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You really can’t miss that scary cover, but let me help you with the small print. On the first day, the program offers great music by The Manhattan Quartet, then a lecture by G. A. Gearhart –“BENEFITS FORGOT,” a wake-up call begging good, sturdy, small-towners not to fall asleep but to recommit themselves to the fabulous freedoms America affords its populace.

The Radcliffe Chautauqua (RC) was coming to town. Right here in Orange City, Iowa, a century ago, the second day, July 14, 1920, offered a wider range of wholesome activity, stories and poems, dramatic readings by Miss Marybelle La Hatte, in a not-to-be-forgotten performance.

It was civic pride stuff, intended to bring Orange Citians who might otherwise be starved for “classic music popularized, popular music dignified,” as the RC ad maintained. Come one, come all—“if you believe in making better homes, better churches and schools, better character, better civilization, in making life brighter and happier, and in making young men and women less anxious to go to the big city but more happy about staying in their home community.”

With first-rate speakers, dramatists, and musicians and by using a big tent–part soul-stirring revival, with a little Barnum and Bailey–RC stirred up folks with the vital glories of American life.

Do you know that thousands of alien-born anarchists, Bolsheviks, and other “reds,” thoroughly organized and backed by millions of dollars are deliberately plotting and working night and day for the destruction of the United States?

That’s the salient question on the second page. In 1920, with the smoke of the Russian Revolution drifting finally away, that paragraph, RC people might have said, isn’t politics, it’s just plain-and-simple fact: there were “reds” and the reds were sworn to bring down American democracy.

I happened upon this old program/brochure the day after ex-President Trump delivered a speech announcing his candidacy once more. “Biden has made a corrupt bargain in exchange for his party’s nomination,” Mr. Trump said. “He has handed control to the socialists and Marxists and left-wing extremists like his vice-presidential candidate.”

Amazing, it’s been a kitchen table argument for more than a century, “right here in River City,” Orange City.

The Reformed Journal isn’t all just patriotism or politics. But neither is it all church or worship. It’s a kind of on-line Chautauqua in the peculiar Reformed tradition, created, even daily, by ideas a cadre of writers find fascinating or entertaining or stimulating, men and women of faith, thinking and speaking aloud.

Not a Bolshevik among us either.

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James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.

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