not everything you read on there is “uplifting” 🙂

So, I decided to convert my page to one that is. It’s my Mini-Online-Digital-“Chatauqua” held by men and women much wiser than me, who left quote-able tidbits for us to learn from and be entertained and enlightened by… I guess… now that I found out last night what that word means…

And I’m glad I did 🙂

Now, onto more pages and more things to learn, maybe even about Zen or Motorcycle Maintenance, who knows!

Thanks for being here on Your readership & feedback is appreciated as always 🙂



2 thoughts on “Is it time for Chautauqua days?

  1. A- You need to read Otttawa history and visit the Old Depot Museum for a true look at Chautauqua from the turn of the century- And there is a traveling Chautauqua which we have hosted here, most recentley in 2009- as your Grandma Dorothy used to say-“There’s noting new in the world- except the history you haven’t read”

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