Friday, July 13, 2012

Bibles and bars

Yogi Berra is reputed to have said about a couple of events, "It's too coincidental to be a coincidence." So how coincidental that two days before we sponsor "Connect: A Meetup for Spiritual People" at Fairview's Detour Sports Grill, there is a front-page story in today's Tennessean, "Churches take their message to taverns."
Every Monday night, Uncle Charlie’s bar in Cheyenne, Wyo., hosts “Bibles and Beer,” a discussion that routinely pulls in people of all faiths — and an atheist. 
As many as 45 people have shown up, some toting Bibles. Some might have a drink; others stick to water. Some talk; others mostly listen. There are only a few ground rules: Avoid debate and stick to the text to be discussed that week. 
“There really is not a focus on drinking,” insists the Rev. Rodger McDaniel, a Presbyterian minister who organized the weekly gathering more than a year ago. “But at the same time, it is a much more relaxed atmosphere than in a church basement. If I put this on in my church, I don’t think we would have five or six people.” 
Across the country, faith is becoming bar talk. The trend combines the traditional religious charge to go where the people are with the reality that a lot of them are in bars. Organizers include those from mainline churches, those building churches and bar owners and brewers. Some are trying to push the model nationally, taking an ageless yearning for meaning and purpose to places where people often go to try to wash their worries away. 
“It is good to bring the word to wherever God is, and God is everywhere, and people are everywhere, too,” says Joe Beene, owner of the Drunk Monkey Tavern in the Tulsa suburb of Glenpool, Okla. Last year, Beene began live streaming Sunday morning services from Tulsa’s Celebration Church into his bar. “The people who come in here on Sunday mornings are people who want to hear the word but won’t go to church.”
More at the link. The last thing Jesus told his apostles to do before he returned to the Father was, "Go!" And the apostles went - over almost all of the Roman-ruled world at the time. They did not hang a sign outside the Upper Room saying, "Holy Spirit comes here weekly, join us."

According to the Tennessean's June 18 edition, about half of Nashville-area people are not affiliated with any church, and a large number of them self-identify as Christian. For too long, churches have been like Little Bo Peep, thinking, "Leave them alone and they'll come home." But that's not happening.

Meanwhile, the oldline churches intensify fiddling while Rome burns around them. I already wrote about the United Methodists' death throes. This morning an Episcopalian friend sent me the link to a WSJ op-ed, "What Ails the Episcopalians."
Its numbers and coffers shrinking, the church votes for pet funerals but offers little to the traditional faithful.
Far be it from this United Methodist to point out a speck in the Anglicans' eyes while ignoring the plank in our own. But it just goes to show how widespread the problem is.

This is a good summary, too.


 (Text's author unknown.)

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