Several weeks ago, I wrote about a proposed "Center for Radical Christianity" and how such a feature might operate. One of the ideas suggested was a gathering in a local pub where the attendees could speak of God and things theological without a fear of being condemned because one might think in an untraditional manner, not to mention in a rather untraditional setting. The conversation would probably be braced by one's favorite choice of beer or wine. (None of the hard stuff mind you. That might create a conversation that would not be remembered the next day or one that participants might wish to forget). Well, interestingly enough, I received a fair amount of feed-back on that particular blog and it was all centered on the idea of "Theology on Tap." All of the feed-back was positive and the response was, "Why not?"
So that is what I am now asking my self. Why not? If some of you readers are really game, let me know, because I have already started working on it. I am in converation with a local establishment whose proprietor has expressed interest. I will talk with him further about what evening of the week is best and what time works for all. I'm thinking that this will need to be a weekly venture in order to establish some sense of continuity. Once a month probably stretches it out too far. And most interested citizens I know drink beer at least once a week!
I don't believe this can be a time where we are content to trash fundamentalists or develop some sense of elitism because we are not afraid to raise tough issues or ask hard questions. It will need to involve a genuine sense of search and struggle about our lives and how we are to journey on with the understanding of God that we have. No topic would be off the table. It could be fun but it could also be head-spinning. And it could jar us out of our neatly patterned doctrinal beliefs.
Our esteemed mayor pulled me up hard at a recent luncheon when he asked how I squared God with the recent tragic death of a beautiful young teen-ager. Those kind of moments will not abide tired old cliches or quick defensive answers. That is what theology on tap could address.
I know that some readers of this column do not live in the same area as do I and would not be able, logistically, to participate in my own home setting. To you I only suggest that you look for something of this nature in your own place of residence.
My own surge toward this kind of questioning has resulted over the past few years as I have more intently engaged in, what is commonly known as, historical Jesus studies. There are a lot of good materials out there and a lot of different thoughts that provide new lens through which we may see. A willingness to do some side-reading would probably be important to this effort.
So let me know if you are interested and I will keep you posted. Whatever results, I wish for you a happy and a searching 2010. Blessings on you.