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2020 New York Encounter: Crossing the Divide

Feeling confused by competing ideologies and frustrated with a culture of division? Consider joining us at the 2020 New York Encounter for conversations, presentations, exhibits, and performances dedicated to the theme of “crossing the divide.” The New York Encounter is a free, public event taking place at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City, February 14-16, 2020.

Here is the theme for 2020:

These days we live as if enclosed in shells of ideology. They divide us from reality, from each other and from ourselves. We proclaim the value of diversity, but can only talk to those who share our views. We say we love justice, but use it as a weapon against our enemies. We venerate science, but pick and choose its results along party lines. And when our ideologies fail to deliver, we are left alone, angry and afraid.

However, some events still manage to break through these shells. They can be tragic, like a natural disaster or a school shooting, or beautiful, like a new love or the birth of a child. Then, for a moment, we find ourselves in wonder…more aware…united. These events open our eyes and awaken something in us: nostalgia, thirst for life, a cry for meaning. And sometimes we discover that the seemingly unbridgeable distance between people — be they family, coworkers, or even strangers on the subway — is actually paper-thin.

We do not want to waste these moments! And yet, left to our own devices, we retreat again into the shells of our tribal ideologies. These experiences, which made us see things differently, quickly decay, and everything gets twisted to fit our preconceptions.

In the end, is there anything that lasts? What can help us hold on to these experiences? Is there someone, somewhere, who lives fully and makes us want more from life? In short, a true friend?

We climbed up, he first and I behind him,
far enough to see, through a round opening,
a few of those fair things the heavens bear.
Then we came forth, to see again the stars.

Dante, Inferno, Canto XXXIV

Presentations include:

  • “Ideals vs. Ideologies in Politics: A Lost Battle?”: Sohrab Ahmari, op-ed editor, New York Post, and Christine Emba, op-ed columnist and editor, Washington Post
  • “What Can Free Us From Ideology?”: a conversation with Fr. Julián Carrón (President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation), Ami Dar (founder of, and Aaron Riches (professor of theology)
  • “A human being is a remarkable thing”: presentation of exhibit on the wartime writings of Etty Hillesum, Holocaust victim
  • “In Search of the Other America”: panel conversation between Chris Arnade, photographer, and Patrick Deneen, professor of political studies at Notre Dame (moderated by Jon Balsbaugh, president of Trinity Schools and editor-in-chief of Veritas Journal)
  • “Making Poetry Sing: Crossing the Divide Between Poet and Audience”: Dana Gioia, former poet laureate of California

The Encounter includes not only academic presentations but also educational exhibits and dramatic and musical performances—including a concert featuring both classical and jazz piano performances, music and staged readings from The Divine Comedy, and an exhibit on the relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence

All events are free and open to the public, with no registration required. For more information, visit

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