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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Beer, Conversation, God, Repeat
Bryan Berghoef is clearly on to something. He's coined a term for something I've been doing since I had my first beer with friends (at age 21). But it's not about the beer. I'm thinking of times and conversations at Pope's Tavern in Oxford or Greenshield's in Raleigh, N.C., where the the superfluous sloughs away and you are pondering Life's big questions over a pint.
I can remember walking to philosophy class at N.C. State (a rarity, given), and thinking about some question or another and having it addressed in class while discussing Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" or Bertrand Russell. Philosophy seemed to cut through the details. Which is why I studied it at Washington College and why, had the ball bounced differently for us, I would have been a PhD philosophy graduate student at Duquesne University and likely teaching it now.
It's why when the ground feels shaky under my feet, I pick up Thomas Merton or Thich Nhat Hahn or Alan Watts or Chogyam Trungpa or Frederick Buechner to help calm it down.
Church services are not discussions, generally speaking. They wouldn't work too well that way. You sit, you stand, you sing, you pray, you reflect. If you have young kids, you might be equally focused on making sure they aren't crawling under the pews or coloring in a hymnal. But dialogue is largely absent.
Not to mention, if your spiritual lineage includes Buddhism, Fritjof Capra, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walt Whitman and Sunday morning trail runs, well, I'm still trying to figure out what all the means.
It's also true that you don't want to be the guy, or girl, at the bar watching the game or celebrating a birthday, who wants to scale the walls of existentialism. That guy doesn't get invited to happy hour.
Berghoef figures it out with his idea of "Pub Theology." Beer, conversation, God. All backgrounds and beliefs are welcome. Open, honest discussion, each week (don't most churches meet weekly?). If you are a narrative cat like me, you can read how he describes it for the Huffington Post. If you look at how many places are starting their own version of pub theology groups, Berghoef isn't alone in his thinking. And that makes me happy.
That's why a pub theology group has kicked off in Easton. Every Wednesday, at the Washington Street Pub, at 7:30 p.m. A place, an outlet, for pondering Life's big questions, in a casual environment, possibly over a pint.