Well it was a fun night last night at Right Brain Brewery.
N. showed up with the usual goodies – this time pretzels (some even peanut butter-filled).
Then A. shows up with a heavy pan of Guinness brownies – complete with decorations. A delightful treat, and it was enjoyed by all. It said: “Cheers to our ‘soon to be’ PUBlished Theologian!”
I’ve been working on a few writing projects as some of you know, and I had written up a book proposal about Pub Theology, comprised of stories, thoughts and theology through the prism of our regular Thursday gatherings. I had sent it around a bit to get some feedback, and the consensus I received from Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle and others was that unless you already have a ‘market in hand’ – i.e., tons of readers of your blog (thank you, loyal few), hundreds or thousands of Twitter followers, and a large regular speaking audience, most publishers aren’t willing to take on a relatively unknown. So with that encouraging start, I sent out my manuscript to a publisher, and a few weeks later got a message back that my proposal had been accepted and they are willing to offer me a book contract! Very exciting. No contract has been signed yet, and I’ll wait until then before giving any more details.
In any case, it was a celebratory evening, and the rich Guinness brownies were just right with a cask-poured Black IPA.
1. How can deprivation connect us to God?
2. Ignatius: “We must never seek to establish a rule so rigid as to leave no room for exception.” Never?
3. Does God force people to believe in him? Or does he let them choose? Discuss the differences.
4. “Trust in God could impose an additional burden…” Could it? How so?
5. “If there were no evil, there would be no good, for good is the counterpart of evil.” Your thoughts?
6. Who killed Jesus?
7. If you could ask God one thing, what would it be?
8. Is the church above the law?
So, we quickly skipped no.1, as it was not a night for deprivation. On to no.2 After Steve aptly pointed out that Ignatius was breaking his own rule (clever), we reflected on ways in which rules can sometimes get in the way of the thing they set out to address. We had some good examples, but I’m not sure I’m able to recall them here.
No.3 – Nearly everyone agreed (everyone who holds to a belief in God, at any rate), that God allows us some level of choice in choosing to follow him or choosing to ignore him. To say that we have no choice, and it is all predetermined, would sort of make a mockery of the whole thing, and remove any kind of responsibility, not to mention any chance of genuine relationship. That is not to say that God might not already know how things are going to go, but that is different than God making the decision for us.
No.4 – see the following quote:
“… trust in God could impose an additional burden on good people slammed to their knees by some senseless tragedy. An atheist might be no less staggered by such an event, but non-believers often experienced a kind of calm acceptance: shit happens, and this particular shit had happened to them. It could be more difficult for a person of faith to get to his feet precisely, because he had to reconcile God’s love and care with the stupid, brutal fact that something irreversibly terrible had happened.”
In other words, it is hard to understand sometimes why bad stuff happens when you believe that God is good and he has your best interests at heart. If you don’t think God is there, you assume bad stuff will happen at some point, but you don’t take it personally. We noted several instances of where we try to make sense of and draw meaning from tragedies and difficulties, also noting that for many people (even many of us), our faith gives us the strength to get through such situations, even when we don’t understand what God is up to.
no. 5 – we skipped
no.6 – who killed Jesus? My blog post on this got some conversation going earlier in the week. I tended to lean toward the creation being responsible for killing Jesus, not the Creator. Some versions of atonement theory lean toward the latter, but those paint a rather gruesome picture of God, in my opinion. Someone at the table noted: the Romans killed Jesus, what else is there to talk about?
no.7 – skipped
no.8 – Is the church above the law? We noted that there are instances where the church seems to get special treatment (see Catholic church and pedophilia abuses), and that that is bad stuff and should stop.
We enjoyed a visit from some newcomers – C, P and their son, A, on break from MSU. K and B made it out, as did S & R, and G & J. And of course, N., A., and me. A good night, all around!
Next week: Pub Theology St. Patty’s-style!