Churches are trying to stave off decline. The young are defying tradition and seem to find near religion in low humor and getting high, especially on beer. Is Pub Theology a simple solution to a complex problem or just simple? Brian Berghoef, author of “Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation and God”, explores these and similar questions in a Huffington Post blog inappropriately (but sensationally) titled, “Pub Theology Is a Waste of Time”.
Why talk when you can do? With all that needs to be done in this world, why sit and consume alcohol when you could be out saving the world. Instead, you sit on your considerable arse and talk about THEM. The problem as you see it. Well, some of those attendees ARE doing something about THEM. If you’re only paying attention to various conversations, sidebar conversations, and event rants you might miss the point. Genuine words from selfless people serving humanity joyfully. You may be talking over them. You may be looking down at their apparent lack of intellect. If you unaware of these people in your presence at PT, you are missing out on the most important part. The part that matters.
The one thing that you can be sure of is that a beer fest/feast put on by christian organization will attract more Buddhists, atheists, Jews and “free-thinkers” who show up to fill the twelve chairs you arranged around three tables in a small tavern on a single Tuesday night to attract new church folk. Though the conversations may resemble the Tower of Babel at one table and a graduate lecture at another and a comedy workshop at still another, something is happening. While some people never return, some always return, and others connect or conclude or are convinced of something.
Something is happening when the Questions of the Night are lost when the group tangents take flight. Nothing is happening that does not have potential for group or individual reflection and consideration. All that is happening can perhaps affect the quiet person beside you or the outspoken colleague across the slightly slippery and snack crowded surface. All walks of life walk into this scene and each has the possibility of staying. Every unique personality that peeks through the metaphorical curtains of Pub Theology has something to leave and may find something to take. Talking about similar interests and diverse opinions are the solution to dissension in this divided world if each and every participant will commit to a single act: Listen.
Active listening and respectful acceptance are the doing that takes place in Pub Theology and may lead a more fully engaged individual doing, whether it be with the sponsoring church or not. The metaphor of moist clay may be used here. What is the harm of change triggered by beer and conversation? Change is good when it brings people out of their shell and into the light, whatever that light is. Intentions are important. One may start attending PT because of stark isolation and find bountiful and good company. Another might seek to school the silly Christians on their fallacious notions and open their own beliefs to wider understanding, capacity and reverence.
The contemplation after the event complements the noise that has just dissipated from one’s ears. The patience and love that is carried in by one person can surely leave with another sincere soul. No specific achievement may be reached in a single visit. A seeker may have experience many events glean from each one. However, the potential is there for real and renewed belief in others and in spirit and in oneself. None of it should taken lightly and all of it can be taken with thee.
For greater benefit there must be greater discipline. Getting more out Pub Theology means spending time contemplating it, whether that be prayer, external discussion, or even blogging. Even though there always needs to be something it it for me, I should never forget about THEM. Not the THEM many of us blame in our circuitous commentary on PT questions but the them who also came looking for something and listening for genuine conversation.
Stereotypes are at the greatest risk at Pub Theology because they are all seated about you and they resist, you will find, category. The best insight you will have is seeing the world through the eyes of the outcast, the vilified and the forgotten. What is sacred to them probably isn’t sacred to you but will be able to understand it for the first time because you listened. Every prejudice has a story and each story has moral when heartfelt beliefs fly from another’s lips and fall on soft ears.
Something is happening in those taverns. No one attends without intention. We know their are barriers that keep us from others, be it churches or family members or races. These barriers can fall and a community can be buoyed just as Pub Theology groups around the world are lifting a pint and raising self-awareness.