Most of my weekday mornings are pretty typical, full of routine and fairly predictable. The exception to this are my Thursdays. On Thursdays I meet at a local coffee shop for an hour with a few friends for a sort of theologic discussion/book study/random thought session. It has become my favorite day of the week.
We always have a book we're working through, usually an edgy Christian book of one sort or another. We've studied a book by Newbigin that is out of print, then a book by Peter Rollins called Insurrection and are now working through Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory and Edward Boyd. We are taking on the "hard books" that challenge modern Christianity and challenge us to look at our faith and even our perceptions of what a Christian life is supposed to look like.
This group is kind of the antithesis of a group I was part of about 7 or 8 years ago. That group began with good intentions, namely challenging us to be men of faith and conviction. After a few years together however, it became a bit of a political hot-mess. It seemed that there was an understanding that somewhere in the bylaws of the Christian faith, you had to become a card carrying Republican.
I never got the memo on that.
I was a lone-wolf independent with Democratic leanings and because it was an election year, the Obama slamming was in full swing in this group. While I wasn't a big fan of his, I didn't think a "Bible Study" (because that's what we were at the time) was the place or platform for political discourse. I voiced my displeasure a couple of times when it came up and finally left the group because I didn't like what we had become. The group was Us vs. Them, Insiders vs. Outsiders.
So the new group is not that. We're quite the opposite. We realize that Church and State are separate for a reason. We realize both political parties have problems, and neither one is especially good at trying to regulate morality. We laugh at the people who think that Christian=Republican. Right now we're going through a study that is taking a close look at the Bible and challenging us to look at it more critically and realistically than maybe I've ever done in the past. I come away from these one hour gatherings energized and with my mind reeling.
I remember when one of the guys asked me to be part of the group one summer day. I told him I'd had kind of a bad experience in my previous group and left it at that. When I saw another guy from the group a couple of weeks later and he invited me, I took it as a sign that I should join them and see what the group is all about.
I'm glad I did.