Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper at Chautauqua Institution in August

Our minister of older adults, Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper, will serve as the Chautauqua Institution’s chaplain/preacher for the week of August 15-21, 2021. Additionally, her book, On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear, has been selected by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) as the week’s featured book. Each summer, the CLSC, established in 1878, chooses at least nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua to present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

We celebrate with Rev. Harper for this opportunity to share her gifts with the broader world. If congregants would like to watch her preach or speak, they can do so through Chautauqua’s online CHQ Assembly platform, which requires a subscription*. Please note: a 30-day free trial subscription is available, but a credit card is required and individuals must cancel their subscription before the 30 days end to avoid being charged.


Daily Worship with Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper, preacher

Sunday, August 15 | 10:45 a.m. ET
Click Here to Watch Online*

Monday, August 16 through Friday, August 20 | 9:00 a.m. ET
Click Here to Watch Online*


Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) Presentation
On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear

with Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper, speaker

Thursday, August 19 | 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET
Click Here to Watch Online*

An estimated fifty million people in the world suffer from dementia. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s erase parts of one’s memory but are also often said to erase the self. People don’t simply die from such diseases; they are imagined, in the clichés of our era, as vanishing in plain sight, fading away, or enduring a long goodbye. In ​On Vanishing, Lynn Casteel Harper, a Baptist minister and nursing home chaplain, investigates the myths and metaphors surrounding dementia and aging, addressing not only the indignities caused by the condition but also by the rhetoric surrounding it. Harper asks essential questions about the nature of our outsized fear of dementia, the stigma this fear may create, and what it might mean for us all to try to “vanish well.”

Weaving together personal stories with theology, history, philosophy, literature, and science, Harper confronts our elemental fears of disappearance and death, drawing on her own experiences with people with dementia both in the American healthcare system and within her own family. In the course of unpacking her own stories and encounters—of leading a prayer group on a dementia unit; of meeting individuals dismissed as “already gone” and finding them still possessed of complex, vital inner lives; of witnessing her grandfather’s final years with Alzheimer’s and discovering her own heightened genetic risk of succumbing to the disease—Harper engages in an exploration of dementia that is unlike anything written before on the subject.


About the Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution’s mission.

* The CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution’s mission. A subscription is required to view these events online.